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The One(s) That Got Away – Weekly Photo Challenge; Shaping Your Story

“The challenge of photography is to show the thing photographed so that our feelings are awakened and hidden aspects are revealed to us.”

Emmet Gowin

ALIEN LANDING
ALIEN LANDING – Cherry at the Top

Photography is hard. Those brilliant captures you see in National Geographic? They don’t just happen. Someone spent months researching them, spent thousands of dollars on equipment, and then spent days, weeks, months or even years waiting for just the right moment. PBS’s brilliant Planet Earth series did a great job illustrating that with their “Behind the Scenes” segments.

ALONE
ALONE

“Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.”

David Alan Harvey

So what does that have to do with anything? Well, this week our travels took us (unexpectedly) into The Palouse, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It was magnificent really – mile after mile of gently rolling hills with geometrically perfect abstracts of golden yellow wheat, sapphire blue skies and verdant green fields – all topped off by the occasional farmhouse or the sudden appearance of a field of giant wind turbines.

SUNLIGHT AND DARKNESS
SUNLIGHT AND DARKNESS

“I still find the camera to be an endlessly intriguing partner that challenges my imagination and knowledge.”

Ralph Auletta

Photographers flock to the Palouse having planned their itineraries far in advance. They know where the best scenes are and at what time the best light will make them glow.  I, on the other hand, didn’t even know we’d be passing through. As we raced by at 60 mph, my wide angle lens and tripod were neatly packed away under 2-months-worth of luggage. The sun was high overhead, creating deep shadows, as huge trucks full of grain, or produce, or farm equipment made it nearly impossible to pull over in the narrow roads.

WHEAT AND WINE
WHEAT AND WINE

“Creating great images isn’t about the tools….the real challenge is coming up with an image that resonates, first of all with yourself and hopefully with an audience.”

Jerry Uelsmann

So, I explained to my ever-patient husband when asked, I was not using my camera to capture the incredible scenes as we flew by, I was using my eyes – taking it all in and trying to memorize every moment the way I imagine a painter might if he or she were trying to capture a scene for later re-creation.

YELLOW GOLD
YELLOW GOLD

“I realize more and more what it takes to be a really good photographer. You go in over your head, not just up to your neck.”

Dorothea Lange

Several years ago, while in China, we visited a beautiful Buddhist temple. As we rounded a blind corner I saw a very young monk – maybe 10 or 11 years old – peeking out of a pair of huge yellow doors. He was dressed in red robes and, framed perfectly, would have made a fantastic subject. Alas, as soon as I noticed him he darted back inside and the moment was lost. I’ve been haunted by that miss ever since.

This week, once again, I saw a scene that captivated me. It was a young girl – maybe 5 or 6 – with curly blonde hair lit by the sun. Behind her was a broken-down clapboard house with peeling paint set in the midst of a farm that had seen better days. Dorothea Lange would have loved it. But just like that the moment passed, never to be recaptured except in my mind’s eye.

BALES
BALES

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.”

Ansel Adams

With today’s technology, everyone can take pictures. Look around you and notice the number of i-phones and i-pads working to document an adventure or record an event.  But not everyone can create a photograph…and there is a world of difference between the two. Photography as art, whether made with a Hasselblad or an i-phone, generates an emotional response from the viewer. If a scene, it makes us want to visit. If a portrait, it makes us wonder about the subject and perhaps makes us want to know them – or glad we don’t.  A good news photographer can make us feel the pain of a child surrounded by war or suffering from disease or hunger.  A talented nature photographer creates a sense of wonder at the power or the peacefulness of the world around us.
COLOR
COLOR

“The photograph is an undeniably powerful medium. Free from the constraints of language, and harnessing the unique qualities of a single moment frozen in time.”

Steve McCurry

So I don’t give up, I keep looking – more importantly, I keep seeing and keep shooting. I work to capture images with my eyes, my mind and my heart.  Someday, with enough study, and preparation, and yes luck, I just might find that perfect moment when it all comes together just as I know it can. In the meanwhile, I’ll be out there enjoying the journey.

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85 thoughts on “The One(s) That Got Away – Weekly Photo Challenge; Shaping Your Story Leave a comment

  1. “not everyone can create a photograph…” — Truth! To me every single frame in this post is an attempt to communicate a feeling, not ‘take a shot’. I think one pre-requisite to creating a photograph is the ability to be deeply moved by life around you — a little uncommon in the era of selfies and instagram!

  2. Oh Tina, you have perfect moments aplenty right here! I know what you mean about photographers and the Palouse (I haven’t gotten over there yet!) but so many images I see look the same. Yours are different, and they illustrate just what you are saying (so artfully) here. The quotes are just wonderful, too. I’m glad you passed through! A great post.

  3. I believe u have found MANY ‘Perfect Moments’ and I feel very lucky to be a recipient of your brilliant eye!!! This post is absolutely fabulous…the detail…color….just can’t stop looking at ‘sunlight & darkness’ & ‘bales’….truly great shots!!!😜

  4. You open this post well with teasing us about “Those brilliant captures you see in National Geographic? They don’t just happen.” and then you make them happen by mapping out the Palouse with these photos. The Palouse are pretty much in my backyard, and I’ve driven them several times…but yet to shoot one photo. I do not know why (perhaps the idea of ‘i’ll shoot them one day…seriously), but your view of all the beauty and capturing them by just getting out is very inspirational. You’ve seem to covered the great Pacific Northwest quite well ~ I’m envious in a very positive way, as I am now back in Seattle 🙂

    • Welcome home Randall! I’m guessing that like me shooting in your own backyard isn’t as appealing as shooting in faraway places. I know there are several places in the Charleston area that I keep promising myself I’ll go shoot but somehow I never get around to it. But I WILL, I just know it! Anyway your geography out there is amazing; although quite a difference from Hong Kong!

  5. You definitely created an emotional response for me with your photos. Stunning! The last one made me reflect back to childhood memories helping my grandfather out in the barn:) And thanks for adding the quotes for inspiration!
    Inger

    • Many thanks Inger for your wonderful compliment – we can hope for nothing more than to create a response with our viewers, don’t you think? Your own photography does a great job of exactly that.

  6. Thought-provoking post, Tina. It’s nice to take a break from seeing our world through a lens isn’t it? So much can be missed and eye pictures are great memories. Terrific images to make up for the ones that were lost, I think. Agree that planning and fancy equipment may be important yet some of my favorite images are taken in spontaneous moments…with a smartphone. As Cartier-Bresson says, “Of course it’s all luck.”

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment Jane – yep, some of those spontaneous shots are right up there with the well-prepared for sure. Happily, the i-phone offers a great option that falls between a miss and a get. I have to keep reminding myself to use it though – not nearly as adept with it as you are my friend!

  7. Hey Tina, Boy, did I ever enjoy this. Just amazing. Thank you. Where are you two now? Hot as hell here now. Struggling to get a golf game. Dar

    Sent from my iPad

    • Hi Dar! Thanks so much for the sweet note. We’re steaming away in Delaware at my family’s annual reunion. Great fun but MAN it’s hot!! Off to Asheville soon. Stay warm GF!

      >

  8. Truly a wonderful post Tina- my first reaction relates to how it felt to read each section – get lost in your missed shots – which actually were not ones that fully got away because your adept writing kept them alive – ahhhh – victor Hugo would be proud!
    And so reading the quotes and of connected photos and then that part about the young monk and girl – the next photo (titled color) was like bam!
    It was moving –
    The geometrics and the segments in the composition (and color) – but then he soft clouds with the hard wood – the back depth and close green – such a cool shot on its own – but placed right there in the post was powerful – for me at least. That ending “color” photo also could be what it would feel like if we jumped into the “snap the whip” painting! Ha! Passed the kids and got right up to the red building – (or not)

    I also now have this nice stuff to chew on After this post. Like the hard work behind the photos – never saw the pbs special – but hard work indeed! And then the difference between pictures and photographs and the various quotes about tools and feelings imbued – . Well done with the flow in those (Harvey quote my fav)

    And I Guess another thought this post leaves me (while thinking about the work it takes to get magical moving shots) well – I wonder how a “photographer blogger” fits in to this perspective – you know – those talented ones that can present their photos – hand picked quotes – and then use their talented writing to share perosnal and professional stuff about the topic – to give the reader/viewer an experience – which. Is what you did here – and with this kind of post – gosh – I think readers can take away different things – like how many folks are drooling over the lines with the sand and wind tunnels – or the myriad mix – yet still connected – pieces here –
    And that is probably a bit much on the praise for a comment here – so I will end and say good night!
    Thanks for a great post to end a very long day….
    Xxoo 🌺🌺🌺

    • Hi Yvette – thanks so much for the thoughtful comment and for taking the time to really consider the post. I will admit to having given this one a bit more thought than most! So happy you appreciated it.

      • Well I think that is what added to it – the fact that this was a bit different – and actually Amy’s comment Described it well – it was your personal thoughts that added so much here.
        And side note on the missed shots – we were driving the other day and two young folks were carrying a huge used cat play station and a bit later my husband told me I should have gotten a photo – he was right – but too late to go back!
        He has also told me that I need a GoPro strapped to me at all times – lol – nah….but maybe???
        Well maybe some folks should strap one on during photo shoots?
        Ok – hope u have a great wek

  9. Sometimes, it is better to have wistful memories of a place than photos. You’ll remember it longer and have a certain connection with it.

    • YAY, thanks Jeannie! Some of the older farmhouses reminded me of the day you and I went out shooting in Michigan. Looking forward to your cool temps – Delaware is SWELTERING!!

      >

  10. You constantly treat us to your wonderful journeys to magical places that you make us feel we have seen with you. And your quotes inspire picturesi n our minds as well. Thank you for taking me to so many places that I will only see because I am traveling with you. ML

  11. Love the David Alan Harvey quote. The distinction between photography and an image. Feeling and emotions are powerful, and they are what connects us to those around us. So sorry to hear you camera gear was tucked away under luggage…but glad you got to see it for yourself and immerse in the moment. Beautiful captures all round. So many times I put my gear away and then decide I can get a better photo…and cue lots of fumbling 😀

    • LOL on the fumbling – been there done that. Earlier on this trip there was a bear on one of the greens when we were golfing. I fumbled to get my camera out and missed him standing fully upright and running away. AAAARGH!!!!

  12. Your narrative and quotes are exceptional. I also like the variety of images in the message and love the scene with an old house and contrasting fields of bare earth and grain. Thanks for this thought-provoking post Tina.

  13. Make no mistake: you create photos and feelings, Tina. Funny that you should mention the missed shots that live only in your head. Only a few days ago I jotted down some thoughts like that for an upcoming blog post (yet to be created.) One last thing I’ve learned about those fabulous photos. They’ve usually been edited rather comprehensively as well. 🙂

    janet

    • Thanks Janet – will look forward to the post! As for the photos I’m sure you’re right – a good editor can make a huge difference. I still remember laughing out loud when I spoke to a local printer about a capture a local pro photographer had made. He said she had no idea but he edited her photos extensively every time he printed one for her LOL!!!

  14. Some really nice images here, not many people I know like wind turbines but I love them. I think I really like the image with the red wooden wall the most, I am no photographer but that really shows the power of the rule of thirds! 🙂

  15. Tina, You are incredibly inspiring! All the quotes are not just beautiful, so true and memorable. We take journeys in our lives and try to keep the memories vivid with photos ~ so grateful for them, more so we start to forget… Have always been a fan of wind turbines and wheat farms ~ your takes are spectacular!

    • Many thanks Atureaud – yes the wind turbines are really something aren’t they? After miles of open fields all of a sudden there they are, seemingly from out of nowhere! Thanks for your lovely comment.

  16. Being a very unaccomplished photographer, I have always felt my mental snapshots were extra valuable as memories – partly because I can’t capture everything I see, feel, hear, etc for the very reasons you mention. When I think about it, though, that bias toward enjoying the scene without the camera is probably why I am still so unaccomplished! I am trying to find a happy medium these days!

    • Unaccomplished is certainly NOT a word I’d use for you Lex, but accomplished or not, we ALL make better captures with our eyes than with our lenses, don’t you think?!

  17. Fabulous post, Tina. Your words were so descriptive that I could see those missed opportunities in my mind’s eye, and am not surprised that the memories have stayed with you. The Palouse looks so magical, and must be a photographer’s dream. Lucky you to have experienced it.

  18. Ah, Tina, you most certainly do capture images with your eyes, mind and heart….but I can empathise with the ‘lost moments’…I have a good few that play only within my mind! Some great images here, and I know there will be plenty more to come

  19. You have shared a lot of ” perfect moments” in my mind’s eye…. You just keep doing. what you are doing and sharing the joys of the journey as only you do…
    L

  20. Loved your commentary as much as the photos. Never heard of the Palouse, but it must be beautiful. Keep looking, keep shooting, and keep writing.

  21. There is no such thing as one perfect moment. In our lifetime there have been many and you have captured many of them with your eye and heart and a surrogate piece of equipment, including the current post. Not bad for whizzing by at 60 mph or was it 70 or 80.

  22. Beautiful images. There have been times I have caught something I wished so badly I could photograph. The one that got away. I want a camera in my eyes, so those moments can be caught.

    • Thanks Mary – no doubt the next generation will have exactly that. This question is, how will they get the photos from their brains to something they can show them on! no doubt they’ll have a virtual reality screen they can share with anyone who is interested!

  23. Enjoying the journey is such an important aspect of it all Tina and I’m so glad that you are. We are all in search of photographs that generate that emotional response and that ask of the viewer to perhaps see the world in a slightly different way, our way, and to be rewarded by that experience. Being able to capture those photographs most certainly doesn’t happen overnight, it takes work and all the time that work is enjoyable to us, we stand a chance. Smashing post Tina. Really enjoyed it.

    • Thanks so much Adrian – somehow I think you’ve had some of the same thoughts along the way, although reading your posts I suspect you’re much better at the planning/preparation aspect!

  24. I love all the quotes. Ahh, and you’ve made me think of all the photographs I’ve missed because I didn’t have the camera or I was whizzing by or I couldn’t break away from a conversation without being rude. And what a wonderful series of landscape pictures. I love the textures and how you’ve identified something to focus on in each case, otherwise the picture would’ve been “flat”.

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