Monday, May 03, 2010

A Moment in May

Where will you be on Sunday, May 2, at 15:00 hours (U.T.C.)?

...asks the New York Times Lens. Here's where I was:



... ankle-deep in the Moormans River during the height of snake and fly season.

I'm always looking for ways to hone my craft and this challenge seemed like a great opportunity/excuse to get off my couch and make a picture. I had about a day to think about what the shot ought to be, and how I might make it happen. Honestly, this is why I like “challenges” of this type – they force you to think a little bit and pull me out of the autopilot mode I find myself in at times.

So... 11AM, wherever you happen to find or put yourself, with a camera. Sounds pretty simple and that’s really the trick – if it sounds simple then it usually isn’t, and that’s where the fun part kicks in. I decided to get out of my house and get out of my yard; the NYT guidance was that it could really be about anything in terms of theme, but since this was to be part of a “Timely Global Mosaic” I thought a sense of place was important, so that’s what I started going for. I spend most of my time at work capturing images of people (which I love), but this seemed like a good time to stretch.

I don’t know if going to your favorite place in the woods qualifies as a stretch, but I honestly had never done too much good shooting out there, aside from the video of my Dad, right after he fell into the river. I’d had some thoughts of wanting to make a picture from the middle of the creek, thinking it might give a neat perspective. Had it all planned out until I got in the car, with about :45 minutes until it was time to pull the shutter. That’s when the plan fell apart. It’s probably a ten-minute drive from my house to the location (less really) and I must have found 20-30 potential shots in those few short miles. The cemetery on the hillside. Weekend Harley warriors stopping for coffee at the country store. Fly fishermen heading toward the reservoir. Kids at the swimming hole. Flora. Fauna. Gah, make it stop!

The weird thing about constraints is that they make your mind work SO hard. Not hard as in difficult – hard as in overdrive. So here I was, no time to think and nothing but thoughts, which – doh! – was exactly why I undertook the challenge.

So with no time to think, I tested a few ideas that crept up on the bank.

IMG_5718_sugarhollow_

IMG_5651_sugarhollow_

Ah, so-so. It was just about the worst time of day to be doing this kind of thing. I stuck with my plan (it’s that first shot, up top). Wide lens, long exposure, moving water (and be in the water). I don’t think there’s anything earth-shattering about this shot but it has meaning in that I learned a lot while doing it. And after 11 O’clock hit I took a deep breath and a short walk and really enjoyed the day. Also, I think I won’t wear flip-flops the next time I try this sort of thing.


update: it made the cut!