Monday, March 09, 2009

f8 & Be There

Those of us who began studying photography in the dark ages (read: darkroom ages) had this adage drilled into us. f8 and be there!

It means that the photographers who get the "best" pictures are those who have their camera set on a medium aperture (f8) to compensate for focusing errors (no auto-focus in those days), and are there -- at the spot they are supposed to be.

What it really means is, "be prepared." There's also an element of luck involved. Now, I've was a Girl Scout until I was kicked out at 13 (another story) and I've been a GS leader for 8 years. I'm a mom. I know all about "be prepared" and the value of "luck!"

I started thinking about what "f8 and be there" could mean for all artists today. It struck me that "f8 and be there" is the old photographer's shorthand for daVinci's 7 Virtues of Life for Artists.

Note that DaVinci didn't call these the "virtues of artists" but the virtues of LIFE for artists. I think what he is telling us is that talented artists who do not live in the world, experience the world, interact the world, comment on the world and struggle to fix the world are artists who are wasting their talent on self-indulgence and ego.

I've had daVinci's 7 Virtues, with my interpretations, posted in my studio for years:

Curiosita -- an attitude of curiosity of continuous learning. It's the "what, when, where, why & how?" of living.

Dimostrazione -- an ability to learn and to test by knowledge by experience. Have an experimental nature.

Sensazione -- a development of awareness and refinement of sight and other senses. Be alert. Be aware. Use all the senses to experience the world.

Sfumato --think the way you paint. Overlay. Blend. Have a tendency to embrace and accept uncertainty, ambiguity and paradox. Be a free thinker.

Arte/Scienza -- a develop a balance between science and art, logic and imagination. Use the whole brain. Think. Create.

Corporalita -- have a calculated desire to achieve poise, fitness and ambidexterity. Be physical. Take action.

Connessione -- recognize that all things are connected. Life, art, politics, people, nature, commerce, faith.

Thanks, Leonardo.

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