“Spray and Pray”
When I first heard the expression “Spray and Pray” I immediately understood. That is EXACTLY what I was doing when taking photo’s. A coworker of mine, who is an actual photographer, used the term to describe the process I was using to capture images. It made sense. I basically shot a thousand pictures and prayed one would turn out half decent. If I actually expected to get paid for taking photo’s, or had I went to some post secondary school for photography, I might have been insulted or ashamed.
I was, however, in fact quite happy to be snapping thousands of pictures and looking for that one needle in a haystack. It was like christmas. Except in this case I kept getting those gifts from grandma, you know the second-hand sweaters that other people throw away instead of the flashy new gizmos. In other words I spent more time deleting crappy photos than sharpening the keepers. Still I was happy to be out there taking pictures. I took this picture of a bee and a wildflower in the fall of 2010…this was one of the better shots out of about fifty various angles and depths. Spray – Check!, Pray – Check!
The Spray &Pray (S&P) method would have cost a small fortune had I been using film. But in today’s world of mega-memory and digital cameras it is really a smart way to go. You never know what will work and what will fail miserably until you get home and upload the images. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. Its one thing to do it when your taking pictures of sports or some racing event….but I do it with motionless flowers. It’s really quite a spectacle.
I do have to give some of the credit of my gradual improvement to the S&P method. It has allowed me to learn more about what my aperture, shutter speed, and ISO do and how they relate to each other. As much as I have read about the facts concerning those things, nothing really beats field experience. I also credit Pete my ‘inside source’ as well as a dozen online photography sites that have helped me improve slightly. On a scale of 1 to 10; 1 being a duck wildly pecking on the shutter release and 10 being the lovechild of Ansel Adams and Diane Arbus … I am sitting at a 3. In essence a slightly improved duck that has tired of wildly pecking at the shutter release and now only randomly strikes into the darkness. Occasionally finding a glimmer of life.
I often think of how I must look to my photographer friend. He went to school for a few years and has been honing his craft for a number of years. Meanwhile, like a child, without knowledge and direction I am stumbling my way through this new land. In constant awe of shiny things and easily distracted by kittens. I have enjoyed my toddler years, learning through my mistakes, and fumbling onto the rare success.
So now, in my second year of learning, I still S&P to a certain extent. A habit I doubt I will ever fully break. Although now I do it with more of a purpose, more of an understanding of basic photographic techniques, and even with a bit of an idea of what I want. I take less pictures and those that I do take seem to be of a higher quality from those of last year. Gentle improvement. That’s all I ever asked for.
Troy Alan White
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