Never Stop Learning - a Guide to Experimenting to Improve Your Photography
Just because something seems like a bad idea, doesn't mean it will be!
Of course, there's also just as much chance that it will be an unmitigated disaster. My point here is that if you don't try something, you will never know one way or the other.
Some of the favourite images that I've created have only happened because of the mistakes I've made along the way.
"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." George Bernard Shaw
All the Hipsters Stole My Lenses
It's has become an unfortunate truth that the analogue lens market is fast becoming a victim of it's own success. I used to buy old lenses and tinker around, or spot an image on Flickr that had some amazing bokeh and then google the lens to see where I might be able to find one.
I never spent very much and even if the results weren't as good as I might have hoped for, it wasn't like I was going without food in the pursuit of a hobby.
Today it appears that certain vintage lenses can cost you more than a better than average digital camera.
Which would be fine if the number of amazing images was increasing at the same rate as the sales of funky lenses.
What To Do?
When I worked in a camera store, we had the expression "All the gear, no idea" ... with anything reduced to a stereotype to make a point, there is only a kernel of truth in this statement, but a kernel can be enough.
To be fair, I've all but given up on collecting 'new' lenses for my work, I tend to use the same lenses over and over. However, I still (on occasion) find ways to experiment without breaking the bank.
It's time to think creatively to get creative!
Does anybody remember when it was de rigueur to pop that tilt-shift filter on your Insta posts? Well, I'd always quite fancied properly shooting a little tilt-shift myself, but I wasn't keen on spending any money on trying it out.
So, using nothing more than some gaffer tape and the usual adaptor for my Super Takumar 50mm ... I created my own tilt-shift lens.
Images Captured Using a Makeshift Tilt-Shift LensClick thumbnail to view full-size
Cheap & Cheerful
The results are quite frankly, fine.
It is rather fiddly carrying a camera and having to hold the lens at the same time, but the alternative would have required a visit to at least one online retailer and then a 4 to 5 day wait.
For the cost of a few centimetres of gaffer tape, I got my answer.
The best camera for the job is the one you have with you
This is so true.
I remember being told by a young chap who came into the camera store once, that he didn't need anything but his iPhone. He was mostly right.
I had a look at his photographs, they were amazing. He had composition off to a fine art, and more importantly, he was happy with the results.
Personally (and not purely because I've never been able to afford an iPhone) I suggested he would eventually want a camera that gave him more options to be creative.
iPhones are wonderful at knowing you are taking a photograph of a sunset, so you get to take a marvellous sunset photograph, but what if you wanted to take a 'bad' photograph of a sunset?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Nobody can please everybody all of the time, and to believe you will is the biggest obstacle to creativity.
So long as "you" are happy with the things you manage to cobble together with ingenuity, a modicum of talent and a little blind luck, you are more than halfway to true enlightenment (or at least making people smile).
During my research for this article, I was pleased to discover the 25mm CCTV lens I bought from eBay maybe six years ago is still only around the £13 mark
Images Captured Using a Generic 25mm CCTV LensClick thumbnail to view full-size
Don't Let Others Stifle You
My approach to most things is fairly slapdash, I would rather try something and fail than to languish in ignorance. I don't pretend to be the greatest photographer ever, nor do I pretend to have all the answers to how you can improve your photography.
What I do know is only you hold the key to your creativity, so go and have some fun, make blunders, try things, learn from your mistakes.
If you're interested in seeing more of my mistakes please take a look at the links on my profile.
© 2020 Glavind Strachan