Like Tying A Shoe

Wat Phra Mahathat Chedi Chaimongkol, Thailand

Wat Phra Mahathat Chedi Chaimongkol, Thailand

In the beginning of my journey as a photographer I “did” in my wildest dreams, think about what it would be like to travel to a foreign land and find awesome locations to photograph. Traveling hours by car, then trekking up a mountain by foot with gear in tow, just to see a beautiful temple. To explore the temple grounds finding angles, setting up HDR shots, then going inside the temple. Then one day I lived that dream. It didn’t seem like I was living it at first. But all of the sudden I stopped and looked around me. I mean just stopped dead in my tracks and took in where I was and where I was from. And that my friend… was an awesome feeling. I was inside this magnificent temple over 8000 miles away from my home, I was hot and drenched with sweat sitting on the floor as a light and ever so welcome breeze came in through the window. I was in a temple in Northeast Thailand well off the beaten path of the average tourist. And after this location I’m headed up the Thai/Lao border to capture images of the Friendship bridge. Could this be any better an opportunity for a photographer of any level from novice to pro. There are so many things to capture images of people, buildings, landscapes, plants & flowers… the list goes on. I was getting dizzy just thinking  about it. But it was time to focus. Like a lens I needed to focus on one thing at a time and get it right. Afterall it’s not like I can just come back and do a reshoot next week. So this is when all your practice comes in handy. Yes good photographers practice. You know your camera setting so well that you never even give a thought as to whether or not the shot is going to turn out good or bad. I equate it to my guitar playing. Yes I am a guitar player of over 30 years. If I have practiced a song enough, like any musician the music just flows, it is more of a feeling and you never think of the next chord or the solo, but rather it just happens. Photography is very much the same. There are many times I like many others have gotten a “lucky” shot. You just happen to be in the right place at the right time to get an awesome photo. But what good does being in the right place at the right time do for you if you have to stop and think about ISO, f stops, white balance ect… Sure you could walk around with the camera in “Auto” mode and let whoever designed the camera’s Auto mode do your creative work for you. Or tell everyone in the scene to “hold on while I get out my light meter.” I’ll quote Joel Grimes here, “A light meter is great, but it can not make a creative decision.” So therefore it is you who must make the creative decision and you’ll arrive at that decision from all your practice, from all the times you got it wrong but kept trying until you got it right without even thinking about it. Like tying a shoe. Did you think about how to tie your shoe this morning?

So now with all that said it brings us to the shot above. Looks simple… just take your time, compose and shoot. Hummm… not quite that easy. See I did not want people in the shot. Not so easy when there are people sitting in prayer all the time. I remember thinking how funny the situation was because usually you have problems where you’re taking a shot “with” people in the photograph. Maybe you want see faces or catch expressions, but in this case the problem was keeping them out of the picture. Ironic. I had to wait until no one was sitting to get my shot and this place was busy. So I would get these 10 to 45 second windows of opportunity to shoot. So when the floor cleared I just snapped 3 quick shots and moved on. If I had to sit there and think about it… sure I could have still gotten the shot but it would have taken longer, a lot longer.

So in conclusion: Yes photographers do practice. A fellow photographer and reader of this blog stated recently the “Photography–one of the most misunderstood trades.” How right and profound that statement is.

This is an HDR photo made from three shots from a tripod inside the temple Wat Phra Mahathat Chedi Chaimongkol, Thailand

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