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Same subject, different approach... an exercise.

f8bthere

DeLand, Florida, US
1326 posts

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f8bthere Awarded for his contributions to the Resources Basic Member
Mon 12-Mar-01 09:09 PM

As an exercise, I covered an event we have here in Daytona Beach, Florida: Bike Week 2001. There is nothing unusual about that, but I decided to use the 10 day event to practice some diversity in my photography. I went to the main area of the event each day with a different camera / lens combination, and practiced variations in my procedures... going from full manual on a FM2 with a single fixed lens to two autofocus cameras set on program with (gasp!) two over lapping zooms. As the resident retro guy, using a camera on auto was hard for me. The following was my gear set ups for the several days of this exercise:

Day 1- FM2 with a 50mm f/1.4 lens.

Day 2- An F3 with an 85mm lens, set on aperture priority.

Day 3- Two N8008s cameras with a 28-70 on one and a 70-210 on the other. Both cameras set to autofocus and program.

Day 4- An FM2 with 105mm lens and a Leica M6 with 35mm lens.

Day 5- a Leica M6 with 50mm lens.

Each day was a sunny 16 day. I settled on ISO 400 print film to allow action stopping and depth of field for grab shots. The subjects for this event for anyone not familiar with Bike Week, is virtually every category of photography. Portraits of folks showing off , landscapes, (featuring 600,000 motorcycles), close-ups of custom bikes, and my favorite, candids.

Lessons learned: These things are what I found to be true for my photography. I am not suggesting it is the way to go for everyone, but it works for me. As they say in the car adds, "Your mileage may differ."

Lens choices: As a user of fixed focal length lenses, my normal ranges of lenses choices were validated quickly. I have developed over time the ability to see frames around subjects for the lens in use. Days 1,2, 4 and 5 were easy, but on the surface the lack of variation should have been limiting. The opposite was true for me... I was running around at 100 MPH to get the shots, but I like to work that way. On day 3, I took more pictures than the other days, but I also had more static looking shots. Without thinking, I quickly got into the habit of standing and zooming, so many of my shot have the same background, whereas my shots with the fixed lenses are all different... a function of HAVING to move just to get the framing. I believe I'll stick with my normal operating procedures for awhile longer... one or two killer fixed lenses and some shoe leather.

Perceptions: How I was perceived by others in the crowds. My equipment of the day worked to both my detriment and my benefit. When I was loaded up on day 3, many of the subjects were intimidated by my pointing a camera at them. Two big motordriven cameras with "NIKON" on them were scary to people that wondered why I was shooting them. On the other hand, the event had many professional models posing on motorcycles, and they would totally ignore the P&S people standing right next to me, and would strike any pose I asked for. They perceived I was a serious photographer, and vogued for me readily, which was quite empowering. When I had my Leica M6 with me on day 5, they ignored me, and posed for every person with any 300 dollar SLR. Sometimes it is good to look like a photographer, and other days it is good to disappear into a crowd. Knowing when can help selecting gear for the day. For candids, the Leica and FM2 with one lens worked best for me... very fast, very discrete.

Exposure function: Just like using zooms, my nature to control everything made day 3 very stressful for me... I hate program! with over 400 exposures taken, there were none lost to poor exposure, but I found it took longer to adjust the program via the shift function than just having the correct exposure already set on the manual cameras. Aperture priority (day 2) was not a problem because I wanted to control the DOF, and I trusted the centerweighted metering of the F3. If I am in a hurry, I am confident with aperture priority with any Nikon camera I have ever used. If I have time, I'll continue to switch to manual, especially with slide film. It will be a long time before I am ready to shoot on program... something is always important, DOF or action, so I'll continue to use that priority.

Anyhow, it was interesting to do something different than I normally would, (spiders ran out of my cameras when I set them to program ). It might open your eyes to something you never thought of... or as in my case, you might find that you have arrived at your current working methods with good reason and logic. the next time you are going out to shoot, think of what you would normally do, and then force yourself to do something else... you can only learn from the experience.

Al Smith

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