My Perfectionism…no…Perfectionism And Me…no…Present Perfect…no…

Calling someone as imperfect as me a perfectionist boggles the mind. I’m often haphazard and prone to procrastination. I’m messy and ramshackle. I’m unorganized and absent minded. None of that sounds like the profile of someone who fights to make every detail correct.

Despite what the litany of attributes above says about me I have to admit that I can turn into a hyper-focused perfectionist at times. I see it more as a curse since it makes itself known with silly things and never what might be helpful in the pursuit of bettering my life or work. When the demon does pop out it seems a bit self-defeating and senseless as when I make sure my ink bottles are sorted by maker.

A recent example of this tendency occurred last weekend during a sunny sojourn with nature. While bicycling along I took a quick glance to my side and was presented with a scene I thought would make a great picture. Yes, I always sling my camera bag over my shoulder when I mount my trusty two wheeled contraption on the off chance I see something I want to capture for posterity. That leads to some of the slowest bike rides ever as I often stop to click my shutter button over and over. Sometimes I jump out of jogger’s and biker’s ways as they almost run me over during my fixation on something through the lens.

In this instance I saw a fallen red leaf being illuminated by the sun and surrounded by darker ex-foliage. It seemed very right as a shot to me in both color and composition and so a few seconds of squealing brakes later and I was on my knees leaning in to focus. It was a rather windy day and the leaf that was the center of my universe for that fleeting moment flew off before I could get a third picture of it. My perfectionism in this case makes me wish to be sure I’ve got a good image so I press that dang shutter release a few times in case focus or lighting is off at first. I was dismayed to think that my need for excessive exposures would not be accomplished so I ran after that dang leaf so I could bend it to my will. What followed was me putting the leaf into many similar settings and positions for ginormous run of subsequent photo-ops.

Now you may feel taking 30 pictures of one sad beat-up leaf is a bit excessive. Um…what would you say about 40 or 50 then? Actually, I’ve not counted and I will not in order to maintain my self-respect. When I did get home with my days’ worth of photographic meanderings I dutifully went through the cavalcade of red leaves I now had. OK, you know there will be a punch line to this story and I don’t want to disappoint so here it is: the one I liked best was the very first frame. Typical.

So, was I right in my choice? I’ll let you decide. Below is the image I liked best and several of the “posed” surplus shots taken later. They are not in order so examine them all and find which one you feel is nicest. I’d be interested in seeing your choice if you would be so kind as to indicate it in the comments. A few days from now I’ll let you know which one I chose. Yes, they are all rather similar so you might just think any would do…but I didn’t. I’m Mr. Picky.

  1. November 3, 2010, 5:40 am

    The 3rd one is more perfect 😉

    There’s something about the composition that makes the leaf more “lonely.”

    Are we allowed to steal your photo? I’m in dire need of a new wallpaper.

    1. TAO
      November 3, 2010, 7:48 pm

      Thanks for the compliment. You have permission to use anything you want.

  2. Lady Tortoise
    November 3, 2010, 5:43 am

    I like # 2 & #4 best for the mix of shadow & light.

    1. TAO
      November 3, 2010, 7:48 pm

      I do find a bit to like in each image. It’s hard to pick often.

  3. November 3, 2010, 9:42 am

    Perfect composition, perfect lighting, stark shadows. Nailed it.

    1. TAO
      November 3, 2010, 7:49 pm

      Thanks for the compliment. I highly prize your opinion.

  4. Bea
    November 3, 2010, 5:04 pm

    Haha! I completely get where you’re coming from. It’s a beautiful leaf and it has to be captured perfectly. (I’m the same way when it comes to my shots, especially with food and I know my friends want to stab me because I take too long and they’re too hungry already.)

    Your photos are always very beautiful. Keep up the great work. 40-50 shots ain’t bad, considering we’re in the digital age. That would be painful if you’re still using film. Hehe.

    1. TAO
      November 3, 2010, 7:50 pm

      Oh, back in the film age I bracketed my shots like crazy. Gosh I went through a lot of film. Your pics are always nice so I think you should take as many as you need to.

  5. November 3, 2010, 9:25 pm

    I like #5.

  6. November 5, 2010, 11:56 am

    I like them all but I prefer #3.

  7. TAO
    November 7, 2010, 10:24 am

    Thanks for the comments y’all! The image first taken and I like best was #3. The reason I chose that one was it captured the leafy background in a nice monotone way and the bokeh was best in it. Others did have some cool green growing things and good leaf detail which is why I am also fond of them.

  8. November 15, 2010, 1:54 am

    Hi and Wow! I see a similar situation as I was in the last week! Remember, I spoke about taking a couple of shots for a perfect picture that I spoke about in my last post?….. I mentioned the number of clicks too….hehe. All right, now for your question, the best two according to me are…#1 and #3. The reason why my final choice ends up to be #3 is simple……it is more Real:)

    Have a great day:)

  9. November 15, 2010, 8:58 am

    *cough* sell your photos *cough*

  10. hazel
    November 18, 2010, 3:24 am

    now i know why your back hurts

  11. December 23, 2010, 11:57 pm

    #3 has an almost three dimensional appearance! I really enjoyed the composition and the play of highlights and shadows. The richness of the color of the leaf is great! Thanks for sharing Tom. (Just have to say, I understand how it feels to become mesmerized and try to capture the possibilities of ‘just one’ image!)

    1. TAO
      January 2, 2011, 11:17 pm

      Thanks Rita. I’m glad I’m not alone with that feeling.

  12. April 30, 2011, 7:45 pm

    No. 3’s the best one for me 🙂

    1. TAO
      May 5, 2011, 5:50 pm

      Yep, I like 3 too. I just had a print made of it. Thanks.