This is the first in a short series where I am sharing with you a few basic tips for taking photographs. The first two lessons I remember as I began learning about photography, are:
1. The button is the last step in 10 steps to get ready
2. Chase the light.
Most people believe to take a photo you simply push the button. When Doc began our passions for photography I was not fully on board. I remember going to north of San Fransisco to the Muir Woods Redwood forest. I geared up in my best (and cutest) walking shoes, a nice shirt and shorts for hiking, my makeup was simple but adequate in case I found a photo-op ( you never know if you might meet someone famous and you might want a picture taken), a pocket notebook with trusty pen.
Doc geared up in his Banana Republic hat, cargo shorts, Photographer’s vest holding optional lenses, a camera and monopole ( a tripod with one leg) that doubled as a walking stick.
We had not gone far when we saw a magnificent redwood. The afternoon sun glistened perfectly from its majestic branches, creating highlights and shadows that gave the breath-taking contrast and definition. This is back in the day when we were still using film and not a digital camera, so each shot needed time to be set up. (these are not the shots taken this day, but I love the contrast in the wood)
Doc set up his camera as I wandered in the area thinking of the beauty around me and wanting to write suitable similes.
After a few minutes, I return to Doc, “did you get the shot?”
“No, not yet, I’m still setting up.”
I wandered a little further down to watch a chimp muck scurry across the path and into the woods. After a few minutes I return to Doc, who is still hovering over his camera. My hiking shoes paw the ground as I ask, again,
“Did you get the shot?”
A large boulder relaxing in the shade invites me to recline as I wait.
Soon I hear the reflex lens swoosh, and I sit up.
“Did you get the shot?”
“No, I need to try from a different angle.”
The set up begins again.
Finally out of pure frustration to walk together as a couple down this path and have fun, I walk closer and whisper, (hiss)
“Just push the button, will ya, and let’s go!”
He politely returns the hiss, “A good shot takes time!”
A good shot does take time and forethought. A really good photo takes a little planning. Before shooting, think about the time of day you are shooting – Morning, Noon, Late afternoon, evening. Then check your gear. Do you have fully charged batteries in your camera and flash? Have you backed up and cleared your memory card? Does you memory card have enough room to store all of the pictures you plan on shooting? I don’t think there is anything wrong with always having tons of MBs on a memory card, and an extra one in case!
Looking back on our photos that day – my point and shoot compared to his well planned medium format – his pictures are outstanding while mine are unremarkable. I wish I had some of the pictures of that day in a digital format to show you.
Using digital has sped things up, but setting up a shot and looking for the light are two elements of photography that will never be obsolete.
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