Control

This week's blog is half analogy, half common sense.

Are you afraid of heights?  I am.  I am not.

What?  How can this be?  It’s about control.

You see, my past profession required being comfortable with heights of all kinds.  Secretly, inside, I was terrified of natural heights like when I had to climb mountains and rock climb, but I was extremely comfortable rappelling down a tall building or jumping out of planes.

Too many times I was on a mountain trail or clinging to the face of a big rock and all I could think about was “what if.”  What if it was nature’s time for the big rock to let go of the mountain?  What if the ice cracked.  What if the trail face was weakened by underground runoff?  Way too many variables were out of my control and the loss of control terrified me.  Sure, I sucked it up, hid my feelings, but the loss of control and resulting fear were real.

On the other hand when I ran my line down the side of a man made building and jumped over the edge I was very comfortable.  I’d inspected the lines, I knew the building was built to code, and basically I felt like I was in the driver’s seat.  I had control.  Jumping out of a plane with a chute that I personally packed was a piece of cake.  Hanging out the side of a helicopter was as comfortable as climbing out of bed.  Because I had control and input every step of the way.

Photography is much the same.  Some parts we have control of, others we don’t.  The more control I have the better I feel.  I have control of my equipment, my camera settings, and how I use the camera.  This can compensate for many things.

Other parts of photography we have no control over.  We have no control over the weather, the seasons, pollution in the air (that creates color in sunsets), and many other variables.

So how does all this relate to photography?  Control is nice.  Control is learned, practiced, and earned.  Control puts you on a certain level of photography and it’s very nice.  But there’s more.

Your knowledge of the variables you can’t control, and those you can, will allow you to reach an even higher level.

You might not have control over the sun, but you have control over which direction you point the camera from the sun.

You might not be able to make the cloud cover go away or make the sun move from the background, but you can adjust your white balance and use bokeh to compensate.

You might not be able to make the cloud cover go away or make the sun move from the background, but you can adjust your white balance and use bokeh to compensate.

You might find all the tourists at a site more than a bit annoying, but you can adjust the camera to make them mere shadows which enhance the scene rather than distract from it.

You might find all the tourists at a site more than a bit annoying, but you can adjust the camera to make them mere shadows which enhance the scene rather than distract from it.

Through your knowledge of control, and your manipulation of what you can’t control, you can sometimes make some very nice photographs.

Through your knowledge of control, and your manipulation of what you can’t control, you can sometimes make some very nice photographs.

Learn to use everything around you, learn to control that which you can, and to ‘use’ that which you can’t.  You’ll be a better photographer for it.

Learn to use everything around you, learn to control that which you can, and to ‘use’ that which you can’t.  You’ll be a better photographer for it.

Learn to use everything around you, learn to control that which you can, and to ‘use’ that which you can’t.  You’ll be a better photographer for it.

Until next week..