Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Photography lessons

A few weeks ago, just before my excursions to England and then Provence, I phoned my son in order to obtain technical advice on an aspect of photography with a digital camera. First, I must explain that, since purchasing a Nikon D70S over a year ago (prior to my voyage to Australia), I've tended to rely entirely upon the automatic possibilities of the camera. That's to say, I simply point it at my subject and push the button, leaving it up to the machine to calculate everything: focus, aperture and shutter speed. I wanted to learn from my son how to become a little less reliant upon the camera's automatisms, at least to the extent of deciding, for example, upon the desired lens opening. Well, I was somewhat surprised to discover that my son dislikes the automatisms of modern digital cameras. So, he turns them off and operates in a purely manual fashion. And that approach enables him to decide upon the exact subject that he wishes to shoot, as seen here:

There's no doubt whatsoever that François is interested here, not in the seashore, but in this section of corroded green hand-railing. Here's another similar example:

It's not the vast sea that interests François, but the tiny round pool at the foot of the crag with oysters attached to it. On the other hand, the presence of a small island in the background is a significant element of the global composition. But this island is of lesser importance than the pool in the foreground.

In the following photo, the woman in a scarlet gown, walking in a determined style towards the road, is the central subject:

But François has taken the photo at the exact instant that a girl is going past the house on a bike. Although the fuzziness of the girl on the bike indicates that she is not the main subject of the photo, she plays a role in the overall sense of the image. Maybe her presence explains why the red-gowned woman is heading towards the road.

In most of my son's photos [click here to visit his website], we find a constant interplay between these two aspects:

— reduction of the depth of field to put the accent upon a precise subject;

— integration of background objects so as to form a harmonious whole.

The effectiveness of his photographic approach and style is particularly apparent in the two series he did for the French weekly Le Figaro Madame: one in Morocco and the other for a luxury hotel in the sand dunes in south-west France.

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