Photo-Heart Connection: May 2014

I am lucky. In so many ways. I am lucky to see the sunrise most mornings. I am lucky to live where I can be in the forest within ten minutes of leaving my house. I am lucky to be able to fully enjoy the moment, the light, and share it through my photography.

Forest Oregon Kat Sloma Mobile Photography

But then I think, is it really “luck” or is it by choice? “Luck” implies I had nothing to do with the situation I am in. And that’s just not true — it’s an accumulation of choices that bring me to where I am today. Choices made 20+ years ago, 15 years ago, 5 years ago, a month ago, yesterday… They all bring me to this moment. This morning. This opportunity for more choices. What will I do with my time? My money? My energy? My heart?

I remember realizing long ago that you make your own luck. I believe “luck” is really just being prepared to take advantage of opportunities that come your way. If we leave being lucky to random chance we aren’t going to be very lucky. We have to put ourselves in the right situations to enable the things we want to happen.

I wouldn’t see the sunrise if I didn’t choose to get up early. I wouldn’t have my favorite forest paths to walk if I hadn’t gone looking for them. And I certainly wouldn’t be able to share the wonder and beauty of the forest with you if I didn’t choose to take a camera with me.

So yes, I am lucky. I have a wonderful life, filled with beauty and opportunity. And it’s through the choices I make, and continue to make, every day.


 
What a difference a month makes, huh? Last month I didn’t even have photo in my Photo-Heart Connection, as I was examining where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. My choice to hike every day have really driven my artistic and personal work this month. Revitalizing my connection with heart through art and through my time in the forest. I am reminded this month that it’s the choices I make that create opportunities for me. A good message, don’t you think?

What does your heart have to share with you this month? Share it with us through the Photo-Heart Connection. The link up will be open through May 7th.


The Whole Truth

The camera never lies, right? I wonder where we came up with this idea that the camera always captures truth. Where we picked up the idea that a photograph represents reality.

Maybe it’s because the camera gives a representation that seems like reality. Maybe it’s because the edges are sharp and the likeness to what we are looking at is closer than most art brings us. But what we what the camera captures is not truth. A photograph is not reality.

Reality encompasses a much broader range of the senses than a photograph can. Sight and sound and touch and smell. Reality encompasses a three dimensional world that is experienced with more than just the eyes. Reality is everything, everywhere in the moment. The whole truth.

A photograph starts with the photographer. As humans we can’t handle the whole of reality, so we filter. We filter based on our interests and our knowledge and our experience. We decide where to look, what to experience, out of everything that is available in our environment. So right there, we start to alter reality.

Next, we alter reality with our cameras. Think about it, we are taking a three dimensional world and collapsing it into two dimensions. We take the whole of the sensory experience and collapse it to visual alone. That’s a drastic alteration right there. Not only that, but as we study photography, we learn the camera itself is an imperfect tool for capturing even visual reality. It can’t capture the range of light and dark we see with our eyes. It can’t capture the form and the depth that we experience. So we learn to adapt through our exposure and optics and techniques. We make choices about the lens we want to use, the aperture and shutter speed, and what is in or out of the frame.

The photograph, as captured by the camera, is already significantly different from reality. The viewer can’t turn their head left or right and see what is happening beyond the edges of the frame. They can’t walk closer or further away. They can’t reach out and touch. They only see what the photographer has chosen for them to see. A slice of the photographer’s reality; a partial truth.

Then, we get into post-processing. It’s funny that this is often maligned as the part of the photographic process where reality is removed. In my view, post-processing is only a continuation of what we started with our cameras, since the as-captured image is not reality either. In post-processing, we can further adjust the photograph, to try to shift it to what we perceived as “reality” visually or to better express the feeling we had at the moment it was taken. We can create a new feeling with it, if we so choose. We can create an experience that is completely unrelated to our own experience when we took the photograph.

The “reality” that is presented in the final image is all in the choices made by the photographer, from the moment of capture to completion. It is not reality at all.

Take this photograph of light on the leaves in the forest, for example. The camera could not capture the shifting range of light and dark that I saw in those leaves. It could not capture the feeling of the breeze cooling my sun- and hike-warmed skin. It could not capture the rustle of the leaves, or the sound of my husband and son playing with the dog down the trail. It could not come anywhere close to my reality, but I did the best I could at capturing one thing: The light filtering through the canopy of leaves. I could find a scene that framed one single leaf in the light, and filled the background with the repetition of leaves in light and shadow. In my post-processing, I could add warmth through the tone, softness through a texture, and depth through a vignette. I could express my feelings about this one particular piece of my experience of that moment and that day. Beyond that, what you feel as you look at this photograph depends on your own reality and experiences in the past. Your filters and perceptions kick in, altering what I’ve presented further.

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Is this photograph the whole truth? No.
Is it reality? No.
A photograph never, ever will be.

I think it’s time that we leave behind the idea that the camera never lies. It’s time to shed the idea that in photography, alterations to reality come only in post-processing. The alterations to reality start in the photographer’s mind, and continue from seeing to camera to post-processing.

Instead, let’s focus on the one truth that we can express with photography: The truth of the experiences, feelings and emotions of the photographer.

Expressions of the artist, practicing their art.

Seeing the Light

The difficulties are always the most important ingredients in the total picture of a creative experience.
– Shaun McNiff in Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go


I started a new book for my “morning practice reading” in the last few days, Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff. This book has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time, probably back to 2009 or early 2010. As in anything, my reading goes in cycles and I found interest in going back to the basics of the creative process. How nice to have this great book waiting for me, with gems like the quote above sprinkled liberally throughout the first chapter alone. It resonated with where I am right now. Here’s another:

Creativity cannot flourish and reach its deepest potential without the participation of its demons as well as its angels.
In other words, there is no such thing as a free lunch. We don’t get the good stuff without some bad stuff thrown in. Some challenge, some struggle is needed for the creative process. That’s what helps us find new ways of doing things.

These statements struck home, after my struggles with the “down” part of the creative cycle this month. As I come out of it and see my creativity picking up, as I see my inspiration begin to flow as it usually does, I see what the down time has been giving me. A respite, a time to go within. A time to revisit the process, with all of its ups and downs.

I’m off from my corporate job this week, a planned holiday shutdown. I have been frustrated about the inflexibility of forced time off at work because I don’t have any vacation time left this year, but I find that I’m enjoying the space to focus on my creative pursuits. Not to mention hanging out with my family, doing things like learning to fly an RC helicopter from my son and getting addicted to Glee on Netflix with my husband.

But under it all, after coming through the down cycle, I find that new stuff is brewing and I have some space to create. It should be interesting around here!

Light Fantastic

Fall LightAt Mortal Muses we are finishing up our “Light Fantastic” theme with a blog hop, and I thought I would share a story…

On my photo walk with Julie last week, we were nearing the end of our walk, photographing the gorgeous autumn trees in a park. The sun was starting to go behind the clouds and she said, “Oh no, we’re losing the light.”

I laughed and said, “Oh yes, we’re getting the light!”

I confessed to Julie that there is something she needed to know about me… I love indirect light. I love the soft, diffused light of alleyways and cloudy days that gently highlights form and makes color pop. I took this image after we lost found the light. I find the colors incredible! This is my kind of light.

Now you know my light fantastic. What’s your favorite light?

Time

 

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.
 ~Carl Sandburg

 

How will you spend your time today?

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What’s going on around¬†Kat Eye Studio

 

Share Your View: Capture the Sky

Aaaaah, another sky image from the Amalfi Coast. Would you believe, this was taken from a bus? Yep, a public bus careening around the corners of the winding coast road. It was all in the preparation and timing, along with a little bit of cropping.

Have you noticed the sky more this week? That always happens to me, when before or after I post an Exploring with a Camera. Capture the Sky is no exception. I hope you will come over to the blog, link in and visit some of the other images that have been posted. The link tool will close March 9 so you still have time, and recent or archive shots are welcome.

What’s your view? The sky’s the limit!