Revel In Failure

April 22, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

When I teach my lighting class one of the important philosophical concepts that I try to get the students to grasp is that photography ain't easy. If you don't take the time to learn from your failures then you will never learn anything. If you can accept that it takes a long time to get any good at anything then you can begin to revel in the failures and move forward taking those lessons to your next snap of the shutter. I've been blessed to be exposed to so many photographers that are so much better than I am and in that I've been pushed to try things that I either never thought I would do or even could do. Lately i've been very focused on TimeLapses due to their polar opposition to the type of shooting that i generally do. In my portrait shooting I have a lot of control. Control over the clothing, light, location, look, posing, etc. It still is an adventure but small failures cost me 1/250th of a second or even less before I'm shooting again and trying something different. With timelapse those experiments, errors, and evaluations take much longer and the finished product depends on cooperation of location and lighting as well as the planning and control that I enjoy about photography. For me it's like the difference between poker and blackjack (the only two games i play in any casino) - Poker is a game of skill with an element of luck. That is my portrait photography. Blackjack is a game of chance with an element of skill. That is timelapse. Two of my favorite quotes come to mind each time I shoot timelapse especially in the dark.


"You're first ten thousand photographs are your worst" - Henri Cartier-Bresson

"Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth" - Mike Tyson


Last night I spent a few hours out in the cold trying desperately to capture the Lyrids meteor shower. Living in central New Jersey it's not ideal - too much light pollution makes the relative brightness of the stars seem diminished compared to the same view out West or in areas with less population (and hence less manmade light)  I picked a spot i've driven by based on the power lines in the background without scouting in day light. MISTAKE. The ground basically is a marsh at this point due to the rain. So I never could get away from the road like i wanted so you see the flickering of headlights to camera right. I used my Skyguide app to see where the meteor shower was supposed to be most visible. I aimed. I picked an exposure that would show me the stars and give me the foreground and diminish the houses on the horizon and.... voila! I got this. Not what i expected and with very little meteor activity. 

So it's morning. I'm tired. i'm disappointed and trying to find solace in the fact that I learned a few things, that any time shooting is better than sitting on the couch, that I have this thing to share and even if it's not what I wanted it to be it's something I made from nothing.

350 shots at 10 seconds each to be...underwhelmed. Add in the time processing the images and...well It's not the worst thing I've ever shot but I'm happy that with timelapses the 10,000 shots Mr. Cartier-Bresson spoke of come very fast.... 



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