Charles Kuralt once told a story of a returning Vietnam soldier and the family that was waiting anxiously for him to show up at their small farm house. Although he never met the soldier, Roger, the story generated so much interest that CBS news later reported when Roger finally got home. A colleague of Kuralt commented on how hard it must be to dig up stories like that, something Charles found amusing since he found it by looking out the window of the On The Road bus and seeing a sign, “Welcome Home, Roger.” The genius of Charles Kuralt isn’t that he was out on the road, but rather, that he turned around and went back to find out “who’s Roger?”
Being on the look out for, and taking advantage of, opportunities is a skill good photographers gain by paying attention to the world around them. And learning to see like the camera sees. I happened to glance out my office window today as I was drawing the shades and saw the tree next door, all its blooms framed against a blue sky dotted with white clouds. The sun was shining from the east but behind a thin layer of clouds, softening the edges of the flowers and making the whole tree glow against the sky.
My first thought was, “that’s a nice scene,” which fortunately was followed by my second thought, “I really ought to make a picture of that.” A couple of minutes later I’m in the yard with my camera composing with the tree, flowers, sky, clouds and light. As I was making images, I could see in my mind what I wanted from the finished image, one version color and one B&W. The latter just seemed obvious to me given the quality of light and subject, but I realize this ‘obvious-ness‘ is due to actually thinking and seeing like a photographer. It pleased me a little to know the efforts of almost a year studying photography are resulting in some reflexes in seeing.
And here are the results. One challenge I’m still having is developing my digital images into final versions that fit what I saw when I was composing the picture. I am learning how local contrast can be adjusted to “return” the details to what I saw, and I’m learning how backgrounds can be adjusted to draw the eye away from them and to the subject. The goal I have for my images is a three-dimensional quality, a sense of you-are-there for the viewer. Not there yet but at least I’m seeing opportunities and taking advantage of them.