Patterns

NSFW

The interesting thing about long-term projects are the discovery of patterns that emerge over time that were never intended. All of the experimenting in the world doesn't do much good at moving a project forward or taking it where you want to go if you don't review where you've been with what one would hope to be a fresh set of eyes periodically.

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With the exception of Mary who I completely missed her getting ready due to her enthusiasm, efficiency, and my lolly-gagging. I noticed a pattern on pretty much every single experiment on approach for the white side of the project.

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In most cases I'm looking for variances based on minor or major shifts in how I go about photographing. Specifically variances that either move towards or away from what I'm looking for. What I'm almost never looking at is patterns about what I am doing, and when I choose to make a frame that were not conscious or explicit choices I made.

Notice anything yet? I'm sure you do given I've selected frames that clearly show a pattern by this point. It might be hard to believe but this is a pattern that I didn't notice at all until the very last image in this post. Even then, when I used that photograph to for another purpose here I still didn't notice the pattern.

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I might have selected other ones at some previous point, for some other reason, or discussion, or thought process I was going thru. Candidly I cannot remember. I don't think I have. Most of these were flagged one-star, a code I use for "meh" but something interests me enough to look at it again at some point. Some were not rated, tagged, or otherwise marked ever see the light of day again.

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I don't necessarily like all of the selections. That's not the interesting thing to me. A few of them I like a lot.

What I think does matter is that every single time I've experimented with the white side of the project I've managed to grab one particular frame that lasts only a fraction of a second without any intent or design. The big question is why?

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From an outside point of view looking at this curated group it might be unsurprising or even hard to understand how fast all of these experiments move at this common point. Sure some vary in pace but that's a nit. Every time it's a second maybe two but no longer.

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It may also be difficult looking at it in hindsight to understand that there wasn't any preparation, or waiting for this particular tiny slice of time with anticipation or readiness. That's mind boggling looking at it from the inside. It's what makes me curious about and want to think about what it means to the project as a whole. Even more importantly how I use whatever comes out of that thought process going forward.

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Here's something to think about for anyone that has any sort of longer term photographic project; All projects start with a thought or an idea but in many cases there are underlying patterns that emerge. Patterns you don't anticipate. Of course there are the patterns you do anticipate and plan for — those are easy. Those patterns you seek out may even be frustrating if you are having difficulty capturing them in the way you envision. What about those you didn't plan on? What about the patterns you don't even notice?

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I stumbled on this one by accident. The image below is the particular photograph that made me look. It's not like I saw that right away. The pattern only became visible due to selecting that frame for one of the posts here and quite literally writing down why I liked it at all. As soon as I wrote that down that's when it hit me, the inkling that I've seen it before. Writing down why I liked that particular frame on this stream-of-conciousness project micro-site is the catalyst that made me go look.

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This brings up an interesting thought. How productive in terms of personal projects is all the technology we bring to bear in making our process more productive? We all want to be faster, and faster. We want to find the images we're looking for faster without having to slog through all the frames we don't want to see again. Modern post-processing tools make this easy. We go through all of our images and we rate them, label them, flag them whatever our own system and workflow happen to be. All of this is in the name of seeing images again that we want to see. At least the images we think we want to see again.

What about the photographs that we bypassed? The frames that may only make sense after additional work is done and you've gone down the road a bit more. My own one-star system certainly doesn't solve this. It might help a bit but all of these were not covered. Here's a thought for those working on projects that last a year, or two, or five…

Maybe it makes sense to take the time to go look at all of the work that was bypassed. Modern workflow tools make that just as easy as looking at what you thought were important frames. I do that but not nearly as regularly or consistently as I should. I've done it here and there on particularly memorable days and subjects but never have I done it as a discipline for a longterm project. Maybe I should start.

End Notes

All images made with a Fuji XT-1 and with the exception of Jeanette in the bathroom I used the 18-55mm XF. Post processing via LR CC with VSCO FILM05 BW400CN applied on import.