400 words on Black and White
Had the first real meeting of the new photo course today and saw plenty of nice photos and cameras there. After our previous assignment of playing with depth of field, our new assignment is to take some portrait photos. I’m seeing some problems there for sure as my friends are definitely unenthusiastic about their portraits being taken. At least they have always been in the past. And having people who look away from the camera and who just love closing their eyes the moment you shoot, doesn’t make things easier. Particularly in analogue photography where each photo is a considerable effort to make once you take into account the whole overhead of development and where you’ll only see the problems hours or days later when the opportunity to re-take that photo is gone.
I guess I’ll just have to annoy people a bit more. I keep thinking that at some stage they should just give up being annoyed and play the game nicely. One theory is that at the end of the day everybody actually likes being photographed. You just need to make sure they know they’ll look great. And indeed people did look great in the photos I took of them last weekend.
I also went and scanned the negatives of the film I developed again at the library. While their scanner may be all nice… it’s also damn slow and the scanning software (along with Windows – hello non-redrawing window contents…) is a royal pain of bugginess and brokenness. Grrr.
Amusing quote of the day:
The frequency of usage for a lens is inversely proportional to its price. Strangely true I think. Although I try to avoid using the extremely lazy cheapo zoom lens on my analogue cameras, I mostly end up using the 50mm. Which isn’t the cheapest because it’s the nice f1.4 one but it’s not that expensive either. My next favourite is the 24mm f2.8 – not that expensive either. Compare that with the times where I’m using the 135mm or 500mm lenses which probably were much more expensive when bought! Even with my dad’s new digital EOS. Yes, the 18-55mm ‘kit’ lens that came with it feels kind of cheap and the 35-105mm lens my dad got now feels much more impressive. But when taking photos of people having those 18mm is rather handy. That lens also makes the camera look less threatening.
I know what you mean about threatening lenses. I have the lens hood for the 50mm 1.8 and an 28-135IS lens, and both somehow give people the fear in a way that the kit lens doesn’t. I kind of know why- the 28-135 has a 72mm filter diameter, so it’s just big, and it’s also quite a long lens, and the hood makes things look a bit professional (posing tip: spend £20 on a bit of plastic)- but it’s also somewhat fascinating as a bit of psychology.
I tried taking a photo course in October. It didn’t really work out, perhaps because it was two day-long lessons. I think I need more of a feedback cycle to learn what’s going on (especially as I feel I know the technical aspects- it’s aesthetics I need help with). Good luck with yours.
I just checked and I think my dad’s lens has the complicated name “EF 24-105mm 1:4L IS USM” and a 77mm lens diameter as well. So it’s probably quite similar to yours – a bit more massive even. (Gee, those lens lists make tempting reading… just annoying that they don’t put the prices in there for keeping my thoughts realistic.)
Personally I find those hoods a bit annoying. Particularly as they make packaging the lens even more difficult. My 135mm an 500mm lenses have built-in hoods (nice metal!) which you can just push into the lens – those are quite nice. Actually I’m not really sure about the situations in which the hoods maka a bit difference either.
I agree that photo courses are a difficult thing. Particularly when there is a mixed audience. With just five people our course is tiny, so that’s not a huge problem, but it’s still difficult to have people in the group who need explanations about apertures and ISO numbers when you are trying to learn about making more interesting photos and handling the technicalities is secondary.
Actually the guy running our course is an artist. Meaning that he probably isn’t the most technically capable person on earth. I think that’s a good thing as getting the technicalities right isn’t the biggest deal when making photos anyway. Sure, it helps to have a good grasp of the technique. But I’d say it just improves photos a little. And you see plenty of great photos that are technically imperfect while there are only few photos that are great because of their technical perfection.
And of course one benefit of our course is that we’ll go into the lab to play around there. It’s probably worth doing for that alone as it’s quite a hassle to get into labs otherwise. Also having a new assignment each week probably is another good thing to make sure I actually take some photos.
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