Focusing on the Good

I’ve had a rough couple of weeks working on school assignments. I’ve been totally frustrated, first in coming up with decent ideas and then having trouble mastering the techniques I’m learning. On one of my assignments recently, I was using a 4×5 large format film camera which is entirely frightening.

Let me explain…

For one, the thing is huge. It’s one of those old-timey cameras you’ve seen where people are under the black cloth. There is also no hand holding this camera, oh no. This sucker requires a tripod at all times, which is so counter intuitive to my process. I love getting all up close and personal with my subject and dart back and forth saying silly things like “That’s wonderful, darling” to inanimate objects. Not really an option with a massive stand crimping your style. Oh and get this, when you are looking at the image in the back of the camera… it’s upside down. Try executing a decent composition when the world is all topsy turvy, friends. It’s frustrating as all get out.

Two, there are a million different ways to screw it up, including just loading the negatives into the camera. Heaven forbid you accidentally forget to close the lens. Ruined film for you! That’s aside from actually developing the negatives, which have to be developed in utter darkness. Not a darkroom, my friends, with the fancy red light we all know from detective shows. Oh no, in complete and total darkness. You stand there, feeling like an idiot fumbling your way through chemicals, which you hope to your choice of religious deity, are in the right order.

Anyway, they turned out to be a total disaster and for the first time I’m considering burning not only the prints in a big cathartic fire, but the negatives too. That’s how humiliated I am by them. I’ve been repeating the mantra “It’s all a part of the learning process.” After all, the prints from the first camera I had at the age of 11 were not a shining pillar of success. But I was seriously bummed out and mantra’s sorta get on my nerves after a while.

So, while wallowing in self pity this morning I found myself looking through some of my more successful digital photos, trying to convince myself that I wasn’t so bad, and lookie what I stumbled on.

Alviso Sunset
This is a test shot I took with my digital camera before attempting those horrid 4×5’s. This photograph, my friends, is what I hoped that my 4×5 images would be. I was so depressed by my failings with the big scary camera that I didn’t even realize I had captured this. I know that this may not be the most amazing picture of all time, but it’s light-years better than everything else I got that day. Plus, the lens flare makes me happy.

So I’m telling myself that it’s ok to mess up if it means I can still get test shots that look like this. I mean, I still have a long way to go, but at least I know it’ll be worth getting there. Although, I’m still thinking about pasting a picture of a 4×5 camera to a punching bag and having at it. Couldn’t hurt right?

Alviso Sunset 2