Sunday, December 16, 2012

Waking from a dream

I know I'm old when my dreams no longer contain images of nubile wenches gyrating frantically before me with lustful intent.
Now I dream about photographs - of Grass!
One of my students asked me the other night how do i come about taking a photo. Where does the idea come from? What is it I think about before I take the shot? She was particularly looking for a technical answer with regard to choice of camera, lens, exposure, PoV, etc. She got that but it set my mind into teacher mode.
I know there is a routine, almost a ritual, I will waddle through before I am content with the shot hanging on the wall but I haven't analysed it all that much. It sort of goes with putting my left sock on before my right and always sleeping on the door side of the bed. Today, with the internet down and the world reduced to shouting distance I put the extra time I seemed to have gained to good use.
This is a typical scenario.
On Sunday, Christine and I were out for a drive. Bored with waiting for Telstra to return our contact with the world we decided to take a look at it head on. On our wanderings we passed a small patch of rough land not far from the Botanic Gardens which seemed quite overgrown with grasses. A few native trees poked their way through the undergrowth like hikers out for a walk. It was a fleeting glance but it buried itself deep in that bit of my brain reserved for trivia.
During that night I was restless in my sleep. Images of long grass waved in the breeze and the smooth bark of gums flashed brilliantly in the sun. Distinct images, framed in black mahogany, begun to hang before me. I walked throught the grass among the trees in my half-sleep until I had a number of images clearly before me. I had, in a sort of way, worked out what I wanted to photograph and how it should look. I also decided there and then what I would need to get that in terms of gear, timing and PoV.
The next morning I followed my dream, so to speak. The feeling of expectation is quite high at this point. I don't know this place but it takes on a familiarity in a deja voi sort of way. After all, I was here last night, all night. As I walked I looked for the images in my head. There they were, just as I had designed and anticipated. I can move quickly into position and shoot without faultering. I do keep my eyes open for things I missed in my dreams, and there are usually a few, but generally I am happy with the few shots I had come for.

This sort of shooting doesn't require much processing. I know how they will look and I know how to get there. Within a few minutes they are ready for printing. I do some 6x4 proofs and print at least one for framing.


  1. This is a wonderful series of images.

  2. These are all earth-shatteringly awesome! I do the same process you describe here, too, frequently. One of my favorite photographs I took of a frosty morning farm with a gorgeous barn on it was something I had actually been planning and visualizing for over 3 years. It's so satisfying to get out to the site, get to work on your vision and plan, and to come home with a winner in the bag. GREAT post here, Tom, and as always it's full of fabulous example images!! Top drawer.



The pathway to sanity has been long and arduous. Here I was thinking I was normal. Tension and anxiety were simply a part of everyday life. ...