Shoot Straight

We recently took a long drive, over a short amount of time, through South Africa. A quest, for fertile chicken eggs of specific breeds. The route would take us from Cape Town, to Bloemfontein – then Farmall in Johannesburg. From there, heading to a farm in Mpumalanga, and back to Bloemfontein. All of this had to happen over 3 nights, and it did. As it stands, I am currently in a bit of a creative slump. I have not taken photos in a long time, not properly (in mind and soul) anyway. The wifelet also had a long break from her usual macro work, which is a crime – she does inspiring work.

So! We said, take the dslr’s along. Let’s stop here and there, capture some roadside landscapes, a karoo sunrise (easily achieved with the 4AM morning departures) and just do SOMETHING. Secondly, since we would be staying over at a long time photography friend, Neil Roux, it makes sense to have the camera bag nearby. Alas, there was not much time for photography itself.

So then me and Neil came up with the project idea of ‘shoot straight’, a trivial idea which is easy to achieve. Let me elaborate.

Problem:

I don’t get enough shooting time, alienating the dslr body from my arm (it’s supposedly natural anchor point).

Justification:

Too cold outside. Too rainy. Too busy. Have other things to do. Not home often. (all of these are actually GOOD reasons to shoot, by the way).

Solution:

Shoot what is near you, where you are. It will take a few minutes to look at something on the coffee table, contemplate it, frame it and shoot it.

 

The above solution however is not what shoot straight is, yet.

To participate, or do this for yourself – follow these rules:

  1. Find something simple, nearby (office, home, garden, flea market…) and seemingly (or usually boring). [spend 5 minutes max]
  2. Look at it creatively, use sunlight or a lamp. Think about framing it from a weird perspective, show as much or as little detail as you like. [spend 2 minutes on this]
  3. Decide on aperture  and shutter speed (based on the intended creative idea) and set everything else as required. Shoot a few shots of the subject. [spend a few minutes here]
  4. Do not look at the LCD, do not delete anything, do not limit or play censorship. Pretend like you just shot on film, what’s done is done.
  5. Go to your favourite development software, look at the few shots you took. Choose one!
  6. Do not pixel-peep.
  7. Process it basically, as if it was on film. Do not crop, do not overdo anything. Just tune the basics, make it high or low key, color or monochrome.. whatever you like.
  8. Export it to a jpg or png, before you feel tempted to overkill and pixel-peep.
  9. Upload it somewhere. It’s done.

The gist of this process is, shoot-as-if-on-film. This helps you to focus and not censor yourself.

Simply as that. These rules have helped me get over a lot of “detail obsession” over the years. Getting the shot is WAY more important that trying to get the ideal, perfect angle, colours, sharpness and noise.

I much rather prefer having a noisy, slightly soft or low dynamic ranged photo of the rare-sky-diving squirrel, than getting nothing at all because of detail obsession.


My first attempt for this project was done last night.

While watching Seinfeld, I noticed my cheap fibre lamp, and what it looked like in front of an old computer monitor (with our cctv streams). I took 3 shots, kind of messed up on slow shutter speed, but got something out. Besides, if I shot on film, I would not have known that I messed up shutter speed in the first place.

Shoot Straight – Day 1

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