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MonoMonday 171 "F8 and be there" alt "Serendipity"


Hi! I have volunteered to host the MonoMonday challenge for the month of May. I look forward to the opportunity and experience.  I have decided that for my month as host I will concentrate on a few photographers that have been inspirational to me. Although my main photography style is centered more around street photography, I want to give themes that are generally universal and I hope to concentrate on a photographer’s approach and relationship with the camera.


For Monday May 1st,, #MM171, the theme will be F8 and be there which is a quote attributed to Arthur “WeeGee” Fellig. I came to learn this mantra during my first street photography workshop some years ago. The basic idea is that with a minimum aperture set to F8 you can easily take photos with the majority of the frame consistently in focus using a hyperfocal distance. When walking on the street, you need to be quick to capture a moment when it presents itself. No need to fiddle with the focus or other settings. See something and snap!  F8 and be there! (in the moment)


There is nothing I hate more than hitting the shutter button and then waiting for the camera to snap the picture – no matter how fast the autofocus may be or how precise to guess the exact focal point. That fraction of a second feels like ages sometimes and takes something away from the feeling of the man-machine interface. The frustration to miss a picture due to autofocus lag or missing the intended focal point has been my main driver to choose an old school camera. I have gone the entire gamut of cameras.  My first was a simple point and shoots at the age of 11 years old for a Boy Scout trip to the Rockies which endured for more than 15 years.  I then moved to a SLR in my late 20’s to my first compact digital zoom cameras and DSLRs in my 30’s to a rangefinder camera in my 40’s. J I will admit to using an autofocus camera on occasion, but 95% is with a manual rangefinder. No chance to cheat!  Even better, I will shoot an occasional roll of film and enjoy the expectation of getting the film developed.  There is nothing quite like opening the envelope to see the prints or the contact sheet for the first time!


For this exercise I encourage you to forget the autofocus on their cameras and set to manual control for the focus and aperture (aperture priority) or full manual if your cup of tea. Smartphone shooters will just have to fib this step. This may be intimidating to some people, but it can actually be very liberating once you try it and gain some trust! I want you to experience the immediacy of the camera taking the picture the exact moment you push the shutter button with no hesitation due to the camera focusing. I want you to feel the excitement of seeing a moment that is going to happen or already happening: frame and snap! F8 and be there!


There are a few tricks to make the exercise work. First, please bump up your ISO setting to guarantee an adequate shutter speed per your lighting condition.  If it is sunny then you will want probably at least 800 ISO, if it is overcast then you will want at least double that or more depending on your camera’s performance. I try to keep the shutter speed above 1/125th second or faster depending the action going on around me.


If you are brave enough to shoot full manual, then take the time before starting to figure out the light to choose an ISO and shutter speed. That works quite well and you don’t have to think about it again until you walk from the shady side of the street into the sunlight – or vice versa. Then you can stop and adjust before moving on again.  You may have a few blank photos of the sidewalk to test the ISO setting – depending how many times your light changes.  lol


So… whether you are in the city or on the farm or walking the woods or wherever you find yourself on Monday, the idea I am looking for you to demonstrate in your photo is a moment of spontaneity that would have been lost if you had not been there and ready. Hopefully, you can convey an action or a sentiment that is neither posed or contrived. F8 and be there!


If the whole F8 and be there thing is not your cup of tea, then I offer an alternative theme Serendipity.  I think it is in tune with F8 and be there, but without the constraints of the camera setup. J 


Having rambled on now quite a bit, I hope that I haven’t bitten off more than easy to chew!  I will do my best to respond to each person.  I am usually terrible at commenting and so this will be a big challenge for me to keep up!  From my participation in the past, I always feel appreciative when the host takes time to acknowledge the effort – big or small, and I will do my best to do the same for everyone.  Anyone looking for more feedback or direction, feel free to ask!  I am only an amateur photographer and so my input is from a limited point of view, but free to give (and open also to your point of view).


I look forward to seeing all the contributions and getting to know some of you better!


Please remember to tag your photos MM171 so that I can be sure to find them.


A few links per a bit of background on Arthur Fellig’s famous quote and using the camera in aperture priority mode and the idea of the hyperfocal distance to have a sharp image across the entire frame.



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1 comment


This is to difficult, like challenges, but even need to read this long text in English. Please make it easier so everyone can do this challenge, not fun this way.

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