Continued from yesterday’s post.
For this post, I want to talk “out loud” about how I select photos and, more importantly, how I reject photos. I realized last night that it’s one of the most difficult and time-intensive things I do (sometimes several hours a night)–much more difficult than developing the film or, often, taking the photographs in the first place.
Here are some photos from a single roll I took in April. The film is Arista Premium 100 (which is re-packaged Kodak Plus-X) from Freestyle Photo, which I developed in Diafine. I shot these all with a Leica MP, mounted with a 28mm Minolta M-Rokkor lens originally designed for the Minolta CLE.
Recently I’ve fallen back into a “practice” mode of sorts because I’m not technically as good as I need to be: I tend to shoot while moving, and so I get too much blur, and I don’t have a good grasp of distance for proper, fast focusing. So on this roll, I was trying to get a lot of shots of people in focus, regardless of whether or not the photo was any good. But you still hope for that one good shot!
Nothing that interesting here. But, this is a successful photograph for me on at least one level: she’s in focus. I’ve been practicing zone-focusing, which is basically defining a depth of field and accepting a certain level of sharpness within that field. I think I’m getting pretty good at it. Shooting film makes this a little more difficult–you can’t instantly see the results of what you’re doing. That’s why I carry a notebook. I don’t keep track of each shot that I take, but I can make a note that I’m trying for “deeper DOF/faster shutter speed” and note typical f-stops, etc. Then when I’m editing the photos, I see that note and review the photos with that in mind. If I actually take a good photo in the process, all the better. This isn’t a good photo. Like Image 4 above, I should have tipped down a bit. She doesn’t need to be smack-dab in the horizontal center of the frame. The phone booth is a monstrous distraction. And there’s nothing going on. Final negative: the Bead Center across the street with its atrocious Comic Sans sign. It’s so bad. And it’s pretty new. One should not photograph such crap.
Again, this works for me because they’re in pretty good focus. What would I change? Tip down to get their whole figures in the frame, and shoot from a position that allows me to get rid of some of the people on the right. Something more interesting going on would be nice, too, but those two changes might have been enough.
It’s always fun to have a lot of faces doing different things. This one didn’t gel for me. I consider it good effort, though.
A bit closer and somewhat less underexposed would have made this better. Then again, I’m torn about using advertisements and other images of faces in my photos. It’s a bit of a crutch. Stand in front of an ad like this long enough and you’ll get an interesting interaction.
I’m deeply engaged with this guy’s look, and for that reason I struggle with whether this photo is good or not. There’s an emotion caught up in the furrow of his brow, and his gaze is nowhere in particular.
This one seemed almost too easy, so I downgraded it in my head as soon as I took it. Here’s how I look at it: every Saturday, I take my kid to a playground, and we have the dog with us. I tie the dog up outside the playground in the grass, under a sign that says “no dogs allowed.” The sign refers to the playground on the other side of the fence, not the grass. Every Saturday, someone with a DSLR takes a few photos of the dog and makes sure the “no dogs allowed” sign is in the frame. If I’m nearby and it’s obvious that she’s my dog, the photographer will sometimes explain how this photo will be funny because of the sign, yadda yadda yadda. This photo reminds me of that. But I still do like it. It might be better if I were closer, but given that I was using a 28mm lens, I would have been awfully close to this guy and probably wouldn’t have made the shot.
Very interesting: the dog/sign connection to demonstrate why this photograph gets downgraded by you. I was in the curatorial end of photography for over 20 years (I’m an artist) and might have gone for the dog/sign shot, but then I don’t take my own photography very seriously. I’m strictly a snap-shooter and the easy shot is often fine by me. But I’d never have felt I had to explain why I was taking the shot to the dog’s owner — would seem self-evident.
I’m enjoying eavesdropping on how you think about your shots and the shots yet taken.
Thanks! I’m not managing my time well right now, but once I do I hope to do this more than once every few months.