My DSLR Photography Lessons with Chris are a little different than others. I find his photography questions push me and to answer them I have to reveal my photography secrets. Though they are not secrets at all. They are out there on every street in the world. It's just up to one to find them, to feel them, to use them.
I learned DSLR photography, or rather what I know of it, out on the streets of Tokyo. I took thousands of shots a month.
The second lens I ever bought was a Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8D. For at least ten days I was studying about it, building it up in my mind. By the time I finally bought it was beyond stoked. All this for a piece of kit that cost only around $100! However, like most photography gear, there is no magic wand built into it. There was a learning curve necessary. However, once I taught myself to be competent with it, again by taking thousands of shots, I loved the lens and used it often, out on the streets.
So during our third lesson (1st, 2nd) this morning, when Chris asked me, "how do you know what to photograph?" (paraphrasing), a question I have been asked before by students, I could not answer at first because I do not know what to photograph by words, I photograph by feel. My mind is always framing the world in terms of shots. I am never not looking at things like a shot, unless I consciously turn that thinking offline.
I ended up telling Chris to just shoot what looks interesting to you, what makes you feel good to shoot, and that will show itself in your shots. I told him I shoot first and foremost for myself, to make photographs that I, myself, like. If others like them, great. If not, as long as I made a shot I liked, that is enough for me.
I took Chris into my favorite alleys in downtown St. Petersburg. He had an interest in photograph shadows. We found this fire escape pattern in foul odored section of a back alley near the postoffice, a place I purposefully shot in before. I encouraged him to get low, to go at off angles, and to shoot at f/2 with his own 50mm f/1.8D lens. Play with the DoF. Find the angle that makes the shot a photograph of interest to your own eye.
I really enjoyed this philosophy of photography lesson and to be reminded of how much I like to shoot with my 50mm prime lens, a lens I almost never use in my paid work.