Thursday, December 6, 2012

10,000 Revisited

Greetings, volks. Welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place! Everywhere you look, you’ll see white! Winter is here for the long haul, and that means it’s time to get some seasonal shots. I hope everyone is getting geared up for Christmas and some great photography.

Earlier today, we had blue skies and some nice clouds, perfect for the landscape shooter in all of us. Of course, things turned ugly quick, and left us in the midst of a dark and icy wall of snow. As often happens, the sun managed to beat back the snow and again we were ready for making some great shots.

Enough weather, that’s not what we’re here for, right? Today we’re going to talk about pride and accomplishment. It’s also a chance for an exercise in good old-fashioned photography. Even though we’re using our digital cameras, and often forget the importance of each shot we make, we can return to the old ways. Remember, as Henri Cartier-Bresson said, “You’re first ten thousand shots are your worst.” In a much older post, we addressed this and modified it to be about 100,000 to 1,000,000 shots. This is due to the inherent nature of instantaneous feedback and automatic cameras.

In the earliest days of photography, folks used glass plates for their negatives. Then film came along. In those early days, your film, or plate, was only sensitive to blue light. This made balancing your light and color very important. With the advent of thinner films and panchromatic emulsions, more sensitivity was added. Then, of course, came color film. When you shot either a sheet or roll, you couldn’t change your ISO or color balance. Film and digital sensors can be thought of as the same thing, and for the rest of this article will be used interchangeably.

Film costs money. It cost money in the old days, as well. When a photographer made shots, he weighed the value of the film and the shot. Every photograph was precious, and had to be made with care. Exposure, color balance, even composition had to be weighed and given some measure of value in relation to the photo. Photography took time, to both master, and in terms of the individual image created. Light meters for measuring exposure, going back to the 1800’s, are available on auction sites all over the internet. Focusing aids, powder flashes, apertures, and even shutters were part of the photographer’s knowledge. In many of the older lenses, the aperture was adjusted using an insert placed in the lens at the time of the photo.

Now that we see how valuable the image was, and the knowledge to make an image, we can see how those early photos, and those that have come down to us through the years, were not the product of guesswork or automation.

For the next few days, try doing an exercise in film. Choose one ISO for your camera, choose one color balance, and only limit yourself to 36 shots per session. Remember, getting your color balance and ISO right will require thought and planning. It will also require learning about your intended shooting situation. If you’re shooting outside, shoot in daylight or around 5200K, and inside shoot at tungsten or around 3200K. If you’re shooting in bright conditions, choose ISO 100, in the dark ISO 800. Finish your 36 shots before changing your settings. Also, don’t look at your images on the camera monitor, or delete any shot. Wait until you get home to see what you have. This will encourage you to value your images, while also helping you improve.

Hohenfels Volks: Dresden Christmas
EI 500, f/5.6, 1/60, 56mm
I couldn't resist this shot, the mix of shapes, textures, and tones are intriguing! Shooting manual all day, let me have control of the camera, instead of the camera controlling me. It also allowed me to use my knowledge to get what I wanted.

This little exercise will require you to know your camera settings, it will require the knowledge to get the shot right, and it will allow for a sense of visualization to settle in. Visualizing your image is an incredibly useful tool in photography. This is a great time to undertake this exercise, as our changing weather conditions, and lighting, will challenge even the best without proving impossible with a little effort. As an added bonus, it’ll make every shoot an adventure, and every moment until the photos are loaded like Christmas. It’s a fun way to experience the anticipation of Christmas with a gift in every session! It’ll also make shorter work of getting the best shots, since you’ll be improving with each photo made. You’ll also develop your confidence, which always helps! Remember, a great camera doesn’t make a great photographer, any more than a great kitchen makes a great cook.

Please feel free to share your photos on our Facebook page. Everyone here would love the chance to see your work! Is there anything you’d like to see here? Do you have a question or an idea? Share your thoughts here or at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too! Don't forget, we're on Google+, too!

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