Greetings, you’re listening to the Liam Photography Podcast, I’m your host Liam Douglas and this is Episode 284. In today’s episode I want to talk about slowing down your photography to get better images. With the advent of digital photography it has made our lives as photographers so much easier. We no longer are confined to 24 or 36 exposures per roll of film. With memory cards we can fit hundreds or thousands of images at a time in our cameras.
With digital cameras we can also get instant gratification because we can shoot and then see the image on the rear LCD or in the case of a mirrorless camera in the EVF. Even though we don’t get as much detail viewing it this way, we still get more of an instant “high”, but our images can still be subpar once we get home or back to our studio to edit them. But why is this happening? Chances are it’s because you are not sticking to the Fundamentals of photography. You need to make sure you get your Exposure Triangle right, which of course is your ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed. It does not stop there, you need to make sure your Focus is locked onto your subject.
Another thing I see frequently from photography students is they seem to think they need to set their cameras to Continuous shooting all the time. This is something us “Seasoned” photographers call “Spray and Pray”. Unless you are shooting sports or fast moving wildlife like hummingbirds, why would you set your camera to continuous shooting mode? Don’t get me wrong in this age of Mirrorless cameras it is nice to have cameras that are capable of 10, 20 or even 30 frames per second, but if you are shooting Street Photography or Landscapes, Macro, why would you need to set your camera to Continuous shooting? You don’t need 30 framers per second to shoot Street Photography.
You need to stop and think back to the beginning of photography, back when all we had was the Daguerreotype. This camera used a glass plate to make an exposure and a single exposure would take several minutes to create. There was no “rushing” to make an exposure, there was no 10 frames per second, a single exposure would take several minutes to complete.
And of course when shooting using the Daguerreotype if you were shooting a portrait, your subject had to remain perfectly still the entire exposure time, which means ALL portraits were “staged” during this era in photography.
Even later on when 35mm film was invented, when I first started shooting, we had to take our time with each exposure. We had to meter for the lighting conditions, we had to have chosen the correct film speed for what we wanted to shoot ahead of time as we couldn’t change that on the fly like we can today. We had to be slow and meticulous with every shot that we created and then even after we captured an entire roll of film, we didn’t know for sure what we had until we got to the darkroom. If you didn’t have your own darkroom, then you had to wait for your film to come back from a processing lab.
This was why back in the film days if it was a major shoot for a wedding or a Commercial client a photographer would burn through many rolls of film and often times only a small number of shots would turn out as “keepers”. Can you imagine burning through 6-12 rolls of film at 36 exposures each and you only end up with maybe 20-30 shots that are the best of the best?
So getting back to the start of this episode, you need to SLOW DOWN, you are not on fire when you are out shooting. You need to discipline yourself to take your time, look at your scene, your surroundings, visualize your composition and what you are wanting to create and then take the time to create it. Work through the process in your head before you ever press that Shutter button. I know it sounds like it will make your photography boring, but keep in mind that it will only be really slow when you first start out. Over time and you do this process more and more, you will get faster at visualizing things in your head but you will still be able to take your time with the actual exposure and as a result you will end up with better images.
If you know me or you have been listening to the show for some time now you know that almost a year ago I switched from Canon to Fujifilm entirely. I already had the GFX 50R Medium Format system and due to chronic arm injuries I needed to go with a smaller, lighter system for my all the time shooting so I opted for Fujifilm since they have the BEST overall APS-C systems on the market. The other big thing I love about Fujifilm is that their cameras still look more like the old school film cameras that I started out with many decades ago.
I love all the buttons and dials on my Fujifilm cameras, with my GFX 50R and my X-E4 I love the Rangefinder design and feel. So many of the cameras today, even the mirrorless models are made in the same DSLR styling and that makes them boring. They are just black “blobs” and although they make amazing images, they have no “Wow!” Factor when shooting with them. I love that most all of my lenses both Fujinon and Third-party have Aperture rings on the barrels. The Aperture ring allows me to adjust the aperture the same way I did back in my film days, which just feels so good, to feel and hear the “click” of each aperture change. All of my Fujifilm cameras are the basic black models, but many Fujifilm shooters also love that Fujifilm offers their cameras in black and silver as well as those versions look even more “old school”.
My point in this episode is you need to slow down and take your time when shooting, you’re not in a competition, you’re out there making images. If you do things slowly, methodically, you will get far better images and more keepers when post processing later. Photography isn’t a race to see who can capture the most images at a time, it’s a process and an art and those things never work well when rushed. The exceptions of course are sports and fast moving wildlife, but again those are times when speed is of the essence, but when shooting those genres of photography, hopefully you’ll already have your fundamentals down pat and your process already worked out in your mind and gotten to the point where everything is “muscle memory”.
So, unless you are shooting sports or fast moving animals, set that continuous drive mode to single shot, you don’t need Low Continuous or High Continuous shooting modes until you are shooting something that specifically requires it. I have cameras with 20 frames person second High Speed shooting and the only time I use it is when I am shooting professional motorsports, the rest of the time my cameras stay on single shot drive mode. Of course shooting Medium Format also helps me with keeping my shooting “slowed” down more as those cameras are not made for high speed shooting to begin with, they are made for slow, high resolution, high detail photography.
In conclusion, take things slow, take your time and make sure you are shooting your vision, what you see in your mind’s eye as your final image. You’re not in a race, you’re not in a competition, it’s just you, your camera and your creativity so keep that camera in Single drive mode and create!
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