ordinal: (Default)
2012-08-28 04:10 pm

Composition doesn't exist

One of the many interesting ideas I picked up from the street photography workshop I went to yesterday was about composition. Or, the non-existence of. "There's no such thing as composition. Pick the three things you want in the picture, make sure they're in the frame, then press the button." By which I understand not that it doesn't matter how things are arranged in the picture, but that, certainly with street photography, it is best to concentrate first on actual elements rather than the overall arrangement of the scene. The positioning of the elements comes naturally once you've decided what they are. Moreover, when you'll only have a fraction of a second for the shot, you'd best not be messing about with the rule of thirds etc if you can't do it instinctively. It's an approach I will be trying, anyway. (The first roll I took on this workshop is in the lab at the moment, and is probably crap, but that's me, not the tutor.)
ordinal: (Default)
2012-02-10 10:28 pm
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Thinking about a small, portable tripod sort of thing

I have a fairly cheap little stiff-legged one that I got for digitals many years ago, but it doesn't allow much variation in terms of angle, and, well, if you want to put an East German SLR from the 80s on it, you have to balance things very carefully if you don't want it all falling over and breaking your foot.

I remember people going on about the Gorillapod a while ago; is that still good?
ordinal: (Default)
2012-02-04 09:38 pm
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Weather bonuses

It really is snowing out there, not just the usual dismal London sprinkle of pre-dirtied grey slush. That means snow photographs! I don’t think I’ve ever actually taken photographs properly in the snow. Also, using black and white all the time will mean missing very little.
ordinal: (Default)
2012-02-04 04:59 pm
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I was thinking of trying out some redscale film - this is where you basically just load film backwards into a cartridge and expose it a stop or two more. (Or, you could pay over the odds for Lomography to do it for you.) I have some cheap colour film for a pound a roll from Poundland, which I am prepared to risk.

What did concern me was that Snappy Snaps might not be confused by this - you have to tape the ends of the film together, which could gum up a machine - but talking to somebody at my local one, he sounded quite interested in the idea, and said it shouldn't be a problem as they could just take it out in the darkroom and load it into a cassette. I suspect they must get quite bored in photo labs these days, what with the shops seeming to be mostly self-service printing booths. I also won't be horribly upset if they mess it up.
ordinal: (Default)
2012-01-25 07:49 am
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Today's achievement

  • Woke up at an unusually early hour, in a bit of a panic;
  • Decided to get up and take pictures of the clouds and London skyline as the sun was rising;
  • Set up small tripod, took several careful long exposure shots on 100 film;
  • Noticed that still seemed to be able to shoot way after the counter had gone past 36;
  • Realised that film was not winding on at all because I'd loaded it badly;
  • Threw film in bin.
So that's nice.

ordinal: (Default)
2012-01-02 10:05 pm

Learning and age

As I increase in age / get closer to death1, I find that I take on many more hobbies than I did when I was younger. Partly this is because I don’t actually know what I want to do with my time, partly it is because I actively like to learn new things, and partly it is because I have a job now and can therefore afford to buy the required paraphernalia, but there is another part - that as I get older I am just better at things. It isn’t as if you actually get cleverer as you get older, but you do learn all sorts of little rules and tricks which make it easier to get things right and find where you are making mistakes.

For instance, my latest hobby is black and white photography, which means taking the pictures and also developing the negatives. (I’m not really that interested in making prints - yet.) I took this up a few weeks ago and I have proceeded so much faster than I would have, say, when I was 20.

  • I can afford to buy all of the kit straight off - it isn’t that expensive, but camera, film, development stuff, that works out to a couple of hundred pounds at least, which I would have had to save up for or scrounge before.
  • Similarly, I have my own place and can fill the bathroom with chemicals without anyone else complaining that they need to use the shower right now.
  • I have read so much documentation that I know how to pick out the important parts quickly. I can quickly scan manuals and how-tos and learn the techniques. I was very fluff-minded when I was younger (I still am, but it takes me less time to read things so I don’t get distracted by shiny objects before finishing).
  • I am better at debugging when things go wrong. I now know how to analyse a situation, see what the potential issues are, and make testing plans to isolate which one(s) caused whatever problem it was that occurred. In fact, I can’t help but do this. Proper debugging speeds up the learning process dramatically - learning is all about making mistakes, yes, but you have to know where you made the mistakes and correct them, otherwise all you have done is failed to get something right.

The older I get, the more infuriated I am that learning is assumed to be just something for young people, and in most areas it is assumed that you will learn some stuff up to your early 20s maximum and then stop (probably then having children and taking on assorted debts) and do the same thing indefinitely, perhaps maintaining professional qualifications if you are in that sort of field but that’s it. I can’t imagine being happy with this. Minds are like sharks; they need to keep moving.

  1. I’m not even actually that old, though I refuse to say quite how old. ↩