29 Mar 2012
Like many photographers, I like challenges. Many of the things I have chosen to photograph are technically difficult, especially since I stubbornly cling to the hand-held camera. My favorite thing to shoot used to be performers backstage. Because of their sudden movement, lack of light and a ban on flash, I called it "sports photography without light!" But for some reason, not just getting older, I have recently fallen into lazy shooting habits.
I'm guilty as charged! Even when practicing the art of photography, I grab what is handy and take the easy way. I wonder how many others fall into this rut? The really ridiculous part is I know how to use flashes, manual settings and hand focused my cameras since I began seriously taking pictures some thirty years ago. Nevertheless, I grab the easiest set-up and just shoot away. But this means I cannot optimize every image because each subject has one or a small range of lenses and settings that help to capture it best.
Case in point, recently I showed a slide show of my floral work to some friends. One my friends showed me her macro lens and asked if I used a macro. Suddenly, I felt embarrassed to tell her that I was using my 18-55mm. "I'm lazy," I admitted when I told her which lens. This question got me thinking about the "too heavy" 100mm macro lens and ring flash wasting away in one of my camera bags. I wondered how much better my close-up flowers would be if I used that lens. I dug it out and began to experiment. I went to a nearby garden and photographed the same type of blossoms I've been shooting for several years. The macro + ring flash made such a big difference I could see it before I blew up images to pixel size in PhotoShop! Even though I can only hand-hold the big rig for about an hour or two, my photographs and way of seeing subjects has changed radically and for the better. This has caused a mini snowball effect, I'm thinking about other things I can maximize by using all of my extant equipment.
Now I'm asking myself why is it that I dug so deeply into an equipment rut? My mode of shooting has nearly always been handheld so that dictated how heavy my equipment could be. Now I'm swallowing my pride for my steady hand and thinking of using my tripod too. What new doors will that open? Self-portraiture? Dimly lit still-life? ??
Please note: All photos examples are taken with 100 mm macro & ring flash.