Thursday, February 01, 2007

Photography and manga

I always liked taking photos, but, to be honest, I never knew what I was doing. I remember being angry at a photo lab for “losing” a roll of film I took when I climbed mount Fuji. I only realized months later that it was the roll of “night-sky photos” that I took completely underexposed (understandably, the lab guy probably thought it was an unexposed roll of film).

But about two years ago, I bought my first SLR: a Canon digital EOS 20D. I got into photography for real, and things have never been the same.

My geeky nature prevents me from just getting into photography as an artistic medium (although I do feel that, ultimately, that’s what it is). With photography, there’s unlimited potential for geeking out. Exposing the image to push the histogram to the right, so that I can push it back left in the digital realm to maximize the amount of information stored in the photo. Increasing dynamic range beyond the capabilities of the camera by stitching photos taken at different shutter speeds (high dynamic range (HDR) photography). Creating hundred-megapixel panoramic images by stitching photos taken at different angles by warping and blending images on the computer. Etc., etc.,...

Just like with manga, when you get relatively comfortable with the technical aspects of photography and you accumulate some decent equipment, you come to realize that it’s the artistry of photography, along with the persistence and time investment required to fulfill that vision, that becomes the real challenge.

Photography has also been helping out with my manga. It’s made me think more about composition and about what to do for backgrounds. It also helps me catalogue various items so that I can learn to draw them effectively. More importantly, it’s made me think more about how to capture emotion in an image and about the language of visual media.

Decent photography equipment is not cheap. But I got the OK from my “CFO” for this investment so that I could ramp up my skills to someday take nice pictures of the family. Now, two years later, I’ve improved to the point where we probably won’t have to get the services of “professional” photographers for most situations. But now I’m hooked, and the hobby has gone way past the point of taking just family photos.