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

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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 pavi1, 6 months ago

pavi1 wrote:

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

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Everything happens for a reason. #1 reason: poor planning
WSSA #44

I believe the complete opposite about both. What a dreary, jaded outlook.

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Ron Poelman
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Re: you gotta go to the right spots ? Nope.
In reply to trale, 6 months ago

trale wrote:

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?

It's nonsense.
Great statues,  paintings,  cakes, beer, Ikebana and needlepoint are all achieved without travel.
If anything, the benefit of greater control of the variables can be a good thing.
Talent In = Talent Out, same as it ever was.

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Dennis
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In reply to trale, 6 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 tried watching a bit of it ... ads, self promotion, chit chat ... got bored before I ever saw a critique.

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

That's all fine & good. But how are you going to recognize any of that stuff when you see it ? Unless you get in the habit of putting the camera to your eye, how are you going to learn to translate what's in front of you into two dimensional rectangles ? How are you going to learn how a contrasty scene is going to look when captured by whatever sensor is in your camera ? How are you going to learn how to track a moving subject, how to anticipate action, when to press the shutter ?

The more I shoot, the better I get. Each new thing you want to shoot has its own learning curve. And then if you don't do it for a while, its own relearning curve.

All the top photos on sites like 500px invariably demonstrate many (if not all) such elements.

What's your goal ? Is it to get thumbs up on sharing sites ? If so, then this kind of advice is helpful. But if it's to get good shots of something you personally care about, then you need to spend time practicing that kind of photography. Learning how to light it if you're going to light it.

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.

That never goes away. You're almost always doing your best work now and the work that was your best work a couple years ago looks inferior in comparison. That's a sign of continuous growth.

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

Garry Winogrand is quoted as saying: "I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed." Now I'm not a huge Garry Winogrand fan. But I think I'd listen to his advice before Scott Kelby's. Scott is a commercial photographer. He photographs to make clients happy. So whenever I have my camera, I find things to shoot. Things I know I'll delete after I look at them. Just to see how they look. How something looks in 2D. How much contrast there is in the file versus what I saw with my eyes. How much motion blur there is at 1/30s. Whether I can get a steady shot of something at 1/15s. I practice panning. Tracking.

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 advocate spending less time watching The Grid and more time shooting. Anything.

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.

As for the "right spots" ... remember, it's the right spot at the right time. You can't compete with guys who spend a lifetime at the right spot. You can spend a week in the southwest. You won't get a single shot to match what Tom Till is producing. Not only does he live there, he's out for days on end, shooting early in the morning in places you couldn't reach without spending the night in a tent. Nature photographers have understanding (or angry) families because it's not an 8-5 job. You're better off finding your own subject. Find something you want to shoot rather than something that gets likes on 500px.

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fishywisht
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to trale, 6 months ago

trale wrote:
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.

If you like photography, I don't see why you don't have your own ideas on why photos are good.
It would be most useful to look on your own photos and wonder why anyone else would be especially interested. This would stop your sharing most of your pet and family, and pictures of the neighbourhood for example, and do everybody else a blessing.

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meland
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Re: The more I accomplish, the higher my expectations.
In reply to DenWil, 6 months ago

DenWil wrote:


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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denniswilliams

I fear you are probably deluding yourself - but that's OK if you think your gear is that important.  But bear in mind that most entry level DSLRs produce better results than the most expensive equipment of say 6 or 7 years ago and there were more than a few good images produced on those.

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Klaus dk
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In reply to trale, 6 months ago

I've been where you are and in some respects I'm still there.

If you keep looking, you will find your voice, then start pushing the envelope so you keep developing.

I do studio portraits and holiday snaps. I know a lot about the tech stuff, but much of it I have only read about. I still play with light when shooting portraits, and my wife hates me when I try to take the time to compose holiday shots differently or wait for the passers-by to arrange themselves in a HCB picturesque way before shooting. That's the trouble with people today, they don't consider the needs of the photographer like they did when HCB was around - or maybe there's another explanation...

It all goes into the 10K hours pool and maybe when I retire I will be a master of all things photographic.

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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 lumigraphics, 6 months ago

lumigraphics wrote:

pavi1 wrote:

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

-- hide signature --

Everything happens for a reason. #1 reason: poor planning
WSSA #44

I believe the complete opposite about both. What a dreary, jaded outlook.

It is not an outlook, it is a fact of life.

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Everything happens for a reason. #1 reason: poor planning
WSSA #44

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PhotoHawk
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Have you ever noticed...
In reply to Glen Barrington, 6 months ago

that people travel all over to take pictures?  That in fact some people travel to take pictures in your locale?

I guess its a fact of life that we don't seem to notice the beauty around us and that we feel we must travel to see something beautiful.

I'm with Glen on this - its what you want to see in what is around you, what you choose to capture, and what "story" you want to tell someone (or just yourself) in the picture(s) you take.

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In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. - Yogi Berra

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DanielFjall
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to Aaron801, 6 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.

"The challenge though is in working with what you have."

This is where creativity thrives. I swear you'd be able to get a shot well worth it's time spent in your own bedroom if you work hard enough. I swear no place is no place for photography - unless it's pitch black. Work hard and love the challenge.

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Klaus dk
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...not of mine
In reply to pavi1, 6 months ago

pavi1 wrote:

lumigraphics wrote:

pavi1 wrote:

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

-- hide signature --

Everything happens for a reason. #1 reason: poor planning
WSSA #44

I believe the complete opposite about both. What a dreary, jaded outlook.

It is not an outlook, it is a fact of life.

Maybe it's a fact of your life, not of mine.

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jrtrent
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Re: The more you know (about great photography) the less pictures you take?
In reply to trale, 6 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

That's a very nice list, but whether it applies to any given picture or not depends on the purpose for which that picture was taken. Landscape photographer Brian Bower described several different types or purposes for photography:

  1. A simple record of a place that has been visited. There need not be time, skill, equipment, or inclination to worry about the quality or angle of lighting at different times of day or even of making a satisfactory composition, yet the photos will be satisfactory to the person taking them as memory jerkers of places seen.
  2. The more serious photographer wants something better but also may not have time to explore as many viewpoints as he'd like or to return when the light is better, but with a good background of experience in technique, lighting, and composition, he will endeavor to make the best images he can under the constraints of time and with the equipment at his disposal.
  3. Truly dedicated scenic photographers have a clear idea of their objectives and will persevere until they achieve them. They have the means to schedule visits for the best times of year, more time to explore different angles and points of view, to wait for weather conditions suitable for his ends. Bower includes professionals such as those working for advertising agencies or providing illustrations for books or magazine articles as being among these dedicated photographers.
  4. The final group is that of the "artist photographer," who uses a landscape merely as a vehicle through which he communicates ideas or feelings. His concern is not a literal depiction of the scene before him, but how he can use what's before him to convey an abstract idea or use it as a metaphor. Bower gives John Blakemore's Wind series and Paul Hill's images of the Engish Peak District as examples.

My own photos are taken for the purpose of remembering what a place looked like when I was there. I don't travel or even take day-trips for the purpose of taking pictures; I go to a place or event because I'm interested in it, and the pictures I take are simply reminders of that trip. If those pictures are reasonably faithful in portraying things as they were, then those pictures are satisfying to me, and they don't need to look good or be of interest to anyone else. With a new camera, I experiment with and adjust the image parameter settings so that it yields natural-looking color, saturation, and contrast; when out taking pictures, I almost always use a normal focal length lens (about 50mm equivalent) and shoot at eye level because this way of shooting results in pictures that seem more faithful to what I saw with my own eyes when I was there.

Among Bower's categories, I'm probably a cross between 1 and 2, but definitely not a 3, which I think would be more interested in ticking off more of the elements of a great photograph in the list you provided. One quote from Bower that I think important is, "all these applications of landscape photography are equally valid. The important thing is that the photographer endeavors to achieve whatever objective has been set."

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.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with taking snapshots. The Oxford dictionary defines a snapshot as "an informal photograph taken quickly, typically with a small handheld camera." My take on that is that snapshots are pictures that are not intended for professional use nor do they involve formal posing of subjects, elaborate lighting schemes, tripods, or anything else that is deliberately planned, but instead are a more spontaneous capturing of people, places, and things that catch our eye. Taking a snapshot does not mean that a person takes no care in composition or is totally oblivious to distracting elements, poor lighting angle, and so on, but the spontaneous, informal nature of the snapshot is such that you have to make the best of the light and location as it is in that moment.

The term snapshot is often used in a derogatory sense, but I would argue that the snapshot is just one of several types of photography, with none being inherently better or worse than another, and that different people should be allowed to like different things without judgement. When it comes to enjoying other people's pictures, I prefer snapshots. Is the postcard picture of Timberline Lodge technically superior to my friend's vacation snap of the same place? Of course it is, but it's not as interesting to me because it's just a pretty picture, and I don't know the story behind the taking of it. In the challenges, there are some impressive looking photos (landscapes, portraits, or whatever) that obviously took time and skill to both take and prepare for showing, but they are insignificant to me compared to a simple snapshot with a caption that reads "my grandson showing me his new lunchbox" or "Betty helping out at the church rummage sale." Snapshots are somehow more real to me, in a way that the "photograph of fine craftsmanship" often fails to be.

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DFPanno
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Post-processing is your friend…..
In reply to trale, 6 months ago

If you look at my stream you will see that many of my photos are of mundane things that can be found anywhere.  (In fact many of the better images on Flickr are of everyday objects/scenes.)

I attempt, attempt mind you, to transform these ordinary pictures into something worth looking at.

That is one of the beauties of having a wide array of post-processing tools available.

Do you really know your way around LR?  Photo Ninja?

Do you have the NIK collection?  Snapseed? Red leaf or VSCO filters ?  Filterstorm?  Photoshop?

You would be surprised how many "special" images are actually created on the home computer.

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In reply to Klaus dk, 6 months ago

Klaus dk wrote:

pavi1 wrote:

lumigraphics wrote:

pavi1 wrote:

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

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Everything happens for a reason. #1 reason: poor planning
WSSA #44

I believe the complete opposite about both. What a dreary, jaded outlook.

It is not an outlook, it is a fact of life.

Maybe it's a fact of your life, not of mine.

to trolls It's better to put them on ignore. My life here got a lot more pleasant after adding only 42 names on my ignore list

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DFPanno
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Actually he is right…….
In reply to Klaus dk, 6 months ago

Klaus dk wrote:

pavi1 wrote:

lumigraphics wrote:

pavi1 wrote:

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

-- hide signature --

Everything happens for a reason. #1 reason: poor planning
WSSA #44

I believe the complete opposite about both. What a dreary, jaded outlook.

It is not an outlook, it is a fact of life.

Maybe it's a fact of your life, not of mine.

The problem here is that pavi1 did not take the time to outline the foundation of his statement.  In fact he is generally right with regard to most people if not you in particular.

Truth - The greater one becomes aware of the mechanics the more distant they become to the magic.

This is true whether you are an editor, musician, or visual artist.

If this is not a concept that you have been exposed to before it is worth reading about as it can impact your artistic endeavors.

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DFPanno
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In reply to jrtrent, 6 months ago

Well articulated.

I divide my picture taking into two categories:

L'aide mémoire or Un endeavour-artistique.

It sounds contrived and/or pompous but it helps me quickly come to terms with what I want from what is in front of me.

Of course the categories are not mutually exclusive and a single capture can ultimately succeed or fail in both areas simultaneously.

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salla30
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Re: Actually he is right……. perhaps ;-)
In reply to DFPanno, 6 months ago

yeah i've heard that about music a lot. Not sure if it applies to photography in the same sense. Maybe. It's not hit me yet. Or may one appreciates such things in a different way.

And perhaps then there's a sort of breakthrough point beyond which you enter a new level of understanding; take Keith Jarrett for example, one of the finest musicians alive. His command and understanding of music is 2nd to none and yet he is ecstatic, truly ecstatic, when he plays. Maybe not so much when he's listening to others'. But then the photographic equivalent is going into "the zone" when you're out and about. Seeing the world with different eyes; a world of compositions, colours, shapes, humour, pathos, beauty, intricacy, action, nature, the moment. I don't think a good knowledge of technique and history of photography need detract from that "zoning" time.

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In reply to DFPanno, 6 months ago

DFPanno wrote:

Klaus dk wrote:

pavi1 wrote:

lumigraphics wrote:

pavi1 wrote:

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

-- hide signature --

Everything happens for a reason. #1 reason: poor planning
WSSA #44

I believe the complete opposite about both. What a dreary, jaded outlook.

It is not an outlook, it is a fact of life.

Maybe it's a fact of your life, not of mine.

The problem here is that pavi1 did not take the time to outline the foundation of his statement. In fact he is generally right with regard to most people if not you in particular.

Truth - The greater one becomes aware of the mechanics the more distant they become to the magic.

This is true whether you are an editor, musician, or visual artist.

If this is not a concept that you have been exposed to before it is worth reading about as it can impact your artistic endeavors.

happen to me. On the contrary, I tend to get down when I don't get the technical part easily and when I do get it I get so happy because then I have a new tool in my toolbox to realize my artistic vision. I don't think I could ever get bored if I had all the knowledge in the world and could always take the technically best possible photograph and always find a way to create my artistic vision exactly. Isn't that wonderful? Part of creativity is being creative with the technical part, it's so much fun making great photos with cardboard, duct tape, white paper, photographic frames, the glass that comes with those, mirrors, and so on. It challenges you to be creative as well. But it doesn't stop being fun after you learn it thoroughly, even if you can always do it perfectly it still leaves an infinite amount of ways to combine the techniques. Even if you master everything you can do with 3 speedlights and sheets of paper and duct tape and tin foil, there's still a million ways to combine them. Different colored papers, speedlights bounced from walls, ceilings, disco balls, shot through umbrellas, parasols, tablecloths, drinks, jello, aquarium, fountains, curtains... You get the idea.

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Aaron801
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Don't agree at all...
In reply to pavi1, 6 months ago

pavi1 wrote:

lumigraphics wrote:

pavi1 wrote:

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

-- hide signature --

Everything happens for a reason. #1 reason: poor planning
WSSA #44

I believe the complete opposite about both. What a dreary, jaded outlook.

It is not an outlook, it is a fact of life.

You say this thing about music as if it's some sort of given... but it isn't. For me, as far as music goes, I may have enjoyed say.... the Ramones. I related to how visceral they are, how much fun... the energy. I still relate to that, but I've gotten into jazz (and lots of other kinds of) music which would have appealed to me before. In the case of jazz, knowing something about how the music was put together helped me to appreciate it. In this way, I've come to appreciate MORE music over the years, not less. I still like a lot of the stuff that I heard first, without knowing much about it's origin while at the same time I've continually come to appreciate new music though learning lots about it.

So much of the time, broad generalization like this one here that you've proffered don't really hold up...

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trac63
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Photography is a visual art
In reply to trale, 6 months ago

If you don't see what's beautiful or interesting in the world around you the rest doesn't matter.

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TJL LTFF
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Re: Stop whining, and grab your camera - start taking photos - DO SOMETHING.
In reply to Glen Barrington, 6 months ago

Glen Barrington wrote:

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.

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Well stated. Something very primeval about the prairies.

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