Today’s Post by Joe Farace
During workshops and PhotoWalks the number one question I get from attendees is about proper exposure. You would think that with all the automation that’s built into today’s cameras that would be the last question they would ask but it is the first.
That’s why, to me, the best thing you can do to increase your skills in obtaining what, for you, is the best exposure is practice. I think the same suggestion holds true for improving your overall photography skills. Seven-time Grammy-winning pianist Emanuel Ax still practices four hours a day. And a few of his tips about practicing the piano could easily apply to photographers
Listen to great performances. If you don’t have a favorite photographer you should. Pick up a few books about the history of photography at the library and see which images speak to you and some will, I promise. Then select other books about that photographer, especially ones showing how their style evolved over time. Don’t copy their work but be inspired by it. Many times, I’ll post images here or on Instagram (follow me at @joefarace) that are homages to a certain photographer’s style. Give it a try.
Get a partner. While I tend to be a lone wolf and not just about photography, shooting with a friend, especially one that uses the same kind of gear, can help you learn and improve. You can swap lenses, maybe cameras (next topic) and watch how each other works. How much you learn will surprise you plus it’s fun. Because my friend Mark Toal lives in Portland, we don’t get to shoot together often but I value the time when we do.
Try another instrument. Mr. Ax also likes to play timpani, while I will reluctantly drag out my Canon EOS gear from time to time (you can read my kvetching about that here) if only to appreciate my Micro Four-third gear more but it also lets me see it’s limitations, no matter how much I love that system. I also occasionally shoot film cameras from my gold-trimmed Seagull TLR to a Leica M6 and revel in the same photographic experience I had when starting out oh so many years ago. More on this topic tomorrow.
Experiment. To me that’s where infrared photography comes in. Yesterday I went to my beloved McCabe Meadows to shoot the Lumix GX1 that was converted to infrared using LifePixel’s HyperColor filter. I have yet to experience the avalanche of colors, LifePixel shows on their website with this filter and I think that has more to do with the fact that despite what the sign says when entering my adopted state, Colorado is not all that Colorful. Meanwhile, I was energized by shooting my favorite tree. Yes, I have a favorite tree and you get to see it above once again but this time with a HyperColor spin.
Life Pixel does a great job with IR conversions and they have done all of conversions for my Canon DSLRs as well as Panasonic Lumix G-series cameras.
Copies of my book, The Complete Guide to Digital Infrared Photography, are available from Amazon for $9.99 as I write this. Creative Digital Monochrome Effects has a chapter on IR photography and is available used from Amazon for around two bucks. Copies of both make a nice Christmas gift for an infrared shooting friend or yourself.