The Larry Miller Tour of Utah came through Cache Valley and ended with five laps around a roughly three-mile circuit in North Logan. Laps 1-3 were somewhat leisurely, but by Lap 4 things got serious because the end of Lap 5 was the finish. Just before the peloton came by my vantage point for Lap 4, two serious photographers showed up. One of them was hired by the Tour. The other works for Getty Images, a huge, worldwide photographic agency. I asked him where he was last week and where he would be next week. He said last week he was home but that was because he’d spent five weeks in France for the Tour de France. Next week he was covering NASCAR. At first blush it sounded like a great job but then I thought…… not so much if you have a family and this guy was wearing a wedding ring. They shot for maybe 90 seconds then packed up to head to the finish line.
One of the great things about digital photography is you can click away without having to count the dollars every time you press the shutter. Back in the days of film, you got 12, 24 or 36 exposures for whatever the price of a roll of film was. I just checked, you can get 10 rolls of 36 exposure, 35 mm Kodak 200 color film for $32.99, or about $.10 per shot. Then there was the cost of developing. Plus, you couldn’t look at what you’d just done to make adjustments. It probably made for better pictures because you had to give some thought to the composition, camera settings, and all that before you shot, but it didn’t lend itself to experimentation.
With digital, you can do lots of fun stuff. If it turns out, great; if not, there’s the delete button on the camera or onscreen. Here are some experiments I’ve tried.
This first set is from a full moon, natural light shoot I did a couple of years ago. I didn’t have a fast lens, so the models had to hold their poses for up to 20 seconds to get the proper exposure. BTW, long exposure is why you never saw anyone smile in the old (1800s) photos: they couldn’t hold a smile long enough for a proper exposure.
One other thing you can play around with is the shutter speed to get blur or more ghosts.
And digital cameras make street photography easier. Because you aren’t worried about wasting a $.10 exposure, you can snap away at any angle, which makes for some interesting shots.
Lastly (for now) you can take pictures of all sorts of weird stuff that makes people scratch their heads.
So have fun. Play around. It’s really quite relaxing.
Every photographer who wants to move from taking snapshots to real photographs asks this question: How can I take good photographs? Entire libraries of books have been written on this subject but it really comes down to two things: Know your camera, at least a little; and develop an eye for the interesting. Or, as documentary photographer Arthur “Weegee” Fellig said, “f/8 and be there.”
What Fellig meant was, know your camera, both its limitations and what are the best settings; and be where good pictures happen. The first is a technical statement; the second is more philosophical.
By “f/8” Fellig was referring to the fact that most documentary photography, and this includes street photography, photojournalism, travel, nature, wildlife — anything done outside a studio and without setup — is best shot in 35 mm format. This means a 35 mm focal length lens, not 35 mm film. The 35 mm focal length lens gives enough room in the frame to include elements that give perspective and interpretation to the photo. “f/8” refers to the lens aperture. The size of the aperture controls how much light enters the lens and therefore how much light is available to make the image, whether on film or digitally. The size of the aperture also affects the depth of field, or the portions of the photograph, from near to far, and how much of that is in focus. An aperture of f/8 gives a decent depth of field. Generally with f/8, anything between 9 feet in front of the lens to infinity in reasonably sharp focus. From a technical aspect, Fellig was saying, assuming you’re shooting a 35 mm format, set the aperture to f/8 and you won’t have to worry about focus.
By “be there” Fellig is expressing a philosophical or artistic viewpoint to go with the technical. Don’t be satisfied with the standard pinkish-orange sunset reflecting off the lake or the stiff family standing in front of Old Faithful as it goes off. Look for whatever interest you, what moves you, what makes you think “what am I looking at?” What’s interesting to you might not be interesting to everyone, but chances are a lot of people will think your choice is interesting. For example, I like to include people in my photos, but I cut them off occasionally.
The single foot in this photograph adds a splash of color and humanity to these cobblestones in Boston. Otherwise, it’s just a nice close-up of ….. what? A wall? A street? Indoors? Out?
This one is a nice close-up of sand toys at the beach. The slightly out-of-focus headless guy walking along the beach again adds humanity to the picture without making him the focus of the photo.
I also think that by “be there” Fellig was saying, just go somewhere and wait for something to happen. Photography, like hunting, requires patience. Sometimes you come home skunked, but occasionally you get a trophy.
So there you have it. All you need to know to take great photographs in one simple sentence: f/8 and be there.
Saturday in mid-May evokes springtime images of green grass, flowers blooming, blue skies and warm temperatures. That’s what the 2800+ registered participants in the South Jordan Terrain Race were expecting at 8:00 a.m. when the first wave was to start this 5k obstacle race, clambering up cargo nets, splashing into a mud pit, crawling through barrels and otherwise getting dirty. Instead they got 40 degree temps, wind, rain, clouds and even a bit of hail. Everyone agreed the hail made the race special.
I was there from 7:30 until 3:00, taking pictures of each racer as he or she crossed the finish line. Mostly there were smiles, a few chattering teeth and lots of mud and water. The folks at Angry Monkey did a great job hosting this.
We recently took a trip to southern California. Of course we went to the beach. It was a little cool, so there weren’t hordes of people. There was one group that was having a photo shoot. It looked like a family shoot without a professional photographer, but it was definitely a planned shoot. So I did a photo shoot of the photo shoot. Here are some of the pictures.
To get started, here are a few pictures from the last year that I especially like.