I’m astonished that, after two years of my photography technique never progressing beyond the tap-to-focus setting on my smartphone – when some long-suffering person seated behind me at a performance could no longer stomach my blurry action shots and just reached over to furiously jab at my phone—I haven’t yet become a master photographer. I always assumed gradually passable photography was one of those traits that develop/blossom by themselves with age, like cheese or fine wine or physical attractiveness. (Although that really just makes a case for me having to wait a lot longer.)
My knowledge of photography best practices
- Keep the subject and as little else as possible in the frame.
- That’s it.
- Anything else is the subject’s fault.
Lately, on my trip to Alaska, I’ve been trying my hand at wildlife photography. While living creatures are much easier to blame for subpar pictures than inanimate objects, animals also significantly decrease said photos’ quality, essentially negating any advantage.
I don’t know why I keep trying. Logically, I could just buy professional postcards with high-quality images.
But there must be something about my ugly-as-hell, indiscernible-subject-matter photos that compels me to soldier on.
At lunch the other day, I was taking a picture of this black blob on an island miles from the ship (I’m beginning to think what makes a master photographer is actually just knowing enough not to take stupid shots… just hazarding a guess.)
When Mom asked what I was looking at, I signaled for the binoculars. The binoculars we have are the cheap kind that proportionally decreases picture quality with the zoom so you can see blurs up close and personal.
Me: Maybe it’s a bison.
Mom: It doesn’t look like it’s moving.
Me: We’re also really far away, though. Could you really tell if it were?
Mom remained silent, as she does when I’m being particularly insightful or moronic. No in-between.
Eventually, I realized the +/- around the right binocular lens had a purpose and managed to focus the lens enough to make out the “bison,” which in fact was a large log. I quietly replaced the binoculars and dug into my couscous.
Because if there’s one advantage to bad photography, it’s that people can’t tell what you’ve captured regardless. Your photo is a picture of whatever you want it to be; no one is the wiser if you’re confident enough.
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