Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Might Be an Over Acheiver

So for the class I am taking, Find Your Eye, we were supposed to choose a subject we frequently photograph and take at least 50 pictures of it exploring lots of different angles, compositions, etc.  Since Sunflower is in at least half of my pictures, I chose her as my subject.  Then I went outside with her for 1 hour and came back in with over 500 pictures with my 55-200mm lens.  I had planned to take more with my 50mm lens, but the neighborhood dog came into the yard so Sunflower wanted to go inside. To be fair, I always take 50-100 images (if not more) so that part of the assignment was easy (unless she meant limit ourselves to 50 photos).   Mostly I feel I need to take that many because I am still experimenting.  I know mathematically which combination of the exposure triangle makes a good image, but I still don't know exactly what I love in a photo.  Actually, I do have an idea, but Sunflower moves so fast, I have to keep shooting to try to catch it.  Still, I know I should slow down but in the moment I still forget.
I don't want to forget the curve of her cheek or the shape of her nose.
The biggest problem with 500 images is culling it down.  I have deleted down to 183 pictures--all of Sunflower in our backyard in the same outfit--not really necessary to keep them all.  Then I went through the star my favorites and came down to 44 images, but I cannot quite bear to just delete the other 139.  But you do not want to see 44 images of my sweet Sunflower, and I don't want to resize 44 images for the web either.  So I cut it down to 10.  Should I probably just keep these 10?  Yes.  Will I?  Not yet.  Not yet.
Is this the photo with the best nose crinkle, or should I keep the others?  The lighting isn't as pretty here.
But really, it doesn't matter.  I can take as many pictures as I like and take as much time to delete/keep them as I need.  The experience of taking the pictures is so worth it to me.  Sunflower and I had so much fun during that hour and while I was snapping away, I was also playing with her and letting her play.  Occasionally she would pose for me...
...and I love this picture too, cheesy, stiff smile and all.  I love the colors and the bokeh and the light in her curls and her crisp eyes.  Mostly though, she just played and I took pictures.  Time flew.  I meant to switch lenses at 50 pictures, but I didn't.  I did have to consciously back up to get her completely into the frame.
Very few of my stand back and capture the whole scene made it into my top 44 or 10, and I couldn't resist cropping this one a little closer.  I definitely love the close-ups, but I did want to capture the outfit so I could send a picture to Auntie L~the giver of the dress.  The next full dress shot is probably my favorite photo of the outfit though I took it to play with framing.
But Auntie would probably like to see Sunflower's eyes in her photo.  Plus I really like this shot in black and white best...
which means it is not optimal for documenting the details of my child's life and clothes.  But I love her little fingertips and the way she is standing and her expression.  So cute!
But 10 of this pose made it into my top 44.  One day I went through and starred my favorites from this set/moment in time, the next day I did it again, not checking which ones were already starred.  I ended up starring 5 one day and the other 5 the next day.  Her eyes were very visible and clear in each photo and yet her expression was different.  I can't keep only one forever, but today I decided to share the pursed half smile that says, "Mommy!  You're so silly!  I'm getting down!"
I just want to reach out and brush her hair out of her face, and frequent gesture of affection here.
The most frustrating part of the shoot was that she kept running in between the sun and the shade.  Sometimes I missed a photo or took it too dark because I wasn't fast enough at changing my settings as she went in and out.  I did take some photos in Aperture priority mode to fix that problem, but the camera kept choosing too slow of a shutter speed for hand held so I was missing the shot anyway.  That may because I have limited it's ability to change ISO to too small of range.  I should probably check that if I decide to try that again.  However, while the sun sometimes blew out her skin and caused her to close her eyes, I love how it made her hair gleam and the way the wind blew her hair around.
Here her hair isn't as bright or flyaway, but this is the soft cheek I love to stroke.
In the shade, her skin doesn't get blown out, but her hair isn't as shiny.  The lack of glittering hair becomes irrelevant when the photo is converted to black and white.
I did explore other compositions, too.  Usually I do focus on her face, but sometimes a shot of the feet or skirt makes for a fun photo.
But this photo doesn't make sense without the fuller shot of her sitting down blowing bubbles, but those didn't make it to the top 10 (actually one would have, but I'm saving it for a bright and colorful prompt I will need soon).

And then, because I cannot resist filling lots of negative space with text.
No doubt about it, I love taking pictures of my daughter (and my boys, too).  It was a little disappointing that when I laid on the ground to get a different (and unusual for me) angle was when she decided to play in her little red and yellow car.  If I did this shoot again, I would try to take more from this new angle, since none that I took made it to the top 10.  The car gives a horrible yellow cast to every photo and I had to stand up before too many shots because she got the car stuck and wanted help.  Next time I'll get on the ground when she is no where near the car.

Ummm, kind of boring commentary, but the class is about me thinking about my photography.  At least you can enjoy the pictures, I hope.  I have 75 pictures of a butterfly bush to talk about later.  I thought it might be a good idea to try this on my other top subject--flowers. 


Leanne said...

These are great photos of your daughter. You take beautiful crisp shots and there's a lot to like about each of these. I can imagine it would be very difficult to sort through and find your favourites.
I do like the photo of her feet hanging over the ladder of the cubby, very cute.


I had the same sun/shade issue with the moving target! I absolutely love the "dress for auntie" framing and the little shoes at the top of the ladder- "little girl in a big world". You've captured all those special details.

Deborah L. Tisch said...

These are all so lovely! I can't imagine how hard it was to sift through all of them to begin with, but you have made wonderful choices. I love the focus and the different angles you took. Thanks for sharing these here!

Iquemon said...

Oh you got some gorgeous pictures of your daughter. I experience that as well not wanting to throw out the ones that didn´t make it to the cut of the best ones.

seabluelee said...

Cedar, your commentary was NOT boring at all. Sunflower is beautiful and you captured so much of her personality in these shots. I was fascinated to read about your process and your thoughts as you went along. I am learning as much (or more!) from reading other people's postings for these assignments as I am from taking my own photos.

I also loved your creative framing. I was "taught" never to cut off part of someone's head in a photo and struggle constantly to remember that I don't have to follow those conventional snapshot rules in my photography.

I have the same problem as you with culling my photos. There might be only a hair of difference, but how do I choose? And how do I delete the ones that are almost "it" but not quite? Maybe I'll change my mind later and want them back!

Kat Sloma said...

Oh Cedar... yeah, that whole deleting thing. I don't do it. It means that I have to buy new hard drives every few years, but there have been way too many times that I went back to review some old shoot and suddenly found a gem. So I'm never going to advise deleting. I do move my favorites at that moment to my inspiration file after editing and call it good. I can always go back to the original file if I need to.

Thanks for the great commentary, it's helpful for everyone to read!

Ashley Sisk said...

WOW - I think you're such a natural with shooting children...I love your perspective and that I feel the movement and joy in their (or her in this case) play. You do such a beautiful job.

Susan said...

Great job! I have such a hard time deleting photos! (I have a terabyte external hard drive that I’m praying will get me through the year!) I love the last one, and the black and white, and the cute little shoes! I bet it was hard to choose from so many!

Sarah said...

These are awesome. I love them. You did a beautiful job.