Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

August 30, 2011

What to Shoot?

Filed under: comparisons, composition, light, Non Birds — richditch @ 8:39 pm
Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center

Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center

Recently a friend with some time on his hands mentioned an interest in photography. At our next meeting I surprised him – I’d put together a simple kit with my mostly idle Nikon D70 camera, the compact lightweight Nikkor 55-200mm zoom lens, a couple compact flash memory cards, spare camera battery, battery charger, user manual, tripod, and everything he needed to start exploring and shooting.

But a month later when I asked to see how he was doing I found out he hadn’t taken a single photo. Then he asked me “what do I take pictures of?”

That took me by surprise. I had assumed that anyone interested in photography would have at least a few ideas of what subjects to shoot.

The answer to my friend’s question of what to shoot is simple: whatever you find interesting.

I’ve always found lots of things I see interesting and thus worthy of my time to take some photos. Anyone who’s read a few posts here knows that I  am fascinated by birds and spend most of my available time taking photos of them. Other nature subjects also interest me: animals (coyote, fox, bobcat, squirrel have all appeared here), lizards and snakes, dragonflies and butterflies, trees, scenics of large scale and small.

I’ve also liked subjects that show interesting graphics, and architecture is an obvious place to look. The subject of today’s post is the Cutler Plotkin Jewish Historical Center, located in downtown Phoenix near the Burton Barr library.

I’d noticed this interesting building on every visit I made to the library. It was run down, with plywood over some windows and even some graffiti. But the lines of the roof really caught my eye, especially when the sun cast strong shadows.

Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center

Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center

My initial assumption was that this building was an old church – I guess that was based on the somewhat formal look and the central door placement on the end facing the street. I took a couple quick photos to share with friends back in NJ, even though there were visible cracks in the wall and an ugly sign on the side. My NJ friend pointed out that the decoration along the edge was a classic feature called a Lombard Arch or Band.

Some time later in a random web hit I found out what this building really was, so I could label the image properly. And I was happy to find out that there was a project underway to restore the building.

My image at the top of this post shows the restored building. I’ve been a bit more careful to line up the building for a proper symmetric view. Note that the cracks are repaired, the sign is down, the hedges are cut bak, and the Lombard Band has been decorated with diamond shapes.

Top Image: Nikon D70, Nikkor 18-70 zoom at 34mm, ISO 200, 1/400th second at f/10, 2:19 pm on 7/24/10.

Bottom Image: Nikon D70, Nikkor 18-70 zoom at 34mm, ISO 200, 1/800th second at f/9, 1:16 pm on 8/30/07.

Yes, both were taken with the same D70 I’d loaned to my friend, at the same focal length on the same lens!

So, if you are having trouble finding things to shoot just open your eyes and look at anything that catches your interest.

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