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Featured Photo Wednesday – Steve Rengers

I have read a lot of inspiring stories, but none have touched me as much as this one. There is a line within where I had to stop reading and really think about it before I came back to finish reading. I would tell you what line, but I want you to enjoy the entire story. The journey Steve went on produced this amazing photograph you see below, the color and composition are amazing! Thank-you Steve!

If you have a photo you would like to have featured, please email me at submissionsatdigitalcamfandotcom . Every Wednesday I’ll spotlight a new photo. Don’t forget to include links to your photography site, Flickr, twitter you get the point, we want to be able to see your other work! For more detailed info on how to, check out the Featured Photo detail page!


Divorcing The Mind’s Eye:

My introduction to photography came to me in 1974 in the form of a high school dark room. In those bleak times we were using chemicals instead of software to develop our photographs and the results for me were rather drab. I am sure this was due in part to my own lack of skills and devotion; after all I was 16 years old and had other things to occupy my thoughts and ambitions. It wasn’t until I was re-introduced to the world of photography some 30 years later that I began to rekindle my passion for our beloved craft. That motivation came from a fellow work mate who was taking some very impressive portrait shots with a Nikon D700 coupled to a Nikkor 70-200mm lens. Up until then I was not paying a lot of attention to the digital advancements that had taken place over the course of the prior three decades. After my friend loaned me his D700 to take home for the weekend I began to experience the instant gratification benefit of digital photography and I was hooked. I went out like most wanna be photographers probably do and bought myself a camera that I could not afford and started down the path of hardware acquisition. I got myself a D300S with a couple of kit lenses consisting of a 17-55mm DX and a 70-300mm DX. This desire to acquire led me down the path of financial despair and disappointment. My pictures simply did not meet my expectations. I told myself that it must be the glass. After all I had acquired a fairly expensive semi-pro camera body with a couple kit lenses that I was convinced was the limiting factor. This new line of thought created a lens buying frenzy that lasted a couple years which once again (and to no surprise) did not yield the results I was seeking.

Slowly through the determined act of shooting a boat load of images I began to discover that composition was in fact more important and influential to the final product than hardware. Can you image that! The realization that I could not buy my way into the euphoric state of self-satisfaction I sought with my images was a sobering realization. After that I began to study light and composition and actually took time to set up my shots. I discovered that great shots are not a product of happenstance and understanding how the light (or absence of) could affect my images began to motivate me and give me hope that maybe one day I could digitally reproduce the image I conjured in my mind’s eye. This may be a good time to point out that my artistic passion was (and still is) for Landscape photography.

Armed with this newly found confidence I sold my nine different DX lenses and bought myself a D800 and a Tokina 17-55mm Wide angle FX lens. Working on the foundation of improved composition and the knowledge of recognizing light I went back to what I loved, Wide angle landscape photography. Knowing now that I was not limited by my hardware I started to refine my compositions and seek better locations and camera angles. I started shooting from different heights and at different focal ranges with narrow apertures and a host of other significant alterations from my normal patterns.

This is the part of the story when I would like to say that all these changes and photographic revelations delivered the self satisfaction I so desperately sought. How I wish that were true! It simply was not! My photography had improved slightly (at least I thought so), but I could not cross that threshold that allowed me to view my own work and feel satisfied that I had captured the image in my mind’s eye and produced it digitally for all to see and admire. I could see what others were doing on the Web and I became envious and jealous of the superior talent and started to become discouraged and began questioning my ability as an artist.

This story does have a happy ending however. At least for me, because ultimately I am the only one who has to be happy with my work. This is of course not to say that I do not welcome, appreciate or desire the praise of others, especially from my mentors and fellow photographers. I would be lying through my teeth if I did not admit that recognition always feels good. So! On to the happy ending and the point of this story of woe. I achieved my artistic and photographic goals a few years back and finally began creating the images my scrutinizing inner self longed to see. This happened after a casual reply to a comment I made on an image taken by a fellow photographer whose photographs I greatly admire. He shared one sentence of wisdom from his own 40 years of experience that changed the way I craft my images and opened the creative door to my own self-satisfaction with my work. The line went like this, “as photographers we must divorce ourselves from the ideal image (the one our mind see’s) and learn to see the literal image (the one the camera see’s)”.

After digesting this expression of thought I realized that I was trying to do exactly what he had described. Whenever I would find myself in some amazing area with all kinds of photographic possibilities, I would take in everything my eye could capture and attempt to re-create it in digital form. The camera does not see things the same way we do! Now I look at things as if my eyes were diopters, masking out the undesirable and seeing from a perspective that only a camera could. If we can fully understand, adopt and implement the meaning of that simple statement I believe anyone afflicted with the same artistic hurdles I suffered from can achieve their photographic goals.

Website: www.steverengersphotography.com
Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/91675653@N06/

Related posts:

Featured Photo Wednesday - Sarah Conkle
Featured Photo Wednesday - Akshat Tewari
Featured Photo Wednesday - Chris Kench Photography


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