Photography on Autopilot

snow, high key, winter, hoar frost, fence, barbed wire fence, Alberta, landscape, Dan Jurak,

Definition of AUTOPILOT 

: a device for automatically steering ships, aircraft, and spacecraft; also : the automatic control provided by such a device

That kind of describes how I take pictures.

There are people that will scout out a location, use the photographers ephemeris to calculate where the sun or the moon will be at a given time at a given location.

They will contemplate and ponder their composition before releasing the shutter.

I used to do that. Back in the early seventies when I bought my first film SLR a canon FTb that is exactly what I used to do. Everything was composed and looked at in the viewfinder. Was it balanced? Did it have an entry point? Was there a place for the eye to finally end up after travelling the image?

All of those things were consciously considered before taking a picture.

That is part of the learning process. It is by repetition a dozen or a hundred or a thousand times that we get not muscle memory but an unconscious recognition when things are “right”.

There was a space of a few years where I hauled out a lightweight 4×5 field camera and later on a huge 8×10 sheet film camera to capture landscapes. It was very contemplative.

For however much sheet film cost back in those days I did not want to waste a few dollars on one image that was poorly composed or exposed but it was a wonderful learning experience.

Today shooting digital things of course are so much easier. So fast and so efficient.

Not sure about the exposure? Autobracket. Focus? Double check it on the preview screen on the camera back.

Learning photography today is easier but still the same lessons and rules apply.

Come with me when I am photographing the countryside and I guarantee that you would swear that I wasn’t paying attention. LOL But that is shooting on autopilot.

The photo at the top of this post was taken on autopilot. Walking along a railway right of way I spotted the old fence standing out against the whiteness of a winter canvas.

What immediately struck me was the shape of the unusual fencepost coupled with the lines of the barbed wire. Kneel in the snow, quickly aim, snap. Done.

It can be that easy. Shooting on autopilot.

Happy autopilot shooting,



~ by Dan Jurak on February 6, 2017.

2 Responses to “Photography on Autopilot”

  1. and still, your pictures are touchingly beautiful! – or beautifully touching? you know what i mean …

  2. As in , the early learning and study are now integrated.

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