This orange notebook was purchased as the result of watching a YouTube video, specifically a video produced by The Art Of Photography. In addition to the notebook I bought a printer, ink cartridges, and a second (purple) notebook.
Having built a substantial community on the web, Ted recently announced an interactive project that could involve anyone who finds it; Photo Assignments.
At about the 7 minute mark in this video Ted suggests getting a notebook with a view to printing your work and collecting it as a means to improve your creative process by reviewing, assessing, and making notes. A sketchbook of sorts.
And now that you have an understanding of why I bought two notebooks and a printer, onwards to the first assignment...
Assignment 1 (you can view the video if you want) is titled "Variations"; the idea being that by taking one subject and shooting it in a series of variations will help improve your creative mind and alter how your creative process works.
My understanding of the assignment was to pick a subject and make 10 different photographs with it.
I picked a wine bottle as my subject; an item that I believed would present a challenge due to its simple shape and reflective properties. In addition to these aspects, I added the challenge of only using a single side lamp for lighting, and my girlfriend's living room as a set.
I was of course shooting with my trusty X100T, but with the added availability of recently acquired tele and wide angle converters. I still love this camera, and the extra glass allowed some extra possibility for variation.
The assignment was, I will freely admit, more of a challenge that I had anticipated. Even whilst watching the instruction video I had ideas forming for different shots to try so I thought getting 10 would be fairly straightforward.
I got through 6 before hitting a bit of a block. Thankfully, a bit of perseverance and trying to think outside the box I succeeded in getting my 10 images.
Prior to my first shot I had decided that I would produce no more, and no less than 10 images. An 8Gb SD card will hold a lot of photographs and I made the choice to not allow myself the option of retaking the same shot to improve upon it.
Part of the assignment was to allow myself to mess up. It was not to create 10 perfect images.
I am already aware that my hit rate for shots I like is less than a third of those I take. And so far, of the thousands of images I've made, only a handful make me feel like I've created an excellent piece of work. This assignment has proven to me the benefit of making that shot right at the first push of the shutter button, and given me a way to practice that skill.
Another aspect of my work that I feel could be detrimental, is my reliance on editing to create a better image, sometimes even trying to fix a bad photo with excessive work in Lightroom or Photoshop. When deciding how to print my images I opted to print both the RAW file straight out of the camera along side my edited version.
This gives a nice point of reference to assess my editing style and ability.
Once added to the sketchbook (as you can likely see from the images) I noted down the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO as a point of reference and then set about having a good look over the photos to see what I thought.
Some photos were not as I had hoped, but the results weren't too bad. I definitely got some variation, although some images do share some similarities to others. As mentioned earlier I was not attempting to get 10 perfect shots, I was concentrating on the creative process and how I create my images.
Once I'd made notes on the photos I found myself with some points to consider about my photographic process. This right here is exactly why this sketchbook idea is excellent and my thanks go to Ted for the inspiration.
When I get my work into Lightroom I usually work image by image, making sure each photograph is what I'd like it to be. By analysing "finished" images I get the chance to identify similarities in images (trends if you will) that I can work on when I'm shooting.
Specifically I picked up on my use of Auto ISO; I've found that changing the ISO on the X100T a little awkward due to it lacking a dedicated dial, to combat this I have set a suitable range for the auto ISO function; 100 - 1600 (or 3200 if it's a bit dark) and let the camera do its thing. This has served me well but perhaps I should be considering all three of my settings more. I generally choose the aperture myself and adjust the shutter speed until the internal lightmeter centralises, the camera does the rest, by doing so I end up letting the camera take a lot of control, I'd like to work out if this is too much of a bad thing, can I improve my photography by taking the full control back.
In the interest of sharing the images I took, here's a little gallery of all 10 for perusal at your leisure.
The other points I concluded from the assignment were things to keep in mind when the camera is in hand:
- Think more about the background whilst shooting
- Think more about how the lighting works
- Turn things upside down (literally and metaphorically)
Fairly straightforward points, but aspects of photography that I should be doing by now to create better images.
Credit certainly goes to Ted for putting the idea of a photographic sketch book into my head. Already it has been used to add prints and make notes from a recent photo critique, and the book will no doubt fill with up with other shots and notes rather quickly. I'm really looking forward to pushing my work forward and creating other similar books of my work.
Until next time...