Seeing Differently

Too many cameras not enough imagination. A while ago I decided on impulse to do a 1:1 photography workshop. I feel I know a reasonable amount about the technical side of photography but I don’t really have a creative streak in me. I can go out and ‘copy’ what others have done but it is rare to feel that I really like a photograph I have taken. If somebody asks me to pick out 20 photos I have taken that I like enough to show then I struggle. I can go back over 10 years and still not find that many. It is also impossible to decide what others will see in your images. Some of my all time favourites have had very limited engagement when posted. Others, that I regard as run of the mill and upload more or less as a back up, well some of them get a very positive response. So I take what I think will please me. 

I went through a phase of thinking only black and white photography was ‘serious’. Colour was a fad that will pass. Mind you I also wondered whether digital would ever catch on. And phones? Don’t make me laugh. Now I actively look for colour, shoot exclusively digital and love having my phone available. It will even shoot in RAW if I wish. I still prefer black and white but some things work better in colour. One of the joys of digital cameras is that you can shoot both at the same time. As I did this morning. I took RAW files and black and white jpegs at the same time. The RAW files record what you see in colour and the jpegs process in camera to the settings you have chosen. I thought this would cure me of a temporary lust for a Leica Monochrom, a bank balance wrecking camera that shoots solely in black and white. It worked. For now.

So back to the workshop idea. I noticed that a local gallery was exhibiting work by a Hong Kong resident American photographer, Michael Kistler, and that he offered workshops either on a group basis or solo. I did a couple of group workshops a while ago. They are heavily dependent for success on working with like-minded people. I opted to work with Michael alone. ( I explained to him before we met what I wanted. Just a little help with the creative juices and maybe some new techniques. We met up and I was very happy with the way it went. I am going to do one session a month for a while. In between the sessions he also reviews some of my shots and gives me feedback. He understands I am not a hard core street photographer. I shoot wildlife more than anything but I enjoy the contrast in styles and approach. I refuse to be tagged as anything. My new Canon R5 has replaced my Fuji for wildlife and I have gone back to my rangefinders for walkabout sessions. The Fujis will still get an airing as the lenses are so good and I took one out today. The rangefinders slow me down and one thing I have reverted to working with Michael is to shoot fully manually. Nothing set to Auto. I choose the aperture, shutter speed and ISO individually.  When light conditions change I have to choose which one to adjust – usually the ISO. 

I don’t know whether I am getting any better but I enjoy it. I have tried to improve my processing skills but try not to over-manipulate shots. I am not a purist. I will crop and edit to get the desired result but as much as possible should be done when the shutter is pressed. Here are some images from the last couple of weeks.

Crossing the line
Crossing the line
Bus stop disaster zone
The Bus Stop
Shadows and Light
Shadows and Light
Urban density v green living
Green living?
Pigeon in a Puddle
The Pigeon
Laughter and motion

26 thoughts on “Seeing Differently

  1. Andrew,

    Delighted to see you are still around. Loved the last image; cross between Banksy and Carmen Miranda.

    Yes, for better or worse am back. Trying to blog, but it’s not like it used to be; yet.


    • Thank you Simon. I find I go through ‘dry periods’ and then have a run of decent shots that succeed or thereabouts. Technical experts of no value if you don’t have an eye for what works. I am perpetually learning.

  2. A nice variety here. I suppose the laughing woman with the feathers is my favorite. Staying busy is the best thing possible as well as getting more creative. I think you sell yourself short. I think your best photography – remains the gorgeous birds that you did years ago and the series that you posted for me. I remember one black and white pic that you took on the street of two dogs whose leashes became entangled and I keep thinking that you took that one when on vacation. It remains my favorite black and white from about 5-6 years ago. I also think that the monochromes of people on the street were excellent. I really enjoyed those.

  3. I think you measure yourself to harshly Sir Ha. I’ve enjoyed many of your posts for the very fact that you see things, especially on the street, that I would never see. That said, it is healthy to believe that we always need to work and improve our skills, whether on the street, in the woods, or in the digital darkroom…or Lightroom as it were. If you remember Ricky’s song, you’ve got to please yourself, so that’s the right attitude.
    We’re you publishing you might need to get releases in some cases but I’d say that wouldn’t be necessary in “Headless”. 🙂 I like Crossing the Line and the last image is no laughing matter…very creative and pleasing to view.

    • I don’t think I would ever publish commercially and most of these escaped and were not released. I shall keep working away on street and in the field.

  4. Shadows and Light and Crossing the Line for me but I have no helpful reasons for my choices and I spent as long looking at Green Life and Bus Stop… As a perpetual student I applaud the endless curiosity that keeps you learning.

    • You picked my favourites too Hilary. I encourage the younger people at work to develop an insatiable curiosity. I only go in 2 days a week but it also keeps my grey cells active. I read more than ever and have developed an interest in podcasts. There is so much still to do as the clock ticks down.

  5. Your efforts to stretch your creativity are exciting to see. As much as I have always enjoyed your photography, (indeed, some images remain in my mind from years ago) I can see the stirrings of greater expressiveness here. Crossing the Line is compelling, and Green Life delights me!

    • Thanks Melissa. Have you ever read On Photography by Susan Sontag? Written in the 70s it has a lot of reflections on painting too and how the 2 genres develop and coexist. I just have to keep trying or I get stuck in a rut. Crossing the Line is a keeper. 🙂

      • Yes, it is for sure. I’ll have to see if I can find that book. It sounds interesting. You’re right that we must keep pushing ourselves creatively.

  6. I smiled when I read this: “one thing I have reverted to… is to shoot fully manually. Nothing set to Auto. I choose the aperture, shutter speed and ISO individually. When light conditions change I have to choose which one to adjust – usually the ISO.” That’s how I finally began doing it. For one thing, it taught me how the three are related, in a way that I couldn’t seem to get through my head when reading a book. For another, after comparing auto and manual results, I began prefer the manual.

    • Yes, when you reduce it to 3 elements it becomes very straightforward and you can concentrate on composition, light etc. If you pretend to be shooting film and fix your ISO at say 400 then you only have 2 things you can change. It can get much too complicated and reducing it to the basics helps a lot.

  7. You’re definitely wrong when you say you don’t have a creative streak – you most definitely have an eye for a great composition. And I love that you think the work should be done at the shutter – just like the old days. (Although a bit of cropping and sharpening up here and there is a helpful development!).
    I absolutely prefer black and white. So evocative. So Don McCullin…

  8. Thought it only polite to come and see what you are up to Andrew, its been a while 😊 I love these photos! The Green Living is brilliant and much as I like the crisp black and white images, it’s the bus stop that draws my eye. The colours, the atmosphere and of course the quirkiness!

    • Thanks Jude. The bus stop was a bit bewildering. We had no idea why the sign was on the ground. Anybody who wanted to get the bus had to stand in the road because of the scaffolding. This lady stood out because of her bright outfit. It is a good example of where colour works and black and white doesn’t do so well. I find my hours are full most days – a bit of work, hiking to stay fit, some photography and a 2 year old granddaughter. Our grandson is due to be born in less than 2 weeks. Life is full even though we can’t go anywhere.

      • Sounds like a good life. We got a new grandson last August but have yet to meet him. We’ll never get those newborn days back, they grow so fast.

  9. “Headless” – not quite Harry Worth ! But that’s not your fault… I liked “laughter”

    • Thanks Adrian. The final image is fun. I will try to spend a bit more time in the blogosphere but there are too many distractions most of the time.

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