Kent Shiraishi Photo Blog


Scientific and Contemporary Photography Technique

2013年02月16日 | フォトエッセイ&フォトアート
“Scientific and Contemporary Photography Technique” - Prologue


I wish you all the best for this coming year.Let me start my talk on photography.
This is a website with limited access to those fans who have “liked” Kent Shiraishi Photography page.Let me emphasize the fact that my approach to photography is completely original.
For those photographers who have been familiar with photography using films, many of you may struggle to appreciate this post.If that is the case, please do not feel obliged to continue reading. I believe it is best that you continue taking photos with your own philosophy and concepts.For most people, photography is just a hobby and therefore it is important that you keep your own philosophy that suits you the most.Even if your approach is unscientific and illogical, everyone has the right to have their own preference in their beliefs. So let me begin with my first chapter.

As a matter of fact, more than 5 years ago, I took a university degree in photography in an attempt to justify my self-taught approach to photography.At the same time, I also attended classes in a photography school in Tokyo that was well known for taking a practical approach.
Let me tell you the conclusion first.

The “Image development technique” taught by teachers in the photography school and the “Lighting technique” taught by another teacher were very beneficial and informative.Even now, I am still grateful and I truly appreciate the fact that I have encountered some of the most magnificent teachers.However, I must admit that the lectures I received in university were a complete waste of time and money. Lectures were ran by conservative lecturers who I would describe as “living fossils”.

If a high school graduate was to attend a full-time degree in university, the annual fee would come up to 2 million yen. Fees for four years would cost him approximately 8 million yen in total. Surely there are many parents struggling to fund their children.If the university was not going to teach you something that is helpful and sophisticated, it is far better to spend that money buying good equipment, teaching yourself and start working as an independent photographer.

5 years ago, most of the lectures were based on using film cameras.I have heard that nowadays half of the lectures have shifted to teaching digital camera.I felt as if I was just learning the history of photography.As you might have guessed, I did not enter university to become a historian nor a critic for photography.At least people expect to have acquired sufficient knowledge and theory to start practical work upon graduation. If I am correct, that is a fundamental reason why students pay their fees.However, a cruel reality awaits where they come to learn that all their time and money was completely wasted.Despite completing the four year education, none of these students cannot expect to become internationally acknowledged photographers, not to mention achieving domestic success.

From my point of view, after four years of studying the modern science and training the logical photography theory through practical works, even a person with ordinary sensibility would be well equipped to work professionally upon completing their course.However, if that person is not yet good enough to be a professional photographer, either that person is extremely lazy or there must be some sort of issues in the contents taught in university.

Now then, the most absurd thing taught in university is the notion of “photometric exposure” before shooting.As “living fossils” are still teaching students, people still tend to buy expensive exposure meters. They also prefer to use spot or flame photometry rather than the averaging light meter.Besides, majority of the people are still using grayscale rather than the color meter.Those lecturers, without any scientific knowledge, can no longer be considered modern photographers. In a matter of fact, teaching history of photography is the only talent that they have left.However, it is a pain to pay enormous amount of money just to attend such meaningless lectures, especially when you are self-funded.

One day, I made a following comment impulsively to a lecturer who was teaching us about the optimum exposure.“Sir, it is more logical and scientific to take one test shot instead of having to think so much before shooting photos”Hearing what I said, his face turned furious, just like Jekyll and Hyde, and said, “Are you going to make fun of what I have been doing professionally for the last 40 years and what I have taught for 30 years!”That was when I realised that it was such a waste of money to have paid that much money to sit in a lecture taught by an ancient living fossil.
“Photography is integration between science and sensation”
I finally came to realise that there is nothing to learn from someone who does not recognise that the times are moving and someone who does not possess a brain to appreciate science.

Hereafter, I will introduce some of my photo techniques.Yesterday I shot “Family Tree” in Biei-cho.First thing I did for shooting this photograph was to take a test shot after deciding the structural outline, using P-mode and average lighting.Next step was to examine the “histogram”.Making a quick calculation in mind, I decided what the optimum exposure would be for my ideal “image”.Only fools rush into deciding the exposure before shooting, as one test shot could reveal an image’s optimum exposure. At the time when only film cameras were available, there was no choice but to decide on the exposure before shooting, but now times have changed.Nowadays you can just take a test shot and delete it straight away.If you cannot appreciate this technology, there is not a slightest chance that your photos will be acclaimed by global audiences. These days, middle school students are far more advanced in setting the exposure level.

Now that we have reached half way through my lecture, if you still cannot understand the philosophy behind what I have written so far, I do not recommend you to read the next part.Time is money.It is never a good idea to waste each other’s time.It is equivalent to studying for an exam, you must learn in the most effective and efficient way in order to make the most of the knowledge you have acquired.Before even discussing about your sensibility in photography, anyone could improve their photography skills to certain level as long as you have a scientific mind.Those who cannot seem to let go of their old knowledge and experience are simply stubborn and are prisoners of the past.In various ways, people who have recently started photography or those who only know digital cameras learn far better.

I will remind you again of my shooting method.
1. To begin with, take one test shot on the spot.
2. Do not depend on the exposure meter, use the histogram instead.

An ordinary SLR camera contains “four histogram” displays.However not many people can successfully interpret the graphical representation, including the above mentioned professor.To begin with, why is it essential that there are “four histogram” displays?I wonder how many Japanese teachers or even professional photographers can answer this question.Expert camera technicians have intentionally developed a high-detailed histogram with four different displays.And yet, I do not see the reason why people continue to grab on to an ancient knowledge instead of using the latest technology and science that is currently available.To sum it up, it is impossible to keep up with the current era unless one is capable of using modern technology.

Simply speaking, in extreme cases, it is the same whatever PASM mode you use.
For instance, aperture priority A mode is commonly used to shoot landscape photos and not the P mode.During my shooting yesterday, deep focus was achieved with the focal length of 24mm and an aperture of f/8.Therefore one can take a test shot with A mode set with an aperture of f/8, and then always check the 4 histograms to calculate and decide an optimum exposure.In conclusion, since the same procedure is used for both mode P and A, it is essentially not that important to take the modes into consideration.

To summarise, the key concept is the 4 histograms.It is important that one can interpret histograms correctly to begin your life as a photographer.If one cannot understand nor appreciate this, one cannot be a professional photographer. In fact, one is not even capable of becoming a good amateur photographer.If there is anyone who cannot understand this after attending four years of university, I must say that person is just a fool who have just wasted his money.

To sum it up, I started off mentioning the most important things in photography.Of course we cannot neglect the importance of one’s technique in shooting, but the most crucial quality one must possess to become a great photographer is their “imagination”.
So what kind of imagination is required in photography?
Let me come back to this in the next lecture where I will explain this concept using my actual work as a demonstration.I shall continue this lecture shortly.

Please to the following page of“Kent Shiraishi Photography” if you want to read this lecture continuously.

Kent Shiraishi Photography

I'm Photographer.
I live in Biei,Hokkaido,Japan.
I won the prize of "The National Geographic Photo Contest 2011."
My photograph is used for the advertisement at Apple Inc.

Thank you

Kent Shiraishi

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