Just Half the Story | Tell Me More than Camera Settings

Early March at Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills Ohio by Jim Crotty
Early March at Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills Ohio by Jim Crotty

A photographer can describe a photograph in two ways.

Or a combination of both.

There is the description of the mechanics of the image – the camera and lens used and the camera settings as well as any accessories or filters applied during the exposure. I was reminded of such a description while reading the latest issue of Nature Photographer Magazine. Many beautiful images, and technically sound.

For this image such a description would read as follows – Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF24-70mm f2.8L USM lens. Exposure mode was aperture priority at f/16. Focal length was 27mm. ISO 50. Evaluative metering mode. Wait a minute, something I’m forgetting . . . oh yeah, shutter speed was one second. Oh, and I used a Giottos carbon fiber tripod, Kirk BH-1 ballhead and Kirk L-bracket. And a Canon RS-80N3 remote switch. And I was wearing my Vasque St. Elias GTX hiking boots too, which are pretty awesome by the way. Location was Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio. Date was March 6 2016. Capture time as 1:15:26 PM.

Still there? Good.

Bear with me.

There are many who prefer such a description below an image, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being more technically concerned with such information. But for me it is too defining, too closed-in, to withholding of the full potential of a photograph as both art of expression and extension of the photographer.

Truth be told it doesn’t take much to duplicate the image using just the technical information and the location.

But I always desire to go further, out beyond the mechanics of merely recording a second in time at a particular location. I want to see and contemplate how and why the presentation of moment and setting resounded in the photographer’s mind and heart to stop and record light in how it was being FELT, by first making use of his or her knowledge and experience of both equipment and exposure, and then letting go of preconceived expectations of what a particular audience wants to see and allow the vision and personality of the soul take priority.

That’s what an audience craves, whether they realize it or not.

It takes a bit more effort, and courage. There a comes a time when the growth of a photographer when he or she MUST place him or herself in every image and not just demonstrate technical proficiency. I think that’s exactly how I would describe the difference between beginning/amateur and experienced pro. There’s nothing to prove anymore other than the artist’s desire and joy in free expression unhindered by a lack of basic technical skill and experience (which I admit is necessary).

Unfortunately it feels as if everything in today’s world of instant entertainment and shallow appearances works against the full nurturing and crafting of artistic vision, and I fear so much of what truly makes an excellent image stand-out and tell a story is getting lost among all the noise.

Art is our treasure, a treasure that transcends time, for in art we see both the soul of the artist and a reflection of our own divine nature that strives to reach the uncommon and higher road.

Here’s how I prefer to describe the image posted here with this article –

Early March in Hocking Hills, Ohio, along the trail to Cedar Falls. A longer time exposure to convey the movement of water flowing from the first signs of winter’s release and a wider focal length to compose both foreground and background so that I could communicate both source and flow. This is a reawakening of life in the woods and the first signs of movement toward change in seasons, in both the landscape and within me personally. It was a challenging winter and a soon-to-be even more challenging spring. Changes had to come for new, vibrant growth to take place. I desired to part of that flow, to something greater, something better, and in the deepness of that pool I felt my soul and spirit move under the direction of a loving and guiding hand.

Yeah, I think I life that description better.

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