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"Behind the Lens" is a weekly look at photography, written by Journal-World staff photographers. Have an idea for the column? Contact Thad Allender, photo director, at 832-6359 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For almost 10 years now, the LCD screen has assumed the role of the technological silver bullet for the digital-age photographer.
The image review function epitomizes and fulfills our quest for instant gratification, present company absolutely included. Although useful at times when the correct exposure is questionable, this handy-dandy little diversion is the most culpable of offenders when it comes to missing the moment.
The unofficial photographic term for the act is called "chimping." I believe it comes from the Latin root chimpanzeus photographius.
Imagine the scene if you will. Ten or so photographers are all sitting cross-legged on the baseline of a basketball court. In perfect cadence, they scratch their heads with varying expressions while studying the back of their cameras during a timeout. Meanwhile, with eyes nearly out of their sockets, the head coach is spitting fire in the face of his center, who just dribbled the ball off his foot out of bounds with 10 seconds remaining and down by two.
In the days of film, photographers were less likely to call it quits after capturing what they had guessed to be a nice moment. Many photographic eyes welled with tears at the light table when it became clear that the main subject of their Pulitzer Prize-winning image had a severe blinking disorder. Such moments of sorrow and frustration instilled the idea that it was well-worth it to stick around a little longer and to shoot a few more rolls just to make sure.
A fear of the unknown quite often motivated a great photo back in the day. However, now we know too much, and our own complacency with average and readily viewable pictures holds us back.
The solution to the problem can most likely be found in your garage or underneath the kitchen sink.
Step 1: Simply cut four 3-inch strips of electrical tape.
Step 2: Place each strip horizontally across your LCD screen until it is no longer viewable.
Step 3: Do not remove the tape.
Step 4: Begin shooting photographs while fighting the ever-present urge to remove the tape.
Step 5: Use excess tape to cover the "check engine" light on your dashboard. Sometimes the unknown is less intimidating when out of plain view.