Tripods are a blessing and a curse. Have you ever watched a group of photographers arrive at a location and set up to take some photographs. I would bet that at least had of the group immediately set their tripod up at about eye level and then start making pictures. It’s a natural thing to do and I’m not saying that it’s bad to do that just that it locks you into a particular way of seeing.
I’m just getting back into using a DSLR after a hiatus where I only shot with my iPhone. I’m still reluctant to drag all the gear – the tripod, the bag of lenses, the filters etc. around with me and so at the moment I’m still 95% iPhone. Everything you’ve seen here or on instagram in the last 2 or 3 years has been with the iPhone.
What i’ve realized before and I’m noticing again is that there is a fluidity to shooting with a phone that is lacking with a larger camera. I tend to explore a bit more, move around, explore different angles, get closer, get lower and just generally be more creative. I find this exploration of a scene helps me move beyond the obvious image and get closer to something that is more me.
I plan on still using the phone before I even get my DLSR out of the bag to explore and then once I’ve found the composition pull out the DSLR, tripod and paraphernalia to get the final shot.
How about you? How do you go from initial seeing to final image. Do you mage sketch images to help work through the scene in front of you? How do you do that? Do you use a viewfinder like the painters use? An old slide holder? Your camera like I do? I’d be interested to hear about your process in the comments.
I truly enjoy looking at other people’s images, mine drive me nuts, other people’s work I enjoy. It doesn’t matter to me whether they are photographs, paintings, drawings or some other way of interpreting the world. I enjoy looking at it all. As I’ve mentioned here before, I do feel as though in some work I’m missing the joke and so I’m working hard to be able to see more, to understand more clearly what was the intent behind the creation of the image.
This of course cuts two ways – it allows me to enter more deeply into the world that creator of the work has established and it also gives me tools to help bring my vision and voice into the world. In thinking about how I look at images – what is the light, how do the lines work, what is the role of color etc. I was reminded of some of the phrases that I’ve heard thrown around when people are both making images and looking at them. Variations on light, lines, moment such as Jay Maisel’s Light, Gesture, Color.
Since I’m easily distracted, with this thread to pull at I disappeared into the internet only to find that Jay Maisel has a new book out ‘Light Gesture and Color‘. I’ve been fascinated with Jay’s ability to find photographs in the most mundane places. After watching some of the videos of him at work such as the one below and looking at the resulting images I always feel that I could try harder.
This is the fluency that I am striving for – to not only be able to take to see and appreciate the image once captured but to see and anticipate the possibilities all around me.
I’m continuing to explore my understanding of composition by learning about how painters think about the issue. I recently bought ‘The Simple Secret to Better Painting‘ by Greg Albert that I thought would give me the answer to all my problems. Although I’ve only had a chance to quickly go through the book and it has already been a help. There’s not a lot of new information here for anyone who’s studied composition much at all but Albert’s “One Rule of Composition’ is a nice twist that can really help cut through, what I find to be a complex, rule laden subject.
One of the things that I feel I need to do is slow down and really look before I leap into action. The section an alphabet of landscape composition was useful for me and I will certainly take the time to look for letters and shapes the next time I’m out in the field. Equally helpful was the chapter that dealt with setting up still lifes. This is something that I am interested in, particularly in the summer months, and having some basic instruction in their set up will help my thinking about my ‘Found on the Beach’ series. All in all worth a read.