“What is it that you’re trying to shoot?”


While I was at the GSMIT workshop, one of my instructors asked me this question (or something like it) while we were out on a shooting trip at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Besides getting to understand my gear and it’s capabilities better, one of my goals for my shooting while at this workshop was to learn how to slow down. Usually, when I’m out shooting with other people in tow, especially those who aren’t photography enthusiasts like I am, I have a tendency to feel rushed. Unfortunately, this feeling can sometimes seep over into those times where I am by myself and actually have a good bit of time to devote to getting just the right shot–I still have to make a concious effort to slow down.

What slows me down? The act of setting up and adjusting a tripod to just the right angle definitely slows me down, but stopping long enough to ask myself what it is that I’m trying to shoot requires me to actually give more thought to things like composition and lighting. There may not be one right approach to shooting any given subject, so my thought process may ultimately produce several good shots that I would not have gotten otherwise if I had been in a hurry. Especially with shooting digital, there’s no need to worry about wasting film, so I feel more free to experiment.

On the subject of film, some people really do still like to use film because having a fairly limited number of exposures to work with (24 or 36 usually) forces them to take their time with each shot to make sure it counts so that no film is wasted. If you want to try something like that with your digital camera, get a small capacity (512MB or 1GB) memory card and set your camera’s file format or image quality to it’s highest level so that you’ll minimize the number of images that the card will hold (higher quality images take up more space on a memory card that lower quality ones). If you have a DSLR or high-end point & shoot that will shoot in the RAW format, then set it to that (a 1GB card in my Pentax K20D will hold approximately 40 RAW images); if you don’t, then set it to your camera’s best quality JPG mode. To really replicate the film experience, as you shoot, don’t delete any images until you’re done filling up the card and have had a chance to look at your results on a computer screen. While I haven’t actually tried this myself (someone on one of the photography forums that I keep up with originally suggested this), I’m going to give it a shot in the near future and see how it works for me. I’ve got a couple of older manual-focus lenses that I’ve acquired in the last couple of months that I really haven’t spent a lot of time with yet, so I think this exercise would be a perfect way to get to know them better. Perhaps I’ll share some of my results in a future post. 🙂

On a different note, I’ve finished editing my pics from the workshop itself (although I still need to go through the ones from the rest of the trip). Feel free to take a look at them. Here’s one that I’ll share here:

While the hike to this waterfall was fairly short at just under 1 mile, it was a bit of a challenge stepping and climbing on and over rocks, tree roots, and wet places to get to, but it was definitely worth it.

While the hike to this waterfall was fairly short at just under 1 mile, it was a bit of a challenge stepping and climbing on and over rocks, tree roots, and wet places to get to, but it was definitely worth it.


About Heather

I am a hobbyist photographer who dabbled in photography on and off from the time I was a teen, but started getting more serious about it in the late summer of 2007 when I signed up for a photography class through the Community Education program at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida and really got to understand how cameras really work--the rest history. Being a spiritually-minded person, I'm always looking for ways to integrate that with the rest of my life, including photography.

2 responses »

  1. Nice photo and good story. We have a new camera club in Sevierville – please, consider joining us – we’d love to have you.

    Check our web site .LeContePhotographic.Com.

    We will be meeting throughout the calendar year and our next meeting is une 1st.

    We welcome beginnners, but we have a good core of professionals, as well.


    • Thank you for the invite! There’s only one small problem, though–I live in Florida, so getting to the meetings would be a bit of a challenge–hehe. 🙂

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