We all ask it at some point in time of others, what are your camera settings? We love to ask this question especially when we see another shooting on the same camera. With that said I thought I’d talk a bit about my setup.
Now most of my cameras are film cameras with not much in the area adjustment. Some just shoot and others I can change the shutter speed but that’s it. The only two cameras I can make any real adjustments to are my Sony SLT A33 and my Minolta Maxxum 600si. The only thing these two cameras have in common is that I shoot in aperture priority mode. The 600si is a film camera and that is the only thing I do to it is set the mode but nothing more. The Sony digital camera though has a little more to it.
With my digital camera I have a way in which I like it setup mostly because of how I like seeing things. Again, I shoot in aperture priority mode but will also switch over to “Continuous Advance Priority” at times when I need to take a burst of photos for something fast going on. I don’t do this often because I don’t shoot many fast things but sometimes with children or animals its best to be able to capture what you can. Also, I shoot manual too when I need even more control.
The rest of the settings are nothing special as I shoot RAW and with the creative style of black and white. Personally I don’t use RAW files in the way that most others do. I try and keep my work not touched too much by post processing but what I do enjoy about RAW is that I can get a color along with a black and white photo. See I prefer black and white so I enjoy shooting in that creative style as set by the camera so if I need to look over what I have shot I can get an idea of how it’s looking but with RAW I can import the images into my computer and see a color version of my shot and sometimes the end result is that I like the color more than the black and white. That is how I utilize my RAW files.
I don’t change the metering or anything else.
My autofocus point for when I do use it is at the center so all I do is let it focus on what I want and then with it locked I frame my shot. I’ve gotten pretty fast at this and with the right lens, such as the Minolta 50mm f1.7, the equipment moves right along with me in speed. When it comes to focusing, auto or manual I’m about 50/50 so I go back and forth often.
That’s about it really. I don’t get too fancy or technical.
I was recently asked by a person how they could take pictures like Holly Spring and I started off with saying how this sort of thing opens up a can of worms in my mind when it comes the art and world of photography, at least in the purest sense for me.
If you aren’t aware of Holly Spring and her work it’s really worth looking into. She has done some great stuff with a series involving daughter that is quite amazing. It’s imaginative and inspiring. Wondrous and full of dreams. The link to her Facebook page is below and I do recommend taking a look.
Now while I do enjoy and admire her work I have to also say that in my mind I cannot see it as a pure photograph. I can see it as a graphic manipulation because of how much was done in post to create this world that without the manipulation never existed. It makes me sad when people think of it as just a photograph because it’s a photograph sure but with a world digitaly created and/or heavily manipulated to obtain a vision the artist has in mind.
So then I wonder where is the line between photograph and graphic design? Are there steps or levels to this process? I mean Ansel Adams created amazing photographs with nowhere near the technology of today and used chemicals and tricks to change a photo to bring out highlights or boost contrast. There are also well known images where they were changed to add or remove people, add clouds, change frowns to smiles and more. Sometimes for good, other times for evil, these were done and changed the image to reflect an idea. How much change needs to be made before it is no longer a photograph but a mixture of mediums to create a work of art?
I cannot personally answer this question as all I can say is that for me I feel more comfortable calling what I do photography if I make as few changes as I can to obtain my vision. The photograph below is a good example. With only my camera, a small LED light panel and an old piece of black cloth I took this photo of a peach purchased from a local farm. It was then brought into Photoshop where upon opening Brightness/Contrast I boosted the contrast by a factor of 50 and lowered the brightness down to 25. Does that take away from this being photography? Obviously there is manipulation but is it still photography without crossing the line to being more of a digital graphic art? In my mind no but as for Holly Springs work, while amazing I feel it to be more of a combination piece blending photography and graphic design for a look into an amazing world and not strictly photography.
I guess my only point here is to say that while I love what technology has brought us I dislike how it appears to have changed what is a photograph in this world, just a pure photograph and nothing more.
I thought I’d take the weekend to branch out more into social media. Some say it’s good, others say it’s bad. All I know is I’m not pushing the aspect of it down throats so here are the links if it seems interesting enough.
I guess not a normal post but I’m not sure what is and besides, this is a blog of what I’m doing with photography and I guess visual art so with that said here’s something else I recently did. It’s the beginning of a series I call “Chasing Clouds” where I time-lapse the sky above me and bring out the dance the clouds do but we are unable to see.
I was recently watching a documentary series I have seen numerous times called The Genius of Photography. If you haven’t seen nor heard of it then you’re missing out. Put out by the BBC in 2007 it is hands down one my most favorite videos to watch on photography and its history. If you haven’t seen it and are interested take a look around online, there are some places from which you can watch.
Now as many times as I have watched it for the first time a quote from Chuck Close stood out to me more than it had before.
“Here’s the dilemma and the strength of photography. It’s the easiest medium in which to be competent but it’s the hardest medium in which to have personal vision that is readily identifiable.”
I’ve heard it many times before when watching the documentary series only now it means more to me as I have looked over my work to try and understand if there is anything about what I shoot that stands out to be mine. To be honest to myself and with this post I have to answer with a no, at least not yet. I’d like to think maybe one day there will be something that is mine and identifies me. For now I simply enjoy black and white more than color and I like a punch of contrast too.
If you are able to obtain a vision that is identifiable as your own then great. You’ve achieved what many artists from all mediums are looking to do but if not, maybe you will one day or maybe you won’t. I say, who cares? Do what you do and do it for you.
I haven’t written in a long time nor have I taken many photos or posted any. It’s not for lack of caring it’s just I haven’t had as much time with other projects and hobbies I enjoy doing. I also haven’t had much in the way of anything I care to shoot. Maybe then it’s a lack of motivation. I don’t know but when something does come along I do love shooting it. For example, a few weeks ago I went to a child’s birthday party at a local park and got some photos I really love. Kids have this way of making you work for a good shot. Not just an average shot but something that kind of sticks out and when you get it, it’s magic. At least to me that is. Take this photo for instance, the child was as happy as she could be smiling and doing her thing while playing a in a puddle. I pulled out my camera planning to get a photograph of a child playing in a small puddle when suddenly I got this look from her. Almost on instinct I zoomed in and grabbed this shot. Right after the shutter clicked she went back to smiling and playing in the puddle. Sure, I got photos of the puddle play but this one photo just happened unexpectedly and even if it’s nothing to no one else it sure is something to me because of the story I have to go with it.
Sometimes I ponder death (as I ponder many things) and I often wonder how will I die. Sometimes I think it would be nice to just go peacefully in my sleep or maybe go while doing something I love. I have to be honest, I don’t think I care to be awake at the moment of my death so going to sleep and never waking up might be more to my liking but if I can’t have that option then doing I love seems like the next best thing.
Recently a photographer named Dave Martin did just that, died doing what he loved. Below is a link to an article about him and while I never knew who he was I learned he has done some pretty nice stuff and left this world doing what many ofus love.
I have always been one in life to live with making do with what I have and recently I have been having to make do with what I can do, mobility wise. Today marks a week since I felt a little stiff in my right hip, as if it needed to be stretched out but no matter what, I couldn’t stretch it out. By Saturday morning I was hardly able to walk or bend over or anything. It appears somehow I have done some soft tissue damage and will take some time to heal. Sleeping flat make it’s nearly impossible and full of pain getting up in the morning so sitting up in a comfortable chair helps a lot. Thus for a week now I have been sleeping while sitting on the couch and doing what I can, when I can, how I can.
Because of the situation in order to take picture I have to do things within my limits and let’s face it, there’s not much sitting in ones living room for one to shoot. I struck it lucky though as it’s the holiday season and the Christmas tree is up and glowing. So I pulled out my cameras and took some shots. Thanks to a zoom lens I was able to zoom in and make some snaps. I shot digital and I shot film as well as instant peel apart film. I’ve had some nice success with three photos making it to my Flickr stream which is odd for me as I hate flooding my Flickr.
The point is despite my situation I was able to find something to shoot and get some gems out of it. It made me think more of people with less mobility and the challenges they face being able to photograph things let alone finding things to photograph. I think maybe they look at things differently. I honestly don’t know, I just know my recent bout with limited mobility has helped me to look at things a bit differently in order to indulge in my love of photography.