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  1. #1

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    Creativity vs techicality; M vs P ... and film

    I seem to have fallen into the trap of becoming obsessed too much with the technical part of photography (the right exposure etc.), neglecting the creativity and the artistic part of photography.

    I'm not too surprised by that since I'm a bit introvert software developer and I enjoy understanding (and controlling) machinery.

    So, for the last couple of years I've been mostly shooting on full manual with partial metering (mostly on digital, as I rediscovered film only recently), thinking it was very important (and it is to some extent, as digital is easily blown out).

    But then I found this book: "Photography - the art of composition" by Bert Krages. I quite like it, because it covers my weaker photography skills: visual skills, composition, creativity.

    So I've been doing the exercises from the book with BW film, at first my usual, full manual metering. But then I found out about the latitude of film compared to digital and I decided to try doing the exercises on full auto: P and A mode with average metering, no correction, just taking care that aperture / shutter suites my needs.

    Oh boy. I must say, it felt great. I was just letting my creative process take its way, photographing what I found interesting or waiting for the right moment. The latter is quite important, as I take a lot of photos of my little baby girl.

    So here's my problem . Today I was shooting slides (my wife would kill me if I didn't take any color photos). It was frustrating. The clouds kept covering the sun, so I had to adjust exposure constantly; the child kept moving from sun to the shadow and back - so again, checking exposure, worrying about color temperature etc. - and missing the moment - which IMO is the most important thing in this kind of photos.

    I must say digital is much simpler for this - just keep your finger on the trigger and then pick the good shots, then color correct them.

    Well, I'm not going to do this (anymore). So what can I do to avoid this kind of problems? I could shoot color negatives (but I really like slides). I could also just switch to P and see how that goes (I don't really trust auto metering for slides). Any other tips and ideas?

  2. #2

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    I think you should just shoot a roll of slide film on your program setting and I think you'll be surprised how well your camera meters. I sometimes think there's a bit of a bit of an aura around slide film and people can approach it with too much care and then miss the moment. No doubt this is a consequence of hundreds of internet discussions talking about how difficult slides are to shoot. Interestingly, back in the '50s most people shot slides on extremely basic cameras with no meters and maybe just a lever to move between 'sun' and 'cloud'. I'm sure they still got some great photos and I'm sure you will too.
    Steve.

  3. #3

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    Ah.... a fellow software engineer on APUG land! I, too, am a software engineer at a large database company. I also have the same tendency to get bogged down on technical side of photography and forget the fact that it is art I'm *trying to* create.

    To me, this is not one or the other proposition. It's mixture of both. One can not exist without the other. My current goal is to shoot for art with technical understanding and skills to make my art happen - not the other way around. It's not 50/50 yet but the ratio is slowly changing.

    I hate program mode... It take control away from me. I use aperture priority most of the time.

    Program mode is nothing more than combination of aperture and shutter priority - except it does both at the same time. If you don't trust priority mode, then P will be just the same - plus it will take both control away from you. I don't think your technical side will allow you to do that.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by perkeleellinen View Post
    I think you should just shoot a roll of slide film on your program setting and I think you'll be surprised how well your camera meters. I sometimes think there's a bit of a bit of an aura around slide film and people can approach it with too much care and then miss the moment. No doubt this is a consequence of hundreds of internet discussions talking about how difficult slides are to shoot. Interestingly, back in the '50s most people shot slides on extremely basic cameras with no meters and maybe just a lever to move between 'sun' and 'cloud'. I'm sure they still got some great photos and I'm sure you will too.
    yup !
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  5. #5

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    Take as many pic's as you can,its worth the extra effort.Kids grow up soooo fast.

  6. #6
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    I get too wrapped up in technical minutia too at times. My best shooting happens when I'm in the "zone" where the technical aspects of shooting is second nature like breathing. The creative part magically comes to me. When I'm not in that zone, I struggle with he shoot and I end up with work that is dry and technically well executed which is not satisfying. It's like playing notes and not making music.

  7. #7

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    I've also had rather good luck trusting autoexposure systems with slide film, as long as I keep my brain engaged enough to notice situations like backlighting that will throw off the meter. As tkamiya mentioned, though, I think shutter or aperture priority is to be preferred to a full-auto mode in which you really don't know what you'll get. You don't mention what camera you're using, but I think anything modern enough to have a "P" mode is likely to do OK. (Heck, I routinely get good slides out of an old Contax IIIa with a selenium meter!)

    Also, I think the people who insist that you MUST nail the exposure within 0.000142857 of a stop or the slide will be ABSOLUTELY WORTHLESS need to relax a little. Slides aren't *that* unforgiving...especially if your point is to capture the moment rather than to be able to say "Look at all the shadow detail I got, am I awesome or what?"

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  8. #8
    winger's Avatar
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    Also, I think the people who insist that you MUST nail the exposure within 0.000142857 of a stop or the slide will be ABSOLUTELY WORTHLESS need to relax a little. Slides aren't *that* unforgiving...especially if your point is to capture the moment rather than to be able to say "Look at all the shadow detail I got, am I awesome or what?"
    True.
    What I've done when shooting slides in interesting lighting is meter for the two extremes and get my general exposure for sunny and for cloudy and just switch between the two when necessary. Sometimes I've messed up and not switched, but I remember most of the time. Also, will your camera let you override the iso setting? You can use that to force it to underexpose by a little (which I've found to work well with slides).

  9. #9
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    If you decided to go fully manual. Meter your subject from sun to the shadow and back. And remember the corresponding f stop. Just remember how many clicks to all the conditions. Hope this helps.

  10. #10
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    As for me, I tend to shoot too much out of insecurity. Shooting a lot "covers all the bases". I think I shoot less when I have more confidence. One exercise you can try is to shoot a 12 exposure roll in day trip. I think with limited exposures, you're slowed down and forced to see a lot more while help to cure the itchy trigger finger. Listen to the internal dialog with yourself to know your creative process. Seeing is 99% of getting a good image. Good luck!
    Last edited by Mainecoonmaniac; 08-22-2010 at 06:37 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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