scrapyourday: pretty paper. true stories. {and scrapbooking classes with cupcakes.}: On film

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On film

photography fact sheet:awareness behind the lens

The twenty-third it is. And that brings us to this month’s photo fact sheet. Just click to download.

This month’s photo emphasis is on awareness behind the lens. It’s a step that I often find neglected when discussing photography, and I think I have finally figured out why. It all comes down to film.

My most formal photography training is not that formal at all—it was a module as part of a high school journalism class. Most of you will remember the days when we all shot on film (and if you don’t remember those days, kindly keep it to yourself, for you are making the rest of us feel much older than we really are) and the feeling with film was that we couldn’t make mistakes. When we pressed the shutter, we were taking a calculated risk, and because we had to pay for film and processing and developing and reprints all as separate costs, we were less likely to try something that was deemed quite risky and even less likely to try something just for the sake of trying. So in that class, we learned how to use a camera in the same way we learned how to develop film and print pictures in the darkroom: through regimented technique. We had posters to help us remember the things we needed to check before we started shooting: did we have the right film for the place we were photographing and was the camera set to the ISO of the film you have loaded? Had we checked the light meter from several angles and had we metered with a neutral shade? Had we composed the shot with a sales factor in mind—meaning if we were shooting a school sports event, you would much rather see our fans in the background that lots of supporters of the other team. The curriculum was regimented with two lessons each on things like aperture and exposure, and when they finally set us loose with cameras and film, we had a checklist in our camera bag to help make sure we didn’t take an entire roll of nothing. Because we could shoot three rolls at the homecoming game on a Friday night, develop the film in Monday’s class and show up on Tuesday to find that the roll with nothing on it? That was our evidence of the homecoming game. Great.

And so many things have changed since so many of us went to digital cameras for day to day use. We take risks now. We shoot things just to see what happens. We can stop worrying and flip a few dials and see if we like the results…because we can see straight away and change as we go. And that’s not even getting started with the fact that we can change the ISO on every picture if we really want to, when some of us remember the horrible feeling of a day that started so sunny you loaded a 36-roll of 200ISO only to find that the biggest, thickest cloud in the history of the world had then descended over you and there was nothing you could do but turn the flash on and hope for the best, because you had to take thirty-six whole pictures before you could use a different kind of film.

But a lot of books out there are (quite rightly) still based on shooting film. And there is a point where it does become important to know lots of regimented, technical stuff if you want to move on with your photography. But the girls I meet at crops and through this blog often tell me the technical stuff isn’t helping them right now…they just want to take one step up in their snapshots. And Scrap your Day is about snapshots. We’re not posing every element of life for a finely-tuned portrait. So instead of starting with technical stuff, we’re started with awareness. Because with a digital camera, it costs you nothing to walk around your house taking a picture of a cup of coffee on every different surface you can find. But when you put them on the computer screen and look at them side by side, you can find where the best light is in your house. And then suddenly you’ll know where to take the picture of the crafty thing you made or the amazing dessert you’re about to eat or the painting brought home from primary school.

And on Sunday, you just might want to use that to your advantage with some elements of your day.

Of course, we still have ten more photo fact sheets to come, so I reserve the right to say something that sounds remotely technical at some point between now and next March! But not today.

Scrap your Day links & schedule:
About this project
Sign up for reminders
Getting Ready
Photo Fact Sheet #01
April Album Prompt
Photo Fact Sheet #02
May Album Prompt: coming Sunday (25th May)
Our Flickr group
UKScrappers discussion thread


23 May 2008

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7 Comments for On film

  1. Sally Says:

    Looks really interesting ~ thanks Shimelle. Can’t wait to see the album prompt now!
    Sally xx

  2. Nathalie Says:

    Wow, what a great photo prompt this month! It definitely makes me want to try things right away! Thank you!

  3. willow spruce Says:

    Thanks for doing are a star!!

  4. Sandy Says:

    Thanks for the e-mail reminder – batteries charging as I type! We’re going away on the 25th, which should provide some interesting opportunities for photos.

  5. Jay Daly Says:

    Loving this, I’ll have to make another cup of tea so I can drink a hot one!

  6. ginny Says:

    Well it’s the 25th here ands I realised I’m going to be ahead not…maybe I should do the 26th ;0) cant wait to get into it :0)