Sunday, April 05, 2009

Magnolias and shooting

click photo to enlarge
When it comes to photography are you a gangster or a sniper? Do you handle your camera like a MAC-10, spraying your target at a high rate of fire but with a low degree of accuracy in the hope that at least one shot strikes home? Or do you approach your subject like a soldier equipped with an L115A3, considering each subject long and hard, making sure that every shot you fire will be effective, with few misses?

I ask, because I recently read of an amateur photographer who took 3,000 photographs on a single weekend. 3,000! He was using a DSLR, and what's more each image comprised a RAW file and a medium quality JPG. When I read the forum chatter that ensued I came to the conclusion that quite a few people didn't think this was particularly unusual, though many did question, as I did, why you would approach photography in this way. Let's leave aside the obvious issue of just how much time someone who photographs at this rate is giving to shot selection, composition, lens selection, camera settings, etc., and think about the logistics. How many cards or devices must that fill? How much computer storage space is involved? How much time is devoted to sorting the mountain of dross from the few "keepers"? How much Photoshop time is needed for photography at that rate? And how frequently does he replace his camera? Someone in the discussion poo-pooed the idea that obviously bad shots should be deleted in camera because you might accidentally delete all the shots on the card by mistake. Well you might if you aren't very familiar with your camera, and perhaps someone who shoots at this rate and changes models every couple of months falls into that category.

I spent 4 days away from home recently and took 185 shots. My 4GB card holds 232 images when I shoot RAW+SQ, so I had 47 left, and I was carrying a further 3GB of cards. Leaving aside the family snaps, out of my 185 I garnered only 10 or so that I considered better than average. But I can't believe that if I'd shot 3,000, I'd have maintained that hit rate, and the number would have risen to 162. After reading about this person I think I must be a very sluggish photographer. Or perhaps not. Maybe, like most other people who pursue photography as a hobby, I think a little more before I press the shutter. So, to return to the original question, I'm not a gangster, and probably not a sniper either. Perhaps, as far as photography goes I am like most amateurs - and this is maybe extending the gun-based analogy a step too far! - more akin to one of the "poor bloody infantry" trying to make every shot count with the basic equipment and limited supply of ammunition at their disposal.

Today's photograph comes from a churchyard and shows a magnolia in full bloom. I took three shots of these flowers - one against the deep blue sky, another with a flat area of grass as the background, and this one where I used the shaded side of a yew tree as a dark backdrop against which to show off the shape and subtle colours.

photograph & txt (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 150mm (300mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/500
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On