category: commentary
How to take a good picture
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Here are my three hard-and-fast rules for taking a good picture:

  1. Procure a camera (of any kind, quality).
  2. Figure out how to turn it on, press the shutter and capture the image (also helps to learn how to get the image out of the camera and into a viewable form, though lacking this doesn’t technically prevent the taking of a good picture, it sure gets in the way of viewing it).
  3. Point the camera at something that captures your attention, sparks your imagination, intrigues you, makes you feel something and then press the shutter.

Simple. A good picture captured. Then repeat. Often. You see, a bad picture is the one not taken. A good picture is the one you take.

Don’t get caught up in the hyperbole of quality, artistic value, style, composition, lighting etc. These are all subjective qualities. Just take pictures. Use your eyes, heart and head. Trust your feelings. Your technical skills will evolve and improve with each exposure. Your own style will emerge through the act of doing.

It’s really that easy.

I Despise HDR
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I’ve been scouring a lot of photo sites lately and I’ve come to the conclusion that I really can’t stand HDR photos. They bug the crap out of me. I lean to photo realism and capturing scenes as they are. I will push and pull shadows and highlights a little and occasionally desaturate selectively tweaking outputs to enhance the feel of what I’ve captured but the whole HDR ‘trend’ is something my aesthetic revolts against. Anyway just browse through and you’ll see what I’m getting on about. There, I’ve got that off my chest.

Thoughts – I’m Getting Really Good at Taking Bad Pictures…
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I’ve been taking more and more crap pictures lately. Tonnes of garbage. I used to kind of gauge my photowalks by my ‘strike rate’ – the number of good images out of total images shot. I never tallied this but just had a sense that for every 100 clicks there would always be about 5 or 6 pretty decent shots that I liked and would have no problem posting. But lately, I’ve been getting maybe 1 or 2 out of 300 or so… a drop from say 5% to less than 1%… Enough that it has made me wonder why.

Am I losing my vision?

Is it getting harder to find new and unique things to shoot?

Have I lost my desire to explore?

Lots of questions. No answers.

It’s been like this a while. It’s made me wonder if this ‘hobby’ / ‘artistic endeavour’ has run its course in me. I’ve even contemplated scuttling this whole site (or at least put it into hibernation for a while) but alas this approach never solved anything, nor does it get to the root of the issue.

After all, photography to me is therapy.

And so I have simply concluded that strike rate and success are not the same thing. Success to me in photography is the mere attempt at trying to capture and record a feeling in something seen.

It requires a camera and the eye to see it all but most importantly it requires a set of emotions and feelings to interpret what the eye is seeing and the camera captures. And this to me will never go away as long as I have a camera and try to take pictures the way I do.

Please enjoy.

Great Book: Annie Leibovitz “At Work”
Annie Leibovitz At Work

I was given this book at Christmastime and devoured it within a week. It’s a great read and a must for anyone looking for perspective on how to create images that transcend the mundane. I for one am seemingly always questioning my image taking and making as the struggle for originality and generating feeling conflicts with varying levels of self confidence and skepticism about the entire photographic realm…

What’s especially enlightening is Leibovitz’s approach to a subject and the pre-shoot process that leads to the magic on shoot day. She outlined the research into the subject’s persona that leads to the story idea that becomes the shoot premise. It was inspirational and educational.

And needless to say, I’m a huge Leibovitz fan!

From Amazon: “Annie Leibovitz describes how her pictures were made, starting with Richard Nixon’s resignation, a story she covered with Hunter S. Thompson, and ending with Barack Obama’s campaign. In between are a Rolling Stones Tour, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, The Blues Brothers, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Keith Haring, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Patti Smith, George W. Bush, William S. Burroughs, Kate Moss and Queen Elizabeth. The most celebrated photographer of our time discusses portraiture, reportage, fashion photography, lighting, and digital cameras.”

*** Note: I’m going to be adding more writing content interspersed with my images. I had been using a Facebook page for these types of posts but it was a pain so killed that altogether and am consolidating this here in the ‘Commentary’ category. There will be Photog News, Book Reviews, Tech Notes and various other photography tidbits. Hope you like, Ken ***

Random Thoughts: Experimentation and Breaking the Mould
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Random thoughts here as I edit my next batch of photos… Still evolving and feel all over the place as a photog, still doing this just for me, wandering, exploring… I sincerely appreciate all the comments I receive and am surprised and happy that many of you do drop by my site and check out my work.

First comment is this site, I keep wanting to tear it down and redesign it or at lease evolve it. Not that I don’t like it but I like to keep it fresh. I have my digital paintbrush out and may change up a few things over the next few weeks.

As for the photos, I read something recently about getting out of your comfort zone, stop shooting the same stuff the same way again and again and i think with this next set I’ve tried a few new things, slowing down the shutter, clsoing down the aperture and really not giving a damn about motion or wobble. Some of these pictures have turned into pleasant surprises.

As for subjects, LA was back on my agenda so some new things to look at but sadly didn’t have much free time to wander with my camera. Have to admit I am getting bored of my hood and the walks from my house, will need to expand my geographic horizons as I continue to try to find myself through my lens.

Peace, Ken

Must See Film

Can’t wait to see this film: Bill Cunningham New York. Pure photography. Pure style. Pure inspiration.

Carpe diem, you only have ‘x’ left
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This is a bit of a test post.  I have added the Insert PHP plugin to this WordPress installation and after a few tweaks it’s now working great.  I’ve also played around with the site’s CSS to add a custom content highlight section.

Below is a simple PHP driven day counter. The output results are the number of days I’ve been alive and the number of days I have left (per current actuarial life expectancy tables for Canadian men of my age).

Some simple math:

Days I have been alive: 19,315

Days I have remaining: 12,621

Slightly morbid, but an interesting metric. A good reminder not to waste the days away.

Cheers and carpe diem.

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.

Henri Cartier-Bresson