This article will very likely be my last one for 2016 here at Photography Life due to an enormous workload I’m under right now preparing images and writing text for five photography related e-books I have planned for 2017. I’d like to extend a special ‘thank you’ to Photography Life reader, Waldemar Seybold, for writing a comment on my most recent Photography Life article which became the creative spark for this posting. This article will give you a sneak peak at 18 images that represent a very small sampling of the photographs that I’ve been working on for one of my planned e-books – photography in New Zealand. All are examples of ‘shooting in the moment’.
As photographers each of us brings our unique approach and perspectives to the images that we create. Many photographers are extremely disciplined, expert craftspeople and artists who produce simply amazing images that touch our souls while also providing clear evidence of technical mastery. Each photograph is painstakingly planned and executed.
Other photographers, including myself, are more experiential and experimental in our approach to capturing the world around us. There are as many approaches as there are photographers. No approach is better than another, they’re just different.
I’m the first person to acknowledge that I am not the most organized planner when it comes to my photography adventures. I do some research and pre-plan a basic route as practical considerations such as booking motel rooms etc. in advance need to be addressed. And, I do consider in advance what gear I’m planning to use.
This usually is kept to a minimum and for about the last 18 months or so has been a trio of Nikon 1 bodies with a different 1 Nikon zoom lens attached to each (6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6, 10-100mm f/4-5.6, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6). I also include all of the spare batteries I own for those cameras along with battery charges, a filter or two for my 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens, a host of memory cards, a sensor cleaning gel stick and some lens cleaning supplies, and perhaps a tripod with head. From time to time I will add a 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 zoom along with a set of extension tubes. All of the camera gear, other than the tripod and head, has to fit in a single Tenba Shoulder bag and weigh no more than about 5kg in total since I like to travel light.
I love the challenge of capturing images in the spur of the moment, letting my spirit move me at will. In my entire life I’ve only gotten up at dawn to capture a pre-planned image once. The results of the exercise were quite pleasing visually but I did not enjoy the lack of spontaneity associated with the experience so I never felt the need to do it again.
Unless I absolutely have to because of a very slow shutter speed I never use a tripod. Being separated from having my camera in my hands disconnects me from being in the moment.
Regardless of the weather I try to do the best I can under the conditions in which I find myself. Sometimes that means shooting with a camera in one hand and an umbrella in the other during an overcast, drizzly day.
Or appreciating the path one happens to be walking along and recognizing nature’s way of perfectly placing each tree, shrub, flower and blade of grass. Then stopping for a couple of seconds to capture that moment in time.
At other times it is simply stopping to watch the natural flow of things for a few minutes, and allowing your mind to visualize an image. Then momentarily changing the setting on a camera body to shoot at 20fps to capture the exact moment that is in your mind’s eye.
Shooting in the moment is allowing myself to become fully engrossed by a unique colour, like the orange hues of trentepohlia, and capturing an assortment of views and perspectives to more fully appreciate its beauty.
I seldom dawdle at a location. Often times I simply jump out of the car for a moment, capture a single image like the one above, then move on. Allowing myself to connect with my surroundings and trusting my instincts serve as creative fuel. If my spirit moves me, the shutter is pressed. Sometimes the resulting image works, at other times not.
If a scene is very intriguing I may work with it for a few minutes, moving physically from side to side, or coming in tighter, and changing my camera angles up or down by adjusting my body position relative to the scene. Usually after five minutes or so I’ll have perhaps a dozen images from which to choose and I’m off on the next part of my creative adventure.
Once I get back home and look at the series of images that was captured I often find that the original one that grabbed my imagination in the first place was the only one I really needed to take. Sometimes it makes me wonder what I missed later on that day by spending too much time at one location.
Occasionally I will be out for a walk with a camera in hand and a scene will literally stop me in my tracks, causing me to take a step or two backwards so I can see the beauty of that precise moment again. I may need to move in tighter or adjust my angle slightly but the essence of the moment seems to be etched in my mind as soon as it stops me.
There are times when I clearly see the image I want in my mind but capturing it is a real challenge. Like getting down on one knee on a dock, camera balanced on the other knee with the flip screen extended trying to frame the image above with one hand, while struggling to hold an umbrella with the other hand in order to keep rain off the front of my lens. It’s times like these that tell us how powerful the urge to create is within each of us.
I had moments in New Zealand, and during our driving tours of South Dakota and Utah, where I was simply compelled to capture an image that was there before me. In the case of the image above that meant pulling the car over for a minute, rolling down the window, and shooting from the driver’s seat during a downpour.
Shapes and angles regularly call out to me as if begging to become an image. I do my best to oblige them.
I would like to thank each and every one of you for taking the time out of your busy lives to read my musings over the past twelve months, and for all of the wonderful interactions we have had in the comments section. May the future hold health and prosperity for all of you, and may you find a pot of gold at the end of each rainbow that blesses your lives.
Article and all images are Copyright 2016 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, adaptation or reproduction of any kind including electronic is allowed without written consent. Photography Life is the only approved user of this article and these Copyrighted images. If you see this article or images reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use.
I love the great tips in here. I would like to add about a tip for product photography it is best to buy cheap Portable Mini LED Photo Studio Box.
Thanks Martin – I’m glad you enjoyed the article.
Thank you, thank you and thank you for sharing a story, a life’s moment with all of us as I found myself doing much of the same when I am out and about. It is that moment that grabs us or forces us to stop and take in the essence of the moment.
You are most welcome I.Q.!
I adore your posts! The genuine sincerity, concise writing and excellent photo quality are a great inspiration for me, Thanks and keep up the great work!
Thank for your most kind words – I’m glad you have been enjoying the articles!
Hi Tom, Wonderful article as always with inspiring captures that continue to defy the “more gear is better” belief. In my line of work, anvanced oculars are a staple but I do agree with you about spontaneity — I guess it’s like a painter caught up in the moment and expressing himself and what he feels right at that moment in time. Looking forward to more articles from you as your body of work is refreshingly different from what’s out there.
I’m glad you enjoyed the article and images Oggie! I agree 100% that each of us needs to use gear that is appropriate for the work that we do. While I love shooting with my Nikon 1 equipment as it fits my needs both professionally and personally – I’d be the first person to state that it may not be a good choice for other folks depending on their specific needs.
To keep this balanced , I’ll supply a link to my work , if I’m to criticise, I suppose I’ll have to be prepared to accept criticism myself.
That really isn’t necessary. You’re entitled to your opinion and I have no issue with your comment whatsoever. You expressed yourself in good faith and I have accepted it as such.
You’re not the first person in my life who has not liked my work, and I’m 100% positive that you won’t be the last…c’est la vie!
Gary, I check your webpage, and I must tell you that I found some good photos, but unfortunately also I found many really poorly composed pics. However, the worst thing is the exagerated way in wich you are employing the HDR. Too much “colorinches” (spanish) that give an unreal and cheap look to your pics. Best wishes, Jorge Balarin.
Perhaps I’m missing the point, but these just look like very ordinary, poorly composed holiday snapshots to me.
Nasim ? Do you vet this stuff before it goes live?
Thanks for sharing your point of view.
Thanks, Tom. It is interesting to see one’s own country through the eyes of an outsider. You have found beauty in some places where I just drive on past. There are some places I have seen so often before that they have become everyday and normal, and I am not seeing the beauty. I will try to look more carefully in future.
Thanks for your comment – much appreciated! New Zealand is such a beautiful country that I can understand how residents and visitors alike can simply get overwhelmed with the number of image opportunities. After a while things would become commonplace. It seems that almost every bend in the road yields yet another photographic opportunity…especially when it comes to stunning green hills and pastoral scenes. From a practical standpoint it is impossible to stop for every image opportunity or else one would never reach their destination for that day.
I did my best to exercise some shot discipline but still managed to fill ten 32GB micro SD card with J5 images. I’ve been sorting through photographs and working on processing for 10 days and I still have lots of work to do! Hopefully the resulting e-book will be of value to readers.
You can say that again. I remember about 10yrs ago when we 1st did a road trip to the south island. Arthur’s pass. I was driving with a point and shoot in one hand. My wife had a video camera and my 2 kids where on either side with point and shoot each. The only words that where spoken where “stop!! stop!! Backup! Stop.”
Got halfway and we where out of memory. When we got to chritchurch I walked into the 1st camera shop and bought a d40 and a sigma 28-300 lens. I’ve been hooked to the scenery ever since.
Thanks for sharing your experiences Edwin…I’m sure many, many people can relate!
great article! especially your photos, they are fabulous. shooting in a moment is great because everyday we miss to capture beautiful views we see.
Thanks Clyde – I’m glad you enjoyed the article and images!
Excellent article and very beautiful photos. Thank you Thomas !
You’re welcome Jorge – glad you liked them!