Don’t Get Discouraged

by ajamess on 9.Nov.10

in Photo Gear,Photographic Musings,Photos,Travel,Uncategorized

You know, I had an interesting experience tonight.  It has to do with some shots I've taken on the coast over the last 2-3 months.  Specifically, an outing I had with Haley in October over-nighting on Rialto and Shi-Shi and some photos I was reviewing from that trip.  Before I get into that, though, let me give you a sense of my last outing.  Last time I was out that direction, I was treated with some of the most glorious light both days I was there, especially in the morning, which is the best time to get detail on the stacks and surrounding scenery.  On Rialto in particular, I shot from 430 am until 10 am and was getting shot after shot that I knew was "pretty good" and a few that I knew I would remember for a long time.  It was really a great feeling.

Fast forward a month or so to when Haley and I were waking up on Riato once more, this time with flat light and not a whole lot going on in general.  I took several hundred shots that morning, but didn't really have any that spoke to me right away.  I had an inkling I had something, somewhere, within the shots I took, but nothing was really jumping out as it had the month earlier.  "No matter," I thought, "I still had an awesome time," even if I wasn't as immediately satisfied as I had been previously.

Unfortunately, the feeling nagged on me even as I got home and reviewed the shots on my computer.  It was either:

  • Flat lighting
  • Too much dynamic range causing lack of detail
  • Lack of "punch" straight out of the camera

…that made me feel bad about my performance as a photographer that weekend, and really turned me off to editing the photos in earnest.  I uploaded a few shots over the next few days after I had returned, but nothing really jumped out at me, and eventually the entire trip went down to the bottom of my stack as I started to take photos that I was immediately interested in sharing with the world.

Now, we come to tonight.  Tonight, as I said earlier, I had an interesting experience.  That experience was paging through the Rialto photos again, after having divorced myself from that feeling of failure.  It was kind of like looking at someone else's work…and suddenly I felt a bit better about them.  Yeah, there were a good number of crappy ones.  Yeah, the light had been pretty flat.  But there were some that stood out, even lacking contrast and clarity.  A few minutes of PP and wow…I had some stuff I was really proud of.  Stuff that I would have never thought was there.  Stuff that I would hang on my wall, even.  It was really quite astonishing.  I have never really had this experience of "rediscovering" my own photography.  It may sound silly, but it was kind of a mini-revelation, and really made me feel good about that long past trip.  Here's the shot that fostered this realization:


Canon EOS 30D 70.0-200.0 mm 70.0 mm 1/250 sec f/5.6 ISO 100
It's there when you don't look for it.

I guess if there is some nugget of truth in this rambling, it's the title: don't get discouraged.  You may feel bad about your performance doing something, whether it's photography, music, sculpture, whatever.  You may think you suck, and want to go off and divorce yourself from that bad experience, never to look to it again.  Well, don't.  Your eye / ear / chisel is a good one, and you should give yourself the benefit of the doubt.  If you find yourself stuck like I was, put it aside and come back a month later; chances are you'll see it with new eyes and will blow yourself away.

Trust yourself, and happy shooting.

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