Back in the day, when we only had film cameras, creating a photograph was a different experience to the digital world we now live in. The most obvious difference was that you could not see the photo you had just created until the film was developed. In addition, many of the cameras and lenses were fully manual, so creating the photo was a slower process. Also you only had 24 or 36 exposures. There was no deleting; no checking which photos you liked and which you didn’t, until the film came back. This Photo Activity replicates that experience, it turns your digital camera into a film camera. Why do that you ask? These five reasons:
- This will slow you down.
- Slower photography means that you will see more.
- Seeing more means that your photos will be more creative.
- Having a limited number of photos will encourage you to pay more attention to the creation of each photo.
- Paying attention means that your photos will be more interesting.
It was using my Fujica ST705 which inspired this activity. I found that there was a film left in it – the camera had been packed away for a while – so I went around the house playing with possibilities. The camera is fully manual; shutter speed, aperture and ISO all have to be set. There is a basic light meter visible through the viewfinder which helps to get a balanced exposure. The lens is manual focus too. I noticed how it slowed my photo creation down and decided to revisit the idea of slowing down your digital photography practice. It will make a difference. You will pay more attention to the making of each photo, and that can only result in more interesting and creative photos.
I should mention that some of you may have cameras where some of these instructions are not possible. Do as many as you can. If you cannot do any of them even the simple act of only creating 24 photos with no deleting or reviewing will slow you down.
Photo Activity: 24 Photos
- Set aside an hour or two for this activity.
- Choose a location – inside or outside. Inside is more challenging!
- Set your camera up in Manual mode.
- Turn off the viewscreen, this includes for review also.
- If you have a lens that can be turned to manual focus use that.
- Set the ISO for the light. The standard guidelines are – Bright sunny day 100; bright intermittent sun 200; cloudy day 400; heavy cloud/rain 800+; inside depends upon the light in each room 400 – 800+
- Set your aperture to f8 – this is a mid range aperture.
- Set your shutter speed to 1/125 – this will guarantee no camera shake. It is a mid range start point.
- You are going to create 24 photos. No reviewing. No deleting.
- As you cannot see the screen you will need a method of keeping count. 24 nuts, seeds, stones or sweets will work. Cast one off for each photo.
- Each photo is precious. You only have 24.
- Each time you find a scene bring your camera up and review the light information.
- To change the exposure – more or less light – you have control of the aperture and shutter speed.
- A smaller aperture number (e.g. f2.8) is a larger hole = more light and shallow Depth of Field (less of the depth of the photo in focus)
- A bigger aperture number (e.g. f16) is a smaller hole = less light and greater Depth of Field (more of the depth of the photo in focus)
- The shutter speed numbers refer to fractions of a second. The larger the number (e.g. 1000), faster shutter speed = less light. Smaller numbers (e.g. 1), slower shutter speed + more light.
- A slow shutter speed means if you move the camera whilst the shutter is open the scene will be blurred.
- Take your time with every photo. You aim is to create a balanced exposure. This is recorded as 0 on the exposure scale in your viewfinder; most look like this: 3 2 1 0 -1 -2 -3.
- Make creative choices about the framing and your Point of View.
- Decide upon an aperture and shutter speed for each photo.
- Release attachment to the idea that every photo will be perfect.
- Mistakes do not matter. This is an experiencing in slowing down and being creative.
- When you finish. Take a break, have a cuppa before you review your photo. Be kind to yourself. Slowing down is more important than the photos.
- If you have one photo you like share that with me.
Here is my favourite photo from the last time I did this activity. I’ll be doing it again very soon.
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