As someone who sometimes struggles with photography, I often ask myself this question – does it always have to be a Masterpiece?
Above – Clancey looking out of the boat on Morro Bay. Panasonic GX-1, Olympus 14-42mm lens, settings – Automatic!
Take the image above for example. This was a very spontaneous moment of our little dog Clancey, looking out from our rental boat on Morro Bay. Things happen very quickly when you have 3 little dogs, especially when you introduce them to something new, like a moving boat! I didn’t have time to both drive the boat and fiddle with camera settings, so I set my Panasonic to Auto (gasp!) and grabbed the shot. This may come as a shock to those purists out there, but sometimes it’s ok to use Auto.
Here’s another example:
Olympus E-P3, settings – the exif data says f/3.5 and 1/100th sec. and Manual.
The photo above is another of those moments that come quickly, and if you want to capture the moment, you just do it. Having all 3 dogs sit patiently together doesn’t happen often and I wanted to grab this moment in time. Playing with camera settings and trying to get 3 high energy dogs to sit still would have been impossible.
My point to all of this is that there’s room for both Snapshot and Masterpiece. When doing family things, like walking down the beach or going on a boat ride, I’m personally more interested in capturing the moments. Making memories during family time is more important than creating a Masterpiece.
If you’re on a family vacation, it’s still possible to step away and try to create your Masterpiece if that’s what you want to do. My time for “real” photography is either very early in the morning (I don’t call it “Up At Dawn Photography” for nothing), or late in the afternoon/evening.
I find this works best for me. I’m not boring others with my fussing and fiddling with tripod, filters, and camera settings and don’t feel rushed. It’s just me, the camera and the scene I’m trying to capture – looking at the scene from different points of view, adjusting settings, or just experimenting, it’s all good!
Here’s a shot when I was out by myself:
Morro Strand State Beach, Olympus E-P3 with Panasonic 45-200mm lens. 3 shot HDR image.
This is late afternoon/early evening on Morro Strand State Beach. The sun was setting fast, and even though it was July, the temperature was quite cool. It would have been uncomfortable for others, but I was so into capturing the scene, I really wasn’t aware of the weather. I had time enough to shoot this scene with multiple exposures and slightly different points of view. Is it a Masterpiece? I’m sure that’s debatable, but I like it! I’m sure that my results wouldn’t have been as good had I felt rushed. As patient as my wonderful wife is, it would have been insensitive and selfish to subject her to these conditions. That’s why it’s important to have the time alone, it allows me to try and be creative.
There are a few times where you can mix both Snapshots and Photography. If you’re smart, you won’t take too much time away from the family by getting carried away with trying to create that Masterpiece. Here’s an example:
Above – Snapshot with my Panasonic GX-1
Montana De Oro State Park. Olympus E-P3 with Panasonic 45-200mm lens and Vari-ND filter.
The 2 images above are from our visit to Montana De Oro State Park. This is a wonderful place full of very dramatic rocky shoreline. You can see my audience in one of the photos. Since I had 2 cameras with me, one of them was setup for this. My Panasonic GX-1 had the 14-42mm lens and it worked perfectly to pull out of the bag and grab this shot. My wife and 3 dogs were very patient while I made the image above. I probably took longer to do this than I should have, and do feel a little guilty about it. I really don’t like to have people waiting on me (or feel rushed). But it turned out ok and I got 2 great shots (the 1st, a Snapshot, the 2nd a sort of Masterpiece).
While the image of the rocks and blurred water may or may not be a Masterpiece, it satisfies my creative side. The shot of my wife and dogs has much more value to me.
To wrap this post up, I’d say to find the balance between grabbing those memories (Snapshots) and creating Masterpieces. It’s ok to do both (even if you’re a serious photographer). Satisfy your creative needs and make that Masterpiece but don’t forget to create some family memories too!
That’s it for now, until next time – Happy Shooting!