Wednesday’s Word: Ephemeral

The Daily Post’s weekly photography word is ephemeral.  For me, ephemeral has always meant something similar to the glimpse of a spirit from the corner of my eye;  something barely visible and then not.   This, of course, is impossible for me to capture.  The next best thing would be wisps of fog, moving and changing in a breeze.  Sorry, no such fog here this week.

I know the definition is not quite so confining:  Mirriam-Webster Dictionary: adjective ephem·er·al : lasting a very short time  1: lasting one day only <an ephemeral fever>  2: lasting a very short time <ephemeral pleasures>

Barring the likelihood of capturing a passing wisp, I went outside to photograph a trickle of water that is unlikely to be in the same place tomorrow because the snow will have melted in that spot.  But I found I wasn’t into kneeling down in the muck to get an interesting and stable photograph.  It is then that I recalled a tip and changed my tactic.

Last week at our local camera club, David H. Wells was the speaker.  He was extremely informative, entertaining and has taken some amazing photographs.  Check out his website here.  One of the things he said was to use gray to help with the lighting.  He often doesn’t use a gray card, but instead he balances the light by focusing on worn gray asphalt, which is in the same light as his subject.  He finds this helpful for most spontaneous shoots because asphalt, unfortunately, is ubiquitous.  So I decided I was not going to be mean to my knees and kneel on the asphalt surrounding the trickle of water.  I switched to our now filthy, but disappearing snow.  Initially, there was a sharp contrast in the light, but by the time I understood what I was doing with the gray exposure, the sharp contrast between the sun and shade had disappeared.  It took me three sets of photographs to finally come up with the right light simply because I hadn’t understood the principle.  Basically, one initially focuses on the gray asphalt.  Then, the settings to have a balanced exposure on the gray are set: ISO, f-stop, and shutter speed.  These settings are not changed when the camera is pointed at the subject.  With these settings the camera is focused on the subject and the photograph is taken.  I need to seriously practice this some more.  You will note that I balanced the exposure, but my f-stop is extremely low, basically narrowing the focus, which is possibly what I might have chosen, but it would have been nice to have considered the whole spectrum.  So here are my two favorites from my final group of photographs:

IMG_0102 IMG_0106

Click on the photographs to enlarge them.  I do like how you can see the individual crystals of snow before they melt and disappear…not lasting the day: ephemeral.  I am still at the beginning of understanding my camera and photography.  Any suggestions to improve these photographs, other than playing with the f-stop?  I am going to practice this seriously until my travels.

Frankly, I would rather be able to catch the ephemeral image of my mother’s spirit passing by me.  Instead, I will keep the memory of it in my mind’s eye.   Happy quilting or snapping!

About quiltify

Crazy about functional art: quilting; travel, family, and New England.
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2 Responses to Wednesday’s Word: Ephemeral

  1. The ice crystals are very nice and now that you have them documented, they can go away. 🙂 And, you had me with your mom’s spirit.

  2. Pingback: A moment | Words & Pics

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