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A new year…

Earl Moore Photography

The final honor guard

The 2012 buzz word is “consistency. “

In a recent post, Scott Bourne did a follow-up and expansion titled, “15 Ways to Improve Your Photography Without Buying Gear.” One of the 15 was; “Be consistent. If your work is all over the place, it’s a sure sign you haven’t settled who you are and what you want to do with your photography. Until you sort that out, nobody else will be able to either. Stick with it.

That resonated strongly with me. I don’t exhibit the consistency in my work I’d like but I know at least part of this is a reflection of who I am. In my thinking, I’ve always been a being of shades of gray rather then black and white. I see both sides of most subjects and my opinions fall most often somewhere in the middle rather then at either extreme. I listen and read. Logic, facts and good arguments may sway me to slide along the scale of opinion. This “softer focus” tends to show up in my photographic work but for 2012 I’d like to set narrower boundaries in an effort to closer define my photographic style.

We’ll have to see how successful I am but this is as close to a New Year’s resolution as you’re going to get.

Now hopefully this somber image will not be prophetic of the coming year.

Driving to work each day I pass the Salisbury National Cemetery. It’s a place of order, of patterns and consistency. The hallowed grounds are better kept then most cemeteries and I’ve often thought about stopping and taking advantage of the low winter sun/light with some black and white photography. Last week I did.

For this photo I wanted to capture the white marble headstones in a manner suggesting a sense of a military formation — these headstones being the final honor guards for those resting here. A good deal of time was spent finding the best angle and alignment for this shot. In my minds eye the long shadows needed to be a feature of this image as well, linking the rows together and defining the spacing much as a military formation will extend their arms to mark their own spacing.

My vision and this end product, perhaps a far reach — I’ll let you be the final judge. You may see something entirely different but just as “correct or valid” as what I saw.

The image was taken with an Olympus PEN E-P2 Micro Four-Thirds camera with a Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 14-45mm lens. I’ve read some have experienced chromatic aberration using this lens on this Olympus Four-Thirds camera bodies but after a good deal of personal shooting experience (in color of course) with the combo I’ve only seen mild cases and only on occasion.

21 Comments on A new year…

  1. Earl, a great start for the New Year. Best wishes for 2012.

  2. Paul Maxim // 1 Jan ’12 at 2:37 pm // Reply

    A great image, Earl. I love the black and white treatment, and of course the diagonals formed by the long shadows. Definitely my kind of photograph!

  3. Hi Earl, I like this image. There is a strong grid like symmetry with the headstones in columns and the rows defined by shadows. Moreover the light is interesting. I think the only thing I would have done differently would be to try to find one thing that stands out in the pattern, so that the eye eventually finds that and then scans the frame only to return to it.

    It’s good to hear that you have a definite photographic goal for the new year. It sounds like a good one too. I look forward to seeing your photos this year. Good luck!

    • Eric, thanks. It’s funny you mentioned finding a point of interest in the pattern. I spent considerable time finding an angle that achieved a level of uniformity. It would be interesting to see how it would have worked with one point of “difference” — perhaps next time.

  4. This a great photo, Earl. The strong side light creates interesting patterns on the headstones and shadows and it’s well suited to a B&W treatment.
    Scott has some good advice for photographers on this particular post and I value his judgement. His success in the field is admirable. However, I’m not sure about what he means by having your work “all over the place” and the need to define a photographic style. For professional photographers to be identified with a particular style could be very beneficial and this is very good advice. But freelance non-professionals have an advantage to be able to express themselves in many different ways without specializing in any style. Photography is a continuous growth process and that ideal should be a part of any photographic style, even for professionals.

    • Ken, thanks. Your point’s well taken and I didn’t interpret Scott’s advice too literally but I do feel the need to work towards identifying some type of personal style, or perhaps a strength to focus a bit stronger upon. A danger with wandering about, even in photography, is you may get lost. Perhaps I’m just looking for a better answer to the question, what type of photographer are you?

      Who know what this will look like…perhaps nothing. ;-)

  5. This says to me exactly what you describe and you made the most of the shadows. It was definitely worth all that repositioning. Without the beautiful lighting this would be an interesting repetition of pattern, but without the power and energy that you found in this scene. The black and white adds to the strength with its no nonsense focus on what matters most. Very effective.

  6. Happy New Year Earl.

    I think this is a powerful image. The first thing I thought of was not necessarily the subject itself, but of the organization of shadows, pattern, and highlights on the tops of the stones. Symbolically it fits perfectly with the structure of our armed forces with respect to organization. I could go further and say there is a bit of irony in it as well, because as rigorous as the command structure is in the military, I would think the way these people died was probably not orderly at all. The chaos of war. The shadows imply memories to me, that the contributions of these people stretch far beyond their resting places.

    As far as consistency, I have questioned myself on that subject many times. Does it refer to keeping your subjects, style, processing, etc. the same? Bourne didn’t elaborate at all on this, but dictionary definition of the term is “the achievement of a level of performance that does not vary greatly in quality over time.” It sounds awfully static to me. Of course, no one wants to go downward in the quality of their work. I think there is some value in trying to focus yourself on what you want to photograph if you are trying to present it in a portfolio way, but for exploring subjects and methods, everyone should be open to experimenting.

    • Mark, your sense of this photo is very close to what I was envisioning and I appreciate the sharing of the details. I certainly agree with your point of irony — from all descriptions it’s seldom orderly in any moment of combat or death.

      Since publishing this I’ve been giving it considerable thought. I sometimes settle in my photography for the easier shot when I could possible have push the boundaries for something more. Still hashing out the details.

  7. I not only like the like-soldiers look of the rows, but the highlights set each stone off beautifully. Well done.

  8. You have succeeded in bringing forth emotions from your viewers with this image. My eye went to the headstones then the shadows then back to the headstones. It took a while to exit the image, I just wanted to feel the emotion. It also had me wonder what the ratio is for you with black and white images over color images.

    One of the facets i enjoy about photography is the variety, from those photographers I follow and for my own images. I read about finding our style which is not the same as consistency. For my you are consistent in posting thought provoking words along with excellent images. You are also consistent with following and commenting on others blogs. If pushing the boundaries is a whisper in your ear then push it. Whatever the coming year offers you I will be watching and learning. Have a super 2012!

    • Monte, thanks. Black and white images probably comprise less than 10 percent of my normal shooting — but there are times and subjects where nothing else is as effective.

      These feeling of inconsistency I’ve confessed to may be born of personal perceptions I have.

      I appreciate the kind words and they are not going unheeded. I don’t expect anyone will notice any large scale changes here…just a few minor course corrections. :-)

  9. Everyone else’s comments have expressed more eloquently than I can the strength and appeal of this image, so I’ll just agree with the crowd. Very strong image.

    As far as being all over the place with photography, that defines me exactly! As a matter of fact on my blog and website I describe myself as a photographic generalist – I shoot what I feel like shooting when I feel like shooting it using a technique that strikes me as appropriate. Even so, I still feel you can develop you’re own unique “voice” even if you do shoot a variety of different ways. Part of me agrees with Scott, but another part of me is saying, don’t box yourself in – do it all! That’s where I am now, though even while I justify the generalist position I do still look for the “one” thing I want to primarily focus on. My burden, my gift, has been this irresolute nature.

    Thanks for the great post!

  10. Excellent points, thanks for pointing out Scott’s article!

  11. That is a great monochrome – I like the different shades of grey and how the shadows beautifully enhance the uniformity of the stones.

    Earl, I hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas and a great start to the New Year. I hope 2012 will be filled with love, joy, happiness and plenty of photography. I look forward to visiting your blog in the coming year and be inspired by your great work.

    • Martina, Thanks. Best wishes to you in 2012 as well and I look forward to continuing to see and learn from your work as well.

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