Thursday, May 8, 2008

Achieving a sense of focus

Today is my last day of school. I think I won't go back for a while (with the possible exception of a digital photo class at pima). I have some ideas for what I want to do next, but today I just feel a little bit freer. Tomorrow I could take pictures all day... well, I suppose I still have to go to work.

Yesterday I realized something about digital photography. one of the things I always felt was a strong point in my photography when I used my film camera was that I had a very steady hand, and my images we well-focused, even in low light.

I've been frustrated lately with the wind in my yard causing the flowers to move. the movement makes it difficult to get a focused picture. I assumed this was the problem.'

What I realized yesterday was that when I take a picture with my film camera, I press the button and the shutter closes while I'm still looking through the viewfinder. After that photo has been recorded and the film is advanced, I am generally still looking through the viewfinder to see how that photo might improve in the next few seconds.

With my digital camera there is a surprising difference in what I am doing. When I press the button and the shutter closes, I have only three seconds to look at the "preview" of the shot on the little screen on the back of my camera. Instead of continuing to look through, anticipating the next shot, and trusting my ability to judge what is, or is not adequate light, I am checking the image. Looking at the little digital screen instead of at my subject. Sometimes, I realized, I might even be moving the camera before the shutter has completely finished so that I have have more time to look at it. Might this affect the photos? I think so. I think today I'm going to turn off the preview function on my camera. I'll look through the viewfinder at my subjects, and think about the light the way that it looks to my eyes. I'm going to attempt to get back the closeness with my surroundings that I think is getting lost as I look into the digital screen. It used to feel like the camera was an extension of my eye. Although I'm excited to learn the art of digital photography, the sense that I am looking at something real, and that I can see what the light looks like and imagine what it would look like in a photo is something I shouldn't sacrifice.

Imagination is the essence of creativity. If the digital screen robs me of my confidence and ability to imagine what the lighting will look like, what else might it do to my creativity? Just some interesting things to think about.

Here are some photos I took in the yard yesterday. It's amazing just how much is out there.


Amy said...

I love the photos of the shells and twine.

I found your thoughts on the preview feature to be very thought provoking. I think you are onto something there.

Chris said...

I'm not sure I've ever truly fallen for the preview rush, but with your insight I can imagine how that might be affecting your mental focus on the images.
I'm thinking a celebratory evening might be in order for the accomplishment of school survival, you and Amy both!