I’m bloody broke again. Not so much tight fisted photographer, as the penniless photographer. Still, I’ve got digital cameras, some film, and developing chems, so I can use photography in my leisure time until pay day comes around next. Woke up this afternoon from night shift. Time to start experimenting with what I’ve been learning recently. I’ve not really been too happy with my photography lately. Maybe too much mucking about with different technologies and formats. So in order to improve things, I’ve 1). been heavy browsing Flickr and adding to my favourites – seeing what I like, and what other’s produce. I’m particularly impressed by the works of some Russians and East Europeans using medium format film for portraiture. 2) reading on portrait photography and light, from old photography books. 3). Reading up on the same using modern websites.
I can see some of my weaknesses. I need to get in much closer. I need to think more about background. I need to think intelligently about light – not just exposure value. So, rising out of bed this afternoon, with a few hours to spare before another shift for the Man, I thought I’d use a DSLR for some experimenting. Now here is where I’m going to praise digital technology for once.
A DSLR is a fine learning tool, if only beginners were to read the damned manuals, and avoid all of those crappy automatic exposure programs. A DSLR not only offers (for those that bother looking for them) full manual exposure and focusing controls, it offers fast results to gauge progress from. Ok, with some of my film cameras, I get the reward of having to set up and judge everything – as I said in my last post, that gives my film photography more value; but, a digital camera with accessible full manual controls provides a good way of learning photography. You can quickly evaluate your success and mistakes then move forward. You can read the exif data of your images – a complete record of your technique.
My usual recommendation for beginners that want to get into photography these days is to buy a DSLR – a CHEAP DSLR though. Not to worry about it’s bloody brand, or what DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHER magazine says about it’s lack of HD video or GPS. Just buy a DSLR – used, pass down, last years stock, entry level, or whatever. Don’t get sucked into the Nikon V Canon bullshit. Any brand as long as you can still buy one or two decent lenses for it. Use it as an educational tool, train with it, learn about light, exposure, composition, lines, subject, focus, dof, etc. Just don’t use it as a point and shoot in an auto exposure program, with a kit lens fitted. After a few years of learning technique, you can upgrade if you really feel the need to do so.
Getting back to today. So I still have lots to learn, my photography has lots of room for improvement. No time for digital, I grabbed my Sony DSLR, decided the 50mm prime lens was ok for my close up portraits. Then I grabbed Nita, removed some of her clothes, and plonked her near the window light as I farted around with my one gold/silver reflector, aperture, exposure speed, ISO, and angle. “Move this way, look that way”. I can see that reflectors can be used, and I appreciate now how important it is to align the light with the subject. Later on, I loaded the images into UFRAW. Now, UFRaw may not be the software tool of everyone’s choice, but I am a fan of Open Source, and I’ve used it for years – originally on Linux operating systems. Not only did I use it to correct some of my sloppy exposures, but I used Channel Mixer to generate monochrome .jpegs. My favourite method of making digital b&w images.
So, there we go… Cheapskate digital b&w photography.