Blurred vision.

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There are probably a million ways – either accidentally or intentionally – to make an image of smudged trees.

Truthfully, most of my smudged subjects have gotten that way due to some error on my part, like wobbly hands or poor focus or forgetting to change my camera settings.

But I tried to be purposeful for this one. I slowed down the shutter and pointed my camera out the side window of the car while travelling the highway just after sunset.

It isn’t a very crisp image, but I liked the colour and the paintbrush-like strokes of the blurred treeline.

(Safety first, by the way: the window was closed and I simply steadied the lens against the glass, trying not to freak out other travelers. Also, in case you were wondering, I was not driving the vehicle at the time. You can never be too careful.)

 

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Unexpected destination.

Sometimes you end up where you weren’t expecting to go.

Yesterday evening, I was driving alone along a familiar, busy two-lane route that winds through farmland. The sun hung low in the sky, hovering behind a cluster of clouds and radiating strokes of light.

This was a picture just waiting to be snapped. I knew those sunrays wouldn’t wait for long. Thinking I could use a farm field for leading lines in a photo of the sinking sun, I pulled over to the shoulder. Since I’m nervous about being rear-ended, stopping on the side of the road is something I generally don’t do unless a) the car is making weird noises or b) there’s imminent danger of the sudden appearance of an occupant’s barf, pee, etc.

I chose my camera settings carefully, poked the lens out the window, and waited until there was a shot clear of passing cars. Then I fired away.

I’m sure I must’ve been scowling as I reviewed the shots on my camera’s screen. No beautiful rays of light – a blown-out sky instead. Flat, dark fields in front of flat, dark trees. They looked stark and dead.

The photos were boring.

I fiddled with the exposure controls and tried again. And again.

Nope, still boring.

At that point I wondered why I’m bothering to learn photography anyway. Why couldn’t I make one half-decent picture of a graceful farmer’s field in beautiful light?

Arrrrgh. I’d risked stopping here, so I didn’t want to leave without a reasonable photo. But I was so impatient with my attempts at proper camera skills that I got fed up about being overly intentional with exposure and composition.

So. I moved the angle of the camera. I didn’t bother waiting for a gap in traffic. With a slower shutter speed, I clicked like mad at cars as they passed. I was so involved in this process that the fear of getting crushed in a rear-end collision was hardly bothering me. Well, maybe a little. Especially while the car quivered in the wake of roaring transport trucks.

Luckily, I had no incidents involving automobile collisions, weird car noises, barf, or pee. At home later, I pulled up the photos on my laptop. All duds… except (I thought) for this one.

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With some help from Lightroom, I made it pop. I love the pattern of the moving wheel rims.

So I admit that this picture was kind of created by accident. And that the subject (or mood) isn’t one I’d first intended. And that it was the only one of a million shots that I liked. And also that Lightroom is my friend and hero. But if I’d given up when I’d gotten discouraged about my first failed photo attempts, I wouldn’t have ended up with it at all.

A happy accident, indeed. One I can learn from.

 

 

(Inspired by the WordPress weekly photo challenge: The Road Taken).

My thighs are killing me.

All that squatting and crouching by the creek yesterday made for achy legs today, but I’d wanted to get up close to the water so I could play around with slow shutter speeds.

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The sunlight glinting on the water and the flow of the creek created swirling lines and shapes when I made a slightly longer exposure.

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I hadn’t brought my tripod, so the in-focus elements weren’t as in-focus as I would’ve liked, but I didn’t mind.

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Mild temperatures (yessss!) meant the flow of water was melting the ice, leaving interesting bits and pieces clinging to rocks and branches.

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Mental note in preparation for next time:

  1. Bring a tripod.
  2. Do more squats.

Thank you, once again, for looking 😊

Sidewinders.

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I made a few shots of our freshly-assembled Christmas tree, but since we’ve had the same artificial tree and the same decorations for a while, the photos of the tree looked pretty similar to those from recent years. (The kids are taller now, though, and more attentive about spreading out ornaments so they aren’t bunched up in shining clumps two feet from the bottom).

Once darkness fell, I experimented a bit with a tighter crop, slow shutter speeds and a bit of camera movement. The lights on our tree are white, but I can see how much fun this would be with colour.

There were no rules – I just fiddled around with angles and settings and motion. Making a mistake often had an unexpectedly more interesting result (what a lovely reminder).

Round we go.

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My “assistants” helped me prepare for today’s photo of a marble run. One of them built the tower and controlled the flow. The other one tried to prevent our cats from photobombing the shot and eating marbles. It was a team effort.

I used to think that any blur in a photo meant it was a bad photo. Aren’t we trying to freeze time, capture a moment? But I’m starting to see that intentional blur (not the kind that results because I accidentally focus on the foliage in the background instead of the subject’s face) can be a creative way to express movement and energy in an image. I’ve seen some beautiful shots created by zooming or panning the camera – techniques I haven’t tried yet. Today I just played around with the shutter speed until the marbles were clearly moving but not blended together into one massive streak.

First the pinwheel, now the marble run – I’m starting to think I may be able to make photographic use of some of the neglected toys that are loitering around the house. In which case, it’ll be practically guaranteed that I’ll have the set-up assistance of a kid or two. And a couple of cats.

Day 7. The spins.

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Sweet, sweet daughter.

Thank you for parking your metallic purple dollar-store pinwheel in our front yard.

It has finally exited your closet, where it has been in hibernation for roughly half your life, during which time I’ve periodically tried to sell you on the appeal of this nice, old-fashioned, non-battery-operated-nor-wirelessly-connected toy.

I wasn’t hinting that it should become a garden ornament.

No worries. It’s growing on me.

You picked a perfect spot for it to catch the wind.