If you’re like me, it’s a commitment to venture out and make pictures. It’s a commitment in time, money and resources. We do it because we love the craft and art of it…unless you have a different reason, which you could. For now though, I’m going to assume these reasons are why most individuals love photography. Before venturing out on a photo trip, the process involves this: How much time do I have to photograph? Which camera should I bring? And usually the toughest question: Where will I go? My decision speed all of these categories have become much, much quicker lately. I’ve narrowed down my camera selection to a couple options and for my locations I go to places that are off the beaten path or unfamiliar. Due to COVID-19, I’m steering clear, for the most part, of heavily populated streets and towns.
There are definitely preferred times to photograph; usually it’s based on obtaining the most beautiful light possible. Sometimes though, with the time that is allotted for photographs, nice light refuses to join. Such was the case when I decided to head to Boyne Falls, MI, a small, one blinking-light town a little more than an hour from home. As I was cruising down the road, the light was transforming from cloud-covered sun, to straight, unblocked sun. The sun was already straight up in the sky, but the coveted clouds that were sheltering everything from its contrasty rays were beginning to slide away and out of sight. By the time I arrived to Boyne Falls, it was high, direct sunshine. Ugh.
Don’t Give Up on the Light!
When the light turns unfavorable, don’t give up! It could either change quickly, or you could embrace the light you do have. For my trip to Boyne Falls, it was all about embracing the light that was there. I parked my car and started walking through the small town. There was what looked like an old downtown that probably thrived back in the day. These are great finds and this one was no different. Past the town’s post office building was a blue structure. As I approached, a woman was sitting, smoking, on a stoop there. “Am I in the way,” she asked? I replied,”Not at all,” when the building’s landlord walked out, curious about my picture taking. I explained my interest in the building and she proceeded to tell me its history and all the roles it had played, and continues to play, in the community.
After that, I took interest in the houses and structures around the town. There were a couple people that glanced my way and as they did, I nodded and smiled in response. The buzzing of a lawn mower could be heard a block away while some kids were cruising around on their bicycles. It was a setting of Americana that always permeates my soul. After making the photo decisions mentioned earlier, then come the micro-decisions while walking: where to stand, what to photograph and when to press the shutter, etc. These are all personal choices and part of the beauty of making photos. On this day, I was really appreciating the quiet, small-town feel, so I used that and made images that seemed quiet and reflective of my time spent in Boyne Falls.
My lens on the Leica was the 28mm Elmarit. It’s my favorite and only lens for the camera. It’s absolutely incredible but it does require the photographer using the lens to approach close to the subject. This is why I purchased the lens; when I become closer and more involved with my photos, it’s an overall more rewarding experience.
Back to the light: Do not fret the midday sun. Sure, it’s not the best light but there are always going to be options. If your compositions are strong, then some high sun isn’t going to matter too much. Another tactic, ESPECIALLY with portraits, is to find shade and make it work. Knowledge of photography in the shade is what’ll come in handy on occasions like this.
Boyne Falls was a small town full of photographic possibilities. It was a new place which of course heightens the senses and observances. The town was clean; buildings and homes were well kept. I probably spent between one to two hours walking and photographing. There’s never enough time to take pictures but there is thankfulness for the time and pictures that take place so I definitely was appreciative for the town of Boyne Falls, its history and the light that shone as it chose.
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”~Pablo Picasso