Saturday, July 14, 2012

What Calls is Vocation

13 July 2012  If Vocation is doing what calls you...  I didn't think the summer sun would ever reach this far into the room, or that I'd happen to see it.  Luckily, the paper-naptkin holder was empty.  This is what I saw first; the others followed.
Like all the other visual media, photography offers innumerable choices and products, both Absolute and Illustrative, based on personal vision and the use of selected tools (which may be imposed by availability).  One can no more take casual photos with most specialized cameras and their specific lenses than definitive scientific photos with miniature point-and-shoot or the newest cell phone.  Within one's budget and physical limitations (say, to climb or to carry heavy equipment) one decides what seems possible.  The still life here was taken with a Nikon S9100, one of a handful of quite remarkable tiny cameras currently available.
After a year I have become very comfortable with it.  Yesterday afternoon I was working with minimum available light, so I used some zoom to avoid wide-angle distortion (since I needed the wide angle to maximize aperture) while retaining as much depth of field as reasonably possible.
I keep a couple of cameras with charged batteries close at hand, just as someone documenting growing children might do.  Afternoon sunlight changes very quickly, and in this particular 'calling' of mine the feeling that light is both the object and the means of photography and its Absolute subject is the Game.  In my form of it (not mine alone, of course), neither the things involved nor their illumination should be altered, but used as seen.  That rule is inherent.  Irving Penn's great photographs of still-life subjects (tulips, playing cards, dead cigarettes, and all the rest) are a different Game with different inherent rules, though both, in my opinion, are Absolute rather than Illustrative (recognizability of the things involved being irrelevant to the distinction).
As I moved around the stuff on the end of the tabletop, the composition of vertical lines and diagonally dispersed almost melodic curved dark and light shapes became defined.  The image might not have enough light to be tolerably sharp, but it had to be taken, just as it presented itself.  So it heads this post.

Standing on a stool to look down, and zooming a bit more, an entirely different image, with all the shadows changing their shapes. 

This one had to be cropped a little at right, because the beam of sunlight hit the lucite too directly.  I liked adding the black dots provided by the old dime-store salt shaker.

For the record, to avoid distracting anyone by the question, the faux-moiré pattern is a box of Kleenex-brand tissues.
One of the most important things about this kind of photography is realizing that seeing color depends on light.  Our wonderful eyes and brain adjust to help us see the colors we expect or (in the wild) need to see, but the camera relies on supplementary light, floods or flash, for which fact I am very grateful,  because I have only to defeat the auto flash (and this camera, for which I am even more grateful, makes no flash the default) to obtain images as the camera chip (or formerly the film emulsion) registers them and which, to my eyes, have many of the virtues of both grayscale and color.  The chip does this better than any film ever did.  None of the special effects offered by post-processing programs give such subtlety as the camera itself, in response to nature, provides.
I leave to you to decide whether these images are interesting as such: Absolute.