Two hearts and minds are always better than one. Photography scouting is something I always find exciting and reinvigorating. The prospect of uncovering new places, encounter new wild life, or just simply get away from the day-to-day pressures. While I often scout alone, in contrast I have to admit the few times someone else comes along is a far more creative and satisfying experience. Last night my adventure partner was Rory, my teen age son. I thought he would like to discover a new place so I brought him to the south side of Rusheen Bay, my new scouting ground. Like every photographic adventure it started with a bit of “now what?” attitude. So I said to Rory: “let’s look around for something that gets your interest and we start from there”.
We walked down the hill and Rory’s attention goes to a stone wall. After talking a while about the kind of image he would like to capture, I explained to him some of the camera manual settings. It is so interesting to see how a new tool or a new understanding can cause you to play around. After a few lessons on depth of field, Rory immediately tested it out on the image he wanted to capture. Foreground in contrast with background, focus in contrast with out of focus, including the thin blue line of the receding seawater to add a layer of contrast. The final choice was a contrasting blend of sharp stones against an impressionist style background of grass, yellow flowers dots and the soft outline of the cliffs.
We marched on and my attention drifted on the gulls and terns. I’ve learned some new techniques and I wanted to play around with them. All the time the low tide was uncovering sand banks right in the middle of the bay. This was an ideal situation for birds to access easy to reach food. We decided to challenge the thick barrier of slippery sea weeds, we were both worried about slipping on it with expensive equipment. When we made it to the sand banks a new creative element became available to us. Sand ripples trapped sea water which in turn trapped interesting clouds reflections. So we started looking at all different perspectives: high, low, wide, tight, upward, downward; until we found the balance between reflections and perspective. If it wasn’t for Rory reminding me that the sun was about to set, I would not have thought of turning back and catch it just about to hide behind the cliffs edge.
When we set out towards the shore we agreed we would return on the hill to catch the last lights of the sun. So we traded the slippery weeds back and trekked to the top of the cliff’s hill. I was focusing so much on how the bay would look like from there, with the pinky clouds, while Rory had something very specific in mind. A close up of the grass blades against the sun setting in the background. Again we set up the camera on the tripod, low to the ground, prepared the filter holder with a grad ND filter, and played with depth of field. Once we took a few shots we decided to have a little fun with Rory standing, walking and running in front of the camera. At a low shutter speed (1/6 of a second) things in motion take a completely new identity. Once processed the multiple shots into a single composite, “The Flash” was born, the fastest man alive.
We spent two hours walking about, taking pictures, and indeed play with creativity. When we got back to the car the excitement wasn’t over either, the prospect of processing the images extended the sense of satisfaction and fulfilment of an evening well spent. All the while the time flew by so quickly yet engaging in such creative work made it so meaningful and timeless. I cannot help but think about this interesting contrast between perspectives. When we do something without engaging our creativity and wonder, time seem to slow to a halt. A never-ending agony waiting for it to be over. When we do engage life in creative endeavours time goes by quickly but makes life meaningful, exciting and memorable. We all certainly have the privilege to choose the perspective we find more useful, yet it seems to me that the true meaning of life is not much in how long we live but rather in how engaged we are with the life we have.