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The Mechanics of Images

December 19, 2015

Two antennas got married.  The ceremony was unremarkable, but the reception was incredible.

During my hiatus from the blog I was asked by a friend of the family to make some shots at their wedding.  As you can tell by the normal subject matter I present, I don’t usually make images of people.  I warned this friend that he was not getting anything resembling a professional photographer and he was good with that.  He just wanted snapshots to remember the day.  And that is pretty much what he got.

But this post is not about wedding photography, as frankly I’m trying to forget about being involved in the nuts and bolts of the ceremony.  The same comparision made about enjoying sausage and respecting the law applies also to the execution of a wedding.

One of the bride’s friends was also snapping some pictures.  We talked for a spell after the ceremony and reception were over and she had some very nice images.  But as I got to discuss my area of expertise and especially the mechanics involved in making dragonfly images, she quickly retorted with something to the effect of, “You’re not speaking a language I understand.”  She didn’t understand f-stops. She didn’t want to learn about f-stops.  That was too complicated–she just wanted to make images.

A little secret from a guy that makes a good image once in a while:  You need to understand the mechanics of light to consistently make good images.  Photograph, from the Greek, means light picture (though I prefer using ljósmyndir from Icelandic which means the same thing).  To make good images you need to be able to balance exposure, aperture, and sensor speed.  Aperture selection is amazingly important because as a photographer you should be in charge of your depth of field, or in short how much before and after your focusing point is going to be sharp and what is going to fade away into a creamy bokeh.

This is very important in portrait work, of which a good deal of wedding is.  The subjects should be in focus.  The background should not.  The photographer should be making those decisions, not the camera.  The camera has no idea what you are envisioning.  You still have to tell it what to do.  Getting only the aperture right won’t guarantee a great shot, but not purposefully getting the aperture right will leave a huge part of your image to chance.

I tried to discuss this, gently, but she was having none of it.  Too complicated.  Not important.  So I let it be.  As photographers we eventually all have an “Oh, that’s what the book meant” moment–when we see how our shifting of the aperture changed the whole image.  She’ll get there, but she has to see the light for herself.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 19, 2015 7:00 am

    Great post!

  2. December 19, 2015 8:33 am

    Some people are just satisfied with what they are doing, while others always strive to learn more and became better at something. I guess it’s just personality differences. One leads to staying the same, the other to becoming.

  3. December 20, 2015 4:05 pm

    I think our passions drive us. If you don’t have it, you don’t care, if you do, you can’t stop doing it. LOL Have a fabulous Christmas and thank you for always brightening my day.

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