March 13th pictures: spring hungers to prove itself

Obligatory weather report: today it reached a high of 68°F and tomorrow it’s supposed to be 72°F. Fancy that. I was able to sit out in the sunshine for a good deal this afternoon and now my arms and shoulders feel warmish, still, kind of like pre-sunburn. It felt good, though. A little later on my walk I found no shortage of things living (and dead, spoiler alert) to take pictures of.

1. A stinkbug!

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34 thoughts on “March 13th pictures: spring hungers to prove itself

  1. WOW! Girl, you are outdoing yourself! These are some awesome shots. How lucky you are to live in such a gorgeous spot at the perfect time of year. Thank you!

  2. Good job. Now you have me looking at sticks and under tree limbs. And my kids are doing it, too. And people are giving us funny looks. This is getting rather contagious! Thanks for the great set of pictures.

  3. The runes on the tree look familiar . . . whatever you do, don’t try to read them. So, #2, #23, and #51 caught my eye.

    Nice work. Just out of curiosity, how long does it take you to prep the photos?

    And I know you’ve not answered before, but what camera/lens combination do you use? I won’t mind if you rather not answer.

  4. There are several absolutely stunning photos here, but I feel you do yourself a disservice by including the weaker ones. Your best work is outstanding in observation and execution – I don’t think you need the rest.

    • Interesting.

      Isn’t the enjoyment of art (and photography is art) a rather subjective personal experience? I seldom agree with other readers as to which is the “best” picture in any of this blog’s entries. How would Sarah herself go about choosing between what are arguably many excellent photos? I’m sure I would have never seen many of the ones I liked if she focused on only a few at a time.

      I struggle with this as well when it comes to my own photos (not that I am comparing mine to hers); my galleries/albums are seldom sparsely populated, and that’s because I don’t typically take a picture in the hopes someone likes it; I take the picture because I like it, and I would not trip the shutter unless I thought it would make an interesting study of the subject. Because I am not on an assignment, or shooting for a specific project, often that results in lots of pictures.

      I’m not trying to start an argument, I’m merely curious and think it’s an interesting discussion because I can see the merit of both approaches.

      Also out of curiosity, given your advice, which are the weaker photographs Sarah could have left out?

      Again, please don’t take this as antagonism or a challenge; I don’t know how else to ask.

      The way we, as amateur photographers, present our work is a serious consideration if we are striving to build a following with the intent to eventually make a living from our hobby, or if we love to share what we find interesting with as many people as possible (more along my own motivation).

      • Food for thought indeed. You said a lot of things I’d have said — my own motivation as an amateur is similar to yours (i.e. share what we find interesting), but that said, of course I’m always trying to take better pictures and hope someday in the distant future I might make some money off of them. This blog isn’t really supposed to be any kind of springboard to that, though.

        I certainly see the advantages to a more selective approach, and maybe someday I’ll move towards that. I’d have trouble knowing where to begin though. Sometimes I’m surprised at what people say are their favorite photos or which are the best. But it’s a good surprise.

        • It’s good you differentiate “the best” from “their favorite”. Photos do have two components that only rarely match up (at least for me). One is the technical aspect of the photo (lighting, tone, dynamic range, sharpness, etc.), the other is the subject itself.

          I can find favor in a photo for either, but typically for me the subject carries a little more weight than the technical aspect, especially since often photographers purposefully play with the parameters I mention.

          As for making money at this, I honestly thing you could bring your photos to local galleries, or even tourist shops, and offer them up for sale. See if you can hook up with a restaurant, or other shop where you can hang your work on their walls, and have it for sale. Just a suggestion.

          Also, I don’t know if there are camera/photography clubs in your area, but that is a great way to make connections which might help you later on. We have a great camera club here which has professional photographers in it, and it’s a great place to get advice, hints, and even exposure and recognition.

          No, I don’t go . . . I’m sort of an anti-social person; the kind that is great to never meet.

          • I suppose I tend to be a little more invested in the subject side of things, too, but there are always exceptions. For instance, I like a good, interesting pictures of aggressively boring subjects.

            Thanks for all the tips. I’d considered hunting down a coffee shop would be fun, so I could join these ranks. And I have discovered that there is indeed a plucky little photography club in my town (well, I don’t live in but rather near a town). Historically I have not been much of a club-joiner — maybe it’s the old Groucho Marx saying — but that could always change.

      • I don’t feel there are any weak ones. They are all unique in content and elicit gasps of joy, from me anyway. Keep putting them all in. However, if you take 50 shots of the exact same subject (tweaking camera settings between), I’d certainly appreciate whittling down to the best 5 or so. Or dedicate a post to just that shot (and the 50 different ways you did it).

        Keep doing what your doing, Sarah. Your nature walks and artistic eye for all things big and small are inspiring to at least two here.

    • That’s a good, logical approach but it sounds a lot like a professional portfolio, which is never what I wanted my blog to be. Obviously I’m not shy about sharing lots of pictures, and there’s a little part of me that questions whether I should be far more selective each time I hit post. But ultimately I’m happy with the way things are now.

      I want to grow as a photographer, and believe me, I’m trying to develop a more critical eye as I go along. But this blog can never just be about artistic merits, about which photos are the most harmonious; well-composed; graphic; with perfect, atmospheric lighting or the most vivid, crisp colors and lines; whatever it is that excites a person about pictures and prompts them to award the ‘best’ signifier. In a perfect world my pictures would be all of these things and they’d capture the most singular moments ever. The reality is that I take mostly crappy photographs, and some ho-hum ones, and some good ones. (Even as I call them that I hesitate because there’s often someone out there who picks out one of my least favorite photographs and tells me it’s the best or their favorite. The reverse would be true too, I’m sure, if people were more open about sharing which ones they think are bad.) While I try to cull the ones I consider outright crappy beforehand, I leave behind some I know aren’t the best. But in all cases, if you’re looking at something I posted, there was something I liked about it.

      It seems cliché (and repetitive) at this point to say that art is subjective, so I’ll say something slightly different in that I think what we like and what is best aren’t necessarily the same thing. I got a 500px account recently — if you’re unfamiliar, it’s like Flickr, but they encourage you to only upload your best photos. I’ve seen some amazing, striking stuff in there, as close to technical perfection as you’d want to be, and yet a lot of it leaves me strangely cold. Meanwhile I see pictures a lot of people would characterize as “off” in some way, but I feel something all the same, whether it’s that these photos lend a sense of completion to a set, or I feel I’ve learned something about the photographer from it, or there’s some character or quirk that entices me. My hope is that other readers might appreciate some of the same things in my photos. For others, there’ll be nothing redemptive in them, and that’s fine. If the worse pictures detract from the better ones, then I regret that a little because of course I want people to enjoy my pictures. But it doesn’t change how I feel about them. At the end of the day, they all play a part of what has become my blog’s unofficial goal (to document a beloved place in what many would consider tedious detail). Not only that, they tell a more complete story about my journey as a photographer.

      That said, I read and thoroughly appreciate everything you — and everyone — has to say here, and I more than welcome your feedback, positive or negative. While I have my own standards and tastes, I don’t want to remain static and I don’t want to do this in a vacuum. Different perspectives are a great thing.

      • One feather you can stick on your cap (if you wore a cap . . . and if you had feathers to stick up there) is that you have helped change how I view things. You did that by showing there is beauty, interesting things, even amazing things in places that at first glance seem bland and unworthy of attention.

        My own effort on the snow/ice post reflected that changed perspective, and I am sure I will incorporate more of it in my photography. Not sure I will go to the lengths you do (my knees would not take it), but it will have a place in my repertoire.

        But remember . . . no reading of the runes.

        • Honestly, I can’t ask for anything better. I’m happy enough that people enjoy my pictures but I’ve heard from you and another person or two that they’ve been looking more carefully at their environs and trying different things with their pictures and that’s just really exciting to me. So yes, my metaphorical cap is a-quiver with that feather!

          You’ll be happy to know I was extra careful when I took pictures of the runes today, though I’m unclear about what exactly would happen if I examined them too closely and deciphered their code. (Uncover some kind of long-lost Indiana Jones-esque treasure that would melt my face off if I actually found it?)

          • As near as I can tell from my quick take on it (it’s dangerous for me to dwell too long on them), you would either get the gift of second sight (that where you do a double-take every time you look at anything), or you would grow a mustache . . . Or excessive underarm hair, I can’t tell for sure. There is a chance you would get the ability to transmutate dead wood into hunks of chocolate, but I can’t be sure from the angle (and again, I don’t want to stare at them too long . . . even though I already have a mustache).

  5. You’re right. Art is very subjective. I will take a lot of photos of a subject hoping to get a few that I will like. And what I like may not be what anyone else like. I’m always second guessing myself. My husband’s “likes” are totally different than mine and it sometimes causes some argument. What each of us likes isn’t wrong, it’s just different. The photos I am accustomed to taking are the broad landscape scenes. I’ve never been very comfortable with indoor lighting and close up photos. I’m hoping this year long project of mine will help me see things that I wouldn’t normally see and therefore become a better photographer all around. I’m still a “landscape” photographer though.

    I’m just rambling now.

    • No matter about the rambling; I appreciate your comment. And I’m just the opposite — I’m more comfortable with the world of macros (that’s probably a given) and anything beyond that starts getting a little more dicey. I’m also trying to expand what I’m comfortable with this year. Good luck to you on your quest!

  6. Couldn’t really get into that debate above. I’ll just say, share all of your photos with us, Sarah. They are brilliant. It’s the blog I most look forward to reading and looking at these days.

    • Thank you so much, John! That’s awesome to hear; I’m glad you look forward to my pictures. 🙂 I don’t imagine I’ll be cutting down much anytime soon, what with spring on the horizon.

  7. What a great conversation about photography prompted by your post. This is the sort of thing that I keep hoping to see in photography blogs but rarely do. It is absolutely a marvelous post. How do manage to do that, Sarah?

    I was deeply taken by your closing comment above about your work, “At the end of the day, [my pictures] all play a part of what has become my blog’s unofficial goal (to document a beloved place in what many would consider tedious detail). Not only that, they tell a more complete story about my journey as a photographer.” That journey you are on is as enjoyable to watch as your photographs are a pleasure to look at.

    Part of a good “critical eye” is the ability to objectively select images to include in a presentation. That’s hard for everybody because we are all emotionally attached to our work, and honestly, we all show a mix of our better and our lesser works. The important thing is to know what you value in an image and make your presentations communicate that to your audience. We love your blog so your eye must be seeing pretty good.

    But there is another more important aspect of a “critical eye.” It’s the way we study our images the first time we see them and assign value not to the images themselves but to the techniques we used, the lighting we tried, our point of view and the way we composed them. This is the kind of critiquing that we really learn from and that hones our skills for the future.

    I chuckled when you mentioned that people sometimes complement your least favorite images. I joined the yearbook staff in high school and I can remember from the first day my editors kept choosing all the wrong pictures! They picked images to fill a void on a page or to match a script; I wanted them to pick the pictures I thought were my best. Well, I fixed them! I began ruthlessly editing my work so there was nothing left to see except what I wanted them to publish. They didn’t like that and demanded that I make contact sheets of all my negatives. I refused and I won. I really liked those yearbooks. HaHa!

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