African Violet Photography
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Everyone Has A Different Eye--
     'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' goes the old adage, and nowhere is it more evident that in the art world!  Just as one person loves romance novels and another is intrigued by espionage, everyone's inner sense of what is beautiful is different.  It is not just in an art gallery that our individual 'tastes' are evident.  Choosing a pizza that satisfies everyone in the family is only one of our everyday scenes of conflicting preferences!
     The most enjoyable things in life are these same differences.  Travel's appeal is the opportunity to see new sights.  Socializing is nothing more complicated than meeting new people.  Conversation is merely exchanging thoughts, ideas, and opinions.  A chef's reputation is built upon his skill in combining different flavors, textures, and colors.  'Variety is the spice of life.'
     I don't like being told "You should never wear green!" when I so love pink sweaters, but I do appreciate honest, well meant opinions.  In that manner, these 'lessons' are offered as my opinions, the principles I have deemed important and useful in my own photography. 
       I owned a photography studio for 10 years and, since my marriage, have continued with photography at my leisure.  I was very interested in the artistic aspect of photography and probably 'snapped' away most of my profits with photos of sunsets, and leaves floating in puddles!  The technical side was also rewarding and I spent long hours in the darkroom, developing film and prints.   Three years ago, having the excuse of my son's school newspaper, I again set up a darkroom---in our bathroom.   I am sure that my family is grateful I ventured into digital photography, and the developing equipment put away from the bathtub!   (above, myself, on the right, during a photography class field trip--during the 80's)
     My experience with film cameras ranged from a simple 35 mm Pentax K-1000 to a medium format studio Mamiya camera.  My experience with digital technology has been limited to my Olympus C-700 Ultra Zoom, 2.1 megapixel, with 10x optical zoom, which I chose because it's features mirrored my Nikon 35 mm film cameras.  However, I feel that most of our applications of African violet photography will be with digital equipment so the emphasis of these pages will be with digital images.
     These 'lessons' will generally follow the photography classes I offered in the past--although there will be no texts to read or assignments to complete.  No attempt has been made to cover each aspect completely.
     I repeat:  these are a few tips and tricks that I personally feel would be interesting and informative.  Many of you reading this are talented photographers, or fast on the way to becoming a skilled photographer.  Please do not feel these are 'hard and fast' rules, that I expect everyone to follow... as the topic of the first night of all my photography classes began with the following handout:

    "The most important thing I hope to instill in each and every one of you, during these classes, is that photography is like any other creative, artistic pursuit:  It should be approached with an inquiring mind.  Constantly ask yourself questions.  Every time you see a photo, or a glimpse of reality as you go about your daily work, that catches your interest and makes you smile---ask yourself 'Why?'.  If you see a photograph that appeals to you in some way, try to discover what it is. 
     Don't remain static:  don't accept the first photo you take as 'great'.  Nobody's first is ever truly great although it may be good!  Be open-minded and try new things.  Always look at other photographers' work with a critical eye.  It is often easier to see mistakes in photos of others, while the same problem may be in our own!
     Learn what you like.  Try to duplicate the methods used in photos that you love.  Compare and contrast.  Again, ask yourself questions.
     READ!  I can't stress this enough!  Your camera owner's manual may or may not be detailed.... there are many good photography books at any public library.  And, just because you have read one book, don't stop there.
     Above all, OBSERVE.  Keep your mind's eye always 'on'.  Look at the way the sky changes as the time of day changes.  Look at the way the shadows recede or advance as the angle of the sun sets.  Close-ups of leaves may be captured on film or in your memory. Leaving your camera at home is no excuse to close your eyes to the beauty around us.  Observations will stimulate your creativity, as well as enriching your life."

      So here is the first 'lesson':
      Without looking back to the top of this page, can you describe the two violet photos?  And which one do you think you liked best? 
       O.K., look at the two photos.  Now, which one do you really like best?  Was your first impression the same as your final opinon?
        Just an exercise to get you thinking and asking questions!

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