Thursday, February 2, 2017

Confessions from a Professed Photo Perfectionist!!

I am working harder then I ever imagined when I casually signed up for this online photography course at the end of last year A promotional email from
  "Guided 365" ~ an online photography class promising to considerably improve my photography skills ~ caught my eye.  The icing on the cake was the 50% discount; I bit - hook, line and sinker! My New Year's resolution was to resurrect my blog. If I could produce a daily photo, bringing my sadly neglected blog back to life should be fairly simple. 
"Great idea...just do it"! I thought, "how hard can it be to learn one new skill a day, and take a daily photo"? What I wasn't thinking about is all the effort it takes behind the scenes to produce that perfect photo; one you aren't embarrassed to post on Instagram for not only the instructor to view, but the other intermediate and professionally skilled classmates, as well as your personal friends. On top of that, I quickly realized that despite not being graded on daily homework, my photograph was ranked by "Likes" and maybe, if it was really good, 
people would even comment! No, I wasn't planning for that at all! 
So here is a peek into what it takes to get such a photo! Yesterday's photo idea came to me when I saw "Toula" (my six month old Golden Retriever) on the floor looking extremely adorable. Homework for that day was to shoot on manual, and although I am pretty good at juggling shutter-speed and aperture, we now had to integrate ISO levels into the mix. When I saw Toula laying there, 
inspiration struck; "Hey, I will wait for Toula to fall asleep,  have plenty 
of time to adjust all three settings, and voila ~ I will post the.......
  perfect, best of show, gold star, A-plus 
(you get the picture)"!  

I couldn't believe my good fortune when she actually began to fall asleep. Very slowly and quietly, while holding my breath in hopes that she was just drifting off to sleep, I got down to eye level with Toula. You can see from the photo above, that she was almost asleep...but not quite.
 Now in position, with camera in hand on properly adjusted settings, thoughts of
 "only one more minute!", ran through my mind! 

That was, until I heard the sound of a barking dog outside, and just like that ~ Poof ~  my highly anticipated and structured pose went out the window! Toula's head popped up, and she was now wide awake. However, by this point, the exact image of 
the photo I wanted to take was burned into the left side of my artistically challenged brain, 
and already counting the many "Likes" my photo would generate!
 Determination to make it happen was even stronger, and my
 "To Do" list for the day went out the window.

"Plan B" began to form: I stroked her head, spoke in a soothing voice and carefully coaxed her back down to a good position on the floor. She must have been ready for a nap, because it didn't long for her to drift back to doggie-dream land. "Wow, this is my lucky day", I thought! Clicking away on my camera,  I was on my way to a 
perfect, Ansel Adams like, award winning
 sleeping dog photo...
that is, until I stopped snapping and took a peek at the back viewfinder screen.  It was perfect; except for one thing - do you see it in the above photo? 
Her very visible ear was flopped over,  displaying dirty, rust colored, 
under ear hair that seemed to glare at me!  This would not do. 
The perfect photo was clearly within reach; if only I could rearrange that uncooperative ear. 

Very carefully, without disturbing her deep slumber, I slowly stretched my hand and silently began to rearrange the one thing standing in the the way to my success. Just as the ear was back into
its God-given designated spot, and I was back down 
on the floor at eye level with camera in hand, my luck ran out. 
She yawned and performed a huge, big doggie stretch! 
It was the kind of stretch that originates from the front toe-nail of a paw, and ripples 
all the way down the body until it disolves at the tip of the tail. This stretch, combined with rolling over onto her back and a frantically wagging tail, revealed it was all over! At least, for the time being; but not in the artistic (and stubborn) left part of my brain. By now, it was clear to me, that I MUST have that shot!  For the next few hours, I let her play outside in the yard, took her on a walk, threw the ball for her, fed her a nice big meal, and stopped just 
short of slipping some drugs into her drinking water (just joking here!)
 Finally, after three long hours, signs of an 
impending nap were becoming evident! 
As she lay down in her dog bed and started to get comfortable, my brain was in high gear: "No, not there! The gold wall is a terrible background, and the dark-blue dog beds won't highlight your beautiful, golden fur. In a voice dripping with honey, I said, "Toula, don't you want to leave that comfortable, soft bed and lay down on the cold, hard, wooden floor in this exact spot; where the window on the North side of our house produces soft, diffused natural light that  bathes your body, allowing your coat to shine like spun gold? Where the rich tones in my hardwood floors will complement the golden highlights of your fur, and the plain, (but surprisingly clean, especially when I can "blur my background") white, walls have no visual distractions to the viewer, enabling you to 'POP" from the photo?" Clearly, this was not what she had in mind. Every attempt to move her there resulted in a trip right back to that comfortable bed of hers. Hmmm., what to do now? Give up? Not an option at this point! I enticed her to my "Perfect Spot" with her favorite treats, sat on the floor with her head in my lap, while using the most soothing tone 
I could muster to tell her what a wonderful dog she is.
After about fifteen minutes, I felt her breathing slow down and body go limp. 
Success ~ maybe I should be a "dog whisperer" 
What I can do is get that perfect photo now! 

I had already moved her body into the correct angle while sitting with her, correctly positioned her floppy ears, and stroked every hair into its perfect position. It was TIME! She didn't bat an eye when I slipped out from under heart was beating fast and adrenaline flowing while I moved at a snail's pace to slip back into position for the big moment. Every muscle was tense as I sat in place willing her sleepy eyelids to slowly drift downward. And believe me, it was ever so slowly! Just when her eyelid was millimeters away from being perfectly closed, they would crack half-way open to look at me,  and restart the process over again. "Patience is a virtue"; there is way too much time invested to give up now"! Instagram "Likes",
"Comments",  and maybe even an "Emotive",  were just a click of a shutter button away now. 
SNAP..... CLICK.... SNAP on my silver camera button.....adjust some settings, click, click, click, adjust and click, adjust and click.......

Did I get it???? A double check the viewfinder revealed the photo above.
Yes, that is is exactly what I had in mind!

Nothing to it, right? I only have to take one photo a day for the rest of year now! Piece of cake! 

Within that perfect minute, I managed to snap about ten photos on 
various settings, and then, all too soon ~ it was over! 
She popped up, and ran right back over to jump in bed with our other dog, "Libby"!!
And wouldn't you know it, with no preparation, staging, planning, coaxing, bribing, petting, or any other form of encouragement, I glanced over, saw this photo opportunity
 above and quickly snapped it. 
I took a good photo in less than thirty seconds...which tells me there is hope for the rest of the year. I  won't spend half a day, working on a dad-gum photo, that no-one but me can truly appreciate!
A quote I have heard, and often repeated to others, comes to mind right now...
"Perfection is the enemy of Progress"!!!!


  1. Love "all" the photographs and the post. Such fun!

  2. beautiful photos and I love to learn new things especially with my camera :)


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