Musings on Photography


Posted in motivation, process by Paul Butzi on May 19, 2009


Once upon a time, a long time ago, I did some theatre photography. That is, I made photographs of theatre performances (actually, it was dress-tech rehearsals). That was fun. I like photography. I like theatre. Combining the two is awesome fun.

Yesterday, I had my first chance to photograph in a theatre, but with the theatre empty. No performers, no set. Just a bare stage, and the house, empty of audience. I wasn’t sure what I’d get, and neither was Bill, the friend with whom I’ve embarked on this little project. The project is Bill’s SoFoBoMo effort. It might be mine, too, although I’ll have to go on for a bit to see.

Today, I sucked those images off the CF card, and fired up Photoshop. It took me about half a day to realize that these were not intended to be color photographs. Beyond the color problems (if I never again try to set the white point on an image that have 27 light sources each of which has a DIFFERENT color temperature, that would be just fine, thanks) the big problem was that the photos, in color, lack the ‘feel’ I found I longed for. Monochrome, though – I think it’s working.

I have some nice images. I have quite a few not very nice images – images that, on the scale from 1 to 10, fall right about ‘What the hell was I thinking when I opened the shutter on *that*?’

And, of course, having now made a bunch of photos, I have a much clearer idea of what sort of photos I should have made instead of the ones I did make. So perhaps yesterday’s outing was not so productive except in the “oh, this is another god damn learning experience” way.

Things I learned:

  • taking the old trusty flash along was a good idea, athough I never once mounted it on the camera. If I were going to do a lot of this, I’d buy half a dozen small flashes and some radio remote system to trigger them. As it was, I just opened the shutter, and then popped the flash with the ‘test’ button. Worked fine. I suppose I will have to learn about strobes. Ick.
  • A small flashlight is always handy. Always. I came up with a nice idea – a low powered LED flashlight that fits into the hot shoe of a camera, and has the LED on a flexible wand. A good use for a flashlight is to put it in the scene to help with focus and composing. Next time, I’m taking a laser pointer, by jiminy, assuming I can find the one that used to live in the large format bag.
  • I really like the 24mm TS-E. I now lust after the 45mm TS-E and the 90mm TS-E.
  • I started out making photos well stopped down, for depth of field. What the heck was I thinking? I’ve just spent a year making photographs with no depth of field at all, and I change subjects and suddenly I’m stopping down again. Sigh. Apparently I am a slow learner.
  • I have lots of photos with blown out areas where the lights are. I will have to do more bracketing and merging in Photoshop. Double ick.
  • Pincushion and barrel distortion are not my friends. This is one reason I like those TS-E lenses.

One Response

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  1. Gordon McGregor said, on May 20, 2009 at 8:39 am

    After playing with Enfuse for a few days, I have been wondering how well it might be used for architectural photography and dealing with all those light sources. for some info and samples (but no interior shots with lights)

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