“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
— Dorothea Lange
One of the best outcomes from being a photographer is learning to see things in the world around me that I would otherwise miss.
Now that cell phones have great cameras built in, the odds of catching a great shot are much higher. But even then, you have to be on your toes. I’ve missed more fleeting images than I have caught just by not being fast enough. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to even have my “real” camera in hand when a scene unfolds that results in an image I like. Some photographs exist only my mind, having missed the opportunity to capture the moment on film or a digital sensor.
This image was shot with my Nikon DSLR. The end result is an ambiguous, dreamy, maybe nightmarish image. It reminds me of recurring dreams I have had, being chased by some shadowy figure, looking desperately for a way out.
I converted the image to black and white and applied a soft “filter” in post processing to get the dreamy image I was after. The images I am most satisfied with are the ones I see as complete in my mind. As I shot this scene, I already envisioned the end result in my head, and it came out pretty close to my original idea.
This scene was not posed or pre-planned. It was truly a “grab shot” that happened in a split-second. I had taken a friend’s daughters to local indoor swimming pool, and this is the ramp that leads up from the pool to the outside. The older sister ran up the ramp into daylight while her little sister lagged behind, right in front of me. Yes, that ominous, shadowy figure that appears to be chasing the pony-tailed girl is actually her little sister.
This photo is a good exercise in taking reality and making it say something entirely different in a photograph. It’s also a good lesson in not believing everything we see in pictures, a lesson we are all learning more and more with the advent of easy to use photo manipulation software. However, this photograph, other than the conversion to monochrome and the dreamy filter, is pretty true to life. A few simple changes create an entirely different feeling than the original scene.
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