“It was a place where nothing yet had happened – an utter emptiness. There was neither light nor dark: there was nothing here but emptiness.”
(Clifford D. Simak)
I said I was going to try to shift my shooting focus during this gloomy weather period and so awoke this morning thinking about both my self-assigned skills-expansion project and the latest challenge posed in the Smugmug forums. I had an idea for the contest in mind, prompted yesterday when I saw the results of Bob’s fine efforts to spit-shine the living room back to normal now that all of the squirrels have been relocated.
The contest assignment is to shoot a still life. But the challenge is that there is no post-processing allowed. No cropping, no adjustments, no sharpening. Nada. What goes onto the digital negative is what must come out as the contest entry.
This means, of course, that all of the basic elements of a good photograph must be in place when the shutter clicks. The overall composition, lighting, focal point, etc. have to be considered before pressing the button. In these days of high-tech point-and-shoot cameras and Photoshop “magic” such basics often seem to come as an afterthought, yet attention to them is what makes the difference between a “good” photograph and “great” one. Though I often allow extra space around the focal point of my own photographs and therefore crop to appropriate printing size (or am forced to allow it since wildlife doesn’t always consider posing an appropriate activity), as I continue to work on honing my craft I am continually reminded that without solid, basic and elemental quality in a photograph, no amount of post-processing “magic” can create a really great image.
As is the norm, this morning I padded into the kitchen for that blessed first cup of hot coffee, then sat down here in the dining room at the computer to electronically assess the state of the world from my computer. And as is also the norm, my bleary eyes often wandered away from the monitor and across to the living room, where the early light was beginning to brighten the reflections thrown by the big glass coffee table and the soft shine of polished wood. On these dark grey mornings, everything slowly comes to life in monotones remiscent of a vintage daguerreotype, the silvered sepia tones exaggerated by the golden oak floors and velvet drapes and the deep tan walls.
Though it has been a year since we redid the living room, I still find such sight of it enchanting. This morning was no exception. And it dawned on my sleepy brain cell that what I was seeing this morning was exactly the still life I wanted. The D70 was sitting on the dining room table with the superb 80-200mm f2.8 lens attached. It’s all about the light and though I hadn’t yet finished that first cup of coffee, I went to work to try to capture the scene before me:
There is a moody, introspective loneliness to this view that I find compelling. Aftertones; the emptiness haunted by memories waiting to be filled, as do our own morning awakenings anticipate their fulfillment by the day’s activities. This, then, would be my contest entry.
Because all of the basic elements needed for a great image are contained in it, I then had to do only a bit of cropping to narrow the focus and its intended emphasis on the elements of emptiness and waiting and so end up with a very satisfying start to my little daily photo project:
And all of this before breakfast. Rather feels like I’m on the right track.