Seeing the Obvious and Unexpected

Evening Lacrosse Practice, House Park - Austin, Texas

Evening Lacrosse Practice, House Park – Austin, Texas

A couple of days ago, I posted a simple architectural photo of House Park Stadium, with a warm evening glow. I shot today’s photo, a minute before, looking the other way. Nothing like a sunset flare to add drama to a scene.

I think today’s photo is the obvious one — facing the field, with the sun going down and the lacrosse players practicing on the field. But I also like the simple graphic image of the empty bleachers too. Both photos are, of course, very different and evoke a very different mood. One looks a bit lonely and melancholy, the other perhaps uplifting and energetic. I was standing in the same place, at the same time, just facing opposite directions.

What I’ve learned about photography and still need to improve on, is how to observe the world around you. Just don’t go for the obvious shots. Can you make ten compelling, or at least different, images within a couple of feet of where you are standing? It’s an interesting exercise that challenges one’s observational powers as well as one’s creativity. Over the years, beyond the mechanics of picture-taking, the ability to see the world from different angles has most improved for me. But, I know there’s always more to learn and I continue to practice.

I remember my early photowalks in downtown Austin. So much to shoot, but I was blind to the opportunities. My brain struggled to see anything interesting. Granted, Austin may lack the infinite details of New York City, but I’m constantly finding new scenes in places I’ve been to innumerable times. The beauty of training your brain to see is, when you do travel to a new place, the possibilities explode. The downside, in a place like New York, I can spend hours on a single block. Traveling with non-photographers is a recipe for frustration, for both parties.


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