Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Photographic scales

Solitary, Cumbria, May 2007

What is the photographic equivalent of musical scales?

It was a thought that I had out on the hills, particularly when the conditions were less than totally inspiring.

Most art forms have some sort of regular practice exercises: musical scales, sketch pads, studies & cartoons. Sportsmen never turn up to the big game without a lot of time on the practice field.

So what do photographers have in the same vein? the purpose of such drills is to hone the skills, develop total comfort and mastery with the tools such that it is second nature when it really matters. There is often discussion on the fora & blogs about making the camera an extension of oneself, making it invisible, yet there is never any discussion as to how one achieves this. It cannot be a function directly of the instrument itself, otherwise I could pick up a Leica and shoot like Cartier-Bresson.

It is certainly more than knowing the mechanics or understanding the theory of exposure, composition, depth of focus etc. I believe the great photography comes at the end of a long line of focused practice but what practice, and how to focus it?

I don't have any answers here, I'm still searching.

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