Photography - What to capture

Answers by David Bircher, SCA

Q. How can I more easily decide what to capture or create in the field?

A. As a photographer often using large format cameras, tripods, etc., I must have a good idea of what and how to photograph particular subject possibilities before I set up my heavy equipment. This requires preparation through observation, often over an extended period of time. This includes observing the quality of light and possible climatic conditions such as wind, precipitation, etc.

I have found, however, once the paraphernalia is unloaded and set up the sense of perspective may have changed, sometimes quite radically, from the images imagined or seen from behind the wheel of the 4x4. In order to facilitate the creative decisions before tripping the shutter, I would like to pass on a suggestion that the late Ansel Adams offered in his technical writings on photography. This is the use of a simple viewing frame to make preliminary choices related to angle of view, and lens options. The cutout is rectilinear and sturdy in use therefore giving a stable pre-visualization of the finished, perhaps framed, image. It is not a new technique but deserves to be reviewed from time to time.

Fashion a simple but well made "window" cutout from your usual mounting board or other rigid material in the shape of your film format or final image preference. This simple tool will help to make "in field" decisions before expensive film is exposed or equipment is erroneously positioned.

The more distant from the eye you place the cutout frame, the more telephoto becomes the effect. Usually, your arm's length is sufficient to cover the focal lengths required in most situations. It is vastly more practical than using quasi frames made from thumbs and index fingers.

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