Monthly Archives: September 2014

Supermoon

Supermoon. Cache la Poudre Canyon, Colorado, 2014.

Supermoon.
Cache la Poudre Canyon, Colorado, 2014.

I don’t go out of my way to photograph the moon, and I certainly don’t buy in to the “supermoon” mania that seems to sweep the media every time we have a supermoon event (for those who don’t know, a supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth, this according to my favorite non-authoritative source of knowledge, Wikipedia).  Still, if I’m out photographing and the moon happens to wander its way into my frame, I’m happy to work it into the composition.

This basically is what happened a couple of weeks ago during our most recent supermoon.  I was driving down Colorado Highway 14 in Cache la Poudre Canyon, just happened to glance out the driver’s side window, and saw this scene coming together along the ridge at the top of the canyon walls.  So, I pulled over the vehicle, set up my tripod, and made a couple of quick captures before heading on my way.  Probably took no more than 5 or 10 minutes, tops.

In case you’re wondering, the moon was indeed quite large, larger than normal, but not in reality as large as it appears to be in this photograph.  The photograph was captured with a 400mm lens on my full-frame Canon 5D Mark ii, creating the telephoto effect of a moon just a bit bigger than it really was.

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This is Not a Perfect Image

Water Lily. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 2007.

Water Lily.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 2007.

If you feel like singing a song
And you want other people to sing along
Then just sing what you feel
Don’t let anyone say it’s wrong

And if you’re trying to paint a picture
But you’re not sure which colors belong
Just paint what you see
Don’t let anyone say it’s wrong

- Wilco, “What Light”

These lyrics from the Wilco song “What Light” have been running through my mind a lot recently, especially during the editing of the image in this post, which I’ll talk about more below.  On the subject of Wilco, though, the title of this post makes me think of another Wilco song, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.”  Both bring to mind a certain cliched type of expectation – broken hearts should be avoided, less than perfect images should be discarded – and then flagrantly defy the expectation by explicitly reveling in just the opposite of the cliche.

So, on to the image.  As stated in the title, it’s not perfect.  I captured this image way back in 2007.  It is, in fact, among the first images I ever captured with my first “real” camera after I became serious about taking up photography.  My gear was entry-level, and my knowledge of photography was less than that.  The image had some real problems with exposure, focus, and composition, and sat on my hard drive more or less untouched for seven years.  Seven years on, I was able to improve some of the deficiencies with the editing skills I’ve since acquired, but those only go so far.

To complicate matters, when I came back to work on this image, it turns out I opened the wrong file to work on.  Rather than working on my 16-bit RAW file, I accidentally opened an 8-bit JPG version and made all my changes to that.  This on a file that was captured with a camera having a relatively puny 6 MP to begin with.  As a result, in addition to whatever technical deficiencies the image already had, I’m pretty sure it now goes into my class of “special” images that likely won’t be able to be printed any larger than about 9 inches wide.

Why am I bringing up all these flaws about this image?  I’m bringing them up because despite its flaws, or maybe even because of them, I like this image.  A lot.  Maybe it’s just where I’m at with photography these days.  I’ve been moving away lately from grand landscapes to smaller, more intimate subjects.  But truthfully, I’ve never forgotten about this image even for the seven years it sat on my computer’s hard drive without being worked on, so I think there’s more to it than that.  This image has some pull for me that makes it worthy, even in spite of whatever technical flaws it might have.

There’s a lot of emphasis placed by a lot of photographers on technical perfection.  So much so, in fact, that I think technical achievement is often conflated with good imagery.  They’re not the same thing.  Technical competence is important, no doubt, and personally I always strive to improve my skills and produce technically competent images.  But powerful images can be had even when all of the technical boxes are not checked, and it would be a shame to devalue or even discard these images simply because they don’t reach some abstract level of technical perfection.  If you have something you believe in, even if it has flaws, then believe in it, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s wrong.

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