A Bad Night Taking Pictures is Better Than a Good Day Hauling Dirt

When things aren't going well, it's a great relief to work with friends. I've photographed Holly and Buddy many times, and we know each other well enough to relax and play a bit.

In my endless quest to find a form of exercise I can tolerate, I recently decided to try yard work. Overall, it’s going pretty well. Had I known that dealing with weeds would provide a universally approved outlet for my violent impulses, I would have taken up gardening years ago.

Yesterday I spent the morning digging out areas of the yard where flood mud settled in 1998 and 2005, and then I hauled that beautiful dirt to a couple of raised beds I built last week. By hour five, the dirt didn’t seem so beautiful anymore. I called it a day when I had one half-filled box (6′x4′x1.5′, lest you think I’m a slacker) and a sneaking suspicion that my grading work was actually making our drainage problems worse. No matter, I knew I’d get at it again tomorrow. In the meantime, my spirits lifted because I had a photo assignment.

The Ojai Art Center Theater Holiday Show needed publicity photos, so off to the theater I went.

But, to paraphrase Old Lodge Skins, “sometimes the magic doesn’t work.”

The show has a very big cast, and it turns out that instead of rehearsal candids, they needed static group shots. Regular readers know that group shots are my second least favorite photographic task. I say second least favorite because I am an optimist – I’m sure there’s something worse out there.

I just had one of those nights. I couldn’t get the lights right, I couldn’t find an interesting angle, the subjects couldn’t hear me because there were never less than eight people talking.  The results are okay, but I’ve reached a stage where “okay” just depresses me. When I haul my lights and camera gear to a location, I want to make something special. But of course, sometimes I’m lucky to come up with something usable. And it’s still more fun than hauling dirt.

A professional photographer would probably cut and paste from multiple images to make sure everybody's expression is perfect. I'm not willing to put that kind of effort into a publicity photo that will be small and poorly printed. So I choose group shots based on the ratio of good to weird expressions. Or, as below, the ratio of open to closed eyes.

1 Comment

Filed under Composition, Dance and Theater, Lighting, Motivation, Professional vs. Amateur

One response to “A Bad Night Taking Pictures is Better Than a Good Day Hauling Dirt

  1. myrna

    well … what are you going to put in the raised beds? vegetables i hope … veggies are great for posed group photos and they just speak in delicate whispers

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