I set out one cold winter’s night many years ago with one goal in mind. I wanted to capture a star trails image for the first time. So off I drove to the local reservoir, Prettyboy, and set up shop. I chose to go with the single exposure and ended up standing around for about 30 minutes with the shutter open. Later I used my feeble editing skills to edit this photograph. So it was just a test. But people seem to love it! It actually is my second best selling photograph ever! I’ve tried repeatedly to out do it but none of my star trails images seem to measure up to this one in other people’s eyes.
Don’t get me wrong, I like this image too. But I see problems with it. The sky is too blue, the light pollution is an unnatural purple. The shutter wasn’t open for long enough so the star trails are too short. But all that doesn’t seem to matter to people, it strikes a chord. It has a sense of magic to it that I find hard to duplicate when shooting new star trail images. I am usually my own worst critic and I tend to over nitpick my photos.
That is the thing about art, it is beauty in the eye of the beholder. I’ve taken technically perfect images that flop and photos that in my eyes were awesome but never seem to get much attention. So my advice for budding photographers is to do your best but don’t be too critical of yourself. Learn from mistakes but bask in the glory of what you have captured. Someone out there will love it, I promise. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t think your image stacks up to the greats. Henri Cartier-Bresson said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst”.
I currently have 475 finished landscape images in my Lightroom catalog. So apparently I’m still very much in the worst photographs I will ever take range. Sometimes luck trumps skill. Don’t get me wrong, if you don’t know how to operate your camera you will likely never get anything so some baseline skills are required. But art is experimental by nature, so get out there and create. You might just accidently take a gem!