Creating an Image....
I was recently inspired by the #vantagepoint project by light.co. The project asks photographers to share what goes into their creation of an image. The primary thing I look at before selecting gear, lenses, shutter speed, or F-stop is the light. The light determines everything. My degree is in photography and as I had a very traditional professor we shot a LOT of film. And shooting film is all about light. Where is it, what kind is it, how it affects your particular brand and speed of film, etc. Everything revolves around light. I grew up in the 90’s shooting a Petri Penta completely manual 35mm camera that my grandfather purchase in Okinawa, Japan when he was over there in the service. It had a couple of different lenses and a light meter. He explained how important it was to make sure everything matched and worked together so I wasn’t wasting money and film. And to this day the first thing I do before I start fiddling with the settings on my camera or cell phone for that matter is to really asses the light. When I say that I’m looking at where it’s coming from whether in front or behind and where it hits my subject but I’m also looking at the quality of the light. Is it the harsh bright light of midday, the soft subtle tones of early morning, or the golden spectacular light of a fall afternoon. I like to shoot as much I can to have the image I want in the camera. In school some were good with a camera, some were good in the darkroom, but you really wanted to be good in both places. It doesn’t matter how great your printing and post production skills are if you start with a shitty initial image. Sorry to be blunt but there it is. In the same token if you start with a decent negative but are sloppy handling your chemicals and paper then who cares if you can shoot a perfect image? No matter what camera you’re using, my Nikon D90 is probably going to be 10 years old this year, observe and appreciate the light you have to work with.
The other thing I’m adamant about when it comes to my personal shooting is choosing the best aperture or f-stop for the situation. The smaller the aperture you can use the more detail you will have in your images. The larger the aperture the shallower your depth of field. Remember that there’s more to photography than automatic and F8. I shoot the majority of the time in aperture mode. GASP. I know. How dare I admit I shoot in anything other than manual? Honestly I can shoot in complete manual but life’s short folks. Aperture mode allows you to set the aperture and the camera will set the shutter speed. I can handhold down to a 1/60th of a second and after that I break out the tripod. This lets me shoot quickly and organically without having to tote a lot of gear and burn a lot of brain cells trying to make sure everything is going to work. Nothing makes me happier than to go walking in the country with one cross-body bag, camera body, two lenses, and a tripod. That’s plenty of gear to get the job done and aperture mode lets me do that.
The last word of wisdom I will impart to you is this. Always have a camera with you. Always. At all times. Put it in your vehicle and just let it ride. You never ever know what you’re going to see or run across something that will make the perfect photo. If you don’t have it with you there’s no way to capture it. Cell phones are all good and fine and I definitely use those photos on my blog a LOT but there are times I want the fine focus and detail that my larger camera gives me. Many of my favorite photos were definitely not planned. I happened to be riding by, observed how the light was falling perfectly, and just wheeled off the road and took the shot. Sometime we create what we want to see and sometimes the good Lord shows us something gorgeous. I personally really like the photos that I’m given. To me a great image isn’t about the gear but how you use the gear and taking advantage of the opportunity. Not every image is going to be a Eggleston or a Christenberry but there’s no reason that you can’t take appealing pictures of subjects that interest you.
The image above was taken quickly while I was in rural Noxubee county. In the spring the evening primrose is one of the first flowers to make its appearance. It’s one of my favorite wildflowers and I never miss an opportunity to take a few pictures of them every year. This was taken last year with my Nikon D90 DSL camera and a Nikkor 18-105 mm VR lens. I shot at 1/1250 of a second at F/4.2 using an ISO of 200. I also lightly edited the image in Photoshop to bring out the contrast and brighten the image just a little. It is a prime example of taking advantage of the available light to highlight a very humble subject.
Don't feel like you have to have a DSL camera to take beautiful images. In looking at the #vantagepoint project I of course had to look at the new camera being produced by Light.co which will make it easier than ever to follow the light around you and document what you see. Their L16 compact camera uses a multiple lens system and fuses those images in the camera to make some stunning photographs. I can only image how much fun it would be to have all that technology in such a small sleek package. Whatever you choose to use have fun! That’s honestly THE most important part of photography and really any art you choose to chase. Have fun and enjoy. Thanks again to Light.co for inspiring the post today. I don’t speak about the nuts and bolts of photography very often and if it’s something that you all are interested in I would be glad to write about it some more.
And if you read all this you definitely deserve a cookie! Hope you are having a great week my lovelies!