Randomness, Happenstance and (Sometimes) Luck

Sky and cloud reflections at the Bell Island Pier near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

Making a slight diversion from working on and posting about Italy photos….

Sky and cloud reflections at the Bell Island Pier near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

I first heard the term “stochastic photography” in a post by Ctein on The Online Photographer way back in 2010.  It’s sort of a refined version of pointing your camera at something, taking a boatload of pictures and hoping some of them come out in a way that is pleasing or that somehow meet the intention of what you were trying to capture.  As in “I’ll know it when I see it.”  I don’t always remember to use that technique, although I often recognize situations where it might be appropriate.  Sometimes I even have my camera with me.  While I don’t generally care to make my photographs “about the technique, ” sometimes the technique helps to define the photographs.  Post-visualization perhaps, rather than pre-visualization?

Sky and cloud reflections at the Bell Island Pier near Swan Quarter, North Carolina
Sky and cloud reflections at the Bell Island Pier near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

Kathy & I spent 4th of July week out in eastern NC, in New Bern and Belhaven.  One morning we stopped at the Bell Island Pier, which is a fishing pier within the Swan Quarter National Wildlife Refuge, near Swan Quarter, NC.  It was a beautiful day, with towering cumulus clouds and a deep blue sky.  I noticed the reflections of the sky in the water and decided to see what I could get.

Sky and cloud reflections at the Bell Island Pier near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

Over the course of about 4 minutes I fired off a little more than 100 shots.  It’s a little hard to tell which ones are “successful” but I’ve put together a little collection of a few that I liked.  The ones that “feel right” to me have a nice balance of light and dark, color and no color, with an interesting pattern.  I may decide later on that there are others I like or some that I don’t like, but that’s part of the fun!

Sky and cloud reflections at the Bell Island Pier near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

6 thoughts on “Randomness, Happenstance and (Sometimes) Luck”

  1. I very much like this kind of imagery, especially abstractions of water such as yours which have turned out beautifully. The simple colour palette is perfect and the painterly effect created by the water ripples imitates a rather nice, eclectic pattern of brushstrokes.

    As a photographer, this type of abstract photography would have to be my favourite though I must say that I approach it rather differently to Ctein. The thought of shooting 100s of photos is bewildering to me. I don’t think I would be able to pick any from that much noise but that’s just me. It’s all horses for courses as they say.

    But before I go, may I say, with all sincerity, that your images succeeded far better than the one in Ctein’s post.

    1. Thank you, Cedric. I always appreciate your thoughtful and insightful comments. They challenge me to improve my own commentary, to be more critical of my own photographs and generally try to write better posts.

      I have on several occasions stood on a beach and filled an entire memory card with photos of moving water, just to get a handful of photos that call to me. It’s interesting to think that by some chance I could have gotten the same handful of “keepers” from just a few frames, but the odds of that are sort of like the monkeys with typewriters ending up with a Shakespeare play! On the other hand, so many frames does make it even harder to decide which ones best represent my intention – “spoiled for choice” we like to say. 😉

  2. I also like your series of images .You always seem to create great series. I have trouble just choosing between 30 or so HDR images, 3 of each makes almost 100 images. and one reason I don’t do it very often. I now shoot 4 then go with that.

  3. The number of frames I take often depends on the subject, of course. With something like moving water, there isn’t a point where I look at the screen and say “that one!” I usually have to vary aperture, shutter speed – and if I’m panning, panning direction and speed – in order to get what I want. I’ve gone through a string of shots without finding a single one I liked. On rare occasions I may like a lot of them, and then it does become hard to decide.

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