On a recent London walkabout, whilst making my usual street photographs, I suddenly hit the proverbial brick wall and didn’t know what to take. Totally lost, I saw nothing of interest or the unusual to shoot. I tried all my other styles of using blur/motion, faces in the crowd, panning and street portraits, but I was totally blank of ideas! It was quite alarming to be honest something I have never experienced before. On returning home I checked over my images from the days outing and there were some ‘keepers’ to be fair, but overall it was a very very disappointing outing for me.
So I posted this conundrum on a facebook group site “Hit The Streets” run by Valerie Jardin much to my surprise I got a very good response from members with different ideas suggesting what I should look to do next time when out shooting…Valerie Jardin herself commented that this was a good thing! Based on the fact, that as your photography gets better you start to be more selective in your shooting and style! One other suggestion was to ‘change your mode’… I originally thought this was based on a change in the camera ‘mode’! ie. from Aperture priority to shutter or even Program. No, what the suggestion meant was change your brain mode shoot differently or genre ie landscapes or even change the camera!
A few days later my wife and I decided to take a walk where we could stretch our eyes and decided to visit Lullingstone country Park, Kent, UK… The Castle and grounds were closed but we had the opportunity to take a good longwalk along a footpath which lead to a view over the Golf Course. It was a bleak and overcast day, the view you could hardly say was stunning. But it served the purpose of us getting out, grabbing a coffee and making that walk.
When leaving I was thinking of the comments on the Facebook group and decided to take my Fuji X-E1 and the superb xf18-55mm lens. I haven’t used this camera for some time but it is one that has been converted to Infrared with a 720Nm filter. Let me give you some info at this stage for the settings on the camera. ISO set to auto. Aperture priority (which, I have to keep to between f2.8 and f4) – The reason for this is to stop the creation of a reflective spot over f4 to f16, which you can see in this screen share (right)! It’s not a major problem just a pain to edit in LRcc at the development stage.Finally the camera shoot mode was set to bracket in filter simulation for Raw, Monochrome Green and Monochrome Red.. As the camera has been converted it doesn’t render any colour ie. Standard, Velvia, or Superia mode simulations. As you can see from the screen share each image is taken simultaneously to give me the opportunity to check what had been taken and when I edit them in LRcc, I could either edit the mono versions or the Raw (red) file. I usually edit the Raw file switching that to B+W in the development module of LRcc and play with the sliders for the effect I’m looking to achieve. In may cases to resemble a pure film-like IR image,I reduce clarity to emphasise the lack of focus and add a considerable amount of grain! Contrast, light and shadow all play an integral part of IR images; I literally play with these sliders, until I get the feel of the shot. As the clouds were non existent that day, I added a graduation filter and again played with clarity, light and shadow for the desired effect.
From this experience and the suggestion of changing ‘mode’ had the desired effect; It got my ‘Juices running” again, which is what you need in photography. It’s all well and good going out on a regular basis and shooting the genre you love. But there will come a time when your ideas and observations just dry up. Whether that’s because you are being hard on your self with the results or maybe going to the same place to shoot all the time, or yes using the same camera and lens! Either way to change your mode puts you in good stead to improving your overall photography. Letting go of your preferred genre is a good thing and look to create something different. By doing so rejuvenates your process thoughts of making worthwhile photographs and addition giving you challenges in your editing skills.
One thing is for sure after this experience and thanks to themany comments made in the Hit the Street’s group, if the ideas and observations dry I’ll be switching mode…
Maybe it’s something you will come to do in the future; Its certainly worthwhile!
My thanks to Valerie Jardin, Babak Hariri, Tony Palazzo, Jose Luis, Rob Cox, Andy Shields, Mike Branch, John Dillworth, my good friend Michael Rammell, all great photographers, for taking the time to make comments and suggestions and finally check out this Q&A episode on Hit the Streets #33 with Valerie Jardin.