Photographers see their world through a viewfinder or LCD monitor. But do they really make an effort to create images that show the beauty in their world, or are they merely attracted to all the bells and whistles on their digital cameras? In the old days, just about everything was done manually. You adjusted your exposure manually, and manually focused the lens. Back in the old days, many photographers used prime lenses(lenses with a fixed focal length), and had to walk closer to or farther away from their subject to frame the image. This is known as foot zoom. In the old days, the photographer was in control of the image he was creating. He had to be. Unless he had a darkroom, he had to wait until his film was processed to see whether or not he got the shot he envisioned.
The advent of digital cameras with auto-exposure, auto-focus, and zoom lenses tended to make photographers a little lazy. They saw something that piqued their curiosity, zoomed in or out to pick the low hanging fruit, took a picture and moved on. Photography is so much more than that.
If you consciously make an effort to be in control, you slow down and make sure you’ve got all the settings right before taking a picture. When you slow down, you have the opportunity to determine if what you see in the viewfinder is what compelled you to stop and take a picture. If it isn’t, you can zoom in until you remove objects that will distract the viewer, or move to a different vantage point and then take a picture.
The first picture you take is what caused you to stop. But you’re not done yet. Milk the scene for all it’s worth. Is there a picture within the picture? Can you create a more interesting or different image from a snail’s eye view or bird’s eye view? When you slow down and take multiple pictures of a scene or subject, you learn how to see. You notice textures and patterns. You notice shapes and curves. Instead of taking a picture of an oak tree, take a picture of a pattern of leaves, a close-up shot of the veins in the leaves, the texture of the bark and so on. Think creatively outside the box and you learn to see and put a unique stamp on your photography.
Another thing to remember is that you don’t have to carry every lens you own. If you limit yourself to one or two lenses, you’ll use your creativity to make wonderful images, instead of rummaging through your camera bag and using technology as a crutch. Less is more.
The following images were photographed with vintage manual focus prime lenses mounted to Fujifilm XE-2 with an adapter. I started with a 50mm f/1.4 Pentax Takumar and then switched to a 135mm f/2.8 Pentacon lens.
Shapes and repeating patterns
Lines and Curves