Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Process Isn't A Secret

This was the scene.... a lonely sign, beaten, worn. Straight out of camera. Nothing edited. Nothing changed. Pretty much what any camera anyone owns would take. Standing 3 feet from the van. Yeah. Okay snapshot, sure... but it wasn't what I wanted. I wanted something compelling, retro, aged, windwhipped, beaten. How do you create that from something sitting still like this? 

The first thing I try to do is walk around to the other side. Maybe things are less distracting? No beat up (but not interesting) pickup in the scene... but the sky is still more compelling than the sign. Hmmm. Maybe changing the angle?  Go for monochrome? Thinking about contrast and texture...maybe that would work.

Maybe try a black and white image with a red filter to make the skies pop?

Hmmmm. Not there yet.

So I dropped the extreme red filter out of the equation and thought about subtlety. I don't do subtle well. In this case, we're getting closer to being what I want. The symmetry is kinda messed up though. Not quite asymmetric enough to be wonky and not balanced enough to be bisected bilaterally. Ugh, composition....

In the end, I came up a little closer (classic solution, GET CLOSER), angle up slightly, dialed back the contrast and color saturation and went click. Yeah. Simple. Nothing terribly fancy. No expensive weird lens. Of all these images, this is the one where I felt I was closest to my original goal. Does that mean I am happy? Nope. I want to go back again with some more time and more ideas to see what else I can create from this gorgeous sign. Another day!

I always get asked what kind of camera I am shooting with. There is a small part of me that smiles and tots out that trite line that the camera doesn't matter....blah blah blah. In this case, the camera kind of worked against me. I usually shoot with a Nikon D300s, and in a situation like this, I would have the 17-35mm f2.8 lens on it. It would have been a very safe combination. But I took the day off... which means the Nikon stayed at home. Instead I took the new Fuji X-T1 out for a spin. Kicked the tires on the Zeiss Touit 12mm lens. Is it fun? Oh hell yeah! Is it perfect, no way. It is exactly what I need though. Fun, challenging, and always inspiring me to try for more. Isn't that what we all want from our gear? 

Okay, enough gear talk. Ask me questions. What do you want to know?