The thing with being a photographer based in the countryside is that I am learning all by myself. This is the reason why I aggressively invite any photographer I meet to have coffee and discuss photography in general, so I know what is going on the planet. Also, thanks to Google plus I can stay in touch with the latest trends.
So one way for me to keep learning and improving photography is to force myself to get out of my comfort zone. Doing things I usually don’t do: shooting all day with an aperture of 11, only using slow shutter speeds, buying myself a (sweet!) manual focus lens, etc… This is a great way to learn and do new things, very frustrating for the first couple of hours but creating nice and surprising results.
I recently decided that shooting with a very wide aperture (as I only use prime lenses the aperture can go very wide!) was too easy. Having a very shallow depth of field is something I love and which is very pleasant for the eyes of everyone. It is easier to make something attractive when using a shallow DOF. So after acquiring the beautiful Carl Zeiss 50mm f1.4, I decided to only use it above f4, which would force me to be more creative with my composition, making a good photo without the easy DOF factor.
Well, you know what? F**K that!
Yesterday I spend the morning shooting with the amazingly talented landscape photographer Drew Hopper. Using the beautiful Sigma 35mm, Drew was very often shooting wide open (f1.4) and I suddenly realized that I missed it so much! Having a very shallow DOF is something I love doing and I see now no reason why I should completely stop. Instead of shooting with a narrower aperture, why not shooting with the aperture that I feel works best?
I am working a lot at the moment on very “street photography” kind of composition, watching a lot of Robert Doisneau and Henri Cartier Bresson photos. Their sense of composition is amazing, using people’s body shapes to create lines and feeling to their photos. All about taking the shot at the perfect time, when all is balanced (or unbalanced!) together. I find it also very interesting to discuss these things in my workshops.
So improving but keeping using something I love (shallow DOF) could be I think a good mixture.
Thanks, Drew Hopper for the inspiration!