AR 25 – Status and Lessons

I’ve done 25 of these photo-walks in the past five months. It’s been a valuable experience, and I’ve written down five things that I’ve learned.

If you’re not familiar with this project, please read my first post that described the project’s scope:

Earthworm and leaf:

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1. How to See

This is subjective, but I feel that I’m learning how to see (as opposed to just “looking”). When I walk and look at things, I feel a deeper connection, i.e. a heightened sense of observation and detail awareness.

I wouldn’t declare “I see now!” in an absolute sense, but I’m getting better at it. I just feel so much more aware of my surroundings.

What it all means is that it seems much easier for me to find interesting things to photograph (and sometimes, there seems to be too many things :-)

Vine detail:

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2. The Value of Practice

One of the main purposes of this project was to keep my photographic skills maintained over time. It’s worked.

I’ve done several “serious” photo-outings in the past five months, and I’ve noticed that my practice (the photo-walks) have made a difference. I’ve found it so much easier to get into “photo-mode” and enjoy photographing AND produce photos that I’m satisfied with.

The path:

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3. Repetitive Subject Matter

Projects usually involve shooting the same subject matter repeatedly. The benefit is that as you become more familiar with things, you usually produce better and more meaningful photos.

I’ve done other photography projects and realize this benefit. However, these photo-walks have been in an area that I would describe as difficult (i.e. it gets very repetitive and somewhat boring).

What I’ve found is that despite the apparent difficulty, I always find new and interesting things to photograph. It’s the same old scenes in the same old area, walk after walk, but it has not been boring. Instead of feeling like the subject matter has become repetitive, I’ve felt that each walk goes deeper and beyond the previous in terms of finding interesting things that grab my attention and that I want to photograph.

Water crossing:

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4. When to Stop

Knowing when to stop and take a photograph has always been a difficult thing for me. Usually, I get into so much of a rush that I pass up interesting things.

During my walks, especially the earlier ones, I’ve forced myself to stop. Over time, this practice has helped me develop a sense and an “eye” for things that interest me and that I should stop to photograph.


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5. Difficult Subject Matter

As I mentioned before, this area (the trail through the Addicks Reservoir), is filled with low, dense, cluttered woods and is a place that I think most folks would describe as fairly un-photogenic. The trees are small and thick, it’s hot and humid, there are tons of mosquitoes (and snakes and spiders too), it’s totally flat, and there are really no wide, open spaces providing expansive views. Nearly everyone who goes out there is just there to exercise and seems completely unaware of their surroundings.

I’ve lived in this area for over 10 years and have only recently given thought to doing “serious” photography in the reservoir. Now that I have, I can see the beauty and potential. It’s every bit as good as any other natural area. It’s different, for sure, but still as grand.

And that’s probably the biggest benefit or rather realization. It’s not really something that I’ve learned so much as something that I’ve come to appreciate as my mind has opened up to the possibilities.

At the end of each walk, I feel refreshed and a sense of having communicated and related to nature and the beauty in the natural world. It’s about as good as being in a “grand, beautiful” landscape, like that found in our national parks and other such scenic locations. It’s different, but awesome.

It shall continue…

2 thoughts on “AR 25 – Status and Lessons

  1. TJ, not only has this helped your photography, but your writing also has benifited. This is well written, informative, insightful and an easy read. Thanks

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