These are from a day I spent at Spruce Meadows photographing show jumping. I was quite thrilled by the way these photos turned out, especially #1167 above. It took me a few rolls before I figured out exactly how to get the best out of my Canon EOS 3 that day.
I wanted to capture the decisive moment when horse and rider were in mid-leap, but the auto-focus just couldn’t keep up with the action and I found it frustrating. I love my EOS 3, but it wasn’t up for the challenge. The horses moved a lot faster than my camera could focus. So I had to rethink my strategy.
To get the shot above, I had to use zone focusing. First, I framed the shot I had in my mind. Then I needed to focus on where I expected the horse to be. But you can’t focus on empty space, so instead I chose to focus on the rails hoping that I had judged the distance correctly. I then turned the auto-focus off by switching to manual and recomposed my frame. Then it was just a matter of waiting for horse and rider to enter that frame.
Except it wasn’t that simple. Not only was my auto-focus slow, but so was the shutter. From the moment I pressed the shutter button to the moment the shutter actually fired seemed like an eternity. And in that eternity, I lost the shot. I missed the decisive moment.
The solution was good old anticipation. A split second before the horse leaped into the frame of my shot, I pushed the button. And hoped I timed it right. I say hoped because at that moment the SLR’s mirror flips up and blocks the viewfinder. I couldn’t see anything. I had to wait until the film was developed before knowing if I had made the shot.
This is what makes film photography so much more challenging (and thrilling) than shooting digital. With digital, you get instant feedback and you can make adjustments on the fly. But with film, you need to figure it out in your head. You need to know your camera and film intimately to make the necessary adjuments if you want to capture the photo you have imagined. The learning curve with film is steeper without the feedback that digital provides.
I have to imagine that it was that learning curve that prompted Henri Cartier-Bresson to say, “Your first 10 000 photographs are your worst.” My goal with Going Lomo has always been to record and share my learning journey through those first 10 000 photos. But I don’t interpret that quote to mean that after 10 000 photos, you will suddenly be able to create professional looking photographs every time. Instead, I interpret it to mean that after 10 000 photos, you stop worrying if you’re good enough and you just enjoy photography. After all, if you’re not having fun, then why bother?
Foodie, oenophile, traveler, hockey player, teacher, husband & father. I am many things, but at my core, I am a writer and photographer. Give me a notebook, a camera and a pocketful of film and I’m happy. Going Lomo is where I share my love for film photography, because a photograph not shared, only speaks silence.