[one_half padding=”2px 4px 0 2px”]Photography continues to morph as a medium. Since its inception, definition of what is or is not a photograph, how pictures should be taken, and what qualifies as “good” has been a subject of constant debate. There are those who live and die by the rule of thirds. Others consider clarity the defining element. Some accept almost anything as long as it is creative.
One of the most significant changes in photography over the past five years has been the rise of image-based social media sites such as Instagram and Tumblr. They have changed the concept of what photography is, what it does and its place in society. Even the vocabulary has changed with terms such as “selfie” and “no filter” having entered the popular lexicon.
Our picture of the day qualifies as a “no filter” shot. Now, you’re going to look at the picture and think I’m lying. If ever an image had been run through a half-dozen Photoshop filters, this would be it, right?
No, not a single one. I didn’t even color correct. This is straight out of the camera, taken on a lovely spring day in 2011. So, how did we get this interestingly abstract look without post-processing manipulation? By knowing our camera and working a bit outside the bounds of “normal.”
I’m going to get a bit technical here, so those uninitiated might want to grab a dictionary.
Aperture and shutter speed made all the difference in the world with this shot. When working with nature, we often want the crispness that comes with a tight aperture, typically f10 or higher. For this image, we pushed all the way to f32, which was about as small as this particular lens would take us. At any lower setting, we would have lost all definition completely.
The challenge, of course, is that when one makes the hole allowing light into the camera so very small, an adjustment has to be made somewhere else to compensate, otherwise the image is too dark. Our choices are ISO, which affects the light sensitivity of the capturing media, or shutter speed, which determines the length of time the shutter is left open. In this case, we chose a significantly slower shutter speed of .3 seconds.[/one_half]
[one_half_last padding=”2px 2px 0 4px”]In almost any other conversation, .3 seconds would be incredibly fast. Anything under a second is pretty quick, isn’t it? Not always. Depending on the lens and environmental factors, shutter speeds are normally faster than 1/100th of a second and if we’re attempting to capture a moving subject we’ll need to be significantly faster than that. If we’re at the Speedway, shutter speeds of 1/5000th are not uncommon. By comparison, .3 is crawling.
The final element is one that may seem counter-intuitive: motion. Typically, one would use a tripod with such a slow shutter speed and perhaps even take other precautions such as a timed or remote shutter release to prevent motion blur. Motion blur is what makes this image, though. By pre-determining the direction in which we would move the camera, its angle, and the distance of the motion, we were able to give the image the desired amount of abstraction while still leaving a subtle hint as to what the subject actually is.
No, we didn’t get it right the first time. Or the second. Or the third. This image is half-way through a set of 26 photographs. There are others that are equally interesting, but this is my favorite of the set.
As warmer temperatures finally begin to return to the Midwest this week, now is the time to reacquaint ourselves with the outdoors. We enjoy going for walks, hiking along trails, or perhaps even sitting under a tree and reading a good book. Now is also a good time to get reacquainted with one’s camera and some of its
Now is also a good time to get reacquainted with one’s camera and some of its unique capabilities. Go outdoors. Go off tripod. Experiment with settings that aren’t supposed to work and see what you can do to create truly original images.
While the social media definition of “no filter” means going without post processing manipulation, why not also use this opportunity to take any filters off your creativity? Let your mind wander. Turn your imagination loose with no limits as to what might be possible.
Spring is the perfect time to strip away the filters, both in terms of photography, as well as life. Get out there. Discard the restrictions. Play. Risk. Fail. Try again. You may find yourself taking some of the best photographs ever.[/one_half_last]