Saturday, February 1, 2014

Don't Miss The Shot (by guest blogger Kati Grow)

I have to tell you, I'm a Type A Type A (that's not a typo...). It's important that you fully grasp this to get the message I'm sharing, not because I'm proud of it (I fight it every day!), but so you can appreciate where photography has brought me. By nature I'm a goal-setting, list-making, de-cluttering, overachieving, schedule-making, full-time IT manager, mom-of-six, reading fiend, project-oriented kind of woman. I don't do anything halfway (and that covers the good and bad!)

When I got into making jewelry I had beads coming out of my ears, wire in every gauge, and tools I didn't even know the purpose for. When I started volunteering for the state-level home school organization (back when we home schooled), before I knew it I was in charge of the statewide formal graduation ceremony and de-facto assistant to the convention director. When I learned to crochet as a teenager and when I revived my interest in the fiber arts not so long ago, I had/have yarn coming out of my ears and every size of crochet hook--even one small enough that I'm not even sure it has the hook.

So, when I started following my life-long passion for photography let's just say I was consistent. I'd already been through a couple of point and shoots when I really got serious and started amassing equipment.  I don't know how many times I've said to my photography mentors, "I've got some cash, what should I get?" Sometimes the reply I received was a list of items to review, but most often the gist of the message was, "You have everything you need. Practice. Shoot. Learn." I'll assume here my reader can imagine this was a blow to my over-zealous perfectionist approach to all things! I was looking for a step-by-step, checklist-shaped, goal-oriented ticket to perfect shots all the time--a formula to follow to get it "right".

Now, a few years, a few classes, a few outings/trips, and a few thousand clicks later I hardly recognize myself when I'm behind the lens. I'm looking for what I see, not what the camera or the equipment can do. I'm in search of an image that speaks to me, not just a photo that follows all the rules. I am able to enjoy an outing without feeling compelled to document it. I'm more apt to pick up something light colored to reflect light onto a subject than fret that I didn't bring my pop-up reflector. I am willing to grab any lens and commit to it for the day, looking for what I CAN see instead of lugging all my lenses "just in case". The turning point was a photo tour to Maine where I captured some truly surprising shots. A "drive-by" shot of some underbrush in full autumn color and birch tree trunks...wide open aperture, slow shutter speed, low ISO, and intentional camera movement resulted in a photo that took my breath away--primarily because it had come from MY camera! A symmetrical reflection in water that came out of post-processing severely cropped and turned upside-down--and gorgeous! A tight shot of waves crashing on the rocky shore of Acadia...most people cannot see it until I tell them what it is, but they are drawn to it and find it simultaneously peaceful and stirring.

Don't miss the shot. Learn the fundamentals so you know how to use the tools you own, then:
1. Enjoy the craft of photography.
2. SEE what is in the viewfinder.
3. Take some chances.
4. Relax.
5. Let your camera speak to your heart and let your heart show through your lens.
6. Step outside that Type A box and let photography soften your edges. It just might change your heart.

See, I still couldn't resist putting this in a list.

[Editor's Note: The turning point Kati referred to was as a participant in one of our Maine photo tours. She was a dedicated, motivated, and excited participant who was eager to learn all she could, and came away with some incredibly beautiful images. She has been soaring ever since.]

Shutter Speed 1/3 sec.  Aperture f/45.  ISO 100.  Lens: Canon 75-300mm f/4-5.6 set at 300mm.  Camera: Canon 60D.  Gitzo tripod with ballhead.

TODAY’S QUOTE: “Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.”  H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Kati Grow bio:
Kati lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, one daughter, five sons, two labs, and two cats (only two females in the whole bunch!) She works at Washington and Lee University as the information systems manager and operations coordinator for the office of admissions. She enjoys shooting the historic areas around their home, landscapes, flowers, and people--especially when they don't see her. Check out her Facebook page here

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