Everything looks better after it rains

  • Thursday, May 1, 2008 8:45pm
  • Sports

Well, maybe not everything. My camera does not look better wet. In fact, I get very nervous when it gets slightly damp, but this slipper orchid certainly does look better after the rain. I was photographing terrestrial orchids for a home and garden assignment when it started raining. I was afraid for my camera, so like the courageuos photojournalist I am I ran for shelter and hoped for the rain to go away. I thought I was done photographing Slipper Orchids, because I had already photographed one and I was happy with the photograph, until I noticed the raindrops sticking to this one. My first thought was, “who cares, it looks nice, but I don’t want to spend any more time photographing a Slipper Orchid, when there are other orchids I still need to photograph before I have to leave.” But then I looked at it again, and grudgingly knelt down in the mud so I could be on the same level with the orchid. I made the first frame, and was disappointed, but I thought it was good enough that I should continue to try and get a great photograph. So I tried, moving a tiny bit each time, getting closer, then farther, and then closer again, each time changing what I did until I thought I had a picture that looked as good on camera as it did when I saw it in my minds’ eye.

Often the hardest thing in photography is to make something look on camera the way it seemed to look when viewed with the eye. The human eye is incredible, it operates like a live video camera and still camera simultaneously, instantly going from a wide perspective to a very narrow one and back again. And it does these things while connecting different visual information and zooming in on fantastic details while omitting anything distracting. A camera can only show one small piece of what the eye sees, and then it shows it as it is, not with the blemishes and distractions subtracted by the human eye. The result is that one of a photographer’s jobs in making a photograph is to show something the way it is. The other is to evoke emotion someone would feel if they saw the object in person, and to be a great photograph it needs to do both.

So in the end I was happy. My pants were soggy, but I was happy, because this photograph was worth the effort.

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