Same subject, different approach... an exercise.
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.
#3. "RE: Same subject, different approach... an exercise." | In response to Reply # 2
Newsphotog Basic MemberTue 13-Mar-01 02:00 AM
Huh? Professional models on motorbikes? Where's the pics?
C'mon, don't leave us hangin' here!
Looking forward to seeing the results of your experimenting. It keeps things interesting and make it a learning experience as well.
#4. "RE: Same subject, different approach... an exercise." | In response to Reply # 0
In large part to you and others on this sight, I've decided to put away my zooms for a few while and just shoot with my fifty and my N70 set to A or M.
Thanks for the write up, and yes, I'd love to see some pics, too. Preferably an Indian or a Norton, (Harleys are nice, don't get me wrong, but everybody seems to have one).
#5. "RE: Same subject, different approach... an exercise." | In response to Reply # 0
Bravo Al! Thank you for the post. As you have pointed out, sometimes you have to push yourself in order to grow. It appears that you have learned quite a bit at Bike Week.
I too am going to force myself to learn new things once my F100 comes back from the shop (isn't it back YET?!). I am going to learn more by concentrating on black and white for a while. Luminance becomes a more critical factor because I won't be able to rely on color for my subjects. Also, I probably will switch off matrix metering and go full manual as well.
with the glorified FM10 at the price of an F100
"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." -Confuciuscolor>
#6. "RE: Same subject, different approach... an exercise." | In response to Reply # 5
jrp Charter MemberWed 14-Mar-01 10:16 PM
How I envy you. We had a world class cart event in town and I could not even watch it on TV.
Please post some pictures.
Have a great time
JRP (Nikonian at the north-eastern Mexican desert)
Previous photography stuff, before Nikonians:
A Brief Love Story
Have a great time :-)
JRP (Founder & Administrator. Mainly at the north-eastern Mexican desert) Gallery, Brief Love Story
Please join the Silver, Gold and Platinum members who help this happen; upgrade.
Check our workshops at the Nikonians Academy and the Nikonians Photo Pro Shop
#11. "RE: Same subject, different approach... an exercise." | In response to Reply # 5
bbleigh Basic MemberFri 30-Mar-01 11:18 PM
"with the glorified FM10 at the price of an F100"
Hey don't knock the meger little FM10. I bought one for my car and I love it. I don't have to sweat about something happening to it and it forces me to remember the basics. Keeps me on my toes and working. And its so light weight its a breeze to grab and run with it.
Wendy L. Folse
#7. "RE: Same subject, different approach... an exercise." | In response to Reply # 0
I too covered Daytona this year. Purchased an F100 and borrowed an AF Nikon 400 f2.8 for track days. Mostly walking around day/night I carried F100 with 20-35mm, 35-135mm, & 80-200 f2.8.
Shot Kodak Portra 160NC for prints, Kodak E100VS & Fuji 100 Provia for slides. Prints were for photo album and slides for portfolio.
I have been doing a paperwork job mostly for the last 3 years (policy) and have not been to Daytona during that time. Wanted to take new wife (1 1/2 years) and enjoy bike week with camera. Decided to update portfolio and hone the shooting skills again. Putting together portfolio for military competition end of the year.
400 f2.8 & F100 can focus much, MUCH, faster than I ever could. Everything was in focus that I shot in AF as long as target was on subject.
F100 much lighter & easier for fast acquire shots than my F4 with same lens.
Was not an "F16" day at the track. Too big a lens and much too windy. Usually shot "A" at f4. Exposure with F100 as good as F4. Used monopod for all shooting and everything sharp for exposure. The exposure was always "right on" with the F100 and DX for ASA(except Fuji Velvia...which I have to set at 40 ASA on F3, F4, & 8008 anyway) to get exposure I like. I too found it a bit of hunt for exposure compensation on the F100 until I had worked it enough. But most of the time the darn camera out thought me. Bracket for a test shot--woman with black drap, against a black cloth background, bouncing an SB26 off a gold reflector to the side--"P" came up with the same exposure as my bracketing and flash meter. No wash out of skin tones even with the only light being bonced from the gold reflector.
Saw someone shooting models on bikes near "oyster bar" on Wednesday early evening. If you, I too would like to see results.
#8. "RE: Same subject, different approach... an exercise." | In response to Reply # 7
f8bthere Basic MemberSun 25-Mar-01 03:07 PM
I never had any interest in photographing at the speedway, I am mostly a "people shooter", so I stayed over on the beachside, on Main street and the board walk.
Now, after several weeks of going over the shots, as well as comparing the shots from several previous events, (I'm a local), I have come to the conclusion that I take more shots with the zooms, but I take better, more intimate shots with a single camera and lens. It might just be a personality thing with me, but when I am moving, I see shots I would never have seen had I stood on the corner and zoomed, (a common sight on main street). A zone focused, stopped down lens allowed me to get over 90% of my candids, sometimes within a couple of feet of the unknowing subject, with speed and certainty. For the models, my 105mm lens was just so superior to the zoom, both in handling and rendition, that I'm sure it will live in my arsenal forever.
Next year I will do everything with a 35mm and 105mm on two cameras, probably N8008s' for the aperture priority and built in motors. The good thing is, if I mess up, another event is right around the corner. The techniques I master in Daytona have served me well on many photo outings... like candid shooting in London at Trafalgar Square... those people just had more clothes on.
#9. "RE: Same subject, different approach... an exercise." | In response to Reply # 8
skip Basic MemberMon 26-Mar-01 10:18 PM
I agree on the "hard lenes". I managed a military Visual Information center for 24 years. As a manager and a photojournalist I would not let someone new in my shop use a zoom until they proved they would work for the shot and not be lazy(as I was at Daytona). My favorate use lenes were; 105mm 1.8 manual focus, 105mm 2.8 AF macro, 180 2.8 manual focus. Since I don't shoot for a living now (paperwork!@?!) I do shoot more with zooms for the scrapbook. For a military portfolio all subject except Sports must be military in nature, so downtown was my fun shooting. At the track I shot with the 400mm AF nikkor for a portfolio, and I was looking for sharp. I didn't use my Tamron 200-400 for that reason(not a slam on the lens--I needed speed and SHARP).--of course I will try the new nikkor zoom to see if the stabization works. If shooting people for portfolio, I would have used non zooms and worked the image. I have to say though, the nikon 80-200 2.8 is more than sharp enough going to 11X14.
Of course the bottom line/killer is that the military is doing so much with digital that any lens will give you exceptable results unless using a D1 and going to a high end poster ripper.
Well enough rambling for now. Be creative and enjoy.....skip
#10. "RE: Same subject, different approach... an exercise." | In response to Reply # 9
Merlin Basic MemberFri 30-Mar-01 11:34 AM
Thanks, Al, for a terrific post!
My 5c worth? The only zoom lens I own is a recently aquired 80-200 f-4 AI-Nikkor. To be honest, other than a few test rolls I hardly use it. It's optically as good as they get, but it's HEAVY! This is strictly for situations where I know I'll be stuck in one spot.
German mentality towards cars is, "Du bist was Du fährst." You are what you drive. If you have a brand new Benz, you're assumed to be rich, successful and important, whereas if you drive a crappy little Opel diesel like mine you'd better not have forgotten your wallet when you go to tank it because you clearly can't afford to pay for it!
It's pretty much the same towards cameras: Two or more Nikons around your neck will get you into places you shouldn't really be. You're assumed to be a Photographer. A medium format like the Rolleiflex elevates you to PHOTOGRAPHER status. However, use a little Rollei 35 and you're not even an uncapitalized photographer, merely a snapshotter with little hope of getting a sharp photo.
Yes, psychologists could learn a lot about negative/positive transference between photographers and their peers...
#12. "RE: Same subject, different approach... an exercise." | In response to Reply # 10
#13. "RE: Same subject, different approach... an exercise." | In response to Reply # 12
Merlin Basic MemberSat 31-Mar-01 05:54 AM
Yes, Photokina was a Charlie Foxtrot, wasn't it? The less said about that the better, but terrific marketing!
Marketing: The art of convincing fools to spend money they don't have to buy things they don't need, in order to impress people they don't like.
Rant over. You giving that 645 a good workout?