Not that long ago every photographer used film, either the more common negative or transparency. In my case it was predominantly Fuji Velvia 50 transparancy. I’ve still a few rolls of Velvia in the ‘fridge, ready to use ‘just for fun’, for loading into the Nikon FE manual camera sat on my desk. The FE is so small, light and fail safe, but I haven’t used it in maybe 2 years now. Apart from that the only other ‘film’ camera I own now is a German Braun rangefinder with a cracking Carl Zeiss Tessar 50mm lens, but that hasn’t been used for aeons.
Today we’re always talking about larger and larger memory cards, to capture the multitude of images recorded into higher and higher pixels on our ever expanding sensors. Using film, (or tranny, but from now in its all film here), we usually manage to get 37 frames off a 36 roll, before going through the process of changing it. Using medium format that drops to just 12 or sheet film just one at a time!
When using film, one discipline that it makes you do is ensure your composition is right as well as the settings before releasing the shutter. Not only from the changing rolls aspect but also the not inconsiderable processing cost.
On workshops and the PhotoTreks I run for beginners, I am often amazed at some of the numbers of images taken. I suppose I shouldn't be given the ease of doing so but frequently on PhotoTreks this can be in excess of 300. As they progress in experience and knowledge, less and less are taken as the realisation that one good image is better than 20 not so comes to the fore.
And this is the point of this article. Slow down. Consider your composition very carefully. Is it the best you can achieve? Are there any distractions within the frame that can be ‘dialled out’ compositionally? Once the comp. is okay then get on to the settings. Have you remembered to zero the exposure compensation from the previous shot? Is the ISO at its optimum? By slowing down that also inherently means that you’ve got to give yourself time to be in position to take the shot in the first place. Researching the subject and seeing the image you want.
I know I’ve mentioned it before but it’s worth stating again. I spent a 'One to One' day a few months ago with a very competent photographer who wanted to work on composition. To this extent, in the afternoon, I spent nearly an hour working with her to get the right composition before the sensor was exposed. An hour! I had deliberately chosen a difficult scene, but by working through the opportunities, dialling out the distractions and trying to put what she saw with her eyes into the camera, an image she has worked hard for, was achieved.
Imagine that your memory card is a roll of film and you’ve only got one roll with you. So 37 exposures that’s all. Will that make you shoot differently? I think so. Why not give it a try and see if by doing so, giving due consideration, you achieve a better image.
Keep practicing – I am