Week 1: No Viewfinder
Street photography without using the viewfinder.
Guessing exposure levels, focus and frame composition.
For this challenge, my photo-buddy-hubby and I took a walk around an area in our city. I used a Nikon D800 with an 85mm prime lens and hubby juggled a Go-Pro and a Fujifilm XT-1. Of course, we both used our smartphones too.
At first we both found it really difficult to judge what was in the frame composition without checking first. I also had a lot of trouble with focus since I was using a prime lens, not intended for close-up images. Literally pointing and shooting without looking is really tough at first but after an hour or so and a few hundred duds, the process becomes easier.
Since we weren’t occupied with the camera settings, we had more opportunity to look for the moments, ideas or emotions that were happening around us. I noticed that since we weren’t looking at the viewfinder, our subjects were not disturbed by us or our cameras. We were able to get a lot closer without changing the mood.
Downloading the images would have been mightily disappointing, however, I forced myself to judge the images with the idea of “No Viewfinder” in mind. What does that look like and how is that different to my normal photographic style? We also gave ourselves very limited editing options- cropping/ straightening and exposure.
Some of the images look like normal photos because they have been exposure corrected and straightened. Colour and subject matter choices look the same as usual. However, lack of control over focus and composition really pushed the boundaries for me. These are the ones that I think reflect the notion of “ No Viewfinder” as an entry point into a conceptual world. Since the images were more abstract, they depict a feeling for the places and moments we saw.
If you take on this challenge and you’re aiming for your photos to look like the usual well exposed, composed and interesting subjects….. You will probably be very disappointed.
However, if you’re willing to set aside the usual photographic conventions, and challenge your ideas of photography and creativity, you might be pleasantly surprised.
This is great exercise to push your photography past visual representation and into the ‘conceptual’ realm. Creating images, more like paintings, that express an idea or emotion rather visually documenting a person or place.
- Use burst mode for greater chance of getting a usable image
- My camera’s shutter release is really loud which I think drew attention to me. Next time, I would turn the sound off.
- Auto focus is the best choice unless you want to really go for an abstract look.
- In street photography, it seems like you’re always moving, but try to remember to remain still while shooting and let the action pass you.
- Stop and check after a few shots to see if you’re doing anything majorly wrong.
- Swap cameras often to get different lens effects, and points of view.