The importance of being receptive

June 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

At the end of a long shooting session, when you have lost the light and exhaustion is setting in, it becomes all to easy to take off your shooting glasses and let your senses return to the everyday world. 

It’s at these times however where we need to develop the ability to remain receptive to everything around us. Without even realising, it is possible to slip into a closed mindset where things around us fail to register and we wander blindly through a landscape that at other times would spark our creative juices.

When I first started out in photography, I found that this exact scenario would occur regularly. At the end of a session I would leave an area without noticing the potential around me, only to return at a later stage and wonder how I had missed this shot or that previously. Once I had pinpointed what was happening, I made it a goal to always stay focused until I had returned to the end of my trail.

Waiting for a fairytale“Waiting for a fairytale” *
Canon 5D, 17-40L @ 39mm, f13, 1 sec

On a recent outing I found myself on an isolated beach, with a walk of a few kilometres back to my vehicle. The last light of the day had faded and only my trusty torch kept me company. When I headed off the beach and back onto one of several trails that returned to my vehicle, it would have been easy to simply put my head down and slog my way back with thoughts only for a hot meal and a soft pillow. Instead I remained receptive and scanned the off trail areas for potential.

At one point where two trails intersected, a brighter area about 50 metres down the intersecting trail registered on my periphery and stopped me in my tracks. I scanned the area with my torch and was struck by how closed in the trail around the brighter patch was. I could make out twisted vines and trunks arching over the trail and as I swept the torch over the area, the odd large fallen leaf would appear as a flash of glowing yellow. The whole area had an ominous mood about it, as if something had crafted the pathway for its own use and always at the limit of my vision was the brighter patch, as if luring me to come through the twisted trail.

At the time there was simply not enough light to do anything with the scene, so I made a mental note to return early the following morning and investigate the area further. To my relief on returning, I noted that I hadn’t simply let my weary mind turn the scene into something more than it was. The same mood still existed and the soft pre-dawn light allowed me capture a scene that I could easily have missed had I not be receptive to it’s potential after a long days shooting.

*Note: The viewing angle on certain monitors can greatly affect the brightness and hence mood of this image. Please ensure you are viewing from directly in front and the image is at eye height for best effect.

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