Tuesday, June 14, 2005     « Bowery Doorway »


I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I like this photo because it was a technical challenge and I acheived my intended goal. The only camera I have with a built-in light metre is the digital camera and I can tell you that not much of what I have learned using that can be applied to these older medium format cameras. For the longest time I didn't use a light metre at all and just made educated guesses when choosing my settings based on the sunny 16 rule, the little I know about light, and previous experience. I use a small analog handheld metre now and generally pull it out on days when the light changes frequently and extremely. However, on some occassions the metre creates more doubt than certainty. It's use is a skill in itself.

One of my first post-University jobs was in a prepress shop. I did a lot of design work but I also did a great deal of image correction and photo manipulation. It is because of this job that I still insist on painfully cleaning my scans one piece of dust at a time rather than using filters. Back then everything was still film and we worked by the rule "You can't fix a bad photo." Of course, quite a lot of the time it was our job to try and fix a bad photo. You'd be surprised by how many "professional", working photographers can't make a proper exposure. So I learned then the importance of a well-exposed piece of film and still have that mantra in the back of my head all the time. It's both good and bad because it pushes me to get it right, but it also keeps me from enjoying photos that just didn't work out. I have also learned that "professional" photographers bracket and take entire rolls of one subject to ensure the proper exposure -- something I can't do 'cause ain't nobody paying for my film but me. Sometimes I'll take three photos of the same thing if I'm feeling really insecure about it, but I find that it is in those uncertain moments that I screw up most and end up with three badly exposed photos rather than one. Or worse still, one well exposed but I changed positions and hate the cropping.

The irony of all of this is that one of my favourite photos and one of the most mentioned photos by visitors to this site is also the most poorly exposed.

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