It has been a long time since I have really spent time experimenting with photography. My camera became too cumbersome for walking with. Plus, my iPhone did (and still does) do an excellent job of capturing moments on the go. I did treat myself a while back to a mirrorless camera though and this has now, during the lockdown, become a regular addition to my outdoor gear. I am really enjoying experimenting with photography, so I thought I would share a bit about it.
I have had an SLR camera in my arsenal since I was about fourteen years old. An aspiring artist and photographer, I was keen to get to grips with something more than my trusty point and shoot. The irony here is that I would love to get playing with something like that again – but that is another post in itself. Since getting my camera gear, I have been an on and off photographer of all sort so things. From forgotten parts of Manchester, to cats (of course) and landscapes. I did consider nature photography until I caught a glimpse of the cost of the nature lenses. Some of them are more than my car!
My current kit, which I am using for experimenting with photography at the moment, consists of my second-hand Sony A7 mirrorless body coupled with my eBay purchased manual Pentax 50mm prime lens. Before you drift off thinking that I am getting all technical on you, don’t worry. This is the most technical I will get in this post. I am not here to teach you how to take photographs or to bore you with settings. I simply want to share the fun of playing with images and experimenting with photography with what you have.
Getting out there
I find that limitations are the catalyst for inspiration so have enjoyed the fact that we have only one walk per day to get outside for my photography. Of course I have been playing in the garden too, but for my main adventures, I am photographing people and places on our local walks.
In addition to the times I can get out to take photos, I also have the limitation of the equipment I am using. My lens is manual, which means I have to take a moment to get my shots in focus (or as near as damn it!) before pressing my shutter. The best part of it all is that it doesn’t matter whether it comes out as a crisp image or not – it is an experiment! I have actually found that some which have come out far from my expectations are the best of the bunch. Definitely goes to show that expectations is far from reality at times and how it is great to be able to let go.
My main project at the moment is around recording human moments in a lockdown. A challenge in itself as many people aren’t out as much as before and I choose to get out early in the morning when it is quieter. This in itself has made my experimenting with photography all the more energising. Each time I go out, camera swinging from my neck, I have no idea what I will photograph or whether I will return with a human moment in the collection. I find the uncertainty fun and all part of the game. It is similar with life really. You can head out with something in mind and come back with something totally different. And with the chance of those things being either good or bad. But neither is in fact a negative. They are all part of the experience.
Finding my style
One of the things I have valued most from my recent experimenting with photography had been the chance to find a bit of a style for my street photography and exploring. I really appreciate the bright colours and hyper-real, crisp images of many of the Manchester based street photographers. I have tried it myself and while it looks great, I didn’t feel that it had a good fit with my stories.
My recent selections are soft and muted. Along the vibe of the photos you might find in old albums. I enjoy the feel and think it has that quiet voice that my stories and photographs share.
Start experimenting with photography
I know this post is a little offbeat for my blog here at The Urban Wanderer, but I think there are links to my general activity with my local adventures. I am sharing a bit of another side to me and an insight into what I am doing right now. I also reduced my hours at work (non Covid related, before you ask) so that I have more time to work on my creative projects. This lockdown and limitation has been the best catapult for throwing me in and getting me off on the right foot.
What I want to do with this post is to encourage you to get creative and do some experimenting with photography in your own style. Whether it is with your phone camera? A film camera or your go to digital. Whatever piece of kit you have, choose to do something different. If you usually photograph landscapes, try taking close-ups. If you photograph yourself, take plants and so on! The only rule in the game of experimenting with photography is that anything goes and there are no expectations from a try.