Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snapping away

I don't know about you, but it takes me some time to get familiar enough with something, be it a person, place, or thing, in order to photograph it well - or at least photograph it in a way that satisfies me. I'm made especially aware of this when it comes time to edit travel photos. I'm editing the images from our recent trip to Europe, and am being made especially aware of how familiarity affects the way I photograph.

Snow, Bridge & Bicycle
The Netherlands is both lovely & photogenic - shame I couldn't make the most of it.

If I'm working somewhere I'm familiar with, I'm usually reasonably happy to take my time. To find the little details that add depth to an image, and make pictures that work as images, not quickly-hazarded copies of whatever I see in front of me.

When I'm somewhere new, however, I get snap-happy. This trip, we spent five weeks overseas, and I've brought back a little over 3,000 photos. Admittedly, because my feet issues make it next to impossible to stand without swaying, I take 3 images at once to be reasonably sure of getting at least 1 in focus. But that still means over a thousand images from those five weeks, many of which I'll most likely end up culling.

Trees in Forest

I think the problem is that when I know I'll only be somewhere a short time, or I'm unlikely to get back to, I rush. I quickly frame my images with a vague idea of a composition, and snap away, without actually checking to see if the image meets the one in my head. This usually results in a bunch of over-excited and poorly translated images that were very evocative in person, but are flat and lifeless as images.

It's the premature ejaculation of photography, and most annoying.

The problem is compounded, of course, by the disability and chronic pain issues. These days, I'm always aware, consciously or otherwise, of my increasing pain levels as I stand or move around. It makes it that much more difficult to take my peaceful time in making an image, when I'm all too aware of how little functional time I have.

So what's the solution? I was thinking of going back to film for a time, for the almost enforced slow down, but for me at least, working solely with film just isn't practical any more - or financially viable. If my digital camera and lenses were built to work comfortably on manual focus, I'd switch to that, and use the extra focusing time to also focus on the image in front of me rather than the vague idea in my head, but that's not something the non-high end digital cameras are designed for, sadly.

Snow on the Fields
I think I need to carry a chair with me when wandering around places like this for photographs.

In the absence of outside props, then, I'll have to make the change for myself. I'm going to try and curate my images in-camera, before I press the shutter button, rather than on the computer. I'll also try and find ways of photographing more comfortably, even if that means carrying a chair with me! And for a little while, I'll make myself come back from an outing with no more than 5 images, not 50 or 500.

Any other ideas? Those of you who photograph, how do you deal with the digital urge to spray & pray?

1 comment:

Mark Clinton said...

Wow!!!!!!! Nice shots.. Great color combination...