A Happy Accident

A friend of mine refers to her first child as a “happy accident”- the sort of event that you were not planning, but which works out wonderfully in the end.  The happy accident plays a big part in my artistic process as well (and no, I’m not going to continue the metaphor!).

Normally, I shoot very slowly.  I mean, maybe a frame per minute.  I use manual lenses and take my time finding the right image in the viewfinder.  On this day I had just set up a sheet of reflective mylar to use as a mirror when the heat came on in the studio.  The moving air was causing the mylar to move and as a result I was shooting faster than usual to capture fleeting images.  I was joking with the model about shooting like a fashion photographer.  I switched the camera to high speed drive- “look at me!  I’m a high falutin fashun shooter!”– in a moment of screwing around.   We made fun of a few photographers who shoot that way, laughed and then moved on.  I didn’t look at the images produced with the burst.  But I had also accidentally shifted the camera to aperture priority from manual.  Since I shoot with strobes the camera saw too little light and slowed the shutter speed way down.  That combined with the rippling surface of the mirror resulted in the image at below.

Anisotropic Images A Happy Accident
A Happy Accident



When I first looked at the image in Lightroom, I almost deleted it.  It wasn’t what I had originally planned and the color balance was all wonky.  But something about the image stuck.  I went back, adjusted the white balance and then saw it.  To me, the image has an impressionist, almost watercolor feel to it.  It captured the ephemeral, fleeting nature of images remembered which is something I have been exploring with this series.  In many ways, I had “accidentally” gotten exactly what I was searching for.   As a result of this image, I am exploring techniques using longer shutter speeds to recreate the soft, blurred image here.  The happy accident of hitting the wrong switch helped me find both a great image, but also a new avenue for exploration!

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