Monday, January 21, 2008

Self Portraits - Part 1

I've been looking for places to get my photography work shown. My primary work is nature photography, it is my "first love." However, my personality type is not one that is likely to specialize, so I play around with all sorts of photography. Most of my photography the last three months have been people. A couple of weeks ago I found an exhibit that I have work suitable for submission. The topic: The Invisible Age - Photographic Self-Portraits by Women Aged 50-65.

My first thought, yes, I'm a photographer in that age bracket and yes, I've got some self portraits - the best one is from two years ago. As I got to thinking about it, I realized that I started taking self portraits four years ago. As I thought about the ones I'd taken and looked at the progression of my photography skills, I found it interesting. I was surprised that my first attempt actually holds up pretty well. And remember, these were taken in the fall of 2003.

I took these as part of an "assignment" at an online photography website, "Digital Photo Contest." The assignment that month was to do a self portrait. I was very much in the learning process of digital photography and digital work flow. The photos were shot in JPEG, I had not started using RAW. I was competing against some very talented photographers and I knew that I wanted mine to be unique. My methodology was simple - natural lighting, outside. I used the tripod and camera timer, focused on the tree and ran around hoping to be a good position in the frame when the shutter snapped. Out of 30 or 40 shots some in direct mid-day sun (BAD IDEA), I had a few that are actually decent by my standards today. The best ones were taken in the shade of that big tree I was using as a background.

Problems I had - the direct sunlight was harsh - definitely did not work (I know better now). The wind was blowing. Even when I stood still, there were several shots where my hair was just too blurred. I did try to do more than just "head" shots, but the ones I like the best were just the head. I also purposefully tried out different expressions. And, since I was doing "nature photography," I had a plan. I wanted more than just a standard portrait for my entry. I wanted my entry to say something about me.

This was my entry, the title: "One with Nature." At the time, I worried that people could misinterpret what I meant. I don't worship nature, I find serenity and a special wisdom in a forest, but I don't worship inanimate or living things. I believe in God, a creator and Saviour.

But, I am in many ways more at home outdoors in the natural world than I am in fancy social settings. So . . . I hope this portrait portrays part of that love of nature and the wonder and awe that I feel when I see special parts of God's creation.

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