Two kinds of people...

Started Sep 6, 2001 | Discussions thread
Patricia Aguilar
New MemberPosts: 5
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Re: Two kinds of people...
In reply to Dan Ferrin, Sep 8, 2001

I understand that I'm taking a certain liberty in replying to this, in the way that I'm about to, but you've framed your question so honestly, so thoughtfully--honest about your confusion, sincere, obviously, about your search for an answer (answers?)--that I figure a) I should reply, since I do have something to say, and b) to reply any less honestly and sincerely than you wrote would be disrespectful to yourself.

Now you don't ask about a camera or a technique that can obtain an effect or make a certain kind of picture that has so far eluded you. For example, in the mid-1970s a lot of photographers went to the Fuji 6x9cm rangefinder camera because "I want something almost as fast as a 35mm camera, and I want the proportions of the 35mm negative (24x36mm= 2:3), but I want better definition of detail, but I don't want to use a 5x7 view camera, in fact, I don't want to use a view camera at all, I want to photograph in crowds, public places, parks, etc. and not be observed, and I want a rangefinder because it's quieter, and I like looking through plain glass rather than onto an SLR screen."

I don't think your question is specific, like the above.

So the answer to your question as you've framed it, is: THE CAMERA IS NEVER THE KEY TO MAKING GOOD PICTURES. Also THERE IS NO TECHNICAL STANDARD FOR A GOOD PHOTOGRAPH.

Case in Point: The sculptor Constantin Brancusi's (1920s) photographs of his own work, made with a view camera, great lighting (skylight, etc.) processed carefully in his own darkroom, but printed with the utmost carelessness. When he printed he allowed light to leak into his darkroom, he wouldn't pay attention to how long he fixed the prints, he'd let the still wet prints fall onto the darkroom floor and he wouldhn't wash them off before drying them...All of this was highly intentional...The finished prints were often rough, stained, dirty, fading...They're absolutely fabulous pictures, highly prized by collectors for their beauty, and when they come onto the market they costs at least thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars each (it's been a long time since I've looked).

Case in Point: A book called "Portraits and Dreams" by Wendy Ewald, pictures by 8-14 yr old children in small villages in Appalachian Mtn region of Kentucky, Ewald taught these children to photograph, Kodak provided the cameras--the cheapest: plastic lenses, etc.--the children built their own darkroom, developed, printed their own pictures...These are beautiful pictures, they're now in the collections of several museums all over the world, and they won Ewald a MacArthur Foundation ("genius") Fellowship, something like over $250,000, to continue her work with children, which she's done in Colobmia, Calcutta, South Africa and other places where the children are the poorest of the poor and in her teaching with absolutely the cheapest cameras available they are making, all over the world, very beautiful pictures.

YOUR ANXIETY ABOUT THE RIGHT CAMERA IS SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN INSTILLED INTO YOU, DRUMMED INTO YOU, BY THE CAMERA MAGAZINES AND BY THINGS LIKE, I'M SORRY TO SAY, THIS WEB SITE AND ITS FORUM. THE POINT OF POP PHOTO AND SO ON IS TO PUBLISH ALL THOSE ARTICLES ABOUT CAMERAS LENSES LIGHT METERS ETC SO AS TO MAKE ITS READERS 1) THINK THE ANSWER IS IN A PIECE OF EQUIPMENT: "IF I ONLY HAD THE CANON THIS, THE YASCHICA THAT, THE SONY THE OTHER THING..." SO THAT THEY'LL LOOK AT THE ADS AND SAY 2) MAYBE I'LL BUY THIS...AND THEY DO THIS SO THAT THEY GET ADVERTISING FROM THE BIG CAMERA COMPANIES. IF YOU LOOK CAREFULLY AT THE MAGAZINES YOU WILL SEE THAT THEY HARDLY EVER SAY ANYTHING NEGATIVE ABOUT A NEW PIECE OF EQUIPMENT--NOT SO NEGATIVE AS TO BE DAMAGING, THAT IS. IF THEY DO, SONY OR KONICA OR WHATEVER WILL PULL THE ADS FROM THEM. SEE A 1879 OR 1980 OR 1981 INTERVIEW WITH THE EX-POP-PHOTOGRAPHY, EX-MODERN PHOTOGRAPHY, EX-US CAMERA WRITER SIMON NATHAN, FIRED FROM OR who left all those magazines and more because he wanted to write the truth about the new Nikon this and the new Leica that etc. and his editors wouldn't let him, so he founded his own newsletter, SIMON SAYS. It was pretty popular in the late 1970s early 1980s. The interview is in a national trade magazine, "Professional Photographer," published in Des Plaines, Ill. It's pretty interesting, a voice from the inside of the camera magazines. IN OTHER WORDS, YOU CAN'T TRUST A SINGLE ARTICLE ABOUT A SINGLE PIECE OF EQUIPMENT IN A SINGLE CAMERA MAGAZINE.L Those articles are there to make you anxious--DO I HAVE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT???!!!--and to keep you buying more. CAMERA COMPANIES DON'T CARE SO MUCH ABOUT NEGATAIVE REVIEWS ON THESE FORUMS BECAUSE, HEY!! LET'S FACE IT!!! NOT EVERYBODY WILL SEE ALL THE REVIEWS, AND, LET'S ALSO FACE IT, EVERYONE WRITING HERE IS AN AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER, A NEGATAIVE REVIEW ON DPreview doesn't carry the authority of a negative review in Popular Photography...And as long as y'all are talking to each other about the new gizmo you're usuing the company name and...

The key isn't in the camera. In the 1980s very, very good photographs were made by good photographers all over the world, using a $5 Japanese plastic camera (leaked light so much the photographers had to tape it up with black tape every time they changed film)...Called the Diana Camera. Got written up in the New Yorker, long article by one of their staff writerrs, and everything...Lots of Diana camera pictures still being made, exhibited, collected....Published in American Photographer and so on as examples of good photography....I mean, $5 for the camera, imagine how much the lens cost, a cheap plastic doodad, awful thing, but...

It's how the photographer sees, and handles that camera, that instrument, the one he has...

A competent photographer can take pictures with a normal lens and have them come out looking as though they were taken with a telephoto, or a wide angle lens, depending on how he holds, etc. the camera

A very successful commercial photographer I knew in NY, specialized in table top still lifes, you know, the whisky glass with the beautiful amber liquid in it on those beautifully transparent ice cubes with the beautiful bottle next to it, all back lit, against a beautiful bluish gray plain background....And all that hig h tech high detailed stuff, perfume bottles, lipstick, food, etc...

Now you'd think he made those pictures in a studio, lots of light, big camera (8x10 maybe), special stuff all over the place, lots of backdrops on wheels, rreflectors, etc...right?

Nah., He made them in his livingroom, with a Leica, 50 mm lens, ONE LIGHT and some cheap backdrop paper he'd pin up in the living room wall. How could he do this? He knew what a camera can do, and how to do it, knew what light was, and how to make that one light do everything a big studio lighting set does.

THE EQUIPMENT IS ALMOST NEVER THE REASON YOUR PICTURES DON'T SATISFY YOU AND BUYING A NEW PIECE OF EQUIPMENT IS ALMOST NEVER GOING TO MAKE YOUR PICTURES SATISFY YOU. THE THING TO DO IS TO LEARN ABOUT PICTURES AND ABOUT CAMERAS, HOW TO USE THE LATTER TO MAKE THE FORMER. YOUR ANXIETY ABOUT EQUIPMENT IS SOMETHING THAT'S BEEN CREATED IN YOU BY A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO WANT TO TAKE MONEY OUT OF YOUR POCKET AND WHO DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO WORK VERY HARD IN ORDER TO DO IT, AND WANT TO, AND DO, DO IT BY REMOTE...AFTER ALL, THE TECHNIQUES OF ADVERTISING ARE EASY TO TEACH AND LEARN...THEY'RE BEING TAUGHT AND LEARNED EVERY DAY ALL OVER THE WORLD IN COMMUNITY COLLEGES, 4 YEAR COLLEGES AND GRADUATE SCHOOLS, SO KONIKA AND NICON AND CANNON, THEY DON'T EVEN HAVE TO THINK ABOUT HOW TO ADVERTISE, THEY JUST HIRE PEOPLE TO DO THIS WORK FOR THEM...IT'S EASY TO MAKE YOU ANXIOUS ABOUT YOUR EQUIPMENT...THEY PAY SO CALLED "WRITERS" TO DO IT, AND THESE "WRITERS"--WORKING FOR POP PHOTO ETC--DO IT JUST FINE...THE TECHNIQUES ARE SIMPLE:l NEVER COME TO A REAL CONCLUSION, AND ALWAYS IMPLY THAT you aren't making the pictures you want AND LEAVE IT OPEN AT THE END. maybe this piece of equipment will...AND IF IT'S OPEN, INCONCLUSIVE, THEN YOUR ANXIETY IS EXCITED BUT NEVER PUT TO REST...AND THESE SO-CALLED ":WRITERS' do canon's and nikon's and sony's dirty work for them...So it's easy to sell cameras...

As people at Sony, CAnnon, Nikon, etc. to TEACH YOU HOW TO MAKE YOUR ICTURES BETTERS. AS THE WRITERS AT POP PHOTO ETC REALLY TO TEACH YOU HOW. None of them can do it.l They can only tell you BUY THIS PRODUCT AND YOUR'E GOING TO BE GOOD. It's like Alice in Wonderland, only when she did EAT ME or DRINK ME she really did get small or larger...Those cameras aren't the magic cake or potion although b oth the camera companies and the so called writers who write for them pretend to you that they are. YOU'VE BEEN MANIPULATED into spending your money for their sake not your own, throwing good money after bad, you can keep on buying the next new the next super the next fancy the next attachment the next improvement the next WOW! BREAKTHROUGH! and so on and never make a good picture.

This is all true.

Versailles Peace Conference, Paris, 1918, 1919 Photojournalist Erich Salamon, denied access to many meetings and conferences, not alwwowed to bring his cameras into the restaurants and hotel lobbies where the diplomats met and did a lot of their negotiation...Salomon put an Erminox into his breifcase, made an unobtrusive hold in the side, ran a cable release through another hole to a place where he could press it from another side, got tux and everything and walked around as though he were one of the people he wanted to photograph. He'd hold the briefcase up to his chest...Etc. EVERY TIME HE DID THIS HE'D HAVE TO GO TO THE MEN'S ROOM OR SOME OTHER PRIVATE PLACE, OPEN THE BRIEFCASE AND ADVANCE THE FILM OR CHANGE THE LITTLE GLASS PLATE, I FORGET WHICH]. In other words, he didn't get a lot of photographs per day for nhis paper. So he had to learn to make each exposure count. Know where to stand, know about his light, know what he'd set his f stop and shutter speed at, know he couldn't photograph in this light, or from here, would have to move and make a different picture or he'd ruin the film...etc. THAT'S THE KIND OF SITUATION IN WHICH ONE ASKS "WHAT KIND OF CAMERA DO I NEED? IS THIS LENS FAST ENOUGH/ IS IT SHARP ENOUGH AT f/4 TO GIVE ME AT LEAST 2 FEET DEPTH OF FIELD FROM 8 FEET AWAY. IT'S ONLY IN SITUATIONS LIKE THIS THAT ONE MUST CHECK THE SPECS OF CAMERAS, LENSES, ETC...,

Think about it. Hold on to your money. Learn how to photograph.

yrs,

After having participated in a number of the discussions on this

site, and having read into many of the others, I've concluded that
there are primarily two types of people in relation to digital
cameras. This doesn't seem have any direct relationship to a
person's skill or talent with photography, but with their attitudes
about the equipment. The first type of person is the one who has
purchased a digital camera, set about learning how to use it to
whatever skill level they are inclined, and is satisfied with his
decision and his equipment. Some of these people are taking family
snapshots, and some are doing professional level work. The common
characteristic is the ability to accept the strengths and weakness
of the equipment they are using. The snapshooter may not be
concerned about the weaknesses, and the professional may have
learned to work around them, but both are happy.

I'm afraid I fall into the other group of people. We are the ones
who are never satisfied, for whatever reason. Whether its the
fault of camera flaws or our own inability or unwillingness to
learn to work around those flaws, or whether it may even be our own
lack of skill, we are always looking for that Holy Grail of digital
cameras - the one that gets it all right. I'm on the fourth, soon
to be fifth digital camera in less than three years, and already
I'm itching to know what's around the corner. Does anyone know a
good therapist???

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