My way of seeing
If you need a four-leaf clover, I’m your guy. For some reason, I’ve always been good at spotting the ones that are just a little different.
Little things, strange things, different things, and things overlooked have always interested me in photography, too. Not only in still-lifes and landscapes, but also in live subjects such as musicians. A singer’s hand gesture from a side angle, for instance, can be more interesting to me that a frontal shot; a glance or a facial expression can nudge my camera and lens in that direction. And, of course, there’s light, and how it interacts with different objects and textures.
There are so many things to see, so many things to focus on, and so many ways of seeing them. . . . I try to let each scene, each subject speak to me in its own way, to lure my eye this way or that. The importance of taking time to see what’s around you can never be overemphasized in the photographic process.
Some shooting preferences
One of my preferences is to use ambient light--that is, the light that’s part of the setting. That light may be natural or “artificial,” and I may control it with small reflectors or by adjusting shades, blinds, and curtains. I very rarely use flash: there are photographers who are artists with strobes and such, but I’m not one of them.
In composing an image, I try to get as close to my subject as I can so that I’m working with the whole frame. That helps me get just what I want, the essence of a scene without excess. Robert Capa used to say, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”
I prefer to shoot manually--that is, manually adjusting the aperture and shutter speed, and also focusing manually. Because of this, I tend to use older, non-AF lenses that have focus and aperture rings made for hands-on work.
I’ve always gravitated toward prime lenses, the faster the better. One reason I like to use fast lenses is that their shallow depth of field when wide-open lets me emphasize particular things within the frame. They also come in handy while working in low-light situations, which I often do.
A photographer’s mind and eye are his or her most important tools; after that, it’s light and glass, and fast glass is where it’s at.
One last thought
I think this quote from Wynn Bullock sums up much of what feel: “Mysteries lie all around us, even in the most familiar things, waiting only to be perceived.”
That's as good as any reason to pick up a camera, look deliberately at the world around you, and make images.
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