Wednesday, 15 October 2014



Why do we use animals to describe some of the things we do - like having a Lark, Chimping or Dogging? Actually only one of these expressions directly relate to photography. Having a Lark simply means having fun which, if you use a camera you should be and Dogging... well, I suppose photography and fun could be ascribed to this particular activity, but let's move on shall we.

I'm an old film guy who was used to waiting hours and maybe days before I found out if the shot I'd taken was over-exposed or otherwise ruined. Now of course, we check the screen on the back of the camera. This is Chimping. And it's a habit we all get into and use too much at our peril.

Not least because I've bumped into too many people who have stopped dead in their tracks because they're checking the shot they've just taken. Fine if the person bumped into is a wonderful and fragrant women who then turns to you and instantly falls in love, offering you her all. But of course this never, ever, happens. At least me. I shudder at the memory of the weight-challenged American guy I once bumped into and promptly bounced off. For all I know he's still quivering, a fleshy tsunami circulating around his waist.

The real reason of course, is because you can miss an important shot by taking your eye off the ball. Or rather camera. No, not camera - the action. Whatever it is you are supposed to be capturing. Or not capturing, because you are chimping. See?

How to mitigate chimping? Try using film. Or just switch off your preview. This is harder than you think. We, and I include myself here, are addicted in a greater or lesser extent, to chimping.

I'm thinking of setting up a retreat for photographers who can't stop chimping to save their grannies lives. I'll paint over their screens with indelible black ink and wave an inflatable naughty finger at them if they so much as dare glance away from what they are photographing. The Great Fickle Finger of Shame shall be pointed towards them, and their peers will shake with fear and loathing for they could be next.

Only when the 'event' has passed, should you chimp to your hearts delight. Of course, this means having great confidence in what and how you take pictures...

That means amongst other things, making sure you have the camera on all the right settings before you shoot and know from what you shoot what you should adjust for, AS you shoot. It means getting in the habit of using the focus and exposure lock in a way so you will not screw up if the shot moves from say, darkness to sky - because you will compensate as you shoot.

This takes a degree of skill.

Trust yee not, the auto-exposure and focus of the magical box. Trust in thine abilities.

Here endeth the sermon. Go forth and capture. 
(photo above from the BBC via Rob Lamb's photo blog)

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