Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No Look Photography

Have you ever tried to take a picture without looking? 

In this age of digital photography if you aren't experimenting with your camera you are missing out on a lot of photo opportunities. When I finally switched to digital, a whole new world was opened to my eyes and more importantly, my camera!

In the film age, each shot was thoughtfully and carefully composed. I treated each shot as if it were made of gold (or silver to be more precise). Film was expensive and the time it took to process a roll of film was too long. By the time a shot was processed, I had forgotten what I did and why I did it! As a result, I took each exposure very seriously because it was time AND money. Because of this I didn't experiment as much as I should have. It really slowed my learning and creativity with the camera. I just didn't want to risk wasting a single frame on a hunch or an experiment.

Enter Digital:
With the advent of the digital camera all of the old and I dare say bad 'thinking' were thrown out of the window. Now, I could shoot as many and as often as I wanted. It does take almost as long to go through a days' shooting but it is not as time sensitive. I can go through a few dozen frames at a time and stop to watch a football game or whatever and then return to editing. I no longer have to worry about a darkroom, timers, chemicals, disposals or odors (except maybe my feet).

I now can shoot literally hundreds of frames without caring about how much it will cost or how long it will take to process. Also, I can see a 'contact sheet' version of the picture the second I take the shot. This really helps in the 'pre-editing' process. Depending on what I'm shooting, I can preview and delete or save the shot right from the camera. Most of the time I don't do any deleting from the camera because the eyes aren't what they used to be so I need a large view before I do any deleting.

So, if you aren't shooting lots of shots and experimenting with different exposures, angles, depth of fields etc... you are really missing the boat!

Here's a few experiments and shots that I would have never tried or captured if not for Digital Photography. The trick here is to take MANY, MANY shots. It really boils down to being lucky. But, you increase your 'luck' by the number of shots you take. For these shots I pre-focused on a spot:

This is a single raindrop on the handrail of my deck. The camera was mounted on a tripod with an off-shoe flash and I used a cable release. I pre-focused on a spot on the rail and took over 200 photos to get this one shot. I just kept clicking and clicking, checking each shot and deleting if I didn't get anything. I almost burned out my flash unit trying for this shot. That was the only thing that was of concern. Keeping the flash unit cool.

A larger version of the raindrop can be found here: http://www.virginiabird.com/Other/Other/1257669_tRpCH#104053004_sj93P-L-LB

Here's another example:

Larger Version:
For this shot I again used a tripod (I always use a tripod) with an off shoe flash unit.
I pre-focused on a spot at about 25 feet away. I was lucky because the bats were feeding on insects that were attracted to the flood lights on my house. I was standing on my deck and just kept taking shots. The hardest part was following the flight of the bats. I didn't look through the view finder, I just pointed the lens in the direction of the bat and clicked. I was amazed that most of the time I could capture the bat somewhere in the frame! I was actually laughing out loud while taking the shots! Really! It was a blast!

In this last example I tried low/no light shots:
Larger Version:
Again, the trick is to take LOTS of shots! Adjusting the settings on the camera until you get something you like. It would have taken me years to get a shot like this in the film days! Oh I do love digital cameras!

So, I hope I have convinced you to start experimenting with your Digital Camera. It's a lot of  fun and really helps you learn how to adjust the camera settings for different lighting and conditions. You can let your creativity flow without worrying about the cost of all the shots you take. If you don't like it.... delete it!