Learning to See

I recently read an article about becoming a better photographer. The article suggested that for a year, you only shot film and do not edit any of your photos. I know it’s absolutely impossible for me to shoot only film for a year, so I decided that I’m going to shot about 90% film and try not to edit any of my photos at all. I know it’s not quite what the writer had in mind, but I’m not quite ready to give up the convenience of my iPhone just yet.

Because I really do want to learn how to take better pictures, and I love the thrill of developing my own film, I decided I would concentrate on taking black and white photos. That way I could save a little money by developing the film myself.

I have always loved black and white photography. It has always drawn me. But I was also intimidated by it. Without the distraction of color, your subject is just so much more in the forefront and lighting is so much more important.  If the photo is not metered correctly, your subject may be nothing more than a dark shadow or completely blown out. Not only that, but I love taking pictures of greenery. In black and white, you can’t just shot a picture of flowers on a bush. Without any color, if your picture isn’t compose  just right, you end up with a flat photo that is boring to the viewers.

I have quickly learned this past month that the things I like to take pictures of, really aren’t that interesting without color and that I really need to focus more on lighting. With black and white film, you can’t just snap a picture and hope it will come out well. If you want a good picture, you have to put effort in to it and you have to be able to see in your mind how it will come out before you even click the shutter.

With each roll of film I develop, I’m learning something new. I’m learning what works and what doesn’t work. I’m learning to take my time and focus, versus snap on the go. I’m learning to see the light and look at the shadows. I know I still have a long way to go, but I think I’m getting a little better. At least I’m now aware of what I need to do.

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