Thoughts & Motives

I spend an afternoon in downtown Los Angeles with a Fujifilm X-Pro 1 and a Fujinon XF 35mm 1:1.4 R. Learning to use the X system requires lots of patience, some trials and errors and many notes taking. Challenging but fun.

On top of that, Adobe Lightroom 4.1 begins to support X-Pro 1 RAW, the real fun starts. More possibilities to manage color, sharpness, noise. Even making books.

These days, one can never stop learning.

That’s one of the reasons why I keep notes of everything. From apertures to distances, from Clarity to Curves. Another reason for me to keep notes is that I can’t capture the breeze, the smell, the temperature of the scenes with my camera. Sometimes, these things do play crucial parts during the editing process.

Chimping. 2012 © Optical Collimator

For me, editing RAW files is just as fun as wandering through La-La Land with a camera in my hands. The visual sensations, the thoughts when my thumb pressed down the shutter release to capture the shots flashes through my mind like a movie clip the seconds my photographs appears on the monitor’s screen.

Moments like these helps me to decide either my photographs should be in color or in black and white. It’s difficult for me to explain, but to me, photography isn’t what happened at the moments I took the shot. Photography is what happened at the time I processed the images, reshaped the photographs, fine-tuned their colors, gave them the titles. And then, the memories that will come back when I look at those images years later. Moments like these turn street photography into an addictive drug.

Vendor on the Old Plaza. 2012 © Optical Collimator

Those little stories I captured would never make the front page of a newspaper, nor would it make the cover of any book. Still, I love them. I love them not only for the people in my photographs but also for everything I’d learned during the progress of the art.

Street photography—or any field of photography—isn’t that difficult. Anyone, who has the right equipment, can do it; but if you take street photography seriously and you want to create some decent photographs, you need to study every tool you have in your possession. Do not think your X-Pro 1 is a simple camera. Once you dig into this little black box, you will realize it’s much more complex than you have thought. Do not blame the awkward focus by wire or the shutter lag. Once you master your X-Pro 1, these faulty designs seem to disappear on their own.

I mean, how do you enjoy street photography to the fullest if you don’t have the love for your camera, right? But how are you going to love your camera if you don’t know a thing or two about it? You’re not going to learn anything by going to forums and read other people’s issues with the same camera you have. You need to find your own problems with your equipment and learn the ways to solve them. That’s what photography all about, my friends. It’s not about the most expensive camera or the fastest lens but rather about learning to solve problems.

Surprise you, don’t I?

Think about it. Composition is a problem. Getting the correct exposure is a problem. To see what others can’t see is a problem. And there are more…

Investigation. 2012 © Optical Collimator

You’ve seen folks who spent thousand of dollars on DVDs, books, seminars and workshops but learned nothing much. Have you wondered why? That is because they tried so hard to scratch the surface but barely made the effort to learn from themselves. In reality, no teacher will be there for you when you need to solve a photographic problem; and ninety percent of these problems are from the hands of the users.

Learning from your own mistakes has never been an easy task. However, once you get to know your habits, the learning process will accelerate. Your photographic foundation will also be strengthened.

Take a notebook with you the next time you’re on the streets shooting. Experiment with things you do not already know and things you’re already know but wanting a better solution. Give your strength and knowledge a test. I’m positively sure that you will amaze yourself with things your notes are going to reveal.

It’s time to explore and conquer, my friends.

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About Kris Phan

I'm not a photographer. I'm a camera user. View all posts by Kris Phan

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