the Obvious is not always Obvious

Some things that we should have always known take a long time to reveal themselves.

What should be obvious is not always so. For example, today I decided to take an hour and visit a park in Surrey I know of to take pictures of the fall leaves.

Before leaving the house I had to decide what gear to carry and what to carry it it. As I have tried to improve my photography these choices have become more and more complex. Today I decided to take my Canon 60D for color. But I have been working with my 20D Infra Red conversion so I wanted to take that as well. And finally, I have film in one of my Brownie Hawkeyes so that had to go along as well.

All of this had to fit in my off the shoulder camera bag. Heavy!  While this was going on it occured to me that a simple hour in the park was becoming a considerable chore. It was not easy. And that got me to thinking about why I was going through this.

I was somewhat discouraged and tempted to give it up and not go at all, or simply take one camera, or even take no camera at all and just enjoy the day. But I wanted to capture the fall colors and maximize my opportunity of doing so. That is when it hit me: art is hard work! That sounds so obvious that to think about it is silly. Yet it was a minor revelation.

I captured my walk in many formats. Black and White makes shapes and shadows standout.

The same image as the one on the left with all its color has a totally different emphasis.

A very similar image created from infra red light offers a whole other image style.

As I have become more critical of my work, and learned more about photography, the effort required to achieve the results I want has multiplied. I have become more selective in my choice of equipment and I select from a wider range of cameras and lenses. I have begun to use a tripod more and I usually have a remote trigger with me, I  carry filters, polarizers, gaffer tape, a rain jacket for my camera, and one for me, lens tissue, and …. well you get the point. I have even invested in a light meter although my modern cameras all have one built in..

But that is just the beginning. I process my images on a computer which I spend a great deal of time on ensuring that it is running efficiently. I use a wide selection of software which I never used to do. Just processing my images is time consuming. 

I came back from my hour in the woods with about 200 images which reuired transfering to my computer, backing up, loading in Lightroom, and then sorting and culling.

Then there is the printing. Running off prints is truly an art form in itself. Calibrating my printers to the monitors is a never ending task. I like to print on canvas. I build my own frames on which to stretch it and I do the stretching myself. I won’t even got started on framing. That’s a whole other world.


This is an image from my outing today. You can see why I took my 60D. This image is actually three images combined in an HDR program, then processed in Photoshop. But the result captures the experience I had.

Then there is this website. I do all of this myself and that is very time consuming.

But it doesn’t end there.  I spend endless hours reading and learning. I keep current on equipment and try to sharpen my skills with videos and articles. Oh, and somewhere in there I have to find time for my day job and my marriage.

So art is hard work. But I had never really thought about it. I am sure all of the disciplines are hard. If you want to really create something with your own hands you make sacrifices. We forget that when we enjoy what we’re doing. But stop and think about the effort that goes into it. And the effort pays off. I can see the payoff in ever better images.

I have had people ask me if they can buy a print and when I tell them what I would consider fair they always walk away. They seldom want to pay the cost of materials much less anything for my effort and sacrifice. And I won’t sell myself cheap. Too many artists work for subsistance wages and they should not. They have put too much work into their art.

It was an effort to go to that park today. It is an effort to get up at 6:00 in the morning to cature a sunrise or to gather an image of fog on the river. Lugging a tripod is a pain. Carrying multiple cameras is heavy. Add lenses to the mix and it really gets burdensome.

So here you have images from my Canon 60D, which is an amazing camera, taken today. And there is one taken on my Canon 20D infra red conversion. I have not finished my roll of film in my Brownie Hawkeye, but, when I do, I will post those results as well. 

I see it now. Doing my art is hard work, no matter how much I enjoy doing it. And knowing that I think that I value all of the arts more highly.