This is one of those very rare posts in which I’m including someone else’s pics. Wow! Hardly ever happens. In fact, offhand I can’t think of a single occasion where I’ve done it before. Prob’ly have, just that the old memory ain’t what it used to be.
Anyway, regular visitors here will no doubt be aware that there’s a particular mate with whom I tend to have quite a few photo sessions. Oddly they nearly always turn out to be a huge giggle too.
Well, I s’pose they would. What with mate and I being… er… mates. And complete loons.
Now don’t misunderstand me. When I say “mates” its not as though we actually like each other. Oh dear me no. That’d just be wrong.
But we’ve been mates now for years ’an years. More years than I care to think about in fact. And we like similar sorts of things (most recent discovery is that we tend to like the same sorts of females as well… now that’s a tad worrying). And share the same sense of humour. And see each other far more frequently than is good for either of us prob’ly. And are both into photography. So it kinda figures that we’d get out and about together with our cameras. Doesn’t it?
Whilst we’re doing this “out and about with cameras” business its often struck me how we’ll commonly “see” the same things. By which I mean spotting something that appeals to us… that we reckon’s worth a shot or two. Sometimes he’ll spot it first. Sometimes I. Sometimes it’ll be like a “seeing it at the same time” type thing. Whatever.
So naturally we dive for the cameras, and whoever gets the pic first is generally abused with some remark along the lines of “You’ve just nicked my shot you bastard!” by t’other. Cos we have this habit. Of “nicking each other’s shots”. So to speak. Which customarily results in a bit of overplayed acrimony and threats of violence.
Not that those ever come to much. Not usually. Due to the “deterrence effect”. Cos we’re only too well aware that we’re both as nasty, devious, and evil-minded (to say nothing of vindictive) as each other. And whatever’s dished out tends to get returned… with interest! Works wonders in fostering the old “living in peace and harmony” approach.
A sort of edgy peace and harmony maybe… cos there’s always the odd occasion when an uncontrollable urge to do something really ’orrible (though quite amusing) overrides common sense.
In fairness it has to be said that we don’t always see the same things. Be drawn by the same stuff. But I’d say it happens a good 60-70% of the time. Sufficiently often, in other words, to be a bit spooky.
Now this is where we get to the interesting bit. Cos even though we may see the same thing, be struck by the same angle or perspective, or the way the light’s shining on something, or a particular configuration of shadows, we don’t often end up with identical shots.
Angle-wise that’s hardly surprising of course. There’s been many an occasion when I can’t take exactly the shot I want cos toerag just happens to be standing in precisely the position I want to be in, taking his shot! Or vice versa.
We’ve been known to jostle each other out of the way… but it doesn’t happen too often. Cos there’s “payback” to consider.
A bit of such jostling would almost inevitably be followed by a nudge to the elbow, or a sneaky intrusion into frame, at exactly the critical moment. Cos we’re like that. Heh heh.
That aside though, yeah, our shots differ. Even though they may be of the same thing, taken at the same time, and frequently from a similar sort of position.
Difference in camera settings, or perspective, or even the way we process the shots afterwards so that they look “right” to us. By which I mean so that they look how we want them to look. In other words, although we “see” the same thing we still manage to see it differently; or visualise it differently.
Sometimes in such cases I’ll prefer his “take”. Sometimes I’ll prefer mine. Sometimes I’ll think they’re both a load of rubbish. Sometimes I’ll think they’re both pretty neat. And there’s certainly no thought of who’s shot is “better”. Its irrelevant. We’re simply not into that “my shot’s better than yours” nonsense and likely never will be, cos ultimately its meaningless and trivial. Betrays a completely superficial and ego-driven approach to the whole biz.
He has his way of doing things. I have mine. Simple as that. Neither is “better” or “right”. Just different. And that’s what I find truly fascinating. Not the similarities in our “takes”, but the differences.
Whenever we’ve been out on a session together I’m eager to see what he comes up with. What he posts to Flickr. Its always an interesting exercise to see what his “take” on something has been. Equally interesting is to discover what he doesn’t upload, sort of thing. What hasn’t worked for him. Cos that’s another thing. In any such session there are usually occasions where we’ll both have snapped the same thing, but one or t’other of us isn’t happy with the result so we don’t bother doing anything more with it.
Anyway, back to the things that do work. Well, approximately so.
Case in point was Tuesday just gone when we were mooching around Bedford Lock. Here’s a classic example of the sort of thing I mean. This is mate’s version…
And here’s mine…
Later the same day we end up, predictably, at The Bear and cos its so damn quiet there we have a bit of a play. With the cameras that is!
Mate spots some shadows that I actually hadn’t seen (literally… not in the “seen them but didn’t see the potential” sort of way). And he, scumbag that he is, wouldn’t have said anything to me about them. Crafty sod.
But me, ever alert to the possibility of a sneaky stab in the back, just know he’s up to something. (Its an instinct I have… call it self-preservation if you like; unfortunately he has a similar instinct… that’s really messed up some of the plans I’ve had for him in the past!)
And discover these shadows that he’s been hogging for himself.
Well, initially my reaction (kind-hearted soul that I am) was to let him have them. But ultimately the pic-taking urge got the better of me so out comes the jolly old camera.
And, after all the intervening stages, what we’ve ended up with it seems is two almost entirely different “visions”. Clearly what I “saw” in the scene was completely different to what he was “seeing” even though we were both looking at the same thing.
When I took the shot I already had in mind how I wanted the finished thing to look. The effect I was after. Even how I planned on processing it. And that dictated what camera settings I used.
Did mate, with his? Dunno. But probably.
And here’s mine…
Now this present post has been prompted by a couple of things. Firstly, this particular phenomenon is something that I’ve had in mind to blog about before but somehow never quite managed to drum up sufficient energy or enthusiasm to do so.
And secondly, it plays rather nicely into a little discussion another photochum and I have been indulging (bouncing between his blog and mine) wherein the concept of “doing one’s own thing” photographically speaking has been touched upon.
So in a sense this kinda illustrates the sort of thing I’ve been talking about. Neat huh?
À propos of which (and this’ll definitely interest said photochum, which is why I’m mentioning it), when we’re out on these little jaunts together we seldom discuss how we have our respective cameras set up. The exception may be where one or t’other of us has a bit of a problem with a particular shot, then a remark something along the following lines could be uttered…
“Oi you… I wanna get [such and such an effect] but it ain’t working. Any ideas?”
Whereupon would follow a brief chat about, for example, shutter speed or aperture or exposure compensation or whatever. Maybe.
Generally though we just get on with exploring the possibilities for ourselves. Which is good. Cos more often than not the real learning comes from all the mistakes… that you have to make for yourself.
And as for post-processing techniques, well, that particular discussion never arises. Don’t think its ever occurred to either of us to talk about it. He does his thing. I do mine. At the end of the day all that matters is the final image. I suspect neither of us are particularly interested in how that final image was achieved. Its just the way we are I guess.