Another challenge for 2017 – to get off the auto function of my camera! I followed an Instagram rabbit hole and landed on Emma Davies’ ‘A Year with my camera’ (AYWMC) and decided to try the challenge, though I don’t have a DLSR, but my point and shoot is quite sophisticated – a Canon GX 7. The aim of the challenge is to take photos of your daily life, not just the big events, and learn to use your camera at the same time.
I did study photography in high school, including in my final year (where I think it was my best or second best subject out of the 5 I took in year 12). This was back in the day where I actually processed film! The skills I learned then, particularly about composition and framing, are still relevant, but the technical side is long since obsolete.
The first step of AYWMC was to think about what kind of photos I want to take for the year. This is the second year that Emma has run the challenge, and last year’s included themes for each week to guide the technical homework, but this year is up to the participant. My focus for the year is to capture images that can immerse someone in my London life. I used to love looking at the old pictures at my grandparents house. They travelled all over Asia for my pa’s job, and there were some great pictures of food, and the sights, and my grandma enjoying them (pa was the photographer). My favourite part (other than the photos of my young grandma) was that I felt that I could get a good sense of their travels, as the daily tasks of life were included.
The first set of homework was focussed on exposure (and grey). Emma helpfully set out a lot of technical information about how a camera (on auto) determines the correct exposure – that is, how much light the camera lets in to capture the image. Long story short, a camera assumes an image will be 18% grey. This means, if you take a photo at night you can get quite a grey effect, even though reality may be much closer to black. I took a terrible photo that exemplifies this in Berlin.
The challenge was then to take some grey photos. And try to create a beautiful image that is just grey.
Looking closely at grey, I began to notice how many other shades of brown and blue really come together to create a colour that reads as grey.