Sunday, February 21, 2016

Meditations on Focus



Focus is not inherently a good thing.  This is an allegory supporting that assertion.  Although, it is my hope that, by the end of the story, I may prove myself wrong as well as right.  Wouldn't that be fun?   


The other night, I had just finished my writing practice, which made it around three in the morning.  My girlfriend was asleep in our bedroom with the TV on and the lights off.  My cat was in his usual spot, which is actually my usual spot. 
        And I just got an idea for a picture.  It wasn’t exactly a creative idea; I liked the scene as it was and wanted a picture of it.  What I didn’t want to do was go fetch my DSLR, my tripod, put a card in the DSLR, fiddle with the settings until I got the color and exposure right, and you know, all of that.  So I just made a note of it and decided I might try and recreate the scene tomorrow. 
Tomorrow, which was actually today, rolled around and I found some time.  I went in and I made the bed.  I tracked down my cats and set them up accordingly.  They were surprisingly cooperative.  
It was dark out again so all I really needed to do was figure out how to make the TV blue.  And make it stay blue so I could get the shot I wanted.  I tried a few different things but eventually found some success in projecting a picture I’d taken a few weeks ago of a porcelain statue of the blue M&M.  
I then set up the tripod, decided on the 100mm lens, set up the focus, dialed in my settings.  Low ISO, big aperture, slow shutter.  Did some trial and error, got the ratio right, and snapped a few pictures. 
At no point did it occur to me that I could just take the picture in ideal lighting conditions and add a blue tint to it in post.  At no point did it occur to me that that’s what everyone would assume I did.  If they’d bother assuming anything about the things I do. 

The point is, I had an idea, which was quickly followed by a ‘solution’ or an ‘approach’ to achieve that idea.  In landing on and becoming confident in that approach, I neglected other possibilities that may have been easier, better, or… whatever. 

The other side of the coin, though, is that I enjoyed the work that went into the photo.  I enjoy taking pictures and I enjoy trying new and different things.  Even if the results are mundane.  And it could be argued that the photo would not be interesting to anyone except me no matter what and if I’d done it in a lazier or less engaged way, the photo would be even less interesting to me or not interesting at all. 

And then that hits on something that I think is also important and that is framing and intention in art. 
We all care about the people who make the art we consume.  On some level, at least.   We care to know basic things about them.  
And the circumstances surrounding a piece of art are also of interest to a lot of people.  The example I never heard the end of in music school was that Bon Iver album that he recorded (some of) in a cabin in the woods.  
So if that makes people more interested in that album… How can I use my own struggle to take a stupid cat picture make that stupid cat picture interesting?

Off the top of my head?  
I could write an essay about it or something. 
Nah, that’d be stupid. 

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