Dammit I know that feeling!

If you’ve ever checked out the embedded RSS feed in the sidebar here you’ll have noticed I’m dragging stuff from a blog with the name “The Online Photographer” (TOP for short!).
It also happens to be one of the blogs I check out on a fairly frequent basis. So I s’pose really the feed is as much for my benefit as anything else cos it means I can have a quick scan of the most recent posts there and only need visit if something catches my interest.

Why that particular blog then in preference to some other that’s much closer to my own predilections?

It appears to be quite a respectable blog as such things go. Reasonably well known and seemingly quite popular amongst certain photographer “types”. And periodically there’s some really useful info to be found there.
That said, in an overall kinda way its not really my sort of place.
And the habitués thereof don’t really come across to me as my sort of people.
In fact, you could say the sort of photography that’s generally discussed there isn’t my sort of photography at all.

And far too frequently I find myself reading something there, or maybe just the use of a particular phrase or expression, that has me quietly fuming.
Tosspots! Bloody arty types! Poseurs the lot of ’em! Pretentiously stuck up their own arses.
Incidentally, a specific example of such a phrase is likely to form the topic of a post here at some point in the not too distant future. Heh heh.

And then there’s all the techie and kit-related stuff that, quite frankly, for the most part leaves me cold. It ain’t the kit you twits… its the person using the kit wot counts! Who the hell cares whether a lens from last century remains the best thing since sliced bread? Especially when its price tag is way outta the reach of us mere mortals. Collectors maybe. But common or garden photographers? Don’t we just get on and photograph stuff… with whatever’s to hand? Even if its just a couple-of-quid-disposable. Plonkers!

And some of the ideas mooted there… well, you get the drift. Its really not my sort of thing at all.

Why then, you could quite legitimately ask, do I even bother grabbing a feed from the place, to say nothing of actually visiting it?
A straightforward and, as I say, legitimate question.
To which I find there’s no easy answer.

Perhaps its a manifestation of this covert and perverse tendency I have to repeatedly challenge my own thinking and assumptions about things. To check out different viewpoints and see which is “best fit” for me. Maybe despite my grumping about the kit-talk it appeals to the gadget freak in me. Perhaps I secretly enjoy the stress of getting myself wound up. Ranting to myself sorta thing.
Or perhaps its because occasionally I come across something there that I find really interesting. Sometimes, indeed, genuinely thought-provoking and triggering a resonance somewhere in my own mind. Bizarre though that may be.

And such latter has been the case very recently, with this post there. In which is discussed the “barriers” folk face in actually “doing” photography.
For the author (another Mike wouldya believe?) it seems his personal barrier is the “100 shot” one.
He says (and I’m gonna take the liberty of quoting him at some length):

I’ve always felt there is a sort of “starting barrier” to shooting. Like a little hump blocking your path that you have to get over. Like a cold engine that needs to warm up and get its oil flowing. When I shot film I always thought I needed to get through the first two or three rolls quickly before I felt I was really shooting. With digital, call it the first hundred shots. You’ve just got to get through those first hundred shots before you’re really going, before things start to flow. Sometimes it takes an effort. You have to power past it with an effort of will. Before you do, there’s still resistance there, still a feeling of awkwardness. Blast through a hundred shots, and the oil is warm in your engine. You’re over the hump. The barrier is flattened.

I can see how that works, and occasionally experience something similar myself, though nowhere near the 100 shot mark. With me its usually about a half-dozen or so before I really begin to get into my stride.

Equally interesting though are the comments that the post’s attracted, some of which are from other folk discussing their own personal barriers.
One of which particularly caught my eye (by Patrick Dodds… mustn’t forget the credit must I?):

One of the other things I’ve learned over the last few years is that it isn’t enough for me to have my camera with me at all times (which I pretty much do, despite it being a big ol’ FX job), but I actually have to have it in my hand with the lens cap off before I get going otherwise hauling it out of the bag I carry is sometimes the “hump” you talk about and I don’t get over it.

Dammit I know that feeling! Only too sodding well!

Once I have the camera out and slung over my shoulder, or strap wrapped firmly around wrist (I rarely carry a camera in the “conventional” mode of strap hanging from neck) that’s it, I’m up and ready for anything. No probs.
But its the act of getting the bloody thing out of the bag initially that’s the biggest hurdle for me.

So many times have I visited a location or whatever and felt totally uninspired. Not in the least interested in taking any pics. Nothing catches my eye, nothing draws my attention, nothing sparks my imagination. I simply just can’t be bothered. And too frequently, when like this, I’ll mooch around for a bit then call it quits, returning with no pics whatsoever. I want to be doing the photography thing. For why else would I be wherever in the first place? No problem there. So its not a motivational issue as such. But somehow I just can’t get started.

And if nothing in the surroundings inspires me then why should I make the effort to prepare myself for pic-taking? If I can’t “see” anything worth a pic or two, then what’s the point? In other words, why bother to even get the camera out?

Nor is that experience particularly infrequent. In fact, it wouldn’t be stretching things too far to say it probably happens with most of the photojaunts I go on. Well, the first bit of it at least… the seeming inability to see anything worth shooting.

But I have it sussed now. I’ve learned the trick.

Get the camera out of the bag. Take the lens cap off. Switch the camera on. Drape strap over shoulder.
And suddenly I seem to be seized by a completely different persona. I begin to “see” things. The urge to snap becomes stronger than the lethargy and, well, off I go. Usually ending up with far more pics than any reasonable person would consider sensible.

Ok, out of those I may only finally use a mere handful (that’s the beauty of digital… there’s no such thing as “wasting film”). That’s not the point. For to get to that handful I needed to be in pic-taking mood.
And for me that consists of nothing more complicated than readying the camera and wearing it like an extra bit of clothing.

Apart from that stupid Lumix camera (the FZ38). Soon as I even look at the damned thing I seem to become possessed by I know not what and then the problem isn’t starting… its stopping! In fact, whenever time’s limited I now try to avoid it cos I know exactly what’s going to happen!

So all credit to TOP for triggering this train of thought, and post. Even though it really isn’t my sort of blog!

About fotdmike

Occasional photographer; occasional writer/blogger; occasional activist; occasional computer-geek. Bit of a fool really.
This entry was posted in Photography Chat, Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Dammit I know that feeling!

  1. forkboy says:

    The idea of a hump by which one must get over is a very interesting notion. Perhaps this is why I so enjoy my iPhone and it’s pretty decent (for a camera phone) camera. And the apps one can use with it.

    There is no hump to get over with something you carry around on you 24/7. It’s simply there. Shoot with it. It’s not unlike the Rebel XTi (400D) I keep in the car too. It’s there….. ready if a chance opportunity comes up where the camera phone just isn’t enough.

    I’m glad you posted this thought. And if it makes you feel any better, I come to your site in the same sort of manner as you go to TOP: to be challenged in what I think. Oh…. and to be politely abused.


    • fotdmike says:

      Dammit, I didn’t realise I was being polite. Clearly I need to try harder!


      I’m not entirely convinced about there not being a hump if you have a camera with you 24/7. That’s precisely the point Patrick Dodds makes, and its something I’ve found myself.
      That is in fact part of the hump. I kid myself I’m up for it just because I have the camera with me, sorta thing. But in reality that’s all the camera does. Just stays nearby, doing nothing at all.
      He apparently carries his camera with him most places he goes. As do I (unless I’m going into a situation where I can’t). Yet that’s not sufficient. Simply having the camera at hand doesn’t seem to do the trick for either he or I. It must be to hand but also actually in hand and primed and ready for use so to speak. Which means lens cap off, switched on, and easily lifted to the eye with the minimum of movement.

      Lots of folk carry cameras with them… even humble point’n’shoots tucked away in a pocket or handbag. But how often are they using them? How many pics do they actually take? And how consistently? And are they consciously “taking photographs” or just grabbing the quick family snapshot sorta thing?

  2. forkboy says:

    But that is the point about the camera phone. When I’m anywhere the camera is with me and by virtue of the fact it is a smart phone it is frequently in my hand… being used to check e-mail, the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

    Because I actually have it out and in my hand so much I find myself just snapping away…. almost absent mindedly. (hard to imagine, eh?)

    As such I wind up with loads of pics, many of which I dump, but I keep plenty that make me happy.

    • fotdmike says:

      forkboy :

      Because I actually have it out and in my hand so much I find myself just snapping away…. almost absent mindedly.

      Yeah, that’s exactly the point… because its actually in your hand you find yourself taking pics. Just that I’m applying it to a dSLR rather than a phone.

  3. forkboy says:

    I know…. I know…. I agree with you! There is hump even if you have a camera with you, regardless of what sort it is (compact p&s, dSLR, camera phone). But I think the difference with having the smart phone with me is that it isn’t just nearby, in my pocket, but in my hand so much of the time such that it’s almost impossible to not snap away.

    Example: my phone just chimed to let me know I have received a test message. When I picked it up I noticed that Elf (one of the cats) was sitting by me on the kitty condo by the window. Before checking the text message I snapped her picture.

    Just like that.

    In this way the smart phone phenomenon is not dissimilar to actually walking around with one’s camera in hand at all times. Ready to snap away at anything. But to be frank, I couldn’t do that. That seems almost OCD. I snap a picture with my camera phone because I have it out for some other purpose, but I can take a picture too. But walking around with my Canon in my hand, ready for anything, seems a bit…. I don’t know…. weird?

    • fotdmike says:

      forkboy :

      In this way the smart phone phenomenon is not dissimilar to actually walking around with one’s camera in hand at all times. Ready to snap away at anything. But to be frank, I couldn’t do that. That seems almost OCD. I snap a picture with my camera phone because I have it out for some other purpose, but I can take a picture too. But walking around with my Canon in my hand, ready for anything, seems a bit…. I don’t know…. weird?

      No… its neither OCD or weird… its being a photographer. Having said that though, all the photographers I’ve met are a bit weird in one way or another so, well…


      P.S. I’m curious… what’s this obsession you have with OCD? You seem to keep on mentioning it. So p’raps you’re weird too!

  4. forkboy says:

    I know I’m OCD about some things. I ‘cycle’ my boxers, short pants and socks. Freshly laundered go to the bottom of the pile and I work my way down from the top. Everything gets worn equally that way so wear & tear is equally distributed.

    I do the same with dishes and glasses in the kitchen.

    I have issues…

  5. lensaddiction says:

    Glad I am not the only one with the hump – tho for me its about getting up off the sofa (or out of bed) and getting in the car with the gear. Once I am that far, its usually all good, and once I have the camera in my hand I tend to zone completely out 🙂

    • fotdmike says:

      Only thing that strikes me as a bit curious is why there should be a hump in the first place. I certainly can’t recollect having experienced anything similar with other things that I enjoy doing. Its much more the sort of thing I’d expect to find when approaching a task I really don’t want to do but know has to be done.


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