Flowing water – flow of time

Arroyo Trabuco (3121) copyright Douglas Stockdale

When I was down in the Arroyo Trabuco earlier this week, I had lamented about not having my tripod. I had also stated that I bracketed my exposures since I was in the sub-1/50th of a second range (hand holding below this is problematic with a 50mm lens) and the meta data indicates that the photograph above was at 1/8th of a second. I know that having the camera mounted on a tripod that the image above would have had sharply defined rocks and foliage, with the water highlights blurred, but then the resulting photograph would have looked much like every other small creek photograph made by every other photographer (and including me!). So what’s the point of that?

Alexey Brodovitch, the demanding art director for Harper’s Bazaar magazine, had famously stated; “if looking through the view finder and you see something you have seen before, then don’t take the picture”. Thus, with the tripod the resulting photograph probably would have looked like a thousand other similar photographs. Which, by the way, is one of the reasons that I drifted away from the black & white nature landscapes (aka West Coast Photography); seems like everything I was seeing & photographing had been captured a ton of times before.

Thus the non-tripod photograph, above, might have fallen into one of the other Alexey Brodovitch famous quotes: “astonish me”. Not a ‘traditional’ flowing water photograph, as finding this photograph on my memory card was a surprise for me back in the studio. I think that I have also stated that I do not analyze my photographs in the field, rarely doing a back-of-the-camera image check (aka Zombie Photography). Reason: I might change what I am doing, perhaps rejecting something too soon and this way I can allow serendipity to inspire me.

And for me, conceptually, this photograph represents a strong sense of the flow of time in conjunction with the uncertainty of memory. Probably for those interested in the classic natural landscape, this blurry image creates some visual tension, as in the past, I would enjoyed having the minute details revealed. Now, I find this resulting photograph looks amazing.

One change that I might make to this photograph as I look at it again on my monitor that I did not seem to notice before are the highlights in the lower right corner as I find these visually distracting and pulling my eye out of the frame. Then again, that creates some visual tension, so maybe not and leave it as is. Keeping the highlights in the lower right corner is going against one of the classic photographic no-nos; no highlights on the edges to distract the viewer from the photographs ‘subject’. Thus a ‘pleasing’ image or a ‘disruptive’ image? Something I will be ponder for a while

Oh, by the way, I find this photograph so interesting that I just might NOT bring the tripod with me next time. I do not need the tripod to chase the illusive singularities.




Book workshop:

I will be leading a Creative Photo Book workshop with the Southeast Center of Photography (SEC4P) later in the Fall of this year. This will be a virtual event on Zoom; November 6 & 7th and 13 & 14th, 2021, 10 AM – 1 PM, EDT (3 hour session each day, with a week between the weekend sessions to work your book-dummy). Registration is now open, and there is a SEC4P membership discount. Just advised that it is two-thirds sold out (3 spots left) SOLD OUT & waitlist started. Let me know if you have any questions!

Developing a Creative Photo Book, a virtual (Zoom) workshop I will be leading again in conjunction with Medium Photo with New dates: March 5 – 6, 12 – 13, 2022 More details and sign-up available now at Medium Photo.


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