I've never been satisfied with most on-line methods or venues for sharing photographs. Most of them are okay for a mini-portfolio. Maybe I'm old-fashioned and just love a big box of prints or a big book. Absolutely the case but there's more to it than just my stubbornness. Starting at the dawn of the internet the notion of how users interact with photographs has just rubbed me the wrong way. I'm referring to the sea of thumbnails linked to some sort of larger image approach.
Seemingly eons ago I shared a few random thoughts on the last window light mini-workshop hosted by yours truly. They were a smattering of ideas about approaching any given scene. Reflecting back across dozens of workshop and education events I've lead something occurred to me that is just about universal. A characteristic most of us have in common. Deeply rooted fear of tossing notions we've accumulated overboard.
Hard won lessons, technique, and expertise no matter where you happen to fall in the spectrum of experience is a hard thing to turn away from. In some cases even when there's evidence you might benefit it's actually difficult. Like when I first learned to drive on the wrong side of the road. It was amazingly difficult to go through a round-about the wrong way.
Following on the heels of my last working method post, here's the bigger badder version. Actually this one is smaller with less blah-blah preface. Consistency in working-method is the common theme here rather than a random bag of stuff that might work. Last time I chose to illustrate a potential homogenized auto-exposure working method for those that find exposure automation quicker or more convenient. It might not be exactly what suits your particular situation or your gear setup – take it as a starting point towards whatever might work for you, your subject matter, and your gear. I tend to prefer manual exposure for most of what circumstances I tend to shoot in. The ulterior motive for that particular method was how related it happens to be to Nikon's CLS/TTL flash control features.
I stumbled across two situations in the last few weeks where long-time Nikon shooters that use Nikon CLS and TTL exposure control were unaware of one of the systems best features. Well not exactly unaware but not really using it as designed. This one might be an epiphany for you – quite possibly earth shattering so hold onto your seat. Again if you're already working in the way I describe grab a bag of popcorn and you can commence with the head slapping and yelling "I can't believe there's people that don't know that". For non-Nikon shooters there's something here for you too. Possibly your camera system's flash control provides similar features or not… something for you to at least look into.
As you know there are a million ways to skin a cat. As long as the cat gets skinned how you get there doesn't matter that much. In photographing just about any subject there are a lot of ways to get to the same place. Let's take exposure for part one of this series on working method. I thought I would give everyone a break from my 4,000+ word blah, blah, blah's and make this shorter hopefully all of them will be bite-sized. I have been leading quite a few workshops this year – far more frequently than I have in the past. One of the cool things about doing them was the glimpse I get into other people's points of view. Sometimes even stumbling upon something that you don't see discussed much, if at all. Things that might be obvious to most or so you would think but maybe not so obvious…
I've written before about the perilous nature of comparing opinions, critique, praises, picks, and pans from completely different camera communities. By far the most intolerant, critical, hard to please, and unsatisfiable community I've experienced has to be the quintessential Nikon Guy. Every tiny nit is the end of the world. Things that pass for normal in other communities are punishable by death with Nikon Guys. The funny part is when the other brand-guys take the vitriol spewed on a nit and somehow believe they can relativize that and then compare it to their own somewhat caviler assessment of their own preferred camera body, brand, company, whatever. Nope – completely parallel universe.
Open-mindedness - that's key in formulating your own choices. I've seen people completely convince themselves on non-sense they've read on the internet so much so that even when you prove otherwise beyond any shadow of doubt they still stick to some fantasy constructed in their own head. I guess I've been fortunate or unfortunate enough, depending on how you look at it, to have at least two systems working at the same time. Be it Hasselblad and Nikon, Nikon and Leica, Fujifilm and Nikon, even Nikon, Fujifilm, and Canon. True for me in the digital age as well as way back in the film days.
We'll I've done it. I've gone looking at new gear. I really shouldn't have started looking but I really need a semi-wide lens. Of course I have a fantastic hunk-o-semi-wide glass. Truly astonishing in it's performance. That beast of a lens the Nikon 28-70 AF-S. Too bad it's so stinking big and so ponderous I just don't want to carry it. I won't carry it. Even when I lug the thing with me to a static shoot where I don't have a camera bag on my shoulder I rarely take it out. It's just massive. Now that I've spoiled myself with primes it just seems silly.
Contrary to popular belief I do go outside. Just not during the winter. Although the temperature is not up to standard yet I experience a touch of spring fever as soon as the tiniest bit of green starts showing through the apocalyptic winter deadness. Yesterday I went to two, yes two mini-photowalks. One was a quick scouting of a cluster of racing horse farms located a mile or so from my house. The other was a more extended walk to the end of the point where a lighthouse is located at the end of the road. Of course I took a camera with me. The D600 a 50mm 1.4G along with the battle axe – my Nikkor 18mm AI.
Probably not the right title but it will work. This bed's too hard, and this bed's too soft, and this one is just right. Really? Was Golilocks that lucky? She really didn't want a bed right in between say Mamma Bear's bed and Baby Bear's bed? She got that lucky with the soup or porridge or whatever it was too? Highly unlikely.
That brings us to the topic of the day. Camera ergonomics. I hate that word, I hate all words that sound that contrived in a pseudo-intellectual way. I kinda remember when ergonomics was not in such common use. Now everyone uses that word on everything. Part of what's making us all so mamby-pamby. I'll bottom line this real quick so you can get on with your day prior to blathering on about what I happen to like and dislike or how hot I like my soup.
Sorry for all the photo-philosophy lately but indulge me again for a moment. I promise as the mood suits I will get back to some rants about stupid shit that's everywhere – fact is I just flagged yet another nonsensical Fuji review as fodder for a rant, hopefully with some purpose. Today I do want to discuss a bit more of a philosophical topic. What makes for a good photograph? A great photograph possibly? Maybe one you just like a lot? What does it take?
The top photo came up in a twitter conversation that prompted me to buy a new book I've had on my list for years. This time I just bought the damn thing instead of making a note to self. I really can't wait until it gets here. I'll get far more enjoyment out of it than any hunk-o-gadget I could possibly buy. I may even learn something important. We'll see. It's certainly better on my wallet than another redundant picture taking device or lens I don't need or just about anything photography related. It's probably a far more productive way to spend an hour or five than surfing gear reviews that tell me how much something will improve my photography. Yeah, right.
Way way back when I was a lot younger there were these things called LP's. Big round vinyl disks, usually black but sometimes other colors – this was how you obtained and listened to music. One of the very cool things about these were their packages. Specifically the album covers themselves. Big square pictures, paintings, or designs adorned these covers. In many cases the covers were and are extremely memorable. Some of the photographic art used was spectacular. At least I thought so then. Even today there are a few that stand out in my mind as sublime. I'm sure my history with the music, the object of the album itself, as well as all of the things associated with both fuel some of those feelings but the photographs themselves in some cases were highly influential to me, shaping the images I aspired to make, copy, and eventually melded into my own ethos.