Thursday, March 8, 2012


Last fall I visited an antique store that had a camera like the one Ansel Adams used.  It was huge, at least the size of an old breadbox.  I imagine it weighed quite a bit too.

It got me thinking.

Thinking about taking pictures then compared to taking pictures now.

Imagine if you had to transport and set up something like that.  It would require a lot of planning, a lot of consideration, a lot of deliberately focusing on every detail of your shot before you even got to your location.

The who, what, when, where, why and how of every detail.

Once you were at your location, you had to deliberately set up the equipment in the exact location, deliberately look through the viewfinder at every detail before pressing the shutter button.

There was no rear preview, no delete, no do-overs, no aperature priority or full-auto mode, no "chimping".

Every shot was a mystery until it was processed in the dark room so if you got it wrong, you had to wait, or maybe there would never be another opportunity.

This is an exercise in patience.  There's no rushing out to get a shot.  Planning, preparing, thinking, having a vision of what you want to shoot or what story you want to express visually.

This got me thinking that perhaps I should be more deliberate with my shots.  I should be more judicious when I press the shutter button.  I should make sure what I want to capture is there.

This little hummingbird is an example of me being deliberate.  I did research into camera settings to get this tiny, shy and very fast creature, I set up the camera in an opportune location, used manual mode, chose a time so I could get great natural light, had a beer and waited.

Sometimes I get lucky.

I liked this shot because the little hummingbird seems to be sticking her tongue out at me. (And of course, there's the bokeh!)

Are you deliberate with your shots?

Tell us about it and share some in our flickr gallery. 

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.  When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.  ~Ansel Adams


p.s. I "chimp". Do you?


Deborah L. Tisch said...

Excellent post, with lots of thought provoking questions. I was fortunate to be able to work in my grandfather's darkroom from the time I was old enough to take photos. Waiting for the image to magically appear on the paper was an amazing process. Yes, you had to really think about exposure, composition, light...all these details that we still need to consider, yet our automated digital cameras do so much of it for us. I appreciate that you were more judicious in taking this lovely image. That is a great lesson for all of us.

Cathy H. said...

Linda, this has me thinking too! I have a tendency to shoot many photos and then pick out the best. I know I need to slow down and be more judicious! I need to take more time behind the lens and less on the computer deleting not so great shots! Thanks for the reminder!! As far as "chimping", I didn't even know what that meant! :) Had to google it and yes, for as a novice it's helpful to see what I could correct or change for a better photo!! I love your image, I can't imagine capturing one of these fast little guys!!

susan said...

Spectacular photo! Especially with how fast these title creatures are! As far as your post in regards to planning, preparing, etc...for the shot, there are definitely shots that I plan for, and then there are those that I don't. The ones that I plan for, like my shot in my post the other took lots of patience in waiting for those flowers to be at their peak along with waiting for the right lighting. It was a planned shot and one that I was looking forward to. :)

Sam said...

I also come from the days of film and darkroom where you hoped you had the shot but it could be days or weeks before you knew for sure. I am posting 2 photographs taken with a medium format camera. The church shot was taken in Luxembourg while on a 2 day busines trip. I was back in the USA before I knew if I had what I wanted. The fireworks shot is triple exposureon film that required multiple calculations and much patience. It was shot over a 6 hour period hoping no one bumped the tripod. It aslo required that I "talk" my way onto the roof of the Sonesta hotel for a good vantage point. Having learned this way definitely affects how I shot even in digital. These are 2 photos that worked as planned...I have a lot that "looked" better in my mind than when printed.

Dotti said...

That beer really helped, Linda, because this shot is beyond awesome! I'm dying to "catch" a hummingbird but they tend to be scarce around here. Your hummingbird is a winner in all respects. And, yes, we do so often tend to go overboard with digital equipment for the simple reason that we can. As Cathy says, being more deliberate when we shoot can mean less time spent at the computer. That said, I continue to be in awe as I look at Ansel Adams' work as well as the other masters of photography. Now that's talent. Lovely post, Linda! xxoo

Karen Harvey Cox said...

This is a glorious capture. Those little guys are so difficult to get in focus.

It's true that our technology today let's us all enjoy the beauty of photography. I love it all, but I do have some friends who still use a darkroom. There is something about black and whites on film that digital doesn't seem to translate.

Meanwhile, I am soooo happy that digital has made it possible for me to take better photographs.


terriporter said...

Love your photo, Linda! Love how you positioned him so that his light body is against the darker background and all that gorgeous bokeh on the right! I've tried and I know how hard it is to capture these little guys. Patience is definitely the operative word! I know with digital it is so easy to just shoot away and hope that you get something good but it's the shots that I plan for and work for that are the most rewarding. Thanks for the reminder to be more mindful of what we want to shoot and how we want to go about capturing it.

Carol's View said...

Just adding, Dotti, that Ansel Adams famous quote - "Chance favors the prepared mind." He planned his shots for whole seasons, not merely days. He calculated the light on paper mathematically, and then he WAITED . He was unbelievably talented, but he also worked harder than anyone!

Deanna said...

Oh my, if we were still in the b&w stage I couldn't afford to take all the pics I do today. Photography has come a long way since those early days, but it's purpose still is to capture memories, beauty, family & fun. I try to take deliberate shots but sometimes the subject matter does not allow animals & birds, children. Great post and beautiful image of that flying hummingbird.

Leigh said...

That is my favorite Ansel Adams quote! I think if I was to be a photographer in Adam's era that I would either learn to be an extremely patient person or I would have a huge temper and given up photography all together due to frustration.
I have been trying to be more deliberate especially when it comes to composition. I tend to get very tight shots and then if I have to crop I don't end up with the composition that I wanted. So I really pay attention to that now when shooting.
Beautiful shot of the hummer Linda! Those little, but very strong birds have always intrigued me.

stephmull said...

Great post, Linda! I don't know if I would have survived as a photographer back in those days! But being deliberate and patient today, yes, that is always something to remind myself! Love the capture of the hummingbird...such wonderful creatures!

Post a Comment

Thank you for sharing part of your day with us. If for any reason you are unable to leave a comment here on this post, please leave your comment on our Facebook page or in our Flickr discussion group. We love hearing from you!

© Focusing On Life