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Slow Down Your Photography!

by William Lulow

One thing the digital revolution has done is to speed up the image capture process. With a good DSLR, one can take literally hundreds of shots with the hope that at least one will turn out to be the image that one wants. And, that’s the mentality that digital photography carries with it. Just shoot enough and one is bound to be good.

Any good photographer knows this is simply balderdash! If you take a hundred exposures at the same setting, of the same subject, with the same lighting, they will all look the same. Unless there is some thought to what one is doing, the same mistakes will just be duplicated. The famous Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams used to say that repeating the same bad swing without changing or learning anything only teaches how to make mistakes.

Better to THINK about what you are doing BEFORE you go out and capture hundreds of images. There are still some photographers out there who favor film over digital for this very reason. Shooting film, especially sheet film, slows down the shooting process due to the many steps involved in making the picture. If you shoot large-format film, you have to make sure the exposure is correct (usually with a light meter), double check the composition and the focus, load film, check conditions again to make sure nothing has changed in the scene, pull the slide, trip the shutter, replace the slide and store the film holder. This is not exactly your basic “point-and-shoot” experience.

With all this said, it is still possible to use digital media and slow the process down to where your thought process is still paramount. Think of your camera, whatever it is, as a large-format view camera. Put it on a tripod (which gives the image extra stability). Just the act of mounting the camera on a tripod slows down the process a bit. Use the camera’s built in electronic level device. This will help you slow down the process even further. Think about filtering your scene. Learn what filters can do to enhance the effects of your scene’s lighting. Think about shooting in original B&W instead of converting your color images in Photoshop. These are things that will slow down the process of photographing a scene and force you to think more about what you want to capture.

I think this will help to get rid of the notion that somehow, more shooting will produce the results you want.

 Manfrotto Larger Tripod (9.6lbs)

One of the big tripods I use to help slow the shooting process down and force me to think more about what I’m shooting.