PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: There are many ways to be a photographer. Someone once suggested to me that each can be characterized by what it misses. This is the third photograph posted from the series taken while stalking the drive mechanism; each of my companions was simultaneously stalking his/her special "game." I'll pardon my own self-indulgence in posting three; the point here is to set possibly redundant shots side by side, observe the paralax changes and think about how such changes influence meaning.
The problem I set remains the same. I have moved backward several steps and raised my tripod to look down on the spinning equipment, and I've turned my camera horizontally to try to take in more of the room's spaciousness.
The first image in the series, although it is presented as a horizontal, was shot as a vertical. Interesting to note that the first image could not be as well composed from either of the subsequent camera location. How does the moving photographer find such locations? Are there congruencies that can only be found once the eye has reached the critical spot?
I prefer to compose in the camera, so, in that sense, the shot was a failure of seeing. Why did I miss it while shooting? Drive shaft and aisle were the main "players," with which I'd chosen to work. Vertical seemed to be the right way to limit compositional elements and focus on my subject, so most of my shots were vertical. Only occasionally did I vary my orientation to try and see what was there. As I moved forward, backward, up, down, sideways, I was always putting the wheel in relation to aisle, columns, ceiling, etc., I missed the abstract rhythms of the isolated aisle and machinery beneath the wheel. It was much later, back at the computer that I found the forms of one of the images pleasing when cropped to exclude the wheel.
The second image was the one that best fulfilled the challenge I had set, to tell the story of the power drive. Time (spent bucket moving, tripod setting, lens changing) was the chief factor preventing me from taking on additional angles, my fear of missing other things elsewhere in the mill. For purposes of framing, I try to shoot to set proportions. Even afterward, the elements I wanted to include in the drive wheel story did not fit those vertical proportions, but I probably wasted a lot of precious time trying to make it work in the camera. I'd never be successful by the hour.
Now, a third image and I've spent 40 minutes and barely moved five feet! In an exhibition, perhaps they are redundant. Must one choose which story one wishes to tell? Is there enough of a story to tell? In any case, while shooting the drive mechanism I was also looking for shots that could encompass the full architectural space. It is another quest not fully resolved on first visit, but looking back here will help when I return. Any opinions from anyone who has read this far are most welcome.
As I was editing images from this shoot, I read an article in Lensworks Magazine about a photographer who went to the Yosemite Valley to assist Ansel Adams in a workshop. There, amid glorious mountain peaks and heavenly light, he spent his time photographing old tent patches on weathered canvas and produced stunning images. There are many ways to be a photographer, and if we are really looking, many of the things leading our eye remain mysterious, distant voices. Those are the things to pay attention to, I've found. ...to try to see the stuff behind what's physically there while all the time still looking at drive shafts and machinery.