So a little backstory– One day a customer walked in to my work with a Nikon D3 hanging from his shoulder and 70-200mm f/2.8 lens on it; So I decided I might strike up a conversation about his gear and what he likes to shoot. a few minutes of friendly discourse and then out of nowhere he dropped a nugget of information that hit me like a bomb, “My other camera takes film”, he said. “What sort of non-sense is this?”, I thought. But he went on to say that Even on his Nikon Digital SLR camera, he chooses to always keep the built in screen off. Being so fresh to the world of photography and having just bought my first DSLR camera at the time, It shook me to think that he would use should an incredibly powerful piece of equipment as if it took film! I mean, isn’t the whole point of a digital camera so that you can see the images as you shoot them? and so that you can fire the shutter like a gatling gun and just pick the best shot later?
At the time I did not have the experience or perspective to truly appreciate where he was coming from, but over the last few years I have been reminded of him once in a while. I have come to a point where I truly do not want to spend hours sorting through photos to find the best one. I want to make a photo and know that its the shot I imagine. I do not want to constantly flip over my camera to “make sure I got the shot”. Over time it started to feel like checking the camera display every time was a sign that I didn’t trust myself. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when that three inch screen has saved my butt– I am always going to use it to make sure a bride’s eyes are open, and to check the histogram; but what If for a day I didn’t use it?
My Goal: to push myself out of my comfort zone and make mistakes– great and terrible mistakes that I can truly learn from and develop myself as a photographer.
My Mission: My Canon 5D mark II’s display turned off, my camera set to manual, autofocus off and a limit of 24 shots in a forty-five minute window.
After shooting the first few frames I almost had to put my hands in my pockets to resist the temptation of checking to see if the pictures turned out! And calculating stops of exposure in my head– math on the fly when I am shooting was not something I normally have to do. With the Sunny 16 rule as a reference (on this particularly cloudy day) I worked through it and it wasn’t until I got home and imported the photos in to Lightroom that I actually saw my images for the first time.
This exercise in patience, thoughtfulness, composition and discipline was very rewarding. As I had hoped for, there were definitely some failures; but some great images were made as well– more importantly, they are images that I am proud of because they have been a part of pushing the me forward.
Next Mission: Get the Canon AE-1 working and actually load some real film.