…but at first, I didn’t really even think I was going to touch this shot. The raw, unedited picture (which I can’t be bothered to post on here because it’s on my laptop, which is all the way downstairs, and I don’t really want to leave my computer chair right now :p) was completely washed out, slightly more tilted, and the highlights were blown to hell. Wasn’t really an obvious keeper in a day that was full of some other really nice portrait shots taken with my snazzy 50mm f1.8 lens.
Actually, I think I was just trailing behind at the end of our hike back down from the peak of the Stairway To Heaven in Vernon, my tiny kit 16-50mm screwed onto my Sony, just randomly snapping pictures out of slight exhaustion when I got this.
Not exactly an honest shot – the sky was starting to unfold from an otherwise dreary and overcast day in these light pinks and oranges, but nothing as cinematically sepia as this – but I like what came of trying to make something out of a picture that I normally would have tossed.
It was a bit of a weird stretch last week – the weather got flat out wonky on us out of nowhere, and we ended up getting a downright decent, warm spring day sitting right next to school cancellations and a few inches of snow.
So I figured I’d make a video out of it.
It was fun, actually – ended up sticking a little closer to home with the places I chose to shoot. Back when I was first starting out, I had this weird idea in my head that if I went someplace a little more grandiose – a city, or some place maybe more visually interesting than a quiet little suburb stopover in New Jersey – my shots wouldn’t be able to do the place justice. I think it’s a bit of a silly way to look at photography now, but it’s what kept me wandering around my hometown when I was still figuring out my camera – shooting almost exclusively in patches of woods by the roadside, old rail lines, scenic local ponds…
…it’s a vibe I feel like I got back to a little bit with this little edit…vlog….thing. But less because I’m skeevy about shooting in busier spots, and more because I like capturing the little bits of charm that shine through the cracks in this little town – bits that sometimes, you don’t even need to take a car too.
Anyways, here’s the latest upload on the Fernway Films Youtube channel. Hope you like it. 🙂
I’ve got this professor that’s constantly quoting this one poem by Wislawa Syzmborska – “Nothing Twice”.
The professor’s a brilliant guy, but for some reason the first few lines resonate with me a whole lot more than the things he actually says. What that says about my academic information retention, I don’t know, but here they are –
It’s an interesting experience – going back to the first photo you took with photography as the intent.
This was right around the time we were filming the old Winter In Piscataway video. I didn’t even have a DSLR yet, and I was trailing around while Patrick was shooting video on his old Nikon. I had an iPhone out, and I was shooting with it in portrait instead of landscape, genius that I was.
Snow started falling early that December. There was already a nice blanket going by the time we hopped out of my car, trudging through the powder in jeans and work boots.
I remember wanting to catch the snow in the light. I remember wanting to remember how it felt.
With all the talking that I do about storytelling and how much it bleeds into every medium I work with, you’d figure that I’ve had that as my goal for the entire time I’ve been doing photography. Truth is, it really wasn’t always the case. I actually wanted to work exclusively with street photography for a while, and spent a lot of time in the city trying to pull that off. Of course, if you look at my Instagram (shamelessplugshamelessplugshamelessplug), you wouldn’t really be able to tell that – there’s not a lot of street on there at all.
That isn’t to say that I don’t like street photo – I think it’s great. It’s something that storytelling is involved with, but in a different sense than what I try to pull off in my photos. Where I can, I try to create a bit of a “hard narrative” with my work. There’s got to be some kind of visible story in play, whether it’s implicit or explicit, and more often than not, it’s down to me to sort of make one. That isn’t to say the moments and memories in my photos are fabricated – it’s just that I’m almost always wholly entwined into the narrative, and I’m trying to bring it out with the editing, or the shot composition, or the people, or the objects, or the setting.
You don’t have that much control in street photography because you often hold the place of an observer, not an active participant. When you start out, you quickly realize that a big portion of your success while you’re out there shooting falls to whether or not you come across something cool while you’re wandering around in the city – not to mention the absolute necessity that you get your camera up in time to catch it.
And after another while, you start to figure out fast that just whipping your camera out and shooting pictures indiscriminately into people-dense spots in the city isn’t really going to cut it either. The shots can be solid, but more often than not, you end up with something that feels a little hollow – snippets of the very end of moments you catch by chance, looking past the shoulder of the stranger walking in front of you.
Again, this absolutely isn’t to diminish what street photographers pull off. Their pictures are really what drew me towards the medium to begin with. It takes a sniper’s eye, quick hands, quicker creative chops, and a solid understanding of your hardware and software to do this well, and it’s still something I dabble in whenever I find myself tromping around downtown NYC or Hoboken. But it’s definitely not what I love shooting the most, you know? Maybe I’m a control freak, maybe I’m too attached to the hopeless personal nostalgia that I get out of looking back through my shots, maybe I’m not just built for it.
But I have to admit, it does get pretty addicting sometimes.