A repost from 2016
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“There is only you and the camera.
The limitations in your photography are in yourself,
for what we see is what we are.” — Ernst Haas
By Jim Byous
I love the light in Savannah, Georgia. It’s different – daylight that is. The light in California can also be beautiful but it can also be stark and sharp. It wraps the subject differently. In Oklahoma it is different. Gorgeous, but the colors and shadows and hues for an image are harder to read.
But in Savannah it can be pre-visualized. It’s not predictable, but pre-viewable. Over the years I learned to watch the sky on the night before or during the late afternoon just before sunset. The sky will give a hint of what could come. Faint tints of magenta, violet and other hues of light in the red range will often peak and wave before most eyes can pick them up. The purpose of a beautiful photo is not to represent what is recorded on the film or sensor. It is to record and represent the emotion found at the scene by the observer, then convey it in the image to the viewer. That is a factor that changes recording into an art.
Many years ago, as a young photographer, I heard photo-icon Ernst Haas speak. He talked of one of his inspirations, painter Claude Monet and his description of the light in paintings. Monet saw the light when most did not, then put it down on in oils. Haas was able to see the same light. It takes time, learning to see it, but it is worth the wait. I’m still learning.
Much of art is in timing. In all art forms timing can be a hallmark of excellence or a stamp of rejection, a point of beauty or one of mediocrity and can determine the success of the work – or of its failure. The leap of a ballerina, the swing of a baseball bat, a stroke of pigment across a wet and differing color, timing can dictate the value and desirability and the essence of art.
Life is like that. We are put here with free will. We all are born with differing mediums; oils, granite, speech, dance, light, mathematics. Each person is the artist and designer of their destiny, the ultimate portrait of ourselves. Each of us creates the outcome when taking a dull, blank plane of canvas or a shapeless lump of goo or a pile of junk and rubbish and creating something wonderful by turning it into something or nothing or letting it decay into oblivion. We all start the same, wet and slimy, tied to the past by the cord that fed us and nurtured us and brought us to the beginning. We all make ourselves what we are.
However, there are always outside factors. The nudge in the wrong direction, the ball that curves, the paint that will not oxidize or dry, influences to change life’s direction or obscure the purpose. The art of life is to know the differences or learn them as we progress. We can wallow in the dung or we can use it as fertilizer that which will help us grow and reach upward. The art of art is to act similarly, throw out the crap and keep the work that grows inspiration in others but especially that nurtures inspiration in you.
Photography is like that. Sometimes catching the moment is instant. Sometimes it requires patience – lots of patience – to hold on beyond the this-just-doesn’t-quite-get-it phase to the shoot-fast-and-shoot-often period.
Sometimes in life and in art you see it forming. You perceive it and plan for it. It can be complex. It can be simple.
Wait for the light.
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© J Byous Company 2018, All rights reserved
Tags: Photography, Ernst Haas, Monet, light, art, Savannah