It’s important to create challenges for yourself photographically. For instance, if you’re going out and about, take your camera and one lens. To make it even more of a challenge, use only a prime lens. Try to see the everyday world around you in a unique way.
I did my own walk-about challenge recently at a local car show. Full disclosure, I’m a fan of classic cars but not spending all day in full sun scrutinizing them. Granted every automobile has artistry built into them, and I greatly appreciate that, but I don’t know the first thing about engines, horse power or rear suspension. Therefore I feel ill equipped to start conversations with most car show attendees.
My husband, Andy Dunaway, is a Ford Mustang enthusiast (we have two) and he’s a car show regular. Unlike me, he enjoys the “shop talk.” Most times, I’ve got my travel chair perched under a shade tree reading a book while he rubs elbows with his fellow gear heads.
This time, I brought my Nikon D7500 camera and one lens, the NIKKOR 16-80mm. Instead of sitting like a lump in the shade, I decided to take the opportunity to challenge myself to a photographic walk-about. The goal? Just seek out colorful, pictorial images using one camera and one lens.
In order to concentrate solely on the capturing colorful, graphic frames, I set my camera to Aperture Priority Mode, Center Weighted Metering Mode, Single Point of Focus Mode, Auto White Balance, Single Exposure, ISO 100 and f/2.8 to start. I knew my f/stop would vary depending whether I was zoomed in or out given the NIKKOR 16-80mm is a variable aperture lens, but I at least knew my aperture started wide open.
As a people person, I was instantly drawn into watching and photographing the people walking around. They were all so interesting. I was derailing my own challenge from the start. I stopped with the people and turned my gaze elsewhere.
I rotated to the car nearest me and snapped a picture of the interior. The exposure was a little over, so I used my Exposure Compensation Button to under expose the image by two full stops. The reason the image turned out over exposed is due to the amount black material inside the vehicle with just hints of white. The metering system wanted to bring the dominating blacks up to 18% gray, thus blowing out the highlights and making the blacks look washed out.
An over exposed frame of the interior of a car. Photo by Stacy Pearsall
After messing around a bit, I found a super-cool old blue pick-up truck with the telltale 1950’s spaceship bumper and light lenses. Instead of photographing the entire truck, I broke it down into segments – concentrating on photographing the details.
I was beginning to find my groove, but I still wasn’t pushing myself enough. I wanted to capture colorful, pictorial details of the cars, but I wasn’t successful yet. Instead of walking around willy-nilly, I began to seek out cars that had the color, contrast and visual appeal I was looking for.
I looked for repeating lines.
I looked for repeating patterns.
My last attempt to capture a colourful pictorial image from the car show was a sky blue Chevy Corvette. I created a skyscape by incorporating the reflection of clouds in the upturned hood of the car. That’s what I was looking for. Done.
Before retreating to my shaded chair, I wanted to try one last trick. The Nikon D7500 has the ability to do Multiple Exposure. So I went into the camera settings and turned on Multiple Exposure option and set it to expose two frames in one.
My first attempt was a bit of a muddled mess; I’m not going to lie. I could discern the steering wheel and that was about it.
I went back to a grabber-blue vintage Ford Mustang I fell in love with and tried again. This time, I photographed the front quarter panel of the car’s exterior for the first frame and then photographed the steering column of the second exposure. It was much better.
The 30 minutes I spent walking around was very amusing and I learned something new in the process. It made the car show much more engaging and fun! So what will your next photo walk-about challenge be?