I spent an hour last Sunday at Sacramento State University’s Arboretum. I had my Nikon FE with a Nikkor 55mm macro lens, with Ilford FP4 (ISO 125) black and white film loaded. This was an exercise to be present and receptive. I didn’t want to sprint through the Arboretum “pointing and shooting” at everything that caught my eye. The purpose of this exercise was to slow down and see-not just look, allowing my perception to change as much as the scene itself changed. When I go out photographing, I look at it like a marathon rather than a sprint. Why? Because when you slow down and smell the roses so to speak, you become more open and receptive-seeing and not just looking.
I didn’t have any expectations when I arrived. Expectations are creative blinders that inhibit you from being more receptive to your environment. So I wasn’t looking for anything in particular and I didn’t want to get stuck on what I thought would make a good picture. I wanted to see the Arboretum, explore the light, and ask myself questions like, “What happens if I use this angle? or Is this the right moment or is there a better one coming?” I wasn’t looking for answers, just interesting possibilities.
I parked my car and walked to the entrance. I walked to the tunnel bike path and decide I would stay in this area for an hour, be present and watch. Really watch. I noted how things revealed themselves after about ten minutes. The lighting changed and new moments came and went. I noticed how the scene changed, and how my own perception changed. I was shooting with film, so I was not able to instantly see how my photographs looked, which was great because it forced me to stay in the moment.
The moral to this photographic assignment: slow down, be in the moment, be open and receptive, and don’t have preconceived expectations. #NoExpectations
Same camera settings for the photograph above and below. The light changed from sunny to overcast within a few seconds. Notice the shadows on the wood structure with the sun present as opposed to the flat overcast lighting on the wooden structure below. The mood changes as the lighting changes.