Be Yourself

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tommclaughlin
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Joined: 10/26/2007 - 5:27am
Be Yourself

Never do I ask people to pose for pictures. Sometimes my wife will request that I take certain shots of the grandchildren or other family members and I’ll oblige, but I much prefer candid photos. Some people love posing and others don’t like it any more than I do. Even when I’m looking at them from many yards away with my lens fully extended at 300 millimeters, they sense I’m focusing on them and turn their heads to look right back through the lens at me just as I snap the shutter. Pulling the photo up later on a bigger screen, I’ll see suspicion and a hint of annoyance on their faces.

At extended-family gatherings, they all know me as “the photographer.” While others may take pictures with their cell phones, I’m the one with the giant, full-screen DSLR hanging over my shoulder, and they’re accustomed to that. They’re usually at ease and I can move about shooting images of them, often from across the room.

After a day or two of shooting landscapes and/or people, I look at the images on the camera’s LCD panel and delete the bad ones. Then I’ll download the rest onto my laptop, put it on full-screen view and go through them again. At that point, I’ll delete a few more. The rest will get closer scrutiny. With an editing program, I’ll sometimes adjust lighting, contrast, white balance, exposure, or color levels. Lastly, I’ll crop if necessary, but that’s rare because, with a zoom lens and enough time to frame the image while shooting, cropping isn’t needed — except to occasionally level the horizon if a lake or ocean is in the background.

This whole process offers me a closer study of my loved ones. Not only do I see and interact with them at family functions, I see still photos of them again and again while I go through the above-described process. I see aspects of their personalities that I wouldn’t otherwise notice. Just before Christmas, I go through them all again and save 400-500 shots onto thumb drives which I distribute to family members to whom I’ve previously given motion-activated, digital picture frames. My own frame is set up on a kitchen counter and it activates every time my wife or I walk by. A dozen or more candid shots of loved ones will present themselves — one every five seconds — until I leave the room.

When my twin grandsons were born five years ago, the obstetrician said they were identical. After a few months, however, we could see they were not but they’re still hard to tell apart. While they look very much alike physically, their personalities are as different as any two siblings — and those distinctions emerge in the many photos I’ve taken of them. After my wife allowed each twin to take a large frond from her hosta plants, one waved it around doing a happy dance while the other used it as a sunshade while in deep-thought mode.

The rest is here.