At one point I had no choice but to turn the TV off. The doom-and-gloom that spills out of the screen has exceeded any reality a long time ago. Fortunately, with my refusal to live binge-watch the apocalypse came an unusual burst of photographic energy. Strangely, being confined to a small space has had an unexpected effect on me.
First, I was able to slow my usual pace. The rest is deeper and the work somehow more fruitful. I was able to concentrate on my writing and reviewing the imagery I took in recent weeks. I usually do this swiftly and efficiently but this time I took a more deliberate approach. And it worked. I was able to stay with each image longer, pondering not only the visual quality but echoing the mental and physical circumstances when they were taken. I could place some images at the time of my seeing and evaluate the health of my photography at that moment.
Second, this slow and personal assessment of each image led me to some unexpected conclusions, which helped me to answer a crucial question: Where am I along my photographic journey? I noticed a clear changes and patterns—some of them easily understood, others less so. Regardless, the change is real and I welcome it.
And then this personal delineation prompted one of my best weeks for photography. It is strange that I haven’t taken many images during this period, at least not embedded on my memory card. This was the week when I walked around my apartment conjuring thoughts and the imagery which I suspect will eventually come. Most importantly, I see these images in the places where I am going to travel and, bizarrely, I have already started putting some compositions in motion as if I could create the future.
Please don’t blame me for the lack of cohesive thought in communication. It must be one of the side effects of my confinement to this space and time. Strangely, I enjoy it and find stimulating. After all, it is rare that the cork in the bottle is ready to pop and you somehow feel it. I only hope this burst of seeing will last long enough to be realized outside this confinement.
Stay safe and well my friends.
…and let’s remember to wash hands frequently. Here is me practicing! Stay safe my friends.
From time to time I come across a willing new photographer who has just bought his first camera and is looking for advice on where to start. Unfortunately, quite often a broad request such as “What I should do first?” is often directed at social media. It should not come as a surprise that we are all eager to help, regardless of our knowledge or expertise. After all, photography can’t be that hard, can it?
However, some communal advice I encounter wakes up the worst of my human instincts. Calm down Olaf, no need to go berserk!
Today, I am not going to write a long, in-depth article but let me share some simple advice for those of you who have bought your first camera and don’t have a clue what to do next.
No, your first step should not be learning Photoshop!
No, you should not worry about sharpening settings!
No, you don’t need all those accessories everyone is trying to sell you.
No, you don’t need this $500 camera bag to impress your friends.
Here is what you should do.
Yes, read the manual.
Yes, get to know your camera.
Yes, read about shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation.
Yes, read tons of photographic, non-technical books.
Most importantly, find a small city plaza, street corner or a sport park near your home. Take your new camera with you and visit the same location daily or as often as you can.
Observe the light throughout the day and see how things change as the sun moves across the horizon. Try photographing this one location for a few weeks every day. Play with exposure compensation and learn to master the light. Then start imagining how the same scene would look if you underexpose (make the picture darker) or overexpose (make the picture brighter). Don’t be afraid to go crazy with the exposure compensation dial (read about it in your camera’s manual and use it).
Keep arranging the same elements in as many ways as you can. Try to construct your images from the fewest items possible (hint: focus on shapes, lines, etc.). Think as if you were designing a puzzle by changing your perspective.
The bottom line is this: learn to observe, get to know how light interacts with elements around you and compose simple imagery! Then go from there.
Below please find imagery containing a minimal number of elements. I enjoy this type of visual discovery as it helps me to train my eye to see the light, line and perspective. After all, that’s all you need.