I have this friend who just got into photography, and is obsessed with [the act of] shooting film. He scored an auction Zenit camera for $50 online. Have yet to see the results of that acquisition; sadly it was not the Fotosniper.
Zenit is a Russian company that has been making proprietary cameras for quite some time. Given that context, there is nothing surprising about the existence of the Fotosniper.
Not so much surprise as curiosity. Clearly it is a specialty tool. I just wonder what applications that thing excels at. It's really a simple concept, but pretty unique, and clearly not a gimmick.
The other day I played a game I like to play when I'm bored and it's raining outside. You've all played it I bet... that game where you pick a random object, find/arrange your light, setup your camera and see what happens. Mine usually don't come out very interesting but there's something kind of satisfying about simplifying the parameters... you've picked your subject and 'scene'... all that's left is how it looks. Does that make sense? What I mean is there's nothing happening on a meta level. All you have are the basic ingredients for a photo and some conception of an image. You only have things like the angle, light, color, texture, shadows... I dunno, sometimes I find it kind of zen to creep around the tripod and go through them one by one. You can change the angle of the light to the object, object to camera, camera to light. You can change the type of light. How much light you gather and how you gather it. What you meter on. These all affect how light reflects off of certain things and/or how they're ultimately rendered... as well as how much light to the camera is direct and/or reflected. You can change them through simple actions and alter settings/focus/distance until all of those attributes converge.
I like to think it helps me see how different things make shots I will see later look the way they do. Just sort of putting in my own head more thoughts associated with what I'm doing. Learning a set of skills that basically comes down to a series of observations, judgement calls, and quick, serial actions. The best way for me to absorb the tasks completely is to associate conscious thoughts with each action. Think of it like... you have a goal, and then branching off is a tree of predefined actions and impasses. The more I have pre-loaded, the more accurately, efficiently, and intuitively I move through something. Just different fast-tracks that get strung together. That's how I've gotten good at sports and athletic tasks, video games, musical instruments... any skill where a flow state is often evoked. As time passes gathering more tiny bits of intel, I find myself increasingly more immersed in what I'm doing and more able to carry out more complex actions with less conscious effort... and that's because all of the decisions, movements, and relevant perceptual details needed to get through the sequence have all been condensed into strings of info/instructions that can be called with one variable for each string, rather than going through each individual link in the chain. Bringing it out in a controlled, sandbox-like environment makes it easier to distill it all. Don't always wanna think of the big picture. An image with a good gestalt to it is made that much better when you've worked out how to also make it funadmentally appealing before that stuff comes in.
That also how I piece music together... it's what allows me to piece together notes and rhythms on the fly, even in response to changes in the music. It's about finding stuff that already sounds good together so you can connect the pieces. It's how I can hear over-arching melodies in my head... thinking in words vs letters or even sentences/phrases vs words. It's like how in Tomb Raider, Lara jumps up a wall with one or two button presses, instead of a button for every painstaking movement encapsulated in that process. You wouldn't be able to do much of anything that way. Or you could, but it would be prohibitively slow and unpredictable. You need to create shortcuts for those grouped movements. How? Slow it all down... by breaking down each part of the process, integrating it into one thought particle cluser, and then tethering the clusters together. Photography can be pretty similar to music... in my mind. When you break it down, you are essentially just stitching threads of an image together. And the only limits to what you can gather are your reference points... groupings of observations and steps to resolving one of several paths... as well as data on where those paths tend to go.
Those of you who know their stuff and have a large photography skillset, think about how many decisions actually shoot right past your consciousness in the moments before taking a single shot. To do it with any consistency, you're staying on top of a lot without consciously picking-up on more than even one or two of the more major decisions. That's what I like to think I'm trying to ascertain in tiny little pieces, in everything I do.
But I'm off on a tangent. Just got to thinking about the learning process I see laid before me as I shoot. Or maybe that's just a really creative way of painting a way of passing time as something more than that. I like to think that each time I do stuff like this, it doesn't actually count for much of anything on its own, but when it comes to intuition, it adds up. Basically what I see myself as doing is prompting my mind to run predictive analysis in a more controlled way in order to train myself in all of the forms of specialized problem solving needed for better consistency in execution... by reinforcing those channels.
It's like a common theme among musicians is something along the lines, "Sometimes to learn, all you can do is play." That's also how 'finger tone' is developed. Think of how a child learns by interacting with people/things. Between fooling around and having fun, all sorts of information is transferred. People say it's bad to let yourself get stuck taking pictures at home and being lazy. But what if that's not always the worst thing you could do? Practice makes perfect, but play is vital in all things creative, as that is going to more closely resemble the state of mind you're in when you're actually putting the skills you practice to use.
Anywho... I chose my new-ish XB1 controller. Thought to myself it's not very interesting, but it has a few things going for it. A few came out alright. Playing with the diffused light of the overcast sky coming through the window. A little bit of room light. Later shots take direct light from a clear afternoon sky. Again, just playing with different types of light from different angles regarding both object and camera, trying to see where appealing textures, angles, reflections, and such are found.
I really like these two. They came out so smooth and clean with really nice colors... an effect I've come to really like for photographing things like this. Very faint light opposite to the camera (main light behind me dimmed,) counteracts just enough shadows to, with the help of wide aperture, almost completely hide the fine, sandy texture of the plastic. Most of the light gets scattered through the room before it can bounce back to subject or camera - there's a steep falloff casting a very soft spot on the subject. A 'flattening out' of the critical region followed by a sudden drop... but not quite to the point of silhouetting. I knew when I found it that it would come out cool if I metered for a dark exposure, leaving mostly the light directly hitting the subject and not much else. The power light being on helps hide how dark the rest of the shot is. My only wish was to catch more of the small light sources in the room. In the rear buttons you can see a red streak from my PC way off in the background... woulda been killer to get a couple more streaks like that.
Couldn't fully decide on the editing. I often take similar shots and try exposing/editing them slightly differently.
Tried a few different ways of going about it, but this time the camera faces the light source and the light from the source is brighter with no light source in the room. Harder highlights and shadows from essentially a cross-section of near-direct sunlight. Very defined textures, refelctions and contours. Turned off the controller to catch the reflection the logo. It was all about texture and shine. I just wish I had interestingly shaped light sources for the super-shiny buttons to pick up... like how they often do with human eyes.
One thing I will say... something I reeeaahhhllly need to stop doing to myself... is taking multiple shots at sligghhhtly different angles. All I'm really doing is triggering my OCD and sending myself spiraling into a/b/c/d'ing.
Comparatively, the scenes for both sets aren't all that different... if you looked around the room you wouldn't know the light changed significantly. It's really subtle, even though the way it plays off the subject is dramatically different. Funny how the photos can look so different and yet when you're there setting up, it's not so obvious at all how much the little things can change your finished image.
I tried some narrow-aperture shots, but they weren't nearly as good... ...and then of course I always have to do one of these...
At the end of the day, stuff like this is really simple, but its fun and I still find I learn a little. I'd rather be out taking photos most of the time, but this summer has been brutal for that. I can live with the heat, but the rain makes it a non-starter :/