The Battle Within – Part 2

Sunrise Run
Sunrise Run. Tybee Island, GA – 2011

This is part 2 of The Battle Within – What you want to say vs. Technical Knowledge. Part 1 is Here.

Hopefully you are thinking more about What you want to say with your camera after reading Part 1 of this mini series. As I stated, I believe this is the most important question you need to answer as a photographer. In this day and age of digital and the “sea of the same” out there, it is vital that your voice is refined. If you go with the flows and trends, you will set yourself up for burnout, being unfulfilled and most of all rip us off from experiencing your uniqueness! We want to see it.

Today I want to continue this discussion and touch on a few of the fundamental “technical” things I keep in mind when I am shooting. I am going to keep this list simple for now, as I could write many posts about each one of these items.

The Basics I keep in mind (I call it FRISCA)
Rule of Thirds
Shutter speed

The order in which I approach these basics are mixed up a bit, but I could not come up with an easy acronym to share, so there you have it. I just made FRISCA up.

Imagine yourself in a situation where you are about to document some action that will surely be a treasure for someone. You know what you want to say, but you are a little unsure of How to say it or speak if you will. Just like a child learning their words so they can put together a sentence, we too must use these basics to get our photographic speak flowing smoothly.

FRISCA is an attempt to plant a seed in your routine that will grow and strengthen overtime like the trunk of an Oak Tree.

My routine when approaching a scene goes like this:
1. What is the lowest ISO I can get away with? Is the scene bright or dark? Where is the main light source? Where is my subject in relation to the light source?

2. What aperture do I use? This is easy because I typically shoot with a Large aperture 1.4 – 2.8. This gives me a great depth of field and allows a lot of light to soak into the sensor or film.

3. What shutter speed is ideal? At this point I can get a technically good exposure just by zeroing out my in camera meter and making a photograph. These first three basics are the foundation of exposure. Keep in mind that your meter is a guide, but you need to know what you want to see. Are there bright elements in the frame that are not important? Dark items? What does the background look like? Is my subject in the main light source? Are there highlights I want to keep? Do I over or under expose? All of these are unique to a scene, so I have chosen to use my shutter speed to answer these questions. This keeps it simple so I don’t have to change too many things. I want to shoot and share, not fiddle around and miss.

4. Rule of thirds and Composition really play nicely together. (the rule of thirds explained). When I am composing I generally play by the rule of thirds, though sometimes breaking the rules is necessary. It really depends on… Yep, What I want to say. When composing I am keeping aware of distractions in the frame that will take the viewer’s eye away from the core of the image. Looking for hot spots (bright areas) and black holes (dark areas) that will also take away from the core. Composition is the much needed icing to your beautiful exposure.

5. Focus – for some reason this basic gives beginners some trouble. Understanding how your camera focuses is vital. How many focus points are there? 1, 5, 51? Are you going to use those different focus points or use the center focus point and do the focus and recompose technique? If you don’t know, try them both. I am pretty much a compose an then use an appropriate focus point kinda shooter, however there are times I will just use the center point and focus/recompose and shoot. Regardless of your preferred technique, master it. So often I see what would be good photographs, but the shooter missed their focus point. Nail that focus!

This may seem like a lot to think about when you are making a shot. It is but the secret is to engrain this in your being. The more you practice the more second nature this will become. Eventually you are making these decisions on the fly without even thinking about them. Another piece of advice is to know your camera! You should be able to change settings without ever removing it from your eye. Keep your camera with you always and learn everything about it. Heck get it a pillow and put it next to you whole you are sleeping. (ok that is a little nutty, but you get the point)

Can you see how The Battle Within can be fueled? I want my voice to beat the techie but I need the techie to form my words…

The Battle Continues…

How is your battle going?

Comments 2

  1. Hi David! I’ve really enjoyed your posts these past few days. So much of your words can be applied to video production – especially documentary video. The more projects I produce, the more I realize I need to stay focused on story and need to make technical decisions based off of whether what/how I’m shooting moves the story forward. Great post! Keep ’em coming.

  2. Post

    Thanks DB! I agree they apply just the same to video. I would love to hear your thought process as well. It would be great to share on here! Hope you are loving DC. Miss you guys!


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