The year is 1993 and I was still getting to know the dials and buttons of my camera, I learned that the little needle inside had to be within the circle in order to achieve best exposure and I had certain limits when "strecthing it". In order to achieve this I had to consider 3 things:
- The aperture dial
- The shutter speed
- Film sensitivity
If all of the above reached the lowest allowed limit, my best chance was a flash. But one by one all of these ways had some limitations to consider.The aperture dial
This was the first thing to consider. As I was briefly told back then, this controlled how much of the scene would be in focus (in other words, clear). On a bright sunny day, I should consider an f16 while on overcast days I would have trouble maintaining an f4.
The shutter dial
This was the second thing to consider, but the most important of all. I was told that this was the speed that the shutter stayed open from the time you press the shooting button. It worked in synergy with the aperture dial and I had to dial it in a way that the little needle inside the viewfinder of the camera aligned with the small circle. The shutter would have to be in greater speed when the sun was strong and there was much light, and slow (up to 60, meaning 1/60) when there was not much light. If I kept the camera really steady or on a tripod I could manage a shutter speed of 1/30, but with very short lens (50mm). When dropping below 1/60 I was told I needed to use a flash for short distances (the one I had would give me light for up to 2 meters).
I remember that I had not much of a choice about that. I was always using ASA 100 as I could not find any other sensitivity living in a small town of Greece. I was not explained what the ASA sensitivity had to do with my photography until much much later on.
So, having absolutely no clue about composition, harsh shadows, avoiding bright noon light etc I started experimenting with my camera around my village. I had already been shooting my excursions with my school and was really happy with the results as the photos came out clean and vivid (I was using some kind of Fuji film which resulted in vivid colors in skies and greens).
|It felt so relaxing watching my cat with her kittens and this one seemed interested in showing its affection towards its mother rather than feeding|
|This shy fellow kept on hiding whenever I tried to shoot it, but I waited until it showed up and looked my way.|
Soon after getting used to always have clear photos, I started having an opinion about what I liked and what I didn’t after reviewing each photo. I started “seeing” things that looked like a pleasant composition and my mind started implementing what I observed as a rough rule of the thirds, keeping my subject in the lower right corner while there was “something going on” in the rest of the frame. Of course when I was not sure, or in a hurry I just used the old fashion centered subject position which was then evaluated as a snapshot.
Things got out of hand when in our school’s 5-day trip to Salonica I used 5x36 shot films in 5 days making me the person with the most photos of our excursion back then. I received good comments and some of my shots were “lost” when I counted them again after all my classmates saw them. Thankfully, I was able to find out the missing photos by comparing the negatives with the print-outs and I had them developed again. The following days I then confronted the “thieves” one by one which was easy to discover as they all made the most obvious mistake: They took only the photos that showed themselves! When I asked them why they took them instead of just asking them from me they responded that they looked ugly and they had to destroy them! Phew!!!
But I really enjoyed my shooting time in that trip. We visited Edessa Falls that were the most amazing place I had ever been to at that time. There was water everywhere and I slipped while descending a set of stairs that lead in front of the great waterfall, not a nasty fall, but it gave me some mud on my clothes (and some laughs to my friend George). My lens was not wide enough to fit the entire waterfall and George in the frame, so I did the next best thing.
After I counted the negatives and having discovered what the missing photos were, I was surprised to also find out that some of my museum photos were also missing. They seemed never developed although there was an image that "looked ok" on the negative. Only after much later when I purchased a flatbed scanner with an extension for film and negative scanning I discovered that the photos were viewable at some extent.
|1/30 shutter inside a museum near Salonica. This was also never developed by the phtographic studio.|
The possitive thing about these early years, was that I started making a path, an opinion on what I found pleasing and I also begun to feel comfortable with the camera settings. Of course I had many mis-shots, but only because I did not follow "the rules" of exposing correctly. But I tried time after time again and my parents helped me a lot by developing all my films and tries (up to a point!!). Having reached a point when I know more things than before I can only say that I can see some good shots in terms of composition and exposure and that when problems did occur they were mainly problems with framing and clear subject selection.