Sunday, October 12, 2008

Breaking Habits


Cleared to Land!, originally uploaded by Gamut's Edge.

Sometimes I like to look through my old pictures. I’ll open up a folder from six months ago and view it as a slideshow. However, the last time I checked out an old folder I noticed something about my style of photography that I didn’t really like. I think I am using the camera as a cropping tool. Way back when I first got into photography I did a lot of cropping in Photoshop to correct or enhance my compositions. Over time I got better at making the crops with the viewfinder. Now I rarely if ever crop a photo in Photoshop. A problem with my style becomes apparent though after flipping through a couple hundred old photos. With all my concentration on level horizons, vertical lines, and clean edges my photos start to look like they were all taken through a well aimed cardboard tube. All the excitement and motion in sucked out. That’s fine for a landscape that’s supposed to portray a sense of calm, but for many other photos a perfect crop doesn’t create the right mood.

That brings me to today’s photo. This picture was a direct attempt to break all my photographic habits. First off, the horizon isn’t level. Also, I put a little bit of the nose of the airplane in the lower left corner. The combined effect makes it look like the airplane is turning, even though we were on a long (15 mile) stabilized final approach. The LasVegas Strip is also visible, but not completely. Normally I would either have all of the strip in the frame or none; such is my flawed way of thinking. With the strip half cropped out it feels like the photo was taken in a hurry. That’s the effect I was going for. But ,to prove this is a photograph and not a snapshot I kept control over the upper left corner of the frame. I purposely left blue sky (mostly) all the way around the cloud and didn’t cut any of it out of the edge of the view finder. I did bring the cloud close to the edge -- that’s my usual control freak cropping style. Also, I used the diagonal nature of the clouds in the frame as a lead in line.

I think the overall effect of this photo gives the viewer a sense of flying even though they are looking at a static view. I could be wrong. After so many hours looking out aircraft windshields I might have a scewed viewpoint. If I see an airplane nose, a tilted horizon, and a runway my brain says, “We’re turning final, better double check that the gear is down and locked.” Who knows what a non-pilot thinks about this same view.

1 comment:

Nick said...

Great shot, I really like the viewpoint. Its something not a lot of people get to see in life! Keep em coming! I agree with your thinking.. sometimes its better to just SHOOT rather than compose.