A Shot in the Dark

30s exposure of an airplane during a full moon

There must be a name for this scenario: you get a gift for someone and it so excites you that you, as the gifter, use it more than the giftee.

For Christmas, I got my wife a Canon EOS T2 digital SLR because we were sick of low quality, poorly lit shots produced by pocket digital cameras. Being the technically gifted gentleman I am, I volunteered to check it out with the promise of a tutorial once I had it under control.

My first step was to totally avoid the Automatic feature because to me, the whole beauty of a high quality DSLR is the control you have over how the image is captured.

Beam glistening with melting icicles

That was my first mistake. The Automatic feature is adequate for over 97% of the shots that we will be taking at family birthday parties, kid events, etc. I was clearly going beyond the scope of the mission.

My second mistake was reading a photography 101 blog (wish I still had the link) and learning all the technicalities of shutter speed, F stops and ISO speed, because then I was forced to feed the obsession by experimenting. Now I’m hooked.

Umm, yes this is yellow snow

In the 1+ month since the holidays, I have figured out how to do exposure bracketing for HDR shots, to take night shots of the moon, stars and airplanes, to create ghost images and to generally annoy the crap out of my wife with all of my ‘artsy fartsy’ fotos (I even have an Artsy Fartsy folder in iPhoto). And I’ve also killed all of the free disk space on the Mac.

So now, not only do I need to buy a tripod and UV filters, I also need a large external hard drive to store all the pictures – or a new Mac. Hmmm, those new MacAirs look really sweet.

Sunset over the sledding hill

Well, Valentines Day is coming. Would it be romantic to buy my wife a zoom lens and a remote control? It’s all so expensive, but that’s OK. I don’t really need anything for Valentine’s Day, anyway.

Seriously, I love photography because it is an accepted way to express yourself and ask people for feedback in a way that doesn’t make them uncomfortable – or require a lot of time from them. For example, when you want to share a poem, people get uneasy and wonder if you’ve written it for them and if metaphorically you’re trying to tell them something about a deep connection that they just haven’t realized – and they’ll never tell you what they really think about it. A novel or even short story is too much of a time commitment. People barely have enough time to read a 140 character tweet. A song? (see poem above). A tattoo? OK, but there is only a limited canvas there and you can’t really experiment.

HDR sunrise image with moon and planet

For some reason, people seem to be more comfortable giving constructive criticism of a photograph. There must be some psychological disconnect that the critic perceives (or imagines to perceive) between the photograph and the photographer that makes them feel their criticism is less likely to hurt your feelings:

Critic: “Exposure’s a little low, no?” or “You could have framed that up a little better.”

To me, those comments would be equally devastating as:

“Your alliteration in that phrase doesn’t resonate” or “what were you thinking doing that solo in that spot?”

But from I’ve seen, the photo critiques come much more easily and honestly.

Here’s a shot in the dark: maybe I’m just too sensitive. Nah, I’m rock confident in my abilities. By the way, only positive comments to this post, please…

Here’s a sample of my first month of shots. Click on the image for a larger view:


About Yorick von Fortinbras

YvF is a writer, musician that stays sane by being creative while navigating the demands of life, looking for those holes where a spark can get through.
This entry was posted in Creativity, Feedback, HDR, Photography, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Shot in the Dark

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention A Shot in the Dark | The Functional Lunatic -- Topsy.com

  2. hudbuddy says:

    It’s true what you say. It really is a lot more difficult having people objectively analyze a poem or a short story, but I believe this is because people tend to search more readily for a deeper meaning in such things, and it makes them uncomfortable. On the other hand, they look at a photo, and they try to decide if they like it or not.. find it aesthetically appealing, that is. I think that good photography should be used to the same ends as all other forms of art, to portray beauty or convey deeper meaning.

    I really liked your photographs. I’d be curious to know exactly what you were seeking to convey, if anything, when you settled on the effect/framing/content for each.

    • Thanks hudbuddy. You got me thinking…thanks. I think you’re right about people searching more for a deeper meaning in other types of art. It’s probably because most people don’t (or can’t) write creatively or create paintings or music so there is a kind of reverence from afar there. Everyone takes photos and most people don’t think twice about the composition or a statement that is being made before snapping (on auto with a flash), so it’s natural to assume no one else does either. Interesting…the more commonly used a medium, the less likely folks make the connection that it could be used as true art. I guess the challenge in photography is to get them to realize you have purposely set up the shot as you did for an artistic reason. And how? by taking great shots…

  3. Nanook of the North says:

    I see many nice album covers in the works Yorick. Keep clicking away man!
    The pic with the icicles really resonates with me. Thanks for posting.


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