Great Photography Implores Yin-Yang of …

Photography requires one to understand yin-yang.

Wikipedia definition of Yin-Yang

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (also, yin-yang or yin yang) describes how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Many tangible dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, and male and female) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality of yin and yang.

Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, (for instance shadow cannot exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The yin yang shows a balance between two opposites with a little bit in each.

Here are some Yin-Yang dualities in photography that I deal with constantly and this list isn’t comprehensive by any means.

Nikon D3, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 500, ƒ/2.8, 1/20, Nikon SB-900 off camera triggered with Pocketwizard TT1 and TT5 on the flash

Shutter-Speed/Aperture–You cannot change one without the other being affected. This was more true in the days of film when you were stuck with one ISO until you changed the film.

ISO/Noise–As you change your ISO you are affecting the image quality. Today’s cameras high ISO capabilities are making this less noticeable, but it still exists.

Flash/Authentic Moments–When I shoot with a flash I announce myself and it is much more difficult to blend into a room.

Nikon D3S, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

Mixed Lighting–Situations where you have say window light and fluorescent lights in a room competing as the subject moves closer or further from the window the constant fighting of color temperature is ongoing.

Gear/Photographer–This is the biggest issue I have on a daily basis when it comes to the Yin-Yang. There is an ongoing struggle between the science and philosophy of the image. It is like a struggle between science/technology and the liberal arts where you need both to make the very best images.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 200, ƒ/2.8, 1/160

Lifelong Learning

What I love the most about photography and yet continues to frustrate me just as well is I have rarely looked at my work and felt like the images I made couldn’t be improved upon.

Great photos I believe are the results of years of understanding and knowledge of the gear to make it perform at the peak of it’s capabilities along with years of understanding of the subject. You are able to anticipate and execute an incredible image because you are then fully ready for the “moment.”

Sooner or later I have had gear fail me because I pushed it beyond it’s capabilities. Photographers complain and the manufacturers listen and create newer gear that exceeds the previous gears abilities.

I have to admit while photography can frustrate me it pales to the learning curve of mankind and my ability to anticipate what people will do.

While I know today’s cameras will do even more than their predecessors I don’t think we ever fully maximized all that the simple box camera will do.

Nikon Coolpix P7000, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/1100

Two topics that will result in better images

I think we need to first spend more time getting to know our subject of the images. We need to become experts on our subjects so we truly can start to capture moments that help people connect through our images to those subjects in ways they did not see before.

Second we need to constantly be learning all that our camera gear will do and what we can do to capture those “moments” with our subjects that help clear up the image so that the “moment” really “clicks” with the audience.