Sunday, January 11, 2009

Shortcomings? What shortcomings?

I have heard the phrase "a poor craftsman blames his tools" many times. Every time I hear it I wince a little because the poor craftsman also chose his tools. Tools matter, and it takes knowledge to choose them. However, the take-home message from that proverb is do not blame poor results on poor tools.

My tools are light, lenses, and cameras. This particular post will focus on cameras.

My current camera is extremely old for a dSLR. Its almost 3! Does this make it bad? No. Its not bad. It compares well with newer machines, until you start raising sensitivity more than 2 stops beyond base ISO . Then, you can easily see how much better the newer cameras perform.

My daughter was in her first school production tonight. I wanted to get a few shots. I know, from past experience, that it takes ISO 1600 and an aperture opened to at least 2.8 to get remotely close to a decent shutter speed. To make it worse the stage lights seem all over the map in terms of type and color.

I started having a conversation with myself.
Self, do you want pictures from this production?
You will need ISO 1600.
I know.
The files look like poo at that ISO.
Yeah, I know they are noisy, and the color...

Wait... color?

At that point I realized what I was going to do. These pictures were going to be made in Black and White! This helped me achieve a few things. First, I no longer had to deal with the mixed lighting in the venue. Second, I do not view noise as a problem in black and white images. I find rough and tumble, grainy B&W images preferable. When I used film regularly I never used a B&W film slower than than 400. My favorite was Delta 400 pushed to 1600 - 3200 and developed accordingly. To say I like B&W grain is an understatement. I love it!

I could have have decided my tools were too limited to take any pictures at this event. I could have shot away, and then hemmed and hawed about how crappy my camera performs in those conditions. I could have broken etiquette, like so many others, and used a flash. But I thought through the problem, and came up with what I consider a great solution. I grabbed a few decent frames, ones that may even appeal to my sense of aesthetics. Yes, they are "just" a dad's documentary snapshots from a typical audience seat. But, sometimes snapshots can say important things. These say "Hey world that is my girl up on stage!"

It is probably best I say it in pictures, instead of standing up in the middle of the performance.

Photo Notes : Available light snapshots from audience seat. ( The mic boom arm, just adds tons don't you think? )

1 comment:

Solfrost said...

Hooray for black and white!