Our Photography Courses Blog

Camera free photography

Today was a strange day at Ashton Court, where for the first time ever we did a go at camera free photography – improving our photography without cameras!

Not as weird as you might think, when the main thing we are encouraging is to stop and think about the pictures, rather than f-stops/ISO/metering/white balance etc etc etc.

So this morning, Richard and Phil set out into a slightly cloudy Ashton Court to look at potential landscape photography locations, think about metering modes and work out exposure compensation. All without using Richard’s rather lovely D600.

Firstly, we were looking at views that would make sense to someone who hadn’t actually seen the location – like the viewer of our photograph. We need the image to be clear, with sight lines leading us in, no barriers and no objects in the foreground to take our interest.

Secondly, we had to worry about colour at this time of year – it’s extremely green here at Ashton Court at the moment, and even a camera as sophisticated as an Nikon D600 will tend to assume that all this greenery is fluorescent lighting and tone it down, resulting in images that are significantly under green.  There is an article about this here.

Thirdly, we had to consider exposure compensation – the leaves are not reflecting anything like as much light as the camera would like to see, and it tends to overexpose pictures where the greenery fills the frame. So today we were thinking about under exposing by perhaps a stop. In our experience people do not use exposure compensation anything like enough – it’s why the button is in such a convenient place!

Fourthly, we were doing the old deeply pretentious trick of framing a scene and closing one eye. The one eyed perspective of the camera plays havoc with the way the picture looks, and always tends to blend in foreground and background objects in a way that they were not blended visually.

One of the problems with taking a camera on location and then trying not to be distracted is that the most distracting thing you have with you is the camera itself. The moment you get out the camera you are interested in the battery life, the room for new pictures, the custard your child got on the camera last time you used it, and any number of things that draw your attention away from your surroundings. It’s pretty hard to ignore the camera and look beyond it at the landscape, but that’s what you need to do.

This is Richard’s third course with us, and he’s back again to Arnos Vale in January. Can’t wait.

Next time, we’ll be using the camera and won’t go for camera free photography

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