Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to Berlin to attend Oracle’s European Middleware Customer Advisory Board. When I make international business trips, I’m always in a dilemma of do I take my SLR and extra lens which means luggage is going into the aircraft hold (so I can take a camera bag). Or just go with my little point and shoot Panasonic Lumix. Well this time, I plumed for the later thinking that the weather in Berlin wouldn’t be that good, sites not easy to visit on foot in the odd hour or two free, and that the city wouldn’t be as impressive as it is. So I am kicking my self now for not taking the SLR. Someone really needs to create a SLR and lens camera sleeve solution that can fit into a laptop rucksack. But our Flickr account has some ok shots.
No, I’m not talking about some weird variation of drive by shooting for malls or that European phenomena of pedestrianized city centres (or some poor joke about the events in Ferguson). But an approach to taking photos whilst on holiday with you family.
When holidaying with family the opportunity to work out the best location to get your shot, adjust you exposure, aperture and so on doesn’t exist – your other half doesn’t want to stand around for ages and you’re trying to keep track of your children.
But at the same time you don’t want to be reduced to taking ‘snaps’. Now, a lot of photography books would say you split your time go persue the photography whilst the rest of the family are chilling etc. Which is all well and good, but with a young family not so easy, and what about when you’ve spent an hour driving somewhere. Are you really going to drive back to where you’re staying, turn around and drive back?
So the approach I’ve taken to have a sense of the sort of pictures that you might want to take. Look ahead to where you’re walking/travelling and try ‘steer’ things in the direction that would give you the best chances of an acceptable picture. Have you camera prepared in terms of settings – that may mean relying on preconfigured modes or settings, or just quickly flicking between the different modes to get different depths of field etc. Have a stab at setting the focus to be roughly what you’ll want as you approach your subject. Don’t set the focus to be too tight – in the world of digital you can then crop and tweak any slight angle challenges (yes for the old school – that is cheating, but cheat a little or no photo?).
When taking the picture – with a digital SLR you might was well have the camera on multi frame shutter and bracketing modes. At the end of the day you can bin the bad frames to free up storage on you memory stick. Not to mention a multi-gig USB card these days is cheaper than a reasonable role of quality negative now, so be trigger happy with your young children etc you’re likely only get one crack at the photos. All of this means you’ll probably got through 6 or 8 frames for every photo you’re going to consider passable.
Of course there is nothing wrong with snaps – a chance to pickup images that amuse, like this … Hopefully you might find some other images you like at http://photos.mp3monster.org
I got to watch Cathy Pearson’s tremendous documentary on Photo Journalism called Get The Picture. The documentary’s central narrative is around the life of the Picture Editor John G Morris. The documentary open with John explaining what his role as a Photo Editor was – essentially the guy who commissions photographers, and then chooses the appropriate photos to be used in a publication. This in itself doesn’t sound remarkable until you consider both the publications he has worked for – Life, New York Times, Washington Post and the National Geographic, that’s before you even take into account the his association with the Magnum group. John came to prominence as a Photo Editor during the second world war, and has been involved with Photo Journalism ever since, working with photographers such as Robert Capa, Henri Cartier Bresson and Werner Bischof and his relationship with these photographers and others also contributed to John’s importance. The relationships weren’t simple employer/employee but relationships grounded on mutual respect and trust and as often as not a common set of goals and values in photo journalism – get the truth out to the public of what is happening and let the picture tell its own story.
The documentary from time to time detours to look at important aspects of photo journalism, particularly the work done in conflicts by journalists – reflecting on what motivates these people to go into such dangerous circumstances, the changing conditions – until the 90s journalists where left alone as the protagonists in a conflict saw journalists as means to get their side of a conflict told and now are as much a target as anyone else because they can show the brutalities of conflict and realities of the acts committed. So you can see why I say tragic, but why uplifting? We John has ben widowed 3 times, but managed to move on and not only find love again but embrace life, and fully appreciate what he has, something that really comes across.
If you have even a passing interest in photography, or world events – this is a very worthwhile documentary to watch. Sadly, not nominated in the Oscar’s Best Documentary Feature category this year – which is a shame as it punches a lot more effective than notable winners such as An Inconvenient Truth. On the happier side it does have some other successes.
For more information:
- Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/getthepicturethefilm
- IMDB Entry
- SKY TV Info – showing the documentary at the moment
- Get the Picture: A Personal History of Photojournalism (Crime and Justice: A Review of Research) – the orignal book by John G Morris