Simpler, Quieter and Fewer Distractions Just by slowing down

Since my last post, about my quest to slow down and see with less chaos but still try and tell a story with a picture the idea has continued to seep into my consciousness and find it’s meaning in front of my camera.

It hasn’t been easy.  I see other photographers who have managed this very well and to me it seems like a gift.  It is, for me, something that I have to work at with intention.  What I have found is that the objective of finding stillness and simpler, quieter images means specifically to me that I have to slow down first.  The scenes I’m looking for are all there, everywhere, but until I stop to see them they completely evade me.  I’m busy and I’m in a hurry.

The lesson in this for me in real world terms is to go to a location, any location, the forest, the city, the lake and put the camera away for a few minutes and take in everything that’s going on around me.  Sit quietly and just take it all in.  And wait.  Usually I don’t have to wait too long before I start to recognize what I’m looking for and even when I do I still wait until I understand why and how I just happened to see it.

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The Hood Canal from Seabeck State Park, Washington

For the photograph above I went out to an area know as Seabeck, Washington.  I went fairly early in the morning and the weather was typical northwest winter.  Cold, windy, wet and socked in.  When I arrived at the spot from which I took this photo I had all but given up.  It was too cold, too wet and the wind was causing this overly busy chop on the water.  The clouds were thick and the Olympic Mountains (which would be beautiful and majestic in this photo if not for the cloud cover) were completely obscured.

I had all but decided to leave because I just couldn’t see the image I wanted but instead decided to sit down on an old piece of driftwood and just take in the scene.  Only after several minutes of slowing down, actually stopping and taking a seat, I began to see the image I wanted.  Looking out across the water my mind began to drift and before too long I found myself completely taken by what now had become a peaceful and serene place to be.  I squinted my eyes a bit and the look, the color and feel changed from too cold and nasty to beautiful and calm.  I put a neutral density filter on my lens, slowed down my shutter speed and got the photo I saw in my mind.  It just took a little (a lot for me) slowing down and letting go of any preconceived ideas.