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  • Gary R McCauley, Photo

Visualization 101; again...

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

With the new website and server change completed, I feel driven to renew my blog, like it or not! As my wife and I just returned from our first sojourn of the year, to the Great Smoky Mountains NP (a frequent haunt of ours), I felt compelled to share the accompanying image story. We stumbled upon this view, along the Gatlinburg Bypass route. Taken by the breathtaking view, we swerved into an overlook lot, 23' trailer & all...

As we were blocking several parking spaces in the overlook, I grabbed my camera and jumped out, using a railing post to steady the camera, and grabbed the first image, with the camera set for fully automatic. The light was fading fast, as will happen on a cold February evening, so I wanted to, at the very least, preserve the moment.

Now, there's a lot of interesting stuff here;....but, it's not, as Ansel Adams said, "..what I saw and felt."

We are in the midst of a shift in image-making; Everyone is a Photographer.

Truly. The phone you now carry is capable of creating an image far superior to the finest digital cameras of less than a decade ago. But, that doesn't make it better...

Some may argue that this composition is fine, the way it is. That's an individual judgement call. Some may state that the exposure is "accurate" and revealing. But, it's not, "..what I saw and felt."

If it matters, the camera in question is a nice little "rangefinder" style camera by Fujifilm; the X100T, which I purchased about 5-6 years ago. I like it, because, in addition to it's abilities to spit out great image files, it handles like a good-old Leica or Yashica 35GSN. Bystanders always assume it to be a film camera, and, for some idiotic reason, feel less threatened than if I were carrying a DSLR with a gargantuan zoom lens.

Once I had the first image in hand, I started the thought-process of actually creating the image that I saw in my mind. Due to the "low-light", the camera had defaulted to ISO 6400; This would have allowed me to hand-hold the camera, but, at a cost of image-quality. First, I set the exposure compensation dial to -1 full-stop; that was close. But, even then, the camera opted for ISO 1600, producing a surprisingly acceptable image, with an equally-surprising lack of sensitivity-induced artifacts and still didn't convey the mood of the vista before me. Reverting to manual exposure and selecting a "film speed" of 400, I was able to control the exposure, without letting the "darkness" of the foreground alter the desired exposure.

Pre-visualization is what separates "a cool shot" from "a compelling image". Knowing what to do, on the fly, is the key. This can be done with most modern image-making devices.....and MUST be done with film cameras.

Know what you're shooting for.

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