Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reflections on Week 1

As we continue the August Photography Book Club, I wanted to take a chance to step back and share some of the incredible images, discussions, and growth opportunities that have resulted from reading and photographing together through Freeman Patterson's Photography and the Art of Seeing.

(Want to join? Catch up by reading the overview about the Book Club and the summary and exercises from week 1 or just jump right in to week two from here. If you don't have access to a copy of the book, you can still join in by participating in the exercises and reflections on the blog posts.)

Barriers to Seeing
The first section of the book focused on observation and how to better explore your surroundings, including trying different perspectives or points of view, especially of usually 'familiar' subjects. Some even accepted the challenge of locking themselves in the bathroom to make ten images in twenty minutes!
Day 399 - All Alone on 365 Project
Day 399 - All Alone by Nada A.
Nada's reflection on her image:
Decided to put my camera down in the middle of a quiet street and see the view from that perspective. The gentlemen running in a conveniently bright red t-shirt was an accidental bonus. (See more of Nada's work on
A Study of Light and Color on 365 Project
A Study of Light and Color by Taffy Raphael
Taffy's reflection on her image:
The August book club is all about seeing in different ways. Today, I mostly did this through following the spirit of one of the exercises - stay close to home and look at things in new ways. In this image, I took several daytime shots of the grasses that were the star in "Sunset on the Marsh" (July 27th). All were daytime shots with various exposures. Then, I took the slightly overexposed one, edited it for an angled instead of vertical frame, then processed it in the four ways you see here, two monochrome with different tones and exposure and two color, one with color heightened and one with it more washed out. The natural bokeh didn't really change in structure, and interestingly, seemed to set off the grasses in pretty much the same way in the color versions. In the monochrome it more or less seems to blend into the grasses than set them off. A fun study this afternoon. (See more of Taffy's work on
BookClub1Collage on 365 Project
Book Club 1 Collage by Kathryn
Kathryn's reflection on her image:
These were a few of the photos I took when I locked myself in the bathroom for a half hour. The shapes and angles are what caught my attention. (See more of Kathryn's work on
Tomato leaves on 365 Project
Tomato Leaves by Molly
Molly's reflection on her image
Today I've followed another of the exercises for the August book club: Learning to Observe. This exercise involves choosing something inside or outside your home, then setting aside an hour, with the aim of spending the first 15-20 mins relaxing and emptying your mind before taking photos. Freeman Patterson's book claims that the outcome is that "you will have more ideas for photographs than you ever dreamed possible".

So being pretty hopeless at just relaxing, I used a relaxation CD first, then took photos of my tomato plants for 40 mins. And it was indeed true that I had so many ideas - I photographed leaves, stems, flowers, fruits, compost, plant supports, shadows on the wall behind. I looked at textures, shapes, colours, light and shadows. I even lay down on the grass to catch the leaves against the sky. Amazing! Getting down the 137 shots to one to post wasn't easy, but I chose this one because it shows some of the detail of the leaves, including some insects, and the little hairs on the stems. I also like the light behind the leaves.

Learning to Observe
The second section of the book challenged readers to 'think sideways' (break rules or push boundaries) and to try 'relaxed attentiveness' (extended observation). A key suggestion was to think of a rule of photography and go out and deliberately break it.
A Different Way of Seing 3 on 365 Project
A Different Way of Seeing 3 by Kathryn Marshall
Kathryn's reflection on her image:
"Letting go of self is an essential precondition to real seeing..." Freeman Patterson

I found this quote to be so true as I took pictures of a still life of three glass paperweights. Normally, I am really preoccupied about how to set up the still life and then how to take my shots of the still life. I am definitely not comfortable with taking pictures of still lifes. This was my third exercise in thinking sideways. I broke the rule of setting the correct exposure for my shots. I intentionally overexposed the shots. I found that just breaking this rule loosened up my thinking. Instead of being obsessed about the right way to shoot the still life, I found myself being enamored by the colors I saw in the glass paperweights and in their reflections. My first shots were overexposed and boring. This image was shot about midway during my series of still life shots, when I was lost in seeing the colors. Towards the end of the shot, my preoccupation with how I was shooting the still life took over again. I experienced both the rational response and the emotional response that Patterson writes about in his book, Photography and the Art of Seeing. I had another response when I saw this image. The camera was set for overexposure, but this photo does not look like my typical overexposure. I shake my head about this in disbelief.  (See more of Kathryn's work on
Photography Book Club 6 on 365 Project
Photography Book Club 6 by Ann LeFevre
Ann's reflection on her image:
My attention was caught by the shadow of a dining room chair cast on the floor this morning so I thought I would use them as my subject for the Photography Book Club. I went back to "breaking the rules" and once again composed a shot using a 50/50 balance as opposed to the rule of thirds. I like the way this came out and I also deliberately took the shot so that the heavier portion was on the top - something that I naturally avoid in my compositions. But this too, proved to be an interesting twist on the art of photography and I liked the result! (See more of Ann's work at
ICM Aspen on 365 Project
ICM Aspen by April
April's reflection on her image
I made a short list of rules to break, though I broke most all of them this past year. One of my favorite rules to break is the "hold the camera steady" rule. I have done intentional camera motion images before, though they have been horizontal. Today I tried vertical. Hmmmm....interesting, but I believe it makes me appreciate a more steady hand and clearer focus. (See more of April's work at 365
CNV00027 on 365 Project
CNV00027 by Laura
Laura's reflection on her image
Analog August & August Book Club - Learning to Observe thinking sideways entry. I decided to have this image out of focus. (See more of Laura's work at
Quilt in Motion on 365 Project
Quilt in Motion by Junko Yokota
Junko's reflection on her image
August Book Club: Exercise in Thinking Sideways, Breaking Rule One. Always Hold Your Camera Steady. I took a quilting class with Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably a number of years ago, and have never finished the quilt. It's pinned to my design board, and I decided to photograph it today. First, I took photos of it straight on. Then I moved up and down, as suggested in the book. I did not run towards it and click as my attic is too small for that. But then, I realized that the pattern was squares within squares, which called for a rounded shape so I swirled the camera around (can you use that word to describe a camera action?) and practiced various speeds to get the effect of the center flower square being relatively clear but all the ones around it blurred in motion. New for me, but it reminds me of the creative things that @vankrey is always doing. Reference photo of what the image looks like when not blurry: (See more of Junko's work on

To see more of what others have been coming up with, take a look at the photographs on the Flickr group page, posted to the 365project discussion board, or tagged bookclub-seeing1 or bookclub-seeing2.
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