Friday, August 26, 2011

How is Eminem Relevant to Landscape Photography?

Someone asked me recently why I like Eminem (+Eminem Marshall Mathers, the best-selling artist over the past decade). She listens to country music... where to start? His first few albums were entertaining, with some funny lyrics, and even funnier music videos, often parodying celebrities and other public figures. But his later work became deeply personal, reflecting challenges he faced in his life. His lyrics are dense, intelligent, and they often resonate deeply as I pursue photography.

The best opportunities in landscape photography often last for a matter of seconds. From a given sunset I may have dozens of good shots, but often only one image rises head and shoulders above the rest, even compared to adjacent frames captured seconds earlier or later.

Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
One moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?

You have to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right conditions, and when you are, you'd better have the required skills (knowledge of your camera's features), and at least for for 15 or 20 critical minutes, stay laser-focused on the task at hand.

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime

Are you a spectator of sunsets who happens to shoot photos, or are you completely focused on getting the right composition and exactly the right exposures, including a dark enough one so the outline of the sun won't be blown out when it's in the composition? Is your lens clean to minimize spots of lens flare? Take yourself seriously. Be prepared, then when those precious critical moments arrive, focus on the task at hand with every shred of concentration you can muster.

To be perfectly honest, travel can be tiring; I'm not always completely motivated or focused. Fully appreciating that reality forces me to confront the fact that moments, days, weeks and months tend to slip inexhorably by in our lives without being fully experienced, let alone best utilized in support of our life or creative goals. Instead of succumbing to the mental medication of TV (or the Internet), I resolve to take full advantage of rare opportunities when they come up (weather, sunrises/sunsets, moon rises, meteor showers, the book project i'm working on). Each is a moment in time and space, never to be repeated. I either make productive use of them, or not. My success, the path I'm currently choosing for my life, depends on it.

Success is my only m@#@&#$!& option, failure's not
I cannot grow old in Salem's Lot
So here I go it's my shot.
Feet fail me not
this may be the only opportunity that I got

My success depends in part on how often and how successfully I take advantage of the cumulative opportunities that are available in a given month and year.

You can do anything you set your mind to

The key portion of that parting statement is the "you can do": what you set your mind to can't stay in your mind. Your desires must translates into deliberate and competent action. I need to keep my sensor and lenses cleaner. What can you "do", in the planning or execution of your photography, to more efffectively move yourself forward towards your goals?