Photography, Communications & Me

Opportunities Abound

A common misconception I see among amateur photographers is this notion that good photography requires exotic locales. Instagram doesn’t help matters with infinity-scrolls of perfectly fantastic images. The simple fact is, though, that with practice, patience and a willingness to explore the areas around us, there’s plenty to shoot. Especially by explore the golden hours.

I was recently traveling for work, and there was nothing particularly pretty about the area. Lots of suburban sprawl and traffic. Plus, it’s winter. The sun rises late. It’s cold at night. The trees are barren. Those aren’t negatives! Use what’s around to your advantage! I didn’t have a camera with me, so I used this a scouting exercise. What can I see that I could make a nice photograph?

I was driving to catch an early-morning flight. The sun wasn’t quite up yet, and there was a hill blocking the horizon. And it would be easy to think there was nothing to shoot. I’d driven by an ugly creek on prior visits, and no matter the angle, it never looked special. But this morning it did! The hill made the foreground lighter, showing a calm, welcoming creek with plenty of open space on either side. But then shadows of the hill darkened the area around the creek bend – right where it narrowed. And because it was a winter morning, “steam fog” rose from the creek. The barren trees were the coup de grace, turning a placid creek into the entrance to Hell itself.

The funny thing is, once you start seeing images to take, you can’t stop seeing more. As I drove to the airport, I ticked-off at least half-a-dozen images I’d want to take—even if just on my cell phone—that is, if I didn’t have a plane to catch. A dilapidated barn basking in the early morning sun. A cow stepping into the light along a barbed-wire fence and a frosty field. Another creek with steam fog. It could have easily taken me an hour to drive those 25 minutes if I was stopping and snapping.

When I got home that night, I grabbed my travel camera, the excellent Fujifilm X100T. It was 19F outside, and the sun was almost gone. But I wanted to prove that even in my neighborhood, I, too, could make a nice image. Is it a great image? No. Not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the whole reason I wanted to take the shot was the bridge silhouette with the pond and the sunset. But the bridge disappeared into the background, so all I got was the ghost bridge in the water. But it does show how easy it is to stop and appreciate the world around us. Even if just for a moment.

  • Eaves, Chris (Jan. 9, 2019). Suburban Sunset No. 1 [Photograph]. Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Shot on a Fujifilm X100T at 23mm (fixed), f2, 1/15 sec., ISO400 with a -2.7 exposure bias.

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