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Archive for February, 2009

Digital demons…

Hello all. I need some tan. Ok, difficult task when you are in the middle of the european winter. But i really need a tan. I have spent the last three weeks glued to the computer screen, and it seems i will need to buy soon an UVA monitor… The reason is that three weeks ago we finally landed from a 4 weeks trip in Chile and Argentina. That means loads of photos, and that means loads of time classifying, rating, selecting and quickly post-processing gigas of NEF files. Anyway, i will not regret. That is the price to pay to the digital demons. You get histograms, you get flexible ISO, you dont spend a penny while pulling the trigger and you can even “chimp” :), but for every single hour spent in the field in front of the majestic FitzRoy, you will spend a not so glorious hour in front of your computer. And there is no way to scape from that.

This is a reality, and the only way to ease this situation is by making use of something. Something you dont want to hear. Something i dont like either. DISCIPLINE. Learn when to take the shot, but also very importantly, learn when NOT to take it. Never before was so easy and cheap to take photographs. Nowadays, in fact, it is just a matter of pushing a button…and the more pictures i get the more probabilities i will have of getting a good “keeper”.Wrong. You know that. Try to remember what has happened with those “nice” photos you took “just in case” the last time. Surely, they finished with a couple of stars rating in your Lightroom, and there they will remain forever. Hard disk space, time and money wasted.  Technology cannot change what has always been the only way of “making” a good picture: a combination of reflexion, timing, technique, patience and meticulous composition (and of course, light, but that is normally something a landscape photographer can just foresee, but not control). In the end, that old motto of “one breathtaking shot is better than one thousand good ones” still applies, more than ever.

Anyway, dont take me wrong. This blog stuff gives you the on-the-soap-box feeling and it seems you can bath everybody with your golden wisdom light. Far from it. I also have to struggle sometimes to behave myself and reduce my shooting activity to the very best of the day, leaving the camera behind during the rest of the time. But you can do something that will keep you busy, and that will by far reveal as the essential component for a good landscape photography output: location finding. Take the photos when the conditions are the best, and take advantage of the rest of the day to look for those compositions and subjects you will photograph in the next “golden” session. You dont need any photo gear for that. You will need your legs, maybe a pre-conceived idea of what kind of photograph you want to make, or on some occasions just an “open mind” to photographic opportunities that might happen around you. Look for THE good location, select THE viewpoint, previsualize what might happen, how light will affect that place and subject, and you will be getting loads of lottery tickets that might give you the big prize at the end.

If you do that, your photography will improve, your ration of “keepers” will improve, your hard disk will be happier and you will spend less time in front of the computer and more time breathing fresh air in the field. Try to make the exercise, and you will very soon start seeing the result. And remember, if you still struggle, there will be always a simple but strong medicine:  leave behind your digital equipment for some months and get a large format view camera instead :) 

Take care and happy  shooting

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