Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Neophyte failings: the fenceline

Let me begin by saying that I am not a photographer. In fact, it might be accurate to say that I am to photography what I am to surfing: I love it (especially thinking about it in the abstract), but in reality tend to step backwards off the board and end up swallowing a pint of seawater.

So this past winter when I inherited my grandfather’s camera, I enjoyed it for its aesthetic and nostalgic value, placed it on a shelf where I could enjoy it...and promptly ceased to touch it (I also tend to break things).

Then the other day I pulled it out, and curious to see if it still worked, I took it up to Ritz Camera. There, I met the nicest guy who spent about 45 minutes showing me how to work it (in an very rudimentary way).

Thus armed with new knowledge, a sunny day, and my bike, I tootled around, pulling out my light meter, adjusting the lens (the camera is entirely mechanical), and generally feeling very competent and tied to a larger tradition, one of art rather than science.

Then I got my film back.

*Ahem* it would seem that my self-important feelings of competence and aesthetic rigor were misplaced. Out of a roll of 24, 7 images came out...the others were so over/under exposed as to be unprintable. Of the 7, I can identify 3.

Though these 3 look like what they are--the artless, stumbling, trite efforts of a neophyte without even basic focusing skills--I still rather like them.

Now back to Ritz to figure out where/why I went wrong.


Possessives said...

The New Museum has an important and influential legacy and role to keep breaking new ground. A site of ongoing experimentation and questioning of what art and institutions can be in the 21st century

Bike Jax said...

Madeleine, I rather like the second one.

You don't say what make of or model your grandfathers camera is. But judging from the images here I can tell you the problem. Older cameras, Pre mid-70's camera's didn't always have the most reliable meters built into them.

I'm going to guess the meter in your camera is not center weighted. And as it is not center weighted, it is going to read the largest and brightest area. Which was the sky or sun in the case of the images posted.

You are going to have learn how to fool the meter. This however is a pretty simple trick. Next time you want run a roll through, if the subject is sun, take the meter reading off the back of your hand in the same light. If the subject is in shade do the same off the back your hand.
Make sure your hand takes up the majority of the frame when doing this.

I think this will give you more desirable results.

Light & shade said...

Of course

madeleine said...

thank you for the tip BIKE JAX! and actually, its a WWII era model, it has no internal light meter, so I am using an old on that came with it...perhaps it is the light meter, not I, that is all messed up...that doesn't explain my lack of focus though...

wish me luck!

Marisa said...


do you think that at least for some people who use visual
means to express their artistic vision (as opposed to poets, novelists
and the like), discussion is difficult because they naturally express
themselves visually and not with words? Even though they may know very
well why they're doing what they're doing, they may hold this
understanding in a wholistic, non-linear way that is difficult (if not
impossible) to express in linear speech and writing.


not at all

YCLArt said...

i think the pics are awesome, they give that feeling of family snap shots, the ones you flip through in the old photo albums in your parent's basement/attic/under the bed/where ever they keep them. digital cameras have spoiled us, i don't see many raw shots anymore, it brings back memories, and you know how i love memories ;-)