Chased By The Light

Regular readers may recall my fondness for a web site called Cool Tools. Every day the site updates with an addition to its catalog of tools submitted by readers everywhere. From educational resources to electronic devices to knives to kitchen aids, almost anything can qualify as a Cool Tool so long as it is useful and superior to comparable items. Site founder Kevin Kelly recently posted about a wonderful book (as well as an accompanying app and documentary film) "Chased By The Light." It’s the story of outdoor photographer Jim Brandenburg and his project to spend 90 days one autumn making only one shot per day. As he put it, "There would be no second exposure, no second chance." I won’t argue—as the site’s readers do—whether or not this book conforms to their definition of a broadly useful tool, but I’ll tell you that I think it’s a brilliant idea for photographers to improve their capabilities. Practical concerns of exposure and composition are sure to be refined when you’ve only got one chance to get it right, but more importantly you’re going to dramatically influence the way you see the world, the way you approach a scene and the way you consider its every possibility before releasing the shutter. Nothing could be more counter-intuitive to today’s "shoot away" mentality, but that’s what makes it so useful. That’s why I recommend the project sight unseen: it just makes so much sense. But I also recommend that you do what I’m about to, and search out the book, the app and the film.

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