Saturday, 25 January 2020

Back to basics

Bad weather makes for good photographs. So the saying goes. When the mist came down the other afternoon I downed tools and rushed out with one camera and the 35mm lens. In the wood (again) I realised that a longer lens works better for that kind of misty scene, particularly when the mist is wispy. Never mind. Walking back through down the farm track the mist closed in a bit.

As I thought about making my evening meal the mist got thicker and the street lights came on. With nothing better to do I went back out again to see if I could make any nocturnal pictures. The floodlights on the rugby pitch make interesting light when it isn't misty. When there is mist in the air the effect is enhanced. As most of the pictures I was seeing involved silhouettes the monochrome conversion seemed justifiable. As it did for the daylight mist scenes which were about shape and tone rather than colour.

Encouraged by my results I couldn't wait to get back out the following evening when I saw the mist come down early. Alas it thinned again soon after, but I ventured out nonetheless, still armed with my minimalist gear.

 At less than an hour for each walk I came back with some decent pictures. This made me revisit older night time shots and begin to think about a project. What became apparent was the better pictures involved silhouettes or 'bad' weather rain soaked streets or mist. As always, if there is a person in the frame the picture becomes more engaging regardless of how well it is composed!

With ideas for this project floating around in my head I was somehow enthused to get to today's show and sale of sheep up north. However, arriving rather early I was turned off the idea and very nearly came straight back home. Instead I dropped off a repair job and took a detour back to the mart. On my return things were livening up. I picked up where I left off in the dark - with just the one camera and the same lens. That didn't last as I found myself cramped for space. Although being restricted in how you can frame shots can lead to thinking harder.

It was time to go back to the old ways and use my three trusted focal lengths - 28mm, 50mm and 100mm. It worked. I ended up ditching the 100mm after a while. It might be a bit old school to use just a 28mm and a 50mm, but there is something about both the simplicity of the approach and the look of the pictures which 'works' for me.

I even did a Martin Parr pastiche...

After my initial lack of enthusiasm I managed to get enough pictures to make a gallery - here.

The struggle still between recording what goes on and making interesting pictures which aren't in teh usually accepted 'good photograph' style or are livestock photography clich├ęs. My photographic life would be so much simpler if I didn't want to be doing something 'different' all the time!

For the time being keeping away from zooms and sticking to the handful of focal lengths I have is a way of forcing myself out of a box. I do much prefer repositioning myself to get the framing I want to taking the easy option of twisting a zoom ring. It feels more like taking photographs did in 'the old days'. I'm not sure if the pictures are any better than when I use a zoom though.

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