Shooting for Fun, and Finding a Little Redemption

A moment of wonder in the entryway of the California Science Center

I shot badly yesterday. Very badly. I violated several of my own rules and delivered unusable publicity photos to a theater producer. I felt – and feel – awful about it. I made many technical mistakes, but the biggest error was experimenting stylistically without consulting the “client.” I was supposed to be shooting for someone else, but I shot for myself, and that rarely ends well. I scrambled to create replacement photos through liberal post-processing, and squeaked a few useful images out.

So today I paid a pleasant penance to see if I could redeem my sense of personal vision. I went to the California Science Center to see the Cleopatra exhibit. I brought one camera and one prime lens – the 35mm f/2.0, determined to have fun and make photos for myself. Normally I disparage photos from museums, because many are simply documents of other people’s artwork. I wanted to see if I could make something of my own, and I think it worked out pretty well.

Most of the artifacts were ensconced in plexiglass cases. Lacking a polarizing filter, I chose to make the reflections work for me rather than against me.

This exhibit doesn’t just show the artifacts; it shows them being recovered from the recently explored parts of Alexandria that were submerged by a tsunami.

I tried to find angles that make the museum lights part of the composition.

Carrying a single prime lens made my choices much simpler. I couldn’t show the entire gigantic statue, but I didn’t want to isolate this portion in the darkness either. With all this negative space, the lights add a compositional element as well as “motivated lighting” on the statue.

Once again, I exaggerated the reflections in the plexiglass to add another dimension of texture.

Okay, here’s the redemption part. I looked out the window and saw this. Out in the world with one camera and one lens, and LOOKING. This may surprise fans of my wildlife photos, but I think this is the finest photograph I’ve ever made.

Never let it be said that the ancient Egyptians lacked a sense of humor. My sister thought the archeologists had found the original Marx Brother.

THIS is how I felt making pictures today. The moral of the story is that I have plenty of opportunities to shoot for myself. When shooting for others, I must remember to put their needs first.

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Filed under Camera Gear, Composition, Lighting, Motivation

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