Friday, January 06, 2006


Stop Shooting Ducks

Why do we take photos of certain subjects time and again? I hit upon this question in relation to a plethora of images of ducks that I've taken in recent months. I often visit an area of countryside bordering the outskirts of my town called Throop and there are indeed ducks aplenty to be found there.

Now there's something that leaves me empty when looking at all of those duck shots, and it's not the fact that many are brazenly appaling and the rest have an abundance of deficiencies in terms of composition or exposure or both and probably more. When I reflected upon things honestly, I realised that I'm simply not fascinated by ducks, certainly not as a photographic subject. I think ducks are cool by the way, frankly I think they rock, but I'm just not interested in them as a photographic subject. Swans are another matter, but in the case of these particular birds all that genuinely fascinates me is capturing the sheer energy and power of one taking off from the river and for the time being I'm stuck with a multitude of shots of preening and bottom feeding Mutes.

So why do I keep photographing ducks on my jaunts to Throop? It's simply because they are there and I use them to engage in some form of photographic calisthenics with no spiritual aim, if that's not labouring potential motivation far too much, but just to practice technical execution.

Now there isn't necessarily anything wrong in practice, but perhaps practice isn't just about applied physical technique alone. Also, there's the notion of killing two birds with one stone and actually practicing with things that do get us excited somewhere deep inside.

Now the real reason I visit Throop so much is that I love the river. Water is a great source of tranquility after all. This is why regardless of any lingering technical deficiencies I really like the shot above. The ducks are essential in my view to balancing the image but really they serve as a counterpoint to the real subject and it's that real subject that I do feel a desire to capture the spirit of in photographs.

Thus my New Year's Resolution is to stop shooting ducks and to start shooting the water that surrounds and carries them.

Which is, of course, a metaphor.


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2 Comments:

Blogger silver said...

I tend to shoot obvious targets to practice technical aspects but the location is really more what it's about for me. Much like fishing and not bothering about whether any fish are caught :)

6:45 pm  
Blogger khon_fused said...

Indeed I can count all of five framed images upon all of the walls of my home which perhaps constitute the more significant catches from many years of being a snapshooter. Beyond that I have album upon album full of the minnows that are fun to observe from time to time if not substantial enough to make a big meal of. Then there's all those ones that got away as I practiced my casting technique rather than getting down to hunting the quarry ;-)

1:34 am  

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