When The Magic Wanes, Walk Away

Out with my Pentax K100D in the woods today, I realised I’d partly forgotten what a joy this camera (and it’s equally fantastic successor, the K-m) is to use.

For perhaps an hour I was lost in my own world amongst the sun dappled leaves and fading bluebells, capturing dozens of shots I hoped would result in an image I’d be proud to share.

These experiences bring a kind of peace and rejuvenation nothing else quite does.

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But then, the magic very gradually started to fade. 

I’d made perhaps 70 or 80 photographs, albeit some were repeated attempts at the same composition with exposure tweaks between, and there wasn’t much else I wanted to capture.

So rather than force myself onwards, I decided to stop whilst the magic was still strong, and head home.

In the past, sometimes I’ve carried on shooting anyway, drifting ever closer to just going through the motions, shooting for the sake of shooting.

I’d return home far less enthralled with photography than I was at that magical pinnacle.

Going through the images afterwards, I’d feel a similar experience, that jadedness descending half way through the editing, wondering why I’d taken so many pictures when the joy has started to dwindle.

Today, selecting the images to keep felt pretty easy, and my first few sweeps through got me down to about a dozen images from just over 100 I made.

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The best four have gone on Flickr, perhaps another four or five will in the next few days.

But the magic stayed high throughout the whole experience – both in making the photographs, and in editing them afterwards.

There’s a saying that we can have too much of a good thing, and this is definitely true for me with photography.

As much I love it, I wouldn’t want to spend five or six hours wandering around taking pictures. Usually, 60-90 minutes is just about right.

With future photowalks I plan to do the same as today, return home when the magic starts to wane, so photography remains special, precious, not something I’m just doing for the sake of it without questioning the enjoyment I’m getting.

How does this work for you? What’s the optimum time for a photowalk for you? What happens if you continue to photograph beyond this? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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5 thoughts on “When The Magic Wanes, Walk Away”

  1. Good observations Dan. I’m not usually aware of the photo walk time to be honest but I can probably say that my average time on a walk around the city centre would be about 90 min.
    I think it depends really. Sometimes I have no intention to specifically make photos but I’d bring my camera anyway and at times it becomes handy. On other occasions, if I visit another town or a city I could walk for hours. Having food and drink breaks, I could walk around all day in new to me surroundings.
    Another thing I’ve noticed is that when I know that I haven’t made that many memorable images on that day, I wouldn’t check and upload them straight away and leave them be till my next outing.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Yuri. Generally I find that the more time I have between taking the photograph and editing (ie considering whether to keep or delete) the more critical and brutal my editing becomes. I should leave more space, more often, I know!

      I do like wandering around for hours without necessarily wanting or needing to photograph anything too, but on a sustained photo walk, about 60-90mins seems the optimum for me.

  2. I think I’m more like Yuri… if I’m doing something along with taking pictures, like walking and discovering new scenes and new things to photograph, I can keep on going for hours… and hours… and days.
    In fact my biggest issue is that when I start taking pictures, I feel that my first 30 or so minutes (sometimes a bit less, sometimes a lot more!) yield uninspiring pictures – not taking advantage of the light, bad angles, bad composition, and just completely missing the picture that is right there in front of me… it seems I always need some time to get “in a groove” and start “seeing the picture before I take it”. That is when photography really starts to become fun… it’s when I see how the light is falling on everything around me, and what is special about it…
    I suppose if I stuck with one focal length, or maybe if I was able to take pictures for an hour every single day, I’d get into this “groove” a lot quicker. But for now… that is what it is. I’m still learning what works for me…

    1. It’s back to that payoff between consistency and variety again I think. If we used the same camera/lens for a year we’d know it inside out and be able to find that groove very quickly. But would it become a little too monotonous?

      1. I don’t know… and I don’t know if I’ll find out anytime soon, because once sports start again, it’s the tele lenses that will be on the camera a lot… but for everything else, I’d need something shorter.

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