I experimented yesterday with turning things off. I was heading out for a walk and I decided to take a counterintuitive camera and lens combination with me; the Samsung NX30 and the its 85mm 1.4. The general twist is that I set the camera up in manual exposure, center focusing spot, raw, AWB and ISO 200. Then I turned the rear screen completely around to it faced the camera body. I wanted to shoot as we used to shoot with film cameras, without the benefit of instantaneous review of the images I was shooting. I wanted to trust the camera and let it do the work.
I actively ignored the EVF image and tried to just meter each shot using the metering indications in the finder. I think that I've become so dependent on "pre-chimping" and trying to get everything just right in the moments before exposure that I've been losing my connection with the subject and the real reason I might want to take a photograph in the first place. I didn't adjust anything if the screen in front of my eye seemed too light or too dark. I concentrated on using my exposure experience and fine tuning based on a spot metering of a subject and a little dial in of aperture to avoid running out of shutter speed. I find this is a good way to shoot this camera. The EVF never seemed to track proper exposure (or my interpretation of proper exposure) anyway. Juggling screen images was becoming a distraction.
I found that willfully ignoring the rear screen and squelching the idea of making lots of little adjustments at the time of shooting freed me up to enjoy the process of actually looking for images more. We've talked here before about having a camera with just a few basic controls. One which would shoot to raw files and allow correction from there. This is what I was trying to do. Essentially pushing the ability to recognize something I wanted to shoot instead of focusing on how to optimize a scene.
Was I successful? I was in that the images I captured pleased me and my walk was more fluid and less stoppy-starty. What would it take to really do this right? I'd want to use a camera with an optical viewfinder and put gaffer's tape over the screen on the back. The finder would merely be an indication of composition and whether the camera had hit focus. All other information would be blacked out. Is this a new trend in shooting? Well, judging by the new Leica which does away with a screen entirely, maybe. Will I be shooting this way a lot? Probably not. More of an exercise in re-asserting my visual primacy over the highly addictive interplay of pre-chimping and compulsive correction.
It has piqued my curiosity though. I'm heading out the door this afternoon with a Nikon F camera and a 50mm lens. Two rolls of generic ISO 100 print film. 72 blind exposures. Should be frustrating and exciting. But to me the "hunt" is always better than the "dissection."