In today’s world of 6-15FPS continuous burst modes, it is easy to just “spray-n-pray” hoping you capture the right moment. This works, but what makes a true master photographer, in my opinion, is one who can capture “THAT” moment with just a frame or two.
I have become accustomed to manual focusing for all of my shots, out of necessity using primarily vintage manual focus lenses on my EOS-M. It has taught me the value of slowing down, taking the time to compose each frame, and try different things.
A perfect example of this was a recent trip I took out to a wildlife refuge near my home. This time of year the area is crawling (literally, when you walk the ground moves), with frogs ranging from as small as a fingernail to as big as my wallet.
For this trip, I took one of my EOS-M bodies paired with my manual focus Olympus 50mm F/3.5 macro , which when paired with the APS-C sensor on my M gives me roughly a 80mm equivalent field of view. Not a combination that many would choose to shoot wildlife, but as challenging as it was, it was even more rewarding.
Try getting within a couple inches of a tiny frog that normally jumps at the first sign of danger. Then, try to do so with an interesting angle and composition. It takes slow, calculated movements. These are the sort of thoughts that really help you grow as a photographer in regards to really thinking about your composition and how light is hitting your subject.
As simple as these shots may seem, the act of shooting them has been some of the most helpful to me in improving my own photography. I highly recommend doing something similar yourself. Take some time, flip the switch and go out shooting with manual focus only.
Take your time thinking about composition and how the light is working in your shot. It can be a fun change of pace from the fast paced world of auto-focus and 10 frames per second, with little to no thought of anything except hoping you got the shot.
It’s also fun playing with your depth of field, trying different apertures and distances from your subject to get the desired look. This can be done with little green frogs or flowers, or whatever subject you want.
It’s just important to remember to get out and shoot for fun, experiment with different things and always be practicing. In the end, your portraits or other professional work will be better off for it.
What do you do when you want to shoot for fun? How has shooting for fun/experimenting helped you improve your photography? Leave a comment below!