The Magic Frame: Stalking The Subject


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Do take the time to look at the slideshow above

Oh, before I go on – I have been away.

For some you, the slideshow may not work, so I inserted thumbnails below.

Going on, on the topic of The Subject, and taking further cues from the book, “On Being A Photographer” ( David Turn & Bill Jay).

In the old days of film, we never did know how the picture would actually turn out. Also, when you zero in on an image, there are subtle variations of position, angle, zoom, lighting that can show up the subject in different ways.

A couple of years back, I did a course on storytelling photography, with a brilliant photographer and teacher, Rob Sheppard. This was part of the courses then offered by Jim Miotke on his site

Anyhow, when you, as a photographer do zero in on a subject, the question to be asked is – how do you approach the subject? 

It is not always easy, on the street, to stalk a subject. I did manage to shoot a few shots of this chap lying spaced out in the gutter. I did not take more, to avoid being smacked by passers by on the street. Yet, you will see that the pictures show subtle changes of angle, zoom, position and focus.

At each point, he looked slightly different.

This is very different from shooting randomly, with no aim in mind. 

Subtle changes make for subtle, or profound changes in the final image. Sometimes, when we are taking photographs, we will not know this until we see the final image.

How has this changed with digital photography?

In my view, the principles remain the same. There is a tendency to look into the screen at the back, to see how the image looks, and how the histogram looks. While this is useful indeed for static images, the fact is that it gives you an indication on what needs to be done.

Subtle changes in exposure can be planned by looking at the back of the camera. However, looking into the screen will not tell you how and where to move the camera for the next shot. This is something that you, as a photographer has to do.

Also, the tiny screen cannot tell you how sharp your images are. If you keep expanding the view, the light may change in the process. So, do have a look, but don’t take your eye off the drama unfolding in front of you.

Plan the shoot. Have an idea of what you want to achieve. Then, stalk  the subject.  It helps to lead to superb storytelling photographs.

Don’t shoot randomly. It generally does not lead to consistent results.


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