Friday, March 13, 2009

Food For Thought Friday

Good Afternoon Everybody,
We're still jammin' here at DigitalProTalk world headquarters. I uploaded another 18,000 words and 150 images to the publisher this morning. By the way, did I mention that Kelby Media is my publisher -- I'm thrilled to have them involved in the book project. I know everyone is anxious to know when the book will be out and I'll be the first to tell you as soon as I know. The whole project has to be wrapped by this weekend which explains why time has been sooooo tight around here.

Last night I was invited by Gavin Seim to be part of his round-table at Pro Photography Show. I always have a good time during these podcasts. You get a bunch of like-minded geek types together and we're all in heaven talking about things geeks like to talk about. Both Kerry Garrison from fame and Gavin had attended the PMA show last week and pointed us towards their most interesting products at the show. Anyway, when a link to the show goes live and I give you a heads up. It was a lively and entertaining conversation by all of us involved and I really enjoyed the experience.

How about on with...

Food For Thought Friday...
You know, today's topic came about because of some of the comments that I read from some of my daily image posts. It's always enjoyable to see what other photographers think of your images. What's interesting to me though is that many photographers are more interested in the f-stops and the shutter speeds. I understand why that is important, but sometimes not most important.

I many times am asked why I use a higher ISO as opposed to a lower ISO, or I may be asked why I use a higher shutter speed instead of a lower shutter speed with that lower ISO. Anyway, you get the gist of what I'm talking about.

Hit the "Read More..." link below for the rest of the story.

So as I was reflecting on how I see and how I shoot, it occurred to me that I mostly never really chase the f-stops and the shutter speeds as much as I chase the image. That's the essence of why I raised the camera to my eye.

I see the scene, I'm intrigued by the possible composition, color, and design of the shot. The camera goes to my eye, I recompose, take the shot, recompose and take another, and then maybe a 3rd, 4th, or 5th tweaking the composition along the way. It's the thrill of the chase to get the image I see developing in my mind's eye that excites me about my photographic process.
But, folks, what is it about in the first place? It's always about getting the image, isn't it? I think so. And, those moments to capture the image are fleeting - a peek at a f-stop or shutter speed may mean I'll miss the shot. But, it's more than that too. Chasing the f-stop and shutter speeds means that I have to interrupt my creative process as I chase the shot. To my way of thinking - that's like throwing a "wrench in the works", sticking the broom stick in the spokes, pulling the carpet out from under, or truly hitting the brakes of my creative process.

Sure, after I know I've got the shot, I may then tweak the numbers to fine tune the shot if I think it needs it, but mostly I don't. So I know what you're thinking, "So, if Ziser is shooting first and asking questions later, he must -- here it comes, folks -- have his camera set to "P" for "Professional!!!!" I hear the global "cringe" from my DPT readers right now. Heck, let me add to the "cringe in motion" - I'm thinking of setting the camera to "auto ISO" too.

Heresy, heresy you say. Well, not really. A lot of my landscapes and fine art images are taken for fun - remember fun. I'm still trying to remember fun in this economy, but, you know what, the market is up 630 points in 5 days and this is even Friday the 13th ;~) Anyway, I digress. I do take many of my images for fun and that means I've got the camera ready to go on a moment's notice - nothing wrong in that if I get the shot.

I'm not lugging tons of gear with me on my shoots most of the time. Yes I do occasionally, but not most times. For me, it's mostly about chasing the shot, the image, the composition, the colors - it's about the thrill of that chase. That explains why my ISOs, f-stops, shutter speeds, etc. may not be perfect. I'm not chasing perfection all the time, I'm having fun with an image and how I see the image. F-stops and shutter speeds are secondary.

But, wait, before the emails start flying, let me say that when it comes to my wedding photography and some of my fine art photography - lens focal length, F-stops, shutter speeds, ISOs ALL come into play. In that case, I have to "nail the shot." I know what I want my composition to be, where I want the light to come from, how I want the background rendered with respect to the subject.

I've been training for that for many years and the tools of the trade to craft my finished images are the f-stops and shutter speeds, In this case I really chasing the image, but using every tool and technique at me disposal to get it.

On the other hand when I'm shooting for fun, without a care in the world, I chasing the image only and let the f-stops and shutter speeds fall where they lie. A lot of my favorite images are captured that way too. Food for thought.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. Duty calls and I'm back to the book. Everybody have a great weekend and remember one thing - "A pixel could care less about an f-stop or shutter speed - it's just enjoys playing catch with photons." See everybody on Monday. Adios, -David


  1. A non-photographer friend of mine recently made the following observation, "Amateurs (photographers) talk about f-stops and shutter speeds while professionals talk about images." I think it is an interesting comment about where we place the emphasis on what we are doing. What absorbs us…the equipment, the settings, or the image?

    Dave G

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  3. David, A lot of professional sports shooters use auto ISO. It works as light conditions change. I use it for weddings.

  4. Ziser, you jest