Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Photography close to home

Many of the best photos are produced within a small area where the photographer lives. For me this is Clearwater, Florida and the surrounding areas of Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. It is easier to make great photos of subjects and places that you know well and see often. Factors such as when the lighting will be at its best, when wildlife is most likely to be present, where certain flowers are blooming, whether there will be many or few people at a place and having a backlog of new ideas about a subject are all more likely with familiar places.

I am certainly this way, making roughly 90% of my photos within ten miles of my home. There is plenty of variety to avoid creative ruts and boredom. There is also intimate knowledge from repeatedly visiting the same places to know when it is best to go again. This morning presents a good example.

I needed more honey. Rather than going to the super-market, I decided to visit the downtown farmers’ market instead. I knew there would be at least two venders selling local honey not available in the bigger grocery stores. It would also be a good opportunity for me to update my stock of fresh produce photos.

Every Wednesday morning from mid-October through May Clearwater dedicates two downtown blocks for a farmers’ market. The street is blocked to vehicle traffic. There are stalls for fresh produce, fresh baked pastries and cupcakes, burritos and tacos, honey, nuts, potted herb plants and much more. There are many photos for the taking and a chance to interact with the vendors and customers.

Today I concentrated on produce. I came away with good photos of several varieties of tomatoes and onions, red and green bell peppers, chile peppers, garlic, eggplant, turnips and more. There was an interesting conversation with one of the honey venders about the number of writers living in Clearwater, how the stock market was doing and election results. Another vendor selling various pickled vegetables asked if I would bring her a photo of her display stand next week. This was a very productive hour and I got my honey too.

All of the parks within a few miles of my house are in this same “well known” category. If I want to shoot wading birds and it is early November, I know the best park to visit in the morning. If alligators are the subject of the day, another park in the afternoon is more likely to produce results. Peacock photos means a morning or evening visit to a small local cemetery.

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