For as long as I can remember I’ve been dealing with images on some level. This started with the simple reading of comic books and their frame after frame of wonderful images. Then drawing, then taking pictures and then off to college.
I wound up in college for six years. I took art history classes all six of those years. Three years of studying architecture. Three more years of art and painting and drawing and making sculpture and taking pictures.
I would absorb art history books and books on individual artists. Then there were art magazines. I would get them all and read everything and stare at the pictures. Then there were the gallery crawls. Every month for years wandering from gallery to gallery in Chicago, absorbing everything.
Then there was the endless shows at all the major and minor museums. I even went to a Picasso show in New York where his painting called Guernica took center stage. I had studied all of his working drawings and working paintings that eventually culminated in this one painting. When the show closed the painting was being shipped to Spain now that Francisco Franco was dead and I knew this would be my last chance to see it in person.
Then 4-5 years of working in picture frame shops matting and framing hundreds of images of every imaginable kind.
Then 30 years ago I got into the graphic arts industry. Over the years I’ve dealt with images on a daily basis, images by the thousands. Sizing, cropping, sometimes increasing the size by one percent because it made a difference. Sometimes moving the image less than 1/32 of an inch up, down, left or right because it made all the difference in the world.
Through all of this, especially when dealing with the art, I’ve always had one question lingering and nagging in the back of my head… what makes this good?
Because of that I’m my own worst critic. I’m never satisfied with the pictures I take.
Last weekend I went for a walk and took a handful of pictures of the changing fall colors. I put them at the end of what was a fishing post.
The Last Fishing Trip of the Year
In order to settle on the pictures for that post, I went through my usual routine.
Open them all in a Mac program called Preview. By hitting the down arrow I can cycle through all the images. I never spend more than three seconds on any one image. Less if it’s a down right piece of shit that leaves me wondering what the hell I was thinking of when I took that picture. I single out the images I want quickly. I have no clue how or why I’m making the decision. Either the image strikes me as interesting enough to post or it doesn’t.
Then I take the ones I’ve settled on and open them in Photoshop. Highlight, shadow, contrast, color correct and saturate the colors a little to make them close to what I thought I saw. Takes all of about 10 seconds per image and I’m done. I rarely crop images. I go with whatever is in the frame.
What got me thinking about this was the fact that I was out the day before on a walk at Silver Springs State Park. I took 116 pictures. When I went through them that night, not a single one jumped out at me. Every day for the past week I’ve been going back to that folder of 116 pictures and looking through them. Still nothing. Slight possibilities, but it’s taking far too much thought. There had to be a reason I was taking those pictures. I took 116 of them.
So I went back to the folder of the walk I went on that resulted in that post. There were 38 images. I opened all the ones that didn’t make it into that post and actually gave them some thought.
Why did these get cut?
What is there about them that I didn’t see for those first three seconds I looked at them?
What in my brain rejected these outright?
I have no real clue.
All I know is that for some reason the following pictures are a disappointment. I’ll probably jack up the view stats on this post and the last one all by myself by going back and forth all week while trying to decide.
As I put these up and look at them for the last time, if a reason for their rejection hits me, I’ll put it under the picture.
A carpet of leaves, cute.
The diagonal on the right and the horizontal near the top annoys me.
Colorful reflections in a pool, I get it.
I hate pictures of bridges, unless my daughters are posing on the bridge for me, which they’re not.
The horizontal log along the bottom is too easy a setup.
The diagonal bright streak of light bothers me.
It’s a trail through the woods on a bright fall day. Awwww.
Bright color on drab color. This is one of those ones where I thought… why the hell did I take this.
See what I mean about my own worst critic.
Once upon a time a friend and I used to get kicked out of galleries. A few beers, the inability to hold ones tongue for the sake of sparing the feelings of the artist on display… but those are different stories.