Grab shots

Balance, originally uploaded by ken.udle.

Our usual practice is to meet at a local park early Saturday or Sunday morning, spend an hour or so photographing the area, then head somewhere for breakfast where we share our photos and talk. With only a few exceptions we’ve done this once each week since mid-January, roughly 15 times in a row and it’s easily one of the highlights of my week.

We have no rules governing what pictures we take – landscapes, macro shots, animals, it doesn’t matter. As you might expect, we’ve developed a bit of a routine. We meet at Scott’s place, pile the gear into his SUV, stop at Tim’s for a large double-double and an earl grey then head off to a predetermined spot. On site we go our separate ways seeking inspiration, wandering back and forth, paths cross from time to time but only briefly. At some point one of us will comment that the light has become too harsh or they’ve got what they need – for me this usually means I have about 60 shots to choose from.

Breakfast is either at Tim’s or Perkins, it all depends on the time and other commitments. It’s there we invariably discover that despite moving in different directions, we’ve managed to capture many of the same subjects – a water scene, birds, rocks, a bridge. The opportunity is obvious though, we learn from one another. The shots often have not so subtle differences and I’ll realize I had not considered that angle or those settings. My personal objective, though, is to come away with something different each time.

Last weekend we were at a park along the Rideau river in Ottawa. We all have shots of the mother duck with her chicks (ducklings) and the larger birds on land or in the water. Scott has a great shot of a blue heron, he was in the right spot at the right time and more importantly with the right camera settings. Dave has a great shot of a bird landing. Mine was a spontaneous shot but especially different since it included a person – we tend not to include people in our shot but that’s a story for a different post.

We were not alone in the park, a lot of people were out enjoying the morning sun. One young woman passed Scott and me as we were watching some ducks. A brief moment later she hopped up on the rock wall and continued her walk along the river, maybe the stone is more comfortable to walk on than the asphalt, I’m not sure but the scene looked different enough to me so I snapped a quick shot. It turned out to be one of the better ones from the day.

For the three of us, the picture that stands out from the others was one that captures a brief moment. Scott and Dave probably expected the birds to take flight or land but still had be ready for the shot. I didn’t expect my shot but realized the curve of the wall, the lighting and the unexpected position of the woman made for interesting contrasts, created mystery and conveyed motion. Wo what made these shots work? I think being there, ready and recognizing potential are the common elements in the shots but more importantly, including action or the unusual is what sets these shots apart from the the others that day.

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