Thursday, February 19, 2015

February 19, 2015; What Was I Thinking?

All photographers, professional and amateur have a fair number of shots no one will ever see.  Even the best in the world probably have pictures that had them saying to themselves, "What the hell was I thinking about?"

Of course the digital age has changed all of that.  A photo is taken, not liked and deleted forever, usually within seconds.  Even slide shooters had the ability to look at individual images and throw away the rejects.  Those of use who shoot negatives, weeding out the trash is no so easy.  All too often a real clunker is the middle image of 4 or 5 good negatives that have been cut and carefully stored in sheaths. Each time I pull out a string of negs to scan or print the good images, I also get to revisit that mistake or two that seems to show up in every roll.

Case in point:  look at the above photo.  I give up, what's so great about a couple of tank cars?  The pattern of the ties is kinda cool, were it not for the grass I so cleverly used to further clutter the image.  What was I thinking?

Taking a photo from a train is tough to do, at least for me.  I know what I was trying to do in this shot.  The concept was getting a photo of the switchman on the ground.  But why would I wait for that exact moment when the wiper blade and handrail bisected the guy's body?  What was I thinking?

There is so much I could have done with this opportunity.  That old milepost marker, the back lighting, the helper set, everything was there for a good shot.  Maybe I just couldn't decide how to pull it off and by the time inspiration arrived the helpers were almost out of sight?  Maybe I meant to have a telephoto on and somehow "forgot" I had the wide angle?  And here's the real mystery, there is no negative of the helper set coming at me as one might think.  It appears this IS the shot I wanted.  What was I thinking?

A really good "away" shot of a train can be a little tricky.  A really bad "away" shot like this, all too easy to take.  Look close and you'll see just what a debacle this shot actually is.  Standing in the grass is the Old Man watching the train pass.  Why was I more interested in trying to get a crappy "away" shot than I was getting a good shot of Dad watching the train go by?  What was I thinking?

There is a train in this shot, I swear to God there is.  Using a wide angle lens to photograph a train a half mile away, passing behind a grove of trees.  What else can I say?  What was I thinking?

So there you go, 5 examples that took me probably less than 5 minutes to find.  A really good photographer would learn by these mistakes, but I'll probably revisit this topic a few more times to illustrate just how slow a learner I actually am.


Unknown said...

I've thought about that. The key, of course, is editing. If Cartier-Bresson, or Evans, or Friedlander, or Plowden, or ANY of the greats made a picture that was "poop" (and they have) we'll never see it.
Speaking for myself, I've made gobs of photos like yours.
But the ones that bug me the worst are the ones I can't show you. Because I didn't take them -- I failed to seize an opportunity. And sometimes I don't realize it until two weeks later, back home, 1500 miles from where the shot was at. I do NOT have a photojournalist mentality.


Sam Carlson said...

First shot - tank cars. Here's what I would've been thinking: A new track is being installed. This scene will never be the same again. I got shots of the power, but since this scene will never be the same, I better get at least one shot of some freight cars as well. Besides, film is cheap. Regretting not getting the shot is expensive.

Sam Carlson said...

Second shot - You knew exactly what you wanted to do, but you had a slow trigger finger. Lots of good cowboys died this way!

Sam Carlson said...

Third shot - "I wanna get up there about even with the poles, and use one to frame the left side of the shot. But it sure sounds like a rattlesnake up there! Besides, my leg hurts."

Sam Carlson said...

Fourth shot, you wanted a nice going shot of the Old Man watching the train. Unfortunately, you didn't have time to plan this one out, otherwise you would've loaded some color film which would have allowed the Old Man to stand out more. But I'd keep it anyway!

Sam Carlson said...

Last shot - You waited a long time for a train and now one is here - almost. You got too excited and started shooting too soon. Sort of like dipping into the stew before it's done. And then later stewing over it

Martin Burwash said...

Love your comments Sam!

Shot 1.....trouble is, I took 5 or 6 really good shots illustrating the siding construction before taking this shot.

Shot 2..... Yep, you nailed it

Shot 3.....You might be close with your observation....I still wonder why I didn't take a shot of the helper coming at me where the sun would have been on the nose....

Shot 4.....but knowing color is not an option...still doesn't explain what I was up to.....and yes, it's a 6x7 neg so it will be kept.

Shot 5....remember, I'm using an RB67....10 pics per roll, remove the film back slide, click the shutter release, manually advance the film, manually re-cock the're ready for the next don't just fire away......

Fun stuff...thanks to commenting!