The introduction of digital technology into photography has brought with it a whole host of advantages and opportunities that photographers once only dreamed of. But at the same time, it has led to us developing a few bad habits.
We’re all guilty of not being able to wait to see our photographs and look at the back of the camera almost as soon at the shutter is pressed. This, as I am sure you know, is called chimping. It is so common that the definition has now been added to most dictionaries. One even goes so far as to add that the activity is often associated with the expression ‘Oooo”.
I often go out with groups of photographers on my workshops and have noticed that much time is spent in looking at the back of the cameras. This is time wasted.
In a recent interview Annie Leibovitz talks about chasing the Polaroid. What she means by this is that in the days of film photography instant Polaroids were taken at the beginning of the shoot as a test to see that the lighting was correct and that the subject was looking good.
She explains that it would often turn out that Polaroid image was great, and the photographer spent the rest of the day trying to replicate what was captured by in the Polaroid.
In a way we are doing the same thing. Take a picture and look at the back of the camera and then continue making the same picture trying to refine tiny details in that one image, moving slightly, shooting looking at the screen, moving a little and shooting.
We are, in our own way, chasing the Polaroid.
We have the technology, and the review screen is there, so use it, but get sucked down the rabbit-hole of trying to perfect every nuance in the imagine. This time can be better spent exploring other options and photo-opportunities within the scene.
Another bad habit that has come with digital technology is as a result of us being able to view our images on large, high resolution screens. Yes, pixel-peeping is in some dictionaries too.
When we spot a slight blemish or something that is not perfectly sharp, or we have lost detail in the shadows or highlights, we feel we have failed.
Consider this. In the days before digital photography, photographers had to look at their images on contact sheets, making selections by looking at 36 by 24 mm frames under magnifying glass. They would then have prints made, and seldom would they be larger than 8 by 10 inches.
And using that technology some of the greatest images and most memorable photographs have been made.
I’m not suggesting that we all go and buy a vintage camera and some very expensive film, but what I am I’m saying is that with our digital cameras in hand we should try and behave a little more like film shooters.
Slow down, stop comparing and start exploring!
Photographers used contact sheets like these to make selections for printing.