The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?

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trale
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The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
9 months ago

Over the last couple months, I've been watching "The Grid" series of videos put out by photoshop guru Scott Kelby and his pals.

I've learned a great deal from these videos, particularly from the critiques that they do, like this one . I've learned many of the ingredients of great (not just good) photo, elements like:

  • Good lighting
  • Good time of day
  • Interesting location
  • Interesting subject
  • Good composition
  • The right moment
  • Interesting perspective
  • Eliminating distractions
  • Good post processing

All the top photos on sites like 500px invariably demonstrate many (if not all) such elements. No doubt this will improve the output of my own photography in the future. But there seems to be a few drawbacks. For one, now when I revisit some of the photos I've taken in the past - photos that I was once very proud of, they now look mundane. I can pick them apart and describe all the things "wrong" with them. This is a humbling feeling.

The other drawback is that I feel less inclined to take photos over-all. If you watch enough of The Grid, you get the sense that if you don't happen to be at an interesting locale, with an interesting subject, at just the right time of day (near sunrise / unset), you might as well not bother taking out your camera.

Unless I'm willing to go to such lengths to do the necessary legwork to purposely situate myself in the right location at the right time, many of the shots I take on a normal basis is classified (as they call it) "snap-shots", even if I do have some of the other elements.

One thing they do emphasis over and over is that your gear (price of your camera) is NOT one of the crucial elements of a great photo. I suppose this is to encourage those with entry-level DSLRs and the like. That's fine, but when they suggest "you gotta go to the right spots" which invariably means travel costs, the cost of gear seems to pale in comparison.

Your thoughts on this?

Lee Jay
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to trale, 9 months ago

trale wrote:

If you watch enough of The Grid, you get the sense that if you don't happen to be at an interesting locale, with an interesting subject, at just the right time of day (near sunrise / unset), you might as well not bother taking out your camera.

So don't shoot landscapes.  They're boring anyway.

Your thoughts on this?

Shoot something more interesting than landscapes.  Go shoot people, or animals, or the night sky, or airplanes, etc.

I now have over a quarter million shots in my LR catalogs, and probably about 10 of them are landscapes and like most landscapes, none of those are any good anyway.

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AceP
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to Lee Jay, 9 months ago

Lee Jay wrote:

trale wrote:

If you watch enough of The Grid, you get the sense that if you don't happen to be at an interesting locale, with an interesting subject, at just the right time of day (near sunrise / unset), you might as well not bother taking out your camera.

So don't shoot landscapes. They're boring anyway.

Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson had said, “The world is going to pieces and people like Adams and Weston are out photographing rocks and trees!

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Lee Jay
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to AceP, 9 months ago

AceP wrote:

Lee Jay wrote:

trale wrote:

If you watch enough of The Grid, you get the sense that if you don't happen to be at an interesting locale, with an interesting subject, at just the right time of day (near sunrise / unset), you might as well not bother taking out your camera.

So don't shoot landscapes. They're boring anyway.

Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson had said, “The world is going to pieces and people like Adams and Weston are out photographing rocks and trees!

HCB's photography is worse.  At least Adams was good at what he did.

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Aaron801
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to trale, 9 months ago

If you watch enough of The Grid, you get the sense that if you don't happen to be at an interesting locale, with an interesting subject, at just the right time of day (near sunrise / unset), you might as well not bother taking out your camera.

Unless I'm willing to go to such lengths to do the necessary legwork to purposely situate myself in the right location at the right time, many of the shots I take on a normal basis is classified (as they call it) "snap-shots", even if I do have some of the other elements.

One thing they do emphasis over and over is that your gear (price of your camera) is NOT one of the crucial elements of a great photo. I suppose this is to encourage those with entry-level DSLRs and the like. That's fine, but when they suggest "you gotta go to the right spots" which invariably means travel costs, the cost of gear seems to pale in comparison.

Your thoughts on this?

I firmly believe that a great photographer can find almost any local interesting from a photographic  perspective. I don't get to travel nearly as much as I'd like and I kind of feel the same way... that it'd be great to be in some really exotic locations to photograph (and experience on other ways). The challenge though is in working with what you have. All kinds of lighting can work, from overcast to hard sun, to artificial, provided that it's the right match for the subject and is handled in just the right way (exposure and post processing). What's really exciting for me is photographs of the most ordinary things that really transcend their ordinariness... Not easy to achieve, but worth striving to do. Maybe the thing to do is to look at a lot of photography (and not just the stuff on these sites, but books of great photographers work) with a special eye toward work that you like that is able to capture what's ordinary and transcend it... Trust me, there's plenty of that kind of work out there.

Also, I'd urge you to disregard the comment about landscape photography being "boring." There's a pretty wide range of work that would qualify for that label and so it seems pretty silly to put it all in one bag... especially if that's the kind of thing that you're really drawn to. We're all drawn to certain subject matter, but I think that it's a mistake to discount any sort of subject like that... I think that it's much more useful to form opinions about what shooting style and what photographers we like (those preferences help to inform own own style) than it is to be opinionated about really big generalities, like subject matter.

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yardcoyote
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to trale, 9 months ago

If doing something is making you take fewer photographs. then I would suggest not doing it.

(edited to remove excessive snark.)

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yardcoyote
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to Lee Jay, 9 months ago

I so agree with this.  Landscapes with no other interesting features (like airplanes, cars, buildings, other people, bugs, etc.) bore me stiff as subjects. I like to look at a well shot landscape photo, but have no interest in making such images myself.  If I can find it on a postcard, somebody else has already done the heavy lifting, and I can go looking for statues with weird expressions on their faces, hand lettered signs, and dogs.

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The Incredible Hoke
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to trale, 9 months ago

Take less photos then. There's nothing wrong with that. I take the photos I want to take when the time and lighting is right. And they are often urban landscapes. Don't let message board jockeys tell you what photographs to take and not to take. I guarantee you, they don't know.

And HCB is dead. He knows even less. Also don't pay attention to anything on 500px or Flickr. Only pay attention to your internal compass. You know what you want to take pictures of, do it. Don't fake it and don't let anyone else influence you.

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Glen Barrington
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Stop whining, and grab your camera - start taking photos - DO SOMETHING.
In reply to trale, 9 months ago

trale wrote:

Over the last couple months, I've been watching "The Grid" series of videos put out by photoshop guru Scott Kelby and his pals.

I've learned a great deal from these videos, particularly from the critiques that they do, like this one . I've learned many of the ingredients of great (not just good) photo, elements like:

  • Good lighting
  • Good time of day
  • Interesting location
  • Interesting subject
  • Good composition
  • The right moment
  • Interesting perspective
  • Eliminating distractions
  • Good post processing

All the top photos on sites like 500px invariably demonstrate many (if not all) such elements. No doubt this will improve the output of my own photography in the future. But there seems to be a few drawbacks. For one, now when I revisit some of the photos I've taken in the past - photos that I was once very proud of, they now look mundane. I can pick them apart and describe all the things "wrong" with them. This is a humbling feeling.

This is progress. All you need to do is figure out how you could have made them better.

The other drawback is that I feel less inclined to take photos over-all. If you watch enough of The Grid, you get the sense that if you don't happen to be at an interesting locale, with an interesting subject, at just the right time of day (near sunrise / unset), you might as well not bother taking out your camera.

That's the wrong lesson, I think. It's what you BRING to the location that makes it 'interesting'. If you are in a boring place, it's because you have no passion for that place.

Unless I'm willing to go to such lengths to do the necessary legwork to purposely situate myself in the right location at the right time, many of the shots I take on a normal basis is classified (as they call it) "snap-shots", even if I do have some of the other elements.

Well, Duh! There is a reason another phrase for a photographer's portfolio, a body of WORK. You are allowing your spiritual malaise make you. . . well, sorry, but the word is lazy.

One thing they do emphasis over and over is that your gear (price of your camera) is NOT one of the crucial elements of a great photo. I suppose this is to encourage those with entry-level DSLRs and the like. That's fine, but when they suggest "you gotta go to the right spots" which invariably means travel costs, the cost of gear seems to pale in comparison.

I take pictures of the freakin' prairie for crying out loud. That's an enormous field with grass. I get good pictures because the prairie MOVES me. If nothing moves you, pictures you care about don't get made. You need to find some passion. I can't tell you how to do that.

Your thoughts on this?

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jrkliny
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to trale, 9 months ago

You might keep in mind that Scott Kelby and his cohorts are basically technical photographers and post processors.  If you have a lick of individuality and artistic temperment, you will find plenty of subjects that interest you.  It is not necessary to face the setting sun or be in some obscure location.

I happen to enjoy the impressionistic paintings.  The impressionists managed to find subjects in the city, in the parks, in the rural farming areas and in fact just about anywhere in their world.  I cant think of many paintings made during "golden" hour.  They did not need weird lighting, angry hdr clouds or freak events in nature.

The more I watch the grid, the more I realize those guys are pretty limited in their approach.  If I cannot get out to a scenic landscape area, I can manage to find interesting subjects in the local parks, forests, greenhouses, or even my backyard.

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DenWil
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In reply to trale, 9 months ago

trale wrote:

Over the last couple months, I've been watching "The Grid" series of videos put out by photoshop guru Scott Kelby and his pals.

I've learned a great deal from these videos, particularly from the critiques that they do, like this one . I've learned many of the ingredients of great (not just good) photo, elements like:

  • Good lighting
  • Good time of day
  • Interesting location
  • Interesting subject
  • Good composition
  • The right moment
  • Interesting perspective
  • Eliminating distractions
  • Good post processing

All the top photos on sites like 500px invariably demonstrate many (if not all) such elements. No doubt this will improve the output of my own photography in the future. But there seems to be a few drawbacks. For one, now when I revisit some of the photos I've taken in the past - photos that I was once very proud of, they now look mundane. I can pick them apart and describe all the things "wrong" with them. This is a humbling feeling.

That is simply education.

The other drawback is that I feel less inclined to take photos over-all.

And that's a bad thing? I go for weeks sometimes between shoots. It's not an issue.

If you watch enough of The Grid, you get the sense that if you don't happen to be at an interesting locale, with an interesting subject, at just the right time of day (near sunrise / unset), you might as well not bother taking out your camera.

I have never watched.

Unless I'm willing to go to such lengths to do the necessary legwork to purposely situate myself in the right location at the right time, many of the shots I take on a normal basis is classified (as they call it) "snap-shots", even if I do have some of the other elements.

One thing they do emphasis over and over is that your gear (price of your camera) is NOT one of the crucial elements of a great photo. I suppose this is to encourage those with entry-level DSLRs and the like. That's fine, but when they suggest "you gotta go to the right spots" which invariably means travel costs, the cost of gear seems to pale in comparison.

Your thoughts on this?

I always go to those lengths.  It is simply the process. I have driven hundreds of miles in a pick up truck with furniture  and  and a model to be on a dry lake bed in the middle of nowhere at 5 in the afternoon. Other times I am simply in my own back yard. My gear is relatively  low priced at this point - that's is simply timing- but the gear is crucial ,very crucial to the quality of my images. An entry level DSLR will not produce comparable product.

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salla30
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Re: Stop whining, and grab your camera - start taking photos - DO SOMETHING.
In reply to Glen Barrington, 9 months ago

Lol.

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gloaming
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to trale, 9 months ago

I would look askance at the following statement:

"The more I learn about great running, the less I find myself getting on my own shoes and going for a run."

It is an accepted dictum that to become great at anything, or to be sought as an expert, you need nearly 10K hours applied to the subject or skill.  I don't see how doing 'less of' something would do anything but retard my attempt to find greatness.

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salla30
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Just keep going; try to be inspired, not deflated
In reply to trale, 9 months ago

I do agree a bit with you. I think it's called a "dry patch".

It can be daunting to see all the "greats", and think we'll never be like that. I also find the opposite to a certain extent; the more I learn, the more I want to try and discover how I can apply new ideas to old haunts or scenarios. Post processing is a fun part of it too.

Like Glen wrote; you have to enjoy what you do and what you photograph, otherwise it's just not going to happen.

I recently discovered this guy and some of his stuff appear just so random, it's great. It made me realise that my limits are really only my imagination.

http://www.martinparr.com/

Have a look.

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lumigraphics
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to trale, 9 months ago

Ive been a landscape shooter for thirty years. I can park my car in downtown Detroit or at a state recreation area, walk around for two hours, and get two dozen publication-quality images that will make me money.

I've been a model shooter for seven years. I can take a talented professional model into the studio or to a park for two hours and get two editorials, or four content sets, or half a dozen gallery quality art images.

We all have the same world to shoot in. Some whine that it isn't enough, while others take advantage of that world. Which one are you?

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lumigraphics
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to yardcoyote, 9 months ago

yardcoyote wrote:

I so agree with this. Landscapes with no other interesting features (like airplanes, cars, buildings, other people, bugs, etc.) bore me stiff as subjects. I like to look at a well shot landscape photo, but have no interest in making such images myself. If I can find it on a postcard, somebody else has already done the heavy lifting, and I can go looking for statues with weird expressions on their faces, hand lettered signs, and dogs.

A lot of people post portraits of their kids. Those pictures put me in a coma. Borrrrrring. Some people post bird pics. Ugh. Dogs? Borrrrrring. Statues....uh, maybe? Hand-lettered signs, well as part of a travel feature.

Everyone has different interests. I LOVE shooting landscapes and I think my images are better because I have passion.

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Lumixdude
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to lumigraphics, 9 months ago

Well, living in Australia there's not much else to do once you get out of the city than shoot landscapes. I go to the one street in my town that looks semi-developed sometimes and shoot shoot street photography.

Sometimes, the type of photography you do is simply dictated by the scenery that's around you. I wish there was cool statues and old things around here, but it's the laws of history when your country is 200 years old, there's simply not much of that around.

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pavi1
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to trale, 9 months ago

Photography is a lot like music. The more you know about it the less of it you enjoy.

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Gato Amarillo
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to trale, 9 months ago

trale wrote:

Over the last couple months, I've been watching "The Grid" series of videos put out by photoshop guru Scott Kelby and his pals.

Perhaps you've spent too much time watching videos. More seriously, I'm not a fan of Kelby -- seems to me he's made a career of making things more complicated than they have to be, then setting himself up as the guru who can offer the key to the mystery.

I've learned a great deal from these videos, particularly from the critiques that they do, like this one . I've learned many of the ingredients of great (not just good) photo, elements like:

  • Good lighting
  • Good time of day
  • Interesting location
  • Interesting subject
  • Good composition
  • The right moment
  • Interesting perspective
  • Eliminating distractions
  • Good post processing

Those strike me as somewhat superficial -- rather the surface of things, not the core. What is important comes down to "Does anybody want to look at this picture? Will it mover them? Will they remember it?"

Several people have already mention a passion for your subject and work.

All the top photos on sites like 500px invariably demonstrate many (if not all) such elements. No doubt this will improve the output of my own photography in the future. But there seems to be a few drawbacks. For one, now when I revisit some of the photos I've taken in the past - photos that I was once very proud of, they now look mundane. I can pick them apart and describe all the things "wrong" with them. This is a humbling feeling.

This part about revisiting past photos is something all intelligent artists go through. Not all of our past work fails to hold up, but you have to expect a good bit of it will, at least work you did before you master the technical skills and find your real subject.

The other drawback is that I feel less inclined to take photos over-all. If you watch enough of The Grid, you get the sense that if you don't happen to be at an interesting locale, with an interesting subject, at just the right time of day (near sunrise / unset), you might as well not bother taking out your camera.

True, but it is up to you to define "interesting." You have three choices: You can find a subject that interests you within reach, you can find a way to travel or move to the locations that interest you, or you can give up photography and do something else.

Unless I'm willing to go to such lengths to do the necessary legwork to purposely situate myself in the right location at the right time, many of the shots I take on a normal basis is classified (as they call it) "snap-shots", even if I do have some of the other elements.

So what's wrong with snapshots? More seriously, you do have to put in the work. It's like sports or music or anything else -- how well you do it depends a lot on how much time and work you are willing to commit.

One thing they do emphasis over and over is that your gear (price of your camera) is NOT one of the crucial elements of a great photo. I suppose this is to encourage those with entry-level DSLRs and the like. That's fine, but when they suggest "you gotta go to the right spots" which invariably means travel costs, the cost of gear seems to pale in comparison.

Again, you get to define the "right spots." I would guess most photographer do most of their best work within a day's drive of their home -- though some of them move their home to be near their work. As far as the gear goes, so long as it is adequate to the job no one cares what it cost. Some areas of photography require spending the big bucks -- sports and wildlife come to mind. Other areas, such as landscape or portrait can be done with relatively simple equipment.

Your thoughts on this?

I think it's easy to overthink this stuff. We'd probably all be better off out making pictures.

Gato

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Dan Marchant
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There is always another photo to take....
In reply to trale, 9 months ago

It is true that certain shots will only be really great if all the necessary elements are in place but if you look around you can always find a different shot that will work in the current situation. Light too harsh then do a shot where a strong shadow is a key feature. Sky too boring for a landscape, look around for something smaller to focus on.

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