Friday, 6 August 2010

Bad, bad photographer.

I've been bad.

I'm still stuck in this funky black hole where I have no motivation to pick up my camera. It's weird, because I still enthusiastically peruse the usual websites every day, I still assimilate information and knowledge as much as I can, and I still drool over equipment I can't afford. But when it comes to picking up the camera, I fall flat.

Unless I have something specific to shoot.

Stool Ball


Look, if you don't know what stool ball is, don't even worry about it. It's like a cross between cricket and rounders, but it's only played in my home county of Sussex.

A couple of weeks ago my company put on a stool ball team-building event where we all went down to the local playing fields, ate barbecue, drank beer and played stool ball. Well, I say "we all" -- some of us played paparazzi. And, as always, learned a lot.

I approached this event with the same general plan as I had when shooting the tennis in Paris -- I was using my long zoom lens, which isn't very fast, so I knew I would have to up the ISO to get the faster shutter speeds I needed. It all started at about 6:30pm, too, so I also knew the shadows would be getting longer and conditions would be darker and darker as the evening wore on.

Unfortunately due to the rapidly darkening conditions, the dark t-shirts people were wearing, and the dark backgrounds (trees/bushes etc) I had to up the ISO to around 800, which resulted in some especially noisy shots:

Jim Edgar bowls - f/5.6, 1/500, ISO800.

I shoot RAW+JPEG and the above is an output of a processed RAW shot. The SOOC JPEG is nowhere near as noisy as this. I don't know why it turned out this way -- perhaps the levels contrast adjustment and sharpening I did enhanced the noise.

Either way, when I uploaded the shots and showed them to my boss the first thing he said was "these are very grainy" which made me feel pretty crappy.

Luckily the brighter ones turned out pretty well, considering:



There were a couple of other weird moments that evening for me. I think I've mentioned this before, but normally I feel quite self-conscious with my camera, right up until the moment I start shooting, after which I feel very relaxed and happy. This wasn't the case that night. At one point I overheard someone behind me go "Jess is company photographer is she?!" in a really patronising way which really embarrassed me. And at another point, after everything was winding down, someone was playing with my cam and struggled to get the auto-focus on my 70-300mm lens to lock in, due to the dark conditions -- I overheard him turn to someone and say "this is shit". I should have delivered a rather large "FUCK YOU" in the form of my fist in his face, but again I was really embarrassed. So after the noisy shots, the patronising "photographer" comment, and the guy-doesn't-understand-how-AF-works remark, I went back home and buried my camera again.

Since then I have done a very small amount of shooting. I took my camera to my friend Tom's birthday party in which everyone played rounders and some other sports-day-esque activities like egg-and-spoon races and sack races. In another reflection of how lazy I've been, the pictures aren't even on Flickr.

I've tried to rekindle my love of photography generally by getting involved in a subset of the community called iPhoneography. There are a lot of cool apps which apply filters and effects to iPhone shots which give them vintage looks. iPhoneography is fun but doesn't provide the same level of satisfaction to me as shooting with a DSLR and processing the pictures myself. I guess at some point I'll make a post of some of my iPhone shots.

I did have a couple of moments where I thought I would have something to look forward to -- a potential maternity shoot, and a local wedding photographer who was looking for an assistant -- but neither of them have gotten in contact with me so it looks like it came to nothing.

Anyway, my plan is that this weekend I will force myself to take out my camera. I've instructed Ste to SHAME me into it in whatever way he can. Unless it's raining all day I absolutely MUST go out -- even if it's just to the park for more flower shots. Anything to get me shooting again.

*sigh* Wish me luck I guess.


Russell Dunkley said...

I hear what you're saying about the embarrassment thing - I find it's often worse around people you know. The more experienced you get, the less this happens, I think.

Remember, if people think you're working with bad equipment, it makes you look even better when you get good shots! So when you let someone play with your cam, always give it to them in manual exposure and focus modes so they find it difficult to use!

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