My Friend Rocky

Rocky by BGTwinDad
Rocky, a photo by BGTwinDad on Flickr.

Well, actually, the girl is my daughter’s friend, and Rocky is the pet rock in her hand.  So why am I posting this?  Well, I really like this picture.

As you know, my latest hobby/fad is photography, and I’ve been working fairly hard studying and practicing trying to be able to take “good pictures”.  This is one of the best I’ve taken so far.  The composition is good, with the subject on the right side, following the “rule of thirds”, with some negative background space on the left to balance it.  She’s reasonably “sharp” while still having a bit of softness.  The lighting is good, and the expression on her face is (IMO) very engaging.

Yes, I could have used a bigger aperture to blur the background more (actually, I couldn’t without buying a better lens), and I could clone away that little yellow flower in the corner, and I accidentally set the camera’s ISO at a much-too-high-for-a-sunny-day 1000, leading to some unnecessary sensor noise.  Maybe I could crop it a little different for a different effect.

But look at it.  It’s a good shot.  It’s to some extent a lucky one… but it’s a good one.  It’s a quick snapshot taken during a multi-family outing, but it’s a photograph not just a snapshot.

Here’s the thing.  Aside from trying to get a yeoman’s grasp of aperture and shutter speed, composition and lighting, and so on… I’ve also been trying to explore in my mind what I like to photograph.  What kind of pictures really grab my interest and are fun to take, and what kind are… boring?  What elements or aspects of the photos engage me and which do not?  So I’m shooting landscapes and portraits and objects and street stuff and whatever else I can, to see.

A lot of those photos, I look at them and say, “Yawn. It’s another picture of a building.”

There’s something about this photo that says “Yeah! That’s it!” in a way that many of the other shots I’ve taken don’t.  Maybe I just haven’t gotten good enough at other types of photos, and maybe this shot is just the photographic equivalent of a beginning golfer getting that first long drive down the fairway.

Mostly I like the look on her face.  I’m not sure whether she’s contemplating the rock, or watching her friends on the amusement park ride she’s standing by, or thinking about something her mom had just said… but she’s happy.  And it’s a natural smile, unaffected by the camera pointed her way.  It’s her being her. Not “her mugging for the camera”.

So I like this.  I like capturing the person when they are relaxed, natural, and just doing their thing.  I like creating a photo of a person that makes that person attractive but not at all in a fake way.  Something that captures their real essence.

I’ll have to find more ways to capture people, either candidly (like this) or more formally. And that will require a little bit of courage to create situation.


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