Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just make it simple...

Stacey and I got to shoot together again this weekend.

For me, photography pulls something out of me that often gets surpressed in the clutter of my life. From the first time I saw a photographic image slowly emerge in a bath of developer in the faint glow of a darkroom safelight, I was hooked. It was such an adrenalin rush to anticipate the result; a validation (or repudiation) of my skill with a camera and as a technician in the dark. More often than not, the results were awful - the exposure was off, the lighting sucked, the composition included a light post growing out of my subjects head, the image was out of focus. Basically, the image bore no resemblance to what I had in mind when I clicked the camera's shutter. The time between capture and finished print was days or even weeks so it was hard to remember what my f-stop or shutter speed was or even the time of day the picture was taken. Leap forward 30 years and it's a brave new world. With digital cameras you get instant gratification (or disappointment), virtually unlimited chances, auto focus, ISO options, white balance options, exposure sophistication, flash synch at unbelievable shutter speeds, and if you STILL screw up, the opportunity to "fix it in post", which basically means letting a $600 software package make you look like a hero rather than a goat. It aint fair. As Joe McNally (30 year National Geo shooter) often says, "Do you know how HARD this shit used to be???" But I digress.

Yes photography is easier to learn, and that's a good thing. But "easy" and "good" don't always equate. Even with all of the modern tools, photography forces me to really think, to "see" light, to try to tell a story. I've often told Stacey, the more you learn about photography, the lower your percentage of good shots. It's not that your pics aren't getting better, it's that your definition of "good" keeps changing.

So we took a couple of Stacey's very patient and photogenic friends up on a roof of an apartment building in D.C. along with about 50 pounds of gear....cameras, lenses, light stands, speedlights, soft boxes, clothing, hats, create a few images as the sun set. Simple? Not by a long shot. But I'm just as hooked on the process as I was 30 years ago.