About a week ago I got a QUESTION on my blog asking if I could tell a little bit more about how I work, and as usual when I start writing it gets LOOONG so here is a text that talks a little bit about how I shoot.
My passion for photography springs mainly from my LOVE for beautiful REAL LIFE situations ...and things ..and beautiful IMAGES. In my pictures I almost always work with natural or pre existing light. . To me it's the COLORS, the composition and the ATMOSPHERE in the picture that is the most important, not uncanny sharpness or technical aspects. That said; I still LOVE to have good PHOTO equipment.
So here; a little bit about my CAMERA and which LENSES I like to use;
My FIRST camera was an analogue NIKON camera, and I have been a faithful NIKON person ever since. My current camera is a NIKON D700, which is a full frame (FX) camera (meaning that my camera has an image sensor that is the same size as a 35 mm (36×24 mm) film frame). With my first camera I got a ZOOM lens ..so I got used to the opportunities that comes with that kind of LENS. So I preferred to shoot with that for a long time ..and sometimes I still think it's the best. These days I almost only shoot with my 50 mm 1:1.1,8 lens .. partly because after I switched to an FX camera ..I have not been able to afford or managed to decide on a new zoom lens. ..but also because after I got my 50mm lens I have been kind of HOOKED ..like so many others. The magic of the FIXED focal length lens can for ME be summed up in two things; ONE; the QUALITY of the image; when your lens is made to be good at ONE thing… it is possible to get much better OPTICS for an affordable prize ..than for instance if you buy a zoom lens ..that needs to be good at 'a lot of things'. I'm not only talking of the quality of the image when you look at it on your COMPUTER or if you have it PRINTED ..it is what you see when you look through your camera. And for me that is the most IMPORTANT; because for me photography is all about that moment when I LOOK into my camera ...and I see something that I think look so good that I just have to CAPTURE it.
The other thing, that is great with my 50 mm lens ..and that is KEY to the way I shoot, is the possibility I have to shoot with a large APERTURE, or as you can also call it; a low aperture number, on my lens that is 1,8. Since I have a lot of followers that are not photography people.. which I like.. that maybe want to learn a little bit more about PHOTOGRAPHY I will explain it like this; the aperture number indicates the SIZE of the HOLE where the LIGHT is let into your CAMERA, the LOWER the number, the LARGER the hole. In many ways the lens is like your EYE; when it's light outside your pupils can get really small, while when it's dark; they get big. When its DARK the pupils dilate because they need to let in more light for you to be able to SEE .. a LENS works kind of in the same way...it just does not do this automatically... and it's not as GENIUS as the eye. As a photographer this constantly FRUSTRATES me. BUT I was talking about the possibilities you have with this lens, so yes; if you need more LIGHT to be abel to take your picture; a larger aperture is one of your options ..and since I shoot with natural and pre existing light this is often a big HELP to me.
One of the consequences of the lens not being as genius as the EYE is that when you shoot with a really large aperture you loose FIELD of DEPTH. BUT with this ..as with almost everything ..a disadvantage can be turned into an ADVANTAGE. Loosing depth of field gives you the opportunity to BLUR out the background or the foreground of the picture, which means that when I use a large aperture I can: ONE; use it to bring out the object I want to FOCUS on, TWO; blur out the things I don't want to focus on ..and it gives me the opportunity to create beautiful painting like COLOR FIELDS ..which I love (before I started taking pictures I PAINTED ..abstract paintings ..and I still just love to make colors MEET and sometimes MELT together in my pictures, my love for colors is maybe the strongest of all when it comes to the different components in a picture.) I have to say that I also have a theory that an additional reason for why I like to shoot like this is my EYE SIGHT, because I am nearsighted ...so through my eyes IMPERFECTION ..they work kind of like a large aperture lens… so when I shoot with a large aperture the pictures comes out looking a little bit more like the WORLD I actually SEE.
So now that we have covered that; we can talk a little bit more about how I SHOOT.
I almost always shoot MANUALLY. I do this mainly because I like to control and vary the aperture from picture to picture ..but also because I often prefer the pictures to be darker than the automatic settings on my camera would like them to be. In some instances I prefer to shoot dark because I feel that it makes the colors more VIBRANT and strong ..other times it's because I want to show a light situation as AUTHENTIC as possible ... A lot of people tend to shoot their pictures in a way that makes it look like they were shot in BRIGHT DAYLIGHT ..which most often is not the case. I feel that when you make a picture too bright you often loose the atmosphere ..and with that the soul of the picture.
I also sometimes shoot with high ISO values, partly because of the same reasons I have mentioned before; to avoid using a FLASH. It's not that I hate pictures where a flash has been used, I sometimes work with it myself .and often like it in other people's pictures if it's used in a nice way, but ideally I try to avoid it for the reason I mentioned in the beginning; I prefer to shoot the situation like it appears in front of me. It's not because I'm a purist or against editing pictures; it's because the reason for me to take the picture in the first place is that I want to CAPTURE what I see in front of me. That said; I sometimes use a REFLECTOR, one of those big round once, to fill in some light ..if the contrast between LIGHT and DARK gets too big. These pictures HERE and HERE are good examples of use of reflector; the light came in from one side, a window, resulting in one side of the object I was photographing going completely black ..or the other one being overexposed, BUT with a reflector the problem was solved. Every time I use my reflector I am AMAZED by how much light this piece of fabric is capable of reflecting! When it comes to high ISO values; I'm also not afraid of grains because enough of them can sometimes give a picture painting like, kind of soft, qualities, which is ..as I have also mentioned, a quality I like.
At the end of this post; My FAVORITE shooting situations are semi staged/organized situations; meaning either a happening or an EVERYDAY situation where people do what they do and act like themselves, like for instance THIS TIME in BERLIN and THIS TIME in NEW YORK, but allow me to take pictures of them and sometimes follow slight INSTRUCTIONS like; 'can you do that again' or 'hold that pose' or 'look at me' or 'can we move that juice box in front of your child, it's ugly' or 'is it ok if I remove the television remote from your table' . OK , thinking about it ..my inputs are often related to moving stuff I think is ugly out of the image field.. I almost always try first to move myself, but sometimes that is just not enough:)