Are you really getting your money’s worth out of your camera? In most cases, your very expensive camera. Having recently made a small study, I came to the conclusion that the one item in everyone’s possession which is not giving value for money, is the camera. I’m talking about digitals here, as film belongs to the dark ages these days, though it is still sadly missed.
This week’s column is actually not a discourse on the two camera (photography) types - film and digital. I believe everyone now understands the reasons why the world left film behind. For new photographers who never used film, just understand that digital gives you the advantage of ‘instant’ review, something that film could never do. The best that film could do was a one hour wait at the photo-processors, and even then it usually was longer.
The letter “C”.
However, digital cameras are not cheap, and a good DSLR can easily see you spending at least 20,000 baht and upwards. For that sort of money, you should be seeing some sort of return in satisfaction, if nothing else.
To get that satisfaction level, you have to realize there is just so much more you can do with a DSLR than just taking photos of children, friends and family. You should be able to get some fun and satisfaction from the investment too.
The way to get that fun is to make a project for yourself, and one that can be carried through involves taking a photograph of something each week for a complete year. This is what I have called Project 52.
For example, you could even do a self-portrait each week for one year. Use your imagination and creativity so that you do not end up with 52 shots of your face. There are plenty of other bits of you to try. A fun idea would be make 52 sections of yourself, and then paste the different shots on to one sheet which would make a final art work that Picasso would have been proud of.
Too squeamish for 52 shots of yourself? Well, how about 52 shots of your local area or suburb? The plan is to show all the different items that can be found in one community. There will also be different weather in that year - wet and dry to start with. There is also night and day, sunset and sunrise. High viewpoint, low viewpoint. You can see where I am going here. By using your creative senses, you can give yourself many hours of concepts and ideas and then shoot them each weekend.
Project 52 can also be carried out by older members of the family, and even by children. Whilst personally I think a DSLR is better suited for this type of project, there is no real reason why a digital compact could not be used.
If 52 is just too much to take on, then what about Project 26? Each shot represents one letter of the alphabet. Sure, A for Apple is easy, but Q for ? is a little more difficult. Again, the creative approach will see you looking for queues, or even “quickly” (work out how to show that). You could even make it that the subject matter in each of the 26 shots, looks like the letter. A stepladder looks like an A. So a double hook, for example, looks like an S, whilst a single hook looks like a J. The top of a bottle is an O. An open pair of scissors is a V.
You won’t find all the items in one weekend, but by the following weekend you’ll have worked out what you are looking to photograph.
If Project 26 is still too onerous for you, how about Project 12? There are 12 months of the year, think about how you can show the difference between them. Hot, wet, cold - there are three of them - and then it gets harder from there. But the whole concept is to get you thinking, and then using your expensive investment.
Sit down this weekend and work out which project you would like to try, then start working on the concept, and then finally start shooting. Best of luck.
What is a “photograph”? A very basic question which gets a very basic answer - a photograph is a visual record of “something”, which may be portraits or landscapes or still lives. However, all of your photographs, irrespective of the subject, are images that you produced. You saw it and you captured it. It was simply down to “you” and nothing to do with what camera you used in the production of the image.
Around six months ago I wrote about how to get into photography, from the raw amateur’s point of view, so that the newbie could develop what I called the “photographic eye.” This week we look a little deeper into this subject.
The most photographed subjects for amateur photographers are family members. However, if your family members include some Thai ladies, the most photographed subject is themselves, taken with phone cameras and called “selfies”. You can recognize these very quickly as you get a mis-shapen arm in the photo as well, but I shall ignore that type of “photography” as being not worthwhile discussing.
In a couple of months, many of you will be gearing up for the annual overseas trip to see relatives “back home”. In around three months many of you will then be showing your travel shots from ‘over there’ to friends ‘over here’, and will be very disappointed with the results.
Read any good book on photography and you will be reading chapters after chapters on why you need an SLR to be able to produce the kind of photographs that you see in the book. However, an SLR (or D SLR these days) is not 100 percent necessary to come up with some excellent images. You can even make your own pin-hole lenses for next to nothing, but a D SLR does make it easier.
With the floods that we are having right now, there is probably more than one camera that has gone underwater, and is now (hopefully) the subject of an insurance claim. However, there is truly another world beneath the surface.
The French have been intimately involved with photography ever since Nicephore Niepce and Louis Daguerre more than 100 years ago. But the title of the most enduring French photographer should probably go to Willy Ronis, a French photographer who died four years ago aged 99.
History is important to gain a good insight into the developments in photography and ending up in today with electronic equipment.
Jacques-Henri Lartigue was the first photographer to show that equipment comes second to imagination. He was a great individualist taking photographs of “…everything which pleases me, everything I am keen on, which delights or amazes me. The rest I let pass.” Famous lensman Richard Avedon called Lartigue “The most deceptively simple and penetrating photographer in the history of that art.” I can only agree.
Have we become too smart for our own good? Has technology taken over where good photographic sense left off? I used to use a battered old Nikon FM2N. A mechanical camera with manual everything, focus, aperture and shutter settings. With modern cameras able to produce perfect photographs, according to the publicity blurbs if nothing else, why would I use a battered old Nikon, which is manual in operation?