There are days when I wonder why I haven't taken pictures in weeks. There are other days when I wonder why I spend so much time and money on equipment, software, editing images, and ideas. Then there's a day like today that just brings it all back to me.
To start, I haven't shot in probably 3 weeks. I've been going nuts. I consistently get the itch to just go out and take pictures of something, anything when I haven't been able to for a while. Of course, you should never do this because images never turn out as well as they should without some sort of planning. Anyways, I had the itch this week to shoot. I've also been trying to explore the Kennesaw area more since I moved here in January (its been really slow going). So I figured, well, Kennesaw Mountain is supposed to be beautiful, I need some exercise, and I need to take some pictures. Let's throw them all together!
So off I went. The area is beautiful, especially in May when summer is in full swing and the temperature isn't unbearable yet. Since I'd never been to the area before, I packed my standard, "cover my bases" kit:
7D, 70-200 f/2.8 IS II, my new Sigma 35mm f/1.4, along with a neutral density filter, YN-568, some flash triggers and gels, and of course a bottle of water. All packed in my trusty Lowepro 350 AW Fastpack.
Now, to say this is a well traveled trail is an understatement. Maybe it was because its Memorial day weekend and everyone is showing off the sights to their relatives, or maybe everyone decided to go for a stroll on a Saturday morning. Who knows, but I can certainly say it made taking pictures tricky. I really had to wait a lot for a gap in the traffic for the natural trail look I was going after. This first image isn't even technically clear of traffic. I had to wait for the hikers to get behind that big central set of trees and fire away while they were obscured.
But today held a great moment for me with this next image.
So as I was sucking wind on this trail and thinking to myself, "Holy crap I am seriously out of shape," I noticed that the trail leveled out and had a gorgeous lane with the trees creating a tunnel effect. Now since there was a lot of people and I wanted to really accentuate the height of the trees, I decided to lay on my stomach in the middle of the trail for this image. Vertical orientation and the low perspective would really lengthen the trees while making the trail seem long without actually having to see a lot of it. So I stood around waiting for a good gap in traffic, then got on the ground to quickly take the shot. The key was that while I was standing around, I had already set up my exposure. The light wasn't going to change from where I was standing, so I knew I could set it up and be fine once I hit the dirt, literally. So I took the shot and all was hunky dory. As I was getting up, a couple came by and the gentleman said, "Aw man, you missed it! A squirrel ran behind you doing the Macarena just as you were lying down!" I laughed and responded, "Damn, I've been trying to get that all day." Great moment, and it made my day and the hike a little bit better.
Now, I'm still deciding whether I even like this image after its been processed and all that jazz. I generally love a picture when I first take it and then start critiquing and hating it the more I look at it. This one seems to be having the opposite trend. But even if this doesn't make it to my final portfolio or such, I sure as hell am going to remember this image. Why? Because of the personal interaction and the story I got out of it.
Photography has always been a great tool for me to exercise my creativity, to try different things and put myself in new situations. What I've come to realize is that photography has also helped me as a person. I'm a pretty quiet, low-key guy, but give me a camera and I become a chatterbox. I'm in my element, I'm in the zone when I'm shooting and the greatest thing is that it helps make me out-going. Ice breakers? Just gotta ask someone if they mind me taking their picture or even ask them to move over a foot so I can snag an image of something unrelated. I've come to enjoy taking pictures of so many different things because of the people I get to interact with. An image is infinitely better when it tells a story, but having a story behind an image makes it even better. I'll always remember this image as the Macarena Squirrel picture.
I got into photography to tell stories with my images. I'm sticking with photography because of the stories I'll share of how my images happened and the people I met along the way.