Posts Tagged ‘camera’

The Post – The Challenge of Animal Cams….

January 5, 2011

Animals are like kids – it’s a major challenge to get a good photograph of them.  When I got this photo for “Hey Baby!”  I must have shot almost 200 photos. Either he wasn’t positioned right, or he moved just as I clicked the shutter, the lighting didn’t highlight him right or I screwed up and used the wrong ISO or lens, or I used aperature priority when I should have used auto. Then of course, you can’t tell a fiddler crab “come on baby, work we me, yeah, flick your hair, turn, smile….”  And of course, the times he was in perfect position waving his claw, I was just in the middle of something else with no camera handy and by the time I grabbed the tripod and set up the camera, he was doing something else.  Suffice it to say tt was a major challenge getting one shot that he looked good in that was in focus, lit right etc.

I kept wishing I could have put my camera in the tank but too distracting and upsetting for Admiral Byrd and too awkward for me….not to mention I didn’t have one of those waterproof housings and my camera was too big for the tank.

I would have loved one of those smaller cameras you can just set up – a “fiddler cam.”  Ultimately that is the answer to good pics I think….at least in terms of spontaneity and not upsetting him, but who knows if the kind of cam I could afford would focus well etc.

However, when I saw the following video I didn’t feel so bad. If professionals could have problems, I guess I didn’t do so bad. What I encountered was nothing compared to what the BBC group photographing polar bears went through, and they even  had robotic cameras… For your viewing pleasure:  Polar Bear video

I’ll just stick to fiddler crabs…. 🙂  have a nice day.

The Post – As Promised, What Photography Teaches You About Writing

February 6, 2008

As I mentioned earlier, photographing fiddler crabs helped me to “be one with them.” Armed with the heart of a crab, maybe I can get that across in the book.

In a broader sense, there are some similarities between the arts of photography and writing:

1) Narrow the topic:

The viewfinder of a camera sets the limits on how much you can fit in the picture. A photo is a one-moment slice of an event. You can’t show everything, so you have to choose. What will you focus on?

Good writing, especially essays and short pieces, needs limits too. Start with too broad a topic and the piece runs too long, lacks focus and depth, and leaves the reader wondering it’s about. You can’t say everything, so you have to choose what you will say. Choose a specific slant and give the reader depth for that one topic.

2) Composition – Create the Scene:

Part of the art in a good photograph is its composition. What did you include and why? How did you choose to portray it? What angle was it shot from? Lighting? Shadows? Contrast?

In a good story, “show don’t tell” is done with scenes. You’re the director. How will you set it up? Who will be in it and who will be left out? Why? What will they say and do? What are they holding? Wearing? Where are they? Is it frigid or tropical? Are they scared or serene?

3) Detail is the life of the creation:

The camera’s eye doesn’t miss much and often sees more details than the photographer did when taking the shot. The details that show up in the picture bring it alive, especially in things like still life and macro photography. The details ARE the photo.

In writing, specifics are the spice that creates the picture. Something doesn’t smell good, it has a licorice herbal aroma that wafts through the sunlit cottage and makes you salivate with anticipation. Something doesn’t feel rough and hurt you, it has a gritty surface that grinds against the tender flesh of your palm until it strips the skin raw and bloody. Specifics create the image.

4) Deliver the vision:

You can see the image you want in your mind’s eye, but if you can’t work the camera, all you’ll get is a dark blur. Master the technology.

The most amazing story may run through your mind. Yet if what appears on paper lacks organization, moves too slowly, leaves out needed plot points, has poor sentence structure, bloated dialogue, or no sensory details, no one will get it. Master your craft.

5) Know what you want to say:

A photograph may be wordless, but it will still speak to the viewer if the photographer knows what he’s looking for.

In writing, you may have a 500-page novel but you still need to be able to sum it up in a line or two. If you can’t do that, you don’t know what your story is about.

In the future, 10 or so things an oil painting taught me about the writing process. Stay tuned.