Friday, November 14, 2014

Eight minutes for photography

When people learn that I'm a professional symphony violinist, they often ask "how much do you practice?"  This can mean "how often does your orchestra rehearse", "how long do rehearsals last", or "how many hours a day do you (as an individual) practice?"  The answers vary a lot, and rather than address them here and now, I'm going to suggest that a serious pursuit of photography can also benefit from a routine that includes practice.

Practicing instrumental music involves some physical training, and in the case of the violin, a certain amount of maintenance of strength and limberness in many groups of muscles and tendons.  However, the most important part of it is mental, the continued development of control over what the body does, the "internalization" of things that begin as awareness and conscious decisions, but become automatic, ready to be utilized in the pursuit of musical art.

So, does that sound like something that would apply to wielding a camera?  To some degree, it does, perhaps in two ways.  First is the practice of physical control over the device, knowing how to set things a certain way without stopping to think, and knowing where the controls are well enough to make many adjustments without looking away from the subject.

Second is in the practice of seeing things with imagination and clarity.  This is something that we can develop by using our eyes and our minds in the study of art, whether paintings in a museum, sculpture in a park, architecture in a city, or the natural beauty of a tree (or a bird, a person, etc.!) - essentially, trying to see more in what surrounds us.

Obviously, one can practice seeing under many circumstances while technically engaged in another job or activity.  However, for me it is really helpful to actually have a camera in my hands at least a few times a week, if not every day.  Sometimes the available time is truly minimal, like yesterday, when I glanced at a clock and decided I could spare maybe ten minutes to play with the last of the autumn leaves in the yard.  Checking the image exif that night, I found a span of 8 minutes from the first photo to the last.  Not much practice, but when I was done, I felt refreshed, confident again that I was keeping myself sharp.  I even like a few of the shots that resulted.

Ziva watched the whole thing from inside.



  1. What you see in 8 minutes is far more than I do!! Ziva is looking more and more like a content adult dog who is well loved and happy! "Hi, Ziva!"

    1. Ziva is very well loved, and I think she is content. We are still adjusting to each others' schedules and expectations, but it has only been...let's see, 3 weeks and 2 days, so that's no surprise.


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