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“The best way out is always through.”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dig a Little Deeper to Unearth the Gold

For years, one of my hobbies other than photography has been metal detecting or, as it's sometimes called (sarcastically, I think) treasure hunting. Yes, I admit to being one of those geeks that walks along the beach with a $1,000 machine looking for dimes. And trust me, those coins aren't laying on the surface waiting for you to bend over and pop them into your pocket. You spend hours listening for the detector's friendly beep and digging a lot of false hits before you unearth the real deal. It's actually a very fun and interesting hobby and the first time you pull up an old silver coin out of the sand, you feel like running up and down the beach screaming, "I told you so! I told you so!" And I'm sure that some people do. (I just hopped around in a small circle for several minutes grinning and waving the dime.)

Photography is like that too. Even after your treasure-hunting machine (your eyes) spots a potential hot-spot, you have to dig around a bit to find the real buried treasure. I came across this old car at the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic Park (author of The Yearling) and, being an old car lover, I desperately wanted a picture of it. But the way it was parked in a shelter, half in sun and half in shade, I couldn't find an overall shot that I liked so I abandoned that idea and started digging into the details with my 18-70mm zoom lens. My first shots were of the entire trunk panel and then close-ups of just the old license plate. It was when I turned the camera vertically though that I found a shot that captured both the oldness of the plate and some of the interesting details of the car. As an added bonus, by working a much smaller area I was able to avoid the contrast problems of the very dappled light.

It takes some effort to ferret out the best detail shots sometimes and you get a lot of false hits before you strike gold. But when you do, you might just feel like waving your camera around over your head and hollering, "I told you so, I told you so!" But you might be better off just hopping around in a small circle grinning as you show people your LCD.

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