A Phoenix Burning

Scott’s Assignment

So, I was all excited about this month’s assignment.  I was also excited about Shrew’s assignment…and about my homework assignments…so I took hundreds of photos throughout the week(s.)  Quite ironically, I managed to get a lot of shots that I liked, but very few good ones that fit my assignments!  Those photos lacked in quality.  Exasperating, really! 

So, here I share with you some that will have to do.  The one thing I will say is that these are as they are…no postprocessing.  I am working very hard to get the photo “in the camera.”  I have a looong way to go, but I am learning.

On to the storytelling…

My husband and I choose to raise our family in the town where I grew up.  It is fifteen minutes from his hometown, and his parents still live in the home where he was raised.  The road between our homes highlights one of the prettiest views in our area.  Although barren in winter, it becomes a stunning sight in the warmer months.  Different crops lay in each of the flat fields, creating a quilt-like effect.  In the first photo, you can see the local ski “resort” in the distance.

Also along this route are fields upon fields that are just waiting for the local snowmobile enthusiasts to create their tracks over them.  Amazingly, there really is power in those little “Posted” signs.

And of course, I couldn’t resist a drive by my favorite driveway.  Remember this photo from way back in the pre-snow months?

Well, here it is now.

Although that photo  is not “storytelling” I shift to the right and….

A *bit* closer to the concept. 

Looking forward to reading everyone else’s posts!


25 responses

  1. What a beautiful landscape.

    March 2, 2009 at 10:53 am

    • Thank you very much for stopping by giiid! 🙂

      March 4, 2009 at 4:29 pm

  2. I like the way you shifted the drive to the POSTED drive! Definitely turns it into Storytelling.

    March 3, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    • Amazing what a teeny little shift in perspective does isn’t it?! 🙂 Thank you!

      March 3, 2009 at 12:37 pm

  3. What story are you telling? That you should be arrested for tresspassing??

    Great story!!!

    March 4, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    • Methinks you need to read my book.

      March 4, 2009 at 4:21 pm

  4. karma

    Maybe I should be asking this question on Scott’s site, but now I’m wondering if I did the photo assignment “wrong.” I’ve looked at some of the submissions, including yours, and they seem to be mostly landscapes with the beginning, middle, end theme a la Ivoryhut. I took that to be one example of how to tell a story in one photo. But is that the only way?

    March 4, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    • Hey Karma! I wouldn’t say your interpretation is “wrong” per se….and I would have interpreted the assignment similarly a month ago. I only have clarity on this topic because we had covered it in my class a couple of weeks before, and at the time, I was confused by the “storytelling” title too. I had to have Bryan and Chris explain it to me in the forums.
      Okay, here’s what I learned…All photos tell stories. (If they are good they do anyway!) But “storytelling” photos in the photographic lingo sense are photos that are sharp front to back, and have a foreground, middle ground, and background that are in clear focus. Storytelling apertures are the large number, (for example f/22) small opening apertures which allow the camera to get the entire scene into sharp focus, unlike the smaller apertures (bigger openings) such as f/5…these are used for isolation shots where you want a single point of focus and a blurred background. So, although the “storytelling” photos do not need to be landscapes, they do tend to lend themselves nicely to that type of photo. Does that make sense?
      If you haven’t yet read “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson, I would HIGHLY recommend it. Both Ivory and Scott recommended it to me, and I picked it up right before I started my class. It helped me tremendously, and Bryan has covered all the same information in the class…the big difference has been being able to ask questions for clarity, and having our photos critiqued by him. I’ve learned a ton! The book is a great first step though.

      March 4, 2009 at 4:18 pm

      • Oh, I just realized I have a perfect example! That photo of my boy sitting down at the bowling alley watching his ball…

        Although this photo tells a story, it is an isolation shot, not a storytelling shot. I had to use a wide open aperture because the lighting was so low in there, so Mister is sharp but the background is not…Had I been able to use a smaller aperture, the background would have been sharp as well, giving us a “storytelling” photo. Same exact photo, different focus…that’s what makes a shot “storytelling” or “isolation.”

        March 4, 2009 at 4:36 pm

        • karma

          Interesting take on “storytelling” in a photo. I don’t know that I’d agree that all photos tell a story, especially after the 365 project – truly, some photos are just photos. I understand the idea that Scott and Ivory talking about, but I almost wonder if there is a better way to describe the concepts here than storytelling. If you interpret storytelling literally, as I did, I think it is easy to imagine the story being told. This broader idea of storytelling leaves the story a bit more open. Anyway, thanks for the clarity, and maybe I’ll “get it” better for the next assignment! 🙂

          March 4, 2009 at 7:06 pm

          • I think the label “storytelling” is what is confusing you (and did me and some others.) But really it is simply a label used to “name” that type of photo. If we called that type of photo (with a beginning, middle, end/foreground, middleground, background in sharp focus) a “whoosiewhatsits” photo it would be easier to understand. LOL You’re either taking a “whoosiewhatsits” photo or a “singularly focused” photo. Better? 🙂 Now if only we could change the Dictionary of Photography Terms, we’d be all set!

            March 5, 2009 at 8:31 am

  5. Whew! Okay, I got a lesson on my assignment here. Thanks, KD, for helping out Karma. I think she did fine but I guess I needed to be a bit more clear on what the assignment was all about. In essence, it was a way to see differently and use the camera differenlty then just pointing and clicking using full AUTO mode.

    However, all the photos have been great! Whether they used the hyperfocal techinque (photos sharp from front to back) or not.

    March 5, 2009 at 8:57 am

  6. KD your explination helped me out greatly. I am so embarressed I missed the lesson of the assignment too. (Very red faced this morning, that’ll teach me never to rush)

    Karma, I do want to discuss further the idea of story. I firmly believe that the notion of telling a story is at the core of photography. The framing, the choice of exposure, the moment chosen to snap the shutter, are all decisions on telling the story of that moment. Take KD’s images of the toy cars. Each take on a tone and character. Sure it was an exercise in depth of field, but what makes them enduring images is the sence of character that the car takes on. I think each of us who are choosing to document this world with the use of a camera are beholden to look for the story of our chosen subjects, whether cats, pencils, strangers or loved ones. The interplay between our eye (lens) and our subject is a precisous gift. If we find we are mearly staring at “ust an image”and no story emerges, then guess I would ask, why did you take the picture?

    March 5, 2009 at 10:17 am

    • You’re welcome Shrew!! And can I just tell you how inflated my ego is right now that I was able to teach YOU something!!! LOL It’s about time I have something to give back! 😉

      March 5, 2009 at 3:32 pm

      • OMG as if…
        I am learning right along side of you. It’s IvoryHut and Scott that are the gurus.

        March 5, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    • karma

      Well, during the process of the 365 project, I can answer there were certainly days that the only reason I took a picture was to take a picture! I could probably point out some shots from that experiment where I really can’t think of much of a story to go along with it. I’ve taken plenty of pictures also where I was just trying figure things out about my camera too – no real story in the image, unless you count my personal education as a story. Of course I prefer a photo that has a story to go with it, but I’m just saying I think photos are taken for other reasons too.

      March 5, 2009 at 4:37 pm

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  8. That’s fair karma. I think that may well be the define the difference between a snap shot and a photograph. To me a photograph is taken to tell a story and artistry is applied through composition and camera settings. A snap shot albeit can and many do contain a story are not carefully composed, they are fired off for as you say an obligation or for a technical reason. I have those too, but I would never call my snap shots photographs.

    March 5, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    • That’s a distinction I make, too, Shrew. Sometimes I really do aim for a “photograph” and enjoy learning how I could do more. Mostly, though, I use my camera to take notes or to act as a sketchbook for a story I’m going to tell mostly with words. Some of the snapshots work as illustrations to extend or enrich the word-story. OK, I’m a heretic. Hey! Put down those pitchforks and torches!

      March 6, 2009 at 12:39 am

    • karma

      So, does that mean that the shots I’m not crazy about from my 365 project aren’t “photographs” in the sense of the word we are talking about? They were all taken for a purpose, of fullfilling this challenge that I gave to myself. Ultimately, they all served a purpose for me: teaching me to “see” differently through my camera and hopefully grow as a photographer. As a group, I think they definitely tell a story, so in that sense would they all be photographs?

      Hey KD – I hope its fine with you we’ve turned this comment section into a little forum! 😉

      March 6, 2009 at 3:12 pm

      • Have at it Karma! LOL I love this stuff. Healthy dialogue is what this whole blog thing is all about. Quite boring otherwise! 🙂 And I’ll weigh in on the subject (maybe!) when I have more time.

        March 6, 2009 at 5:33 pm

  9. Okay, so this has turned into quite the discussion! Alrighty…here’s my “weigh in” on the subject.

    I think the disagreement comes down to connotative vocabulary differences. Technically speaking, a photograph is any image produced with a camera. So if we’re stripping the word down to denotation only, then there you have it…there is no difference between “snap-shot” and “photograph.” However, I completely understand what Shrew and Gerry are referring to, and I think that it is an evolution of sorts. I don’t know when it happened for me, but somewhere over the year, it did….this emotional connection with the artistry of “picture making” that has changed the way I take photos. It was easier back when I took just “snap shots.” It was a simple recording of events for me and my family…an aid to memory so to speak. However, somehow everything has changed. It’s a major dichotomy shift…like all these gears fall into place and you “get it.” Not that you can practice it yet, but you “get it.” I remember feeling the same way about teaching when I first started. There’s teaching, and then there’s “teaching.” You know….when you “get it” in your core…You are no longer going through the motions of all the skills you learned, but it becomes a part of you…a living piece of your soul. You come to “see” the dynamic interplay of all the pieces, and somehow meld into one of those gears. You are no longer playing with the gears from the outside of the thing. (Okay, if I make no sense here whatsoever, forgive me.)
    Anyway, I feel similarly about this whole “photography” thing. It’s no longer a “hobby” or something I do simply to improve my skills, or record family events for posterity. The camera has worked it’s way into my soul, and I would feel like a piece of me was missing if someone took that ability to work with the creation of photos away from me. (Now I just have to keep practicing to get better.)
    I mentioned to someone recently that sometimes I’m tempted to wipe out my Flickr account simply to start over. That’s where Shrew’s connotation of “photograph” comes in. I would get rid of every “snap shot” and only post my “photographs”….And I’ll tell you, I’m not sure there are many in there. I have some from my pre-knowledge days that were a result of dumb luck. And I have more that are recent. (Funny you mention my Cars series Shrew, because those are some that I feel are “photographs” in your sense of the word.)
    Anyway, I guess we could argue this point all day, but again, we really are getting stuck in vocabulary.
    And now, I take your leave…you must all think I’m a nutjob! Forgive me for rambling, but then again, it is my blog so I can ramble all I want!! LOL 😉
    Have an awesome weekend my friends!

    March 7, 2009 at 8:04 am

    • karma

      Of course you get to ramble! And I do think “photographs” can be created with dumb luck. Every thing of beauty that we manage to capture with a camera, whether by careful manipulation or happy accident, is precious in my opinion – and why you’d never wipe out your Flickr account! Sometimes the moment doesn’t allow us to be perfectly ready or have our settings just as we’d like them to be, but we still end up with wonderful part of our souls. Good example of what I am talking about is that picture of my girls Shrew posted a little bit back, called “the moment”. ( I was going to link to it but I can’t find it in Shrew’s archives) Spur of the moment luck shots often become some of my favorites.

      March 7, 2009 at 2:29 pm

      • No, I wouldn’t wipe it out! (I’m such a sap, I never could. Just tempting at times.) But I think a look back is an education in and of itself.

        March 7, 2009 at 7:29 pm

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