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When you look at a picture, your brain immediately decides what the image is all about. It could be a family party, a wedding, a beautiful landscape shot, or a wonderful pet portrait. The more you look at a particular image, say a family gathering, you start to pick out things that don’t hit you the first time around. Aunt Sally holding an empty wine glass, Joey spitting up on Uncle Tim, the birthday cake about to fall off the table, or maybe that everyone has the same, silly smile on their face! These are fun shots that years from now will be priceless.

But if you are looking to shoot more refined images that you would like to hang on your wall, sell as fine art, or as stock photos, now your thought process has to change from point and click to “what do I want to the viewer to see and yes, feel”.  What do you want to evoke in the person viewing your piece of work?  Beauty, vastness, happiness, lightheartedness, sorrow or sadness, life?  Unlike a quick snap photo you take at a party, the image you create needs to “speak” to people who look at it.   It is similar to those artists who paint beautiful pieces of work on canvasses.  They don’t simply slap on different colors of paint onto the canvass.  In their minds, they already have an image and a feeling that they want to portray.

Japenese Garden Bridge-

This image was taken in the spring at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.  The bridge crosses a man-made lake and joins the Japanese Garden island with the main land.  It took me many shots from different angles to get what I wanted.  My thought process was that I wanted to show the changing season. The water still has ice on it in some areas and the trees are just beginning to bud.  It still looks cold and not very inviting with the cold blue sky but if you look closely, you can see the tiny buds on the trees and bushes (the promise of warmer days).  The red bush in the forefront is just about to bloom.  Although the feel is of a cold day, one can see the beginning of new life about to burst forth.  What do you see?

On another one of my jaunts to the Chicago Botanic Gardens with my camera, I found a very unusual friendship between between a cactus plant and an aloe plant.  As you can see in the image, the cactus has an “injury” and the aloe plant appears to reaching out to the injured one as if to console it, even though itself has a broken “arm”.

A Friend in Need

A Friend in Need

The cactus was about two feet high so I had to get low to capture the feeling of a friend consoling a friend.  Ironically, when I went back a few months after this shot, the workers decided to pull the one on the right away from the “hug” position, clipped the hanging “arm” and repositioned it on a straight pole to hold the plant upright.  I was so glad I caught this image when I did!

What did you see when you first looked at this image?  Did it strike you funny or did it just look like a picture of two plants?  Was it the storyline that made the image or the image that caught your attention?

Being in the right place at the right time can make for some great pictures.  But that “right time” does not happen often enough to count on.  So, remember to look beyond what you see right in front of you.  Practice thinking outside the box.  Change your angle and you may see a totally different image.  The light angle will change, the perception will change, and so will how you look at the world change when you take your next picture!

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