Digital photography makes it easy to take dozens of pictures in a very short amount of time, which in many cases is a blessing, but can turn out to be a curse, too. Back in the days of film things were different, there were 36 exposures in a roll of film and that was it. You had to think harder whether or not a picture was worth taking and even after you had pressed the shutter button you couldn’t check if you nailed focus and exposure right then and there. So what’s the problem with digital photography?
Well, the thing is we get away with taking mediocre pictures every single time, because if a picture didn’t turn out the way we intended we can just delete it and make room for the next (mediocre) picture. We don’t actually have to learn how to take good pictures anymore, because out of 10 pictures taken there’s a chance that at least one picture may be decent. This is also known as Spray and Pray: Just take hundreds of pictures and then cherry pick the few keepers.
Don’t get me wrong, every photographer takes bad pictures on top of the few good ones, we hardly ever get to see the former, though. And that’s OK, it’s how we learn. However, learning implies that we actually start thinking about why a particular image is bad and try to do better next time around. Which in turn requires revisiting that same location and changing something before taking another picture.
I’ve been hard-pressed to find any decent subjects lately, mainly because of the weather and the fact that I also have a daytime job and don’t get to travel very far during the week. I don’t have any national parks at my doorstep either, the landscape around the place where I live is mostly flat, there are very few locations to go to after work and even those have taken a massive hit thanks to the drought in the summer of 2018.
So I bought a telescope and started taking pictures of deep sky objects (nebulae, galaxies and such), the idea being to be able to continue taking photographs even when there isn’t a cloud in the sky or when there’s very little colour to be had in the landscape around me. Guess what, now the sky has been overcast for weeks and that plan is starting to fall apart as well.
On one hand this sucks, of course. On the other hand it makes me think very hard about what I can still improve on at a location that I’ve shot a dozen times over already. One such location is the roadway B68 in Paderborn, Germany that is still a favourite of mine because of the pronounced S curve that leads into an array of wind turbines.