My Photography – Learning about photography ....
and making tough choices:
Photography has been around for nearly 200 years.
At first photography was a combination of physics, chemistry and art, today it is more of a synthesis of optics, electronics, computer science and aptitude.
No matter for what reason, be it hobby, popular trend, career or artistic expression, people of all ages study photography in various schools and workshops. And with time and training some of these photographers turn out to be accomplished artists, teachers and innovators in the field.
A dedicated hobbyist
I started of a common variety hobby (point and shoot) photographer. I took millions of pictures, by day and by night, landscapes, portraits, macros, street photography, moving or jumping objects. Changing/upgrading cameras and lenses with enthusiasm while travelling all over the world.
Choices, Choices, Choices ...
It took quite a lot of time for me to realize that one of the hardest thing in photography was actually was to pinpoint what really interested me in photography. I quickly understood that when showing my pictures to other people they tended to get bored. So I learned to display action or tell a story in a picture set. I explored different techniques to improve my portrait photography, studies people in motion, walking, running, street photography, on motorbikes, on bicycles and on horseback.
Landscape and Travel Photography
Landscape photography requires you to be in the right place, just at the right time (usually around daybreak or sunset), with all the required instruments, tripods (long exposure times) to take that perfect shot. It requires time and lots of patience.
Patience does not seem to be a strong feature of my character and long waits are detrimental to my temperament.
More often than not, nature also plays nasty tricks with the photographer. After climbing that mountain in the dark, setting up the equipment just right, waiting another hour for the anticipated sunrise – there is this cloud/mist/fog obstructing or spoiling your shot.
Travel photography, on the other hand, involves being in lots of places – usually on the go… Now this is more in line with my personality!
And if Mother Nature wants to play her tricks; sandstorms, showers, sleet or snow – I embrace them as they come. This may be the opportunity of a one in a million shot!
I have been very lucky to be able to visit many places: Antarctica, China, Ethiopia, Greece, India, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Sri-Lanka and more…
Stills photography is a demanding art form; photographing inanimate subjects, arranged by the photographer into small groups.
The stills photographer makes pictures rather than takes them. This is too much preparation, too little action – not my cup of tea.
There is however one style of stills photography that I can relate to. Opportunistic stills have more to do with how I perceive my surroundings. That rusty nail sticking out of the wall, that lone umbrella on the beach or just a dilapidated sneaker on the roadside – they all make perfect opportunistic stills.
Providence arranged the scene; composition through the viewfinder is mine.
A bit about Techniques:
The next stage was improving camera panning techniques. It is a skill that takes lots of practice to get right. Following a fast moving object accurately, choosing the best shutter speed and manually focusing the lens at the point where the final shoot is to be made. Easier said than done! After lots of practice I also discovered that once you understand this technique one can track the action with reduced shutter speed and get more background blur this produces a better impression of movement.
Candid portrait photography
In portrait photography I prefer the candid kind. I favor hunting for the right subject in the right circumstance as opposed to staging a scene. The advantage of this genre is that the results are more “alive” and tend to tell a story. The disadvantage is that with candid portrait photography there little or no opportunity to get the subject, the lighting, the camera and lenses just right.
I just made a typo. Instead of “candid portrait photography” I typed “bandit portrait photography”. This may have been more of a Freudian slip than a typo. Candid portrait photography is kind of bandit like; get in there, shoot, retreat and count your bootie.
In essence, street photography is a type of candid photography done in a public place, a street, a market, a restaurant or even public transport. It is similar in approach to photojournalism and mostly involves people (and/or animals) in a populated environment (which provides the context of a story told.
Unlike photojournalism, street photography focuses on the everyday lives of strangers rather than some kind of important event. The goal of street photography is to capture scenes unaffected by the photographer so as to show a natural story and subject. Story and subject are possibly the most important aspects of a good street shot.
"In your Face" photography
It could well be that is people who really fascinate me, ordinary people, living their daily lives. And photography - may be just a tool that allows me to observe and study them closely?
Thank you for this informative blog.
I hope you will write more articles on "Opportunistic Stills" and “Candid Portrait Photography”.
I also picture myself as a “bandit photographer” and would love more tips on bandit photography techniques.