It was quite a while ago that I first sat down and wrote about my philosophy behind my photography. It wasn’t as easy to write about as I had thought it would be, I had always just thought about the composition or the subject when behind the lens, and then “how do I make this look cool?!” while editing. When I really sat down and started to think about what I wanted to represent with a photograph everything started to change. I realized that I didn’t want to create dramatic, catchy images to be seen and adored by millions, but to really capture an image that represents (to the best of my ability) what I actually saw through the lens.

This change wasn’t for the better. Obsessive compulsive nature starts to take over. No image is right anymore. You might think that wanting to represent reality rather than wow the world with a photo would mean less time editing. Nope. Nope, nope, nope. As it turns out, even with a gray card, my camera doesn’t quite get correct color. Lighting is constantly changing anyway, and I don’t want to spend every few minutes calibrating my camera. Contrast, detail, dynamic range, color, gamma, depth of field never seem to come out of the camera quite right.

Of course, there must always be some artistic license in a picture. No matter how hard you try, I’ll never get that perfect representation. A camera lens, sensor, and software package is just not the same as an eye-brain package. So when I take a photo I think about what it is I’m looking at. Is it the dramatic landscape, or is it the way the light is hitting the hills? Everything falls out of that decision right there, the moment I decide to take it a stop down to accentuate the highlights and shadows or maybe just try to take in the whole scene. Now I can take my image home and fight with myself over it.

“That’s not the right color.”
“That’s the right blue, but not the right yellow.”
“That’s too dark.”
“That’s too bright.”
“Why is there so much haze, it wasn’t that hazy.”
“What the . . .”
“Where did the texture go?!”
“Where did that texture come from?!”
“NOISY!”
“Throw it out”
“Throw it out”
“Throw it out”
“This one’s better . . . throw it out”
“I see you forgot to bring the ISO down after shooting the aurora last night.”
“Throw it out”

Despite my inner dialogue, I still manage to produce a few pictures. My art is trying to get the most true image possible. It’s an on-going struggle to find and refine the tools to make the process as easy as possible. It’s only fair that I share my experience and the tools and processes that I use with others that may want to take a similar path and keep myself honest . . . with myself. I may not be a great photographer, but I assure you, I am not a lazy one.