Tuesday, May 17, 2011


You ever get a little too caught up in technical details? Sometimes we all do. In those moments it helps to step back and visualize the whole concept. Maybe take a break. That tends to bring us back down to earth and realize that ultimately the settings in a camera often matter very little.

Take a look at the first image below. It was NOT taken by me, but by one of Fresno California's favorite "foodies" and all around interesting fella. James Collier who becomes our first ever guest via one of his images [original post].
Now this image caught my attention because of the caption that James posted with it initially. He pointed out that this technically bad photo ended up being the favorite of his recent trip. When I saw the photo I thought "this is a great shot!". Maybe he was right maybe not, but it really didn't matter. My eyes saw right through that and focused on the moment, and what a great moment it was. One single frame told me a story too hard to convey in a short paragraph. What was James referring to? Maybe it was the slight blur on grandmas face or the fact that the gentleman in the backs face is only partially visible. I really didn't ask. I can tell you that the slight motion blur in grandmas face only adds to the picture because I can almost see her moving. The gentleman standing... what a smile! If you wanted to only catch one single part of him it would be just that, and James did it.

So I'm shooting FUSE Fest a while back and I wander into the DJ venue. I showed up just in time to catch DJ Bradley start his set. This was my first time seeing him perform, so I did not know exactly what to expect. To my surprise he was very visually entertaining. Not in that "let me put a visual show" kinda way, but more like "I really enjoy doing this and I let it take me". The music was good and the crowd was interacting and absorbing. His moves were swift and calculated all while never loosing sight of the music. Vinyl records went back to cases while others took their place on the turntables. As all this goes on I'm walking around with my camera shooting images. I come back to Bradley and the show is in full force. I change a few camera settings and refocus on him. I snap a couple shots and look at my screen for quick review. The settings at this point were ok for still subjects, but under lower light conditions too slow for a moving subject. All this is going through my head in seconds as I see Bradley grab a record and start lifting it straight toward his face. It almost happened in slow motion. I saw him hold on to it with two hands and I knew a great moment was coming. I had no time to change more settings. I lifted my camera at the same time he did the record and I realized "he's going to kiss it!" There was only enough time to put the camera up to my eye and snap! I took two shots. The second was milliseconds late; the record was already coming down. The first however caught him right in the moment. Even before reviewing the image I knew there would be some blur because of the movement. I looked at it and realized I was right, but guess what I still liked it. It bothered me that I was unable to capture a technically perfect image, but somehow I was actually ok with it. The moment was everything. Nevertheless it became one the images Bradley picked for keeping a print of.

This brings me back to something I realized and told James after I saw his image "great moments = great images" perfect camera settings don't.

Now go capture great moments!

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