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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Deliberate. Simple. Beautiful.


Dancer and model, Sarah Hardy, at Black Rock, Victoria, Australia.
One flash, camera left. Nikon D700 with Tamron 10-24 lens. 
Successful images often result from the combination of simple techniques which become something greater than the sum of their parts. It is the choices we make within that process that become the difference between failure and success, and can also be the difference in interpretation of a scene or its desired outcome. I have often been in places and times with fellow photographers who interpret the same scene completely differently. Nevertheless, it is the choice of techniques combined within each image that complete it successfully - or not.
In the years I have spent training photographers I have to admit that it is this process - the combination of techniques - that is the real learning curve. I suppose it is the same in every creative endeavour. What it means for the photographer is a deliberate series of decisions that come together to create the image - which until completed - is only seen only in the fog of the creative mind.

The real situation, captured on my iPhone
The image above is naturally a combination of these kinds of decisions. Allow me to elaborate. Light is the first choice, and because there was no light to sculpt this beautiful young dancer - the lovely Sarah Hardy - a single flash and wireless receiver were placed on a stand just out of frame. Naturally the exposure setting was established for the flash, which was then balanced to underexpose the ambient light.The next part of the process was lens choice. A Tamron 10-24 wide angle lens was used, and the lower viewpoint selected to empower Sarah and simultaneously include the cloudy sky. Sarah's pose was naturally a collaboration between photographer and dancer, she being the expert in dance and me being the one with the eye in the viewfinder. 
Without this simple combination of tools and processes, this image as you see it simply would not exist. And while each of these decisions and techniques is simple, it is a very deliberate process that combines the techniques and tools to result in a final image.

When I was a teenager, I worked in photo retail in Melbourne city. One day a customer walked into the store with a large Nikon F2AS, complete with its large and heavy motordrive attached, swung neck-breakingly across his chest. Over the top of its photomic head was a Dymo label he had printed that simply said "THINK". After 30 years I still remember that customer and that Dymo label. This photographer was reminding himself that every time he lifted his camera to his eye, his mental and creative processes needed to combine to create the image he desired. For him, this was not a haphazard process. It required him to think. It is that process, combined with knowledge, tools and experience, that creates the images in our cameras that, until the moment we press the shutter, dwell only in the misty backblocks of our creative mind.

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The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

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