Friday, March 14, 2014

Seeing light, shadows, textures and designs

I often bring my camera with me when Toshi and I are on our daily walks. We try to hit a different park, so that it gives him different areas to mark and remark his terrorizes.  If you own a male dog you know what I mean.

Going to parks at various times during the day,  gives me a chance to study the surroundings under different lighting conditions, seeing the shadows, texture, design and just how the light falls upon a subject.

I can remember many years ago,  I'd turn up my nose nature photography. Well, I liked landscape, however, I was not a fan of detail shots.   While stationed with the Navy in Monterey, I attended the Monterey Peninsula College during my off hours when I wasn't freelancing, mostly covering sports for the Monterey Peninsula Herald. During the start of a new semester and hoping for an easy credit,  I enrolled into a Fine Arts Photography Class,  which wasn't what I expected and no easy grade. At one time, our instructor, worked under the guidance of Ansel Adams, one of the Masters of Landscape photography.   While everyone else turned in beautify landscapes and detailed pictures, my were features of people somewhere within the photograph, which is not he wanted to see turned in as a class assignment. Being a photojournalist, I just couldn't or wouldn't grasp the concept of Fine Art Photography and we just didn't see eye to eye.

At the end of one class, the instructor informed us that next week's class was mandatory attendance because he invited a "special visitor". The following week arrived and we were treated to a night with our surprise guest, Ansel Adams.  We listen to his stories on how certain photographs were made and afterwards showed him our work.  He liked the class so much that we were invited on a photographic walkabout at Pt. Lobos and told us to bring our cameras and tripods.

Unfortunately, the night before I had the quarterdeck mid-watch and couldn't get there until after being relieved. By the time I arrived and finally caught up with the group they were armed with 4x5 and 2 1/4 format cameras, all on tripods, situated in a semicircle around a weather beaten tree. I put a wide angle lens on one camera and a telephoto on the other and began taking pictures of my fellow students. A few minutes later, I heard a commanding voice, "Look at the want to be photographer with his sub miniature camera!", it was Ansel Adams, staring straight at me. My classmates started to laugh, which really pissed me off.  I can still remember telling Mr. Adams, "There's nothing more boring than taking pictures of doorknobs and knotholes. To me, the picture, is everyone gathered around this old gnarled tree with you instructing." As I heard a collective grasp coming from those nearest to me, Adam turned, laughed and said, "I like your tenacity, you're going to go far as a photojournalist. "

Throughout the following years I began to finely hone my skills and began to notice the beauty of  light,  how it made my pictures better and to this day I continue to chase the light.