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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Digital Death of My Photography

Year ago, I took a photography course.
Pretty famous cinematographer showed us camera tricks. We walked around Old Tbilisi, armed with Soviet Zenit (Leica rip-off) and one film roll (36 shots, sometimes stretched to 40). Zenit settings were manual only.
After great fretting about under-over exposure, when the printed results were too bright or too dim, too lifeless or too cluttered, we just had to live with it.
My teacher used to say: “a good photographer notices and controls everything in the frame”.
I’d get very excited when manual rolling button would move freely – the film was done. I had to roll the film back into the carcass. Sometimes I’d lock myself in the bathroom, lights off, to make sure that the film is safe in its Kodak or Fuji tomb.
My teacher used to say: “you know that you are a good photographer when you get three perfect pictures in row. Then you know, it was not an accident”.
The waiting period followed. Film had to be exposed. We’d unscrew our Zenit’s lenses, point them to the exposed films and carefully select frames. Lots of guesswork – green was red, it was hard to say if the image was blurry, etc.
And then…the final waiting…to see if real pictures matched the guesswork. Sometimes they were better, sometimes they were disappointing.
My teacher used to say: “a perfect picture does not need retouching”.
Some pictures were salvageable. I’d sit down and carefully crop the pictures with a paper knife, throwing away the garbage. Then I’d paste the much smaller pictures on a cardboard.
With all this work, with all this effort, every picture was revered. Every picture could become “the perfect picture”. I would never just snap a photo. I would carefully examine many angles, positions, double-check aperture and shutter speed.  I would carefully adjust the lens focus. And with each movement, I’d re-adjust.
My teacher used to say: “you have to consciously take many, many pictures, before you become a good photographer”; he said: “these images of a cactus do not qualify as homework!”
… Sometimes when I adjust focus on a projector lens for the trainings, I remember how I used to adjust lens for every single frame and I smile.
The only skill I have left now is taking pictures from different positions. Oh, I am not shy to stand right in front of you to take a good shot. A good shot is worth your frustration.
But I lost it all, the shutter speed, the exposure, the depth, the aperture size. The appraisal of the composition.
I just took 700 (!) pictures of an event. Some of those pictures turned out pretty good. Well, I do jump around and am bound to accidentally capture something special. I have a very nice camera - so nice that when I try to auto-correct exposure via Photoshop, no changes are necessary most of the time.
It takes so much time to sort through 700 pictures and pick several for the PR purposes. Because unfortunately I have still retained the skill of assessing photos.
11 years ago, my teacher told this boy from the other group who joined us for photo-taking tour: “here, choose the one you like” and the boy chose me. All the pics on my blog (with several exceptions) belong to me or this boy.
…I could never take three good pictures in a row. Now, I doubt I can take even one.
 P.S. I took this photo in Budapest. I actually like it.

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