Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

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EvilOne
EvilOne Forum Pro • Posts: 14,513
Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?
3

I have been WOW'd by many photographs, over the years.  I have also been WOW'd by many captured memories.( not photographically excellent ).  Its not easy to capture photographic excellence, it takes time, set up, opportunity, light, composition, ability to capture a story from the shot, etc. While a captured memory can be deposited in you photographic memory bank and gain interest through the years until it becomes priceless. Shots that are photgrapocally  excellent, have little place in my daily life..  the people I would show an excellent shot to, would  not know what they are looking at anyway. However a captured memory no matter how it rates will usually attract more acceptance because of the subject. The simple answer here is get a cell phone and capture that memory. But photography as a hobby is a blend of experience, knowledge, ergonomics, convenience, and being one with your gear.. To many its all about the gear.. thus Digital Photography review.

I use to take lots of time and effort over the years to learn to be a good photographer, I dont ever think I made it. I have education in Photography, I have fairly good equipment, I dont have to God given gift of having a photographers eye. Ive never depended on good gear to carry me or my photography.

I know the pat hand answer is to capture a memory using techniques of photographic excellence..  For me, while those jump off the page photographs with the ultimate wow factor are great, The captured memories of my grandchild's first breath holds more value to me.

I've lost some great opportunity trying to achieve photographic excellence over the years. Some of the opportunities come and go in a few seconds.. I would rather have a fair photo of a memory, then no photograph because I was trying set up and compose an opportunity that would achieve or come close to excellence..

Sorry for the long winded thoughts. Just an opportunity for discussion

Bill

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Twah Forum Member • Posts: 69
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

Me, it’s both.  I’m in South Africa for vacation and you have to capture the moments so you can remember those because those are fleeting.   And then if you have time to really setup shop and do things properly, settings tripod etc, then have at it.

So to me, gotta do both. I’m not a pro, I’m just a hobbyist but I mostly know what I’m doing haha.  But I want to have fun shooting things not make it work.  But if I have time, I’ll setup to the best of my ability to get a good shot in my eyes.

Hope that helped a little.

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EvilOne
OP EvilOne Forum Pro • Posts: 14,513
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

After 74 years of life, I know what is important to me, I was not asking for help.. I just wanted to offer a basis for discussion.

Bill aka ET

When I was in college 50 years ago, Photography was part of my curriculum. Back them I thought I knew what was important.. I spent the next fifty years trying to tell myself it was the most important thing with respect to photography.. I know what is important to me, Now, and its not that. At least for me.

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dkeller Senior Member • Posts: 1,386
Not either/or issue
1

Both have their place and you don't have to chose between them.  Take what the opportunity offers but you can always try for the best quality shot in either instant.

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EvilOne
OP EvilOne Forum Pro • Posts: 14,513
Re: Not either/or issue
1

That is how I approach photography now.. I spent a lot of time over the years looking for perfection and missed out on many good opportunities. many potential memories. A poor shot is sometime better than no shot at all. I missed out on that alien space ship, and that capture of the Sasquatch, trying to achieve perfection.

Bill

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woodturner Regular Member • Posts: 186
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

Sounds like a case of developing wisdom to me. 

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woodturner Regular Member • Posts: 186
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

I  concur.

I guess I like and strive for excellence, but you have to grab the moment as well, - that’s what Auto is for, I’m not too proud to use it … and the custom memories. I need all the help I can get.

I’m not a fan of the super arty stuff anyway, some is very impressive indeed, but generally wouldn’t make it in my Desert Island Discs of photos. *

If the tech means you are going to miss out, you can even put the camera down and use the Mk 1 eyeball and your cranial storage system. Just look, and enjoy the moment. Probably considered heresy here of course. You can’t print it out, but who does that these days? Sometimes even the best tech gets in the way.

*For those not in the UK, Desert Island Discs is a (very) long running ½ hour BBC radio show with the premise that the guest celebrity chooses which 8 records they would take if they were put alone on a desert island. They discuss their reasons/life etc around the records which can be quite insightful. Complete lack of sound bites. Last week was Louis Theroux.

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EvilOne
OP EvilOne Forum Pro • Posts: 14,513
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

With respect to DPreview, I dont know how the rest of the world is evolving. For 60 years, the gear was very important. I'm not sure how or where the gear stands today.

Over my time here, the gear was a means to help achieve  the best results possible with my limited abilities. Ive manage to capture a lot of memories, which have become priceless over the years, I have 80,000 photos ( keepers ) of the hundreds of thousands Ive taken over about 60 years of photography. I'm  not really sure if any would be considered photographic excellence, but some are much better then others, but all the keepers, no matter their quality, are priceless to me. It would be very hard for me to deleate a single one of those 80,000.

Funny how I saw the rumblings of the demise of Sony, and kind of knew it would be coming . Being an A mount user since its inception, I stuck it out.. But the other day I went to the Canon site looking at gear.... At my age and health, it was just a " What if I bought " moment..... a means to rekindle the enthusiasm.  Starting over at 74 years ? Hardly a real consideration.  The thought came up ," Maybe I should have gone there 50 years ago.

Just conversation

Bill

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woodturner Regular Member • Posts: 186
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

EvilOne wrote:

With respect to DPreview, I dont know how the rest of the world is evolving. For 60 years, the gear was very important. I'm not sure how or where the gear stands today.

Over my time here, the gear was a means to help achieve the best results possible with my limited abilities. Ive manage to capture a lot of memories, which have become priceless over the years, I have 80,000 photos ( keepers ) of the hundreds of thousands Ive taken over about 60 years of photography. I'm not really sure if any would be considered photographic excellence, but some are much better then others, but all the keepers, no matter their quality, are priceless to me. It would be very hard for me to deleate a single one of those 80,000.

Funny how I saw the rumblings of the demise of Sony, and kind of knew it would be coming . Being an A mount user since its inception, I stuck it out.. But the other day I went to the Canon site looking at gear.... At my age and health, it was just a " What if I bought " moment..... a means to rekindle the enthusiasm. Starting over at 74 years ? Hardly a real consideration. The thought came up ," Maybe I should have gone there 50 years ago.

Just conversation

Bill

I guess these days the only way to avoid obsolescence is not buy anything.  Take the A77ii, great camera, but it is viewed as a bit dated now and all people want is a replacement, as they are for the A99ii!   Smartphones have been the same but interestingly the market for the next latest thing seems to be dwindling a bit, and people are hanging on to the phones longer.

Perhaps there is a slow realisation that most of us never run the tech we have available now to the limit of its capabilities.  I feel now that my gear, photographic and otherwise, is easily better than me, and I am not using it to the max.    That of course could be a clear reflection on my skills not technology development.

I started with a Praktika L and a hand held (second hand) meter,  B&W film development in a tank in my bedroom.

I outgrew that camera fairly fast, and am pretty immune to G.A.S attacks now.  Tech has levelled off a level or two higher than my skill, but that doesn't bother me.  That's life.

I can still remember a set of shots I missed at an air show (late 60's) with the Praktika because, in a hurry, I hadn't threaded the film correctly.

Eric

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EvilOne
OP EvilOne Forum Pro • Posts: 14,513
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

The thing with smart phones is using one is a lazy way to capture a memory. I hate the shutter lag. but I can't carry my A77 with grip, and a decent lens, in my pocket.  For many years, if you saw me, I had a camera connected to me in some way and for years I carried two. One with a long lens and one with a wide lens.  I receive photographs daily from family and friends. taken from their smart phones.. I think is photographic overload. I do not look at photographs the same way I use to.

Funny thing is if I use one of my good cameras and isolate a subject with a shallow depthh of field, and it looks stunning with beautiful bokeh.. when I show it to someone, they may say. " Its a shame the background was out of focus..  So over the years my interest in photography has been more for me then to share with others.

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dkeller Senior Member • Posts: 1,386
Re: Not either/or issue

That is a major change from the days of film. Now you can shoot for both and not be obsessed over getting the perfect shot every time. Save the memories AND the quality shots--delete the rest. I have a problem with the last part though!

Sad part is, unless you print on archival paper, all these images will be gone in a few years anyway.

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dkeller Senior Member • Posts: 1,386
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

I stay on P for that reason.  I can grab the quick shot, then make my adjustment quickly for the "excellence" shot.

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Timothy S Broadley
Timothy S Broadley Senior Member • Posts: 2,399
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

Bill:

I have thought long and hard about this over the last couple of years. From a personal point , while I always have an interest in gear being a scientist as well as pro photographer, I have arrived at “a camera is a camera etc” conclusion. Paul Elleridge has a remarkable body of work using just an iPhone

https://apanational.org/events/entry/paul-elledge-iphone-once-a-day/

But a salient point is what really is the point of any image?

Memory, Art , technique, gear? My wife sometimes observes that she thinks I’m more interested in the process than the result. I have to agree as much as I deny it!

After looking at and studying many photographers I have arrived at my personal demarcation. A good photographer

-knows how to control of manipulate light

-fundamentally produces a good composition

A great photographer does all that plus

-tells a story or at least forces the observer to think and arrive at his or her own conclusion. Photography is, after all, a visual language

Based on this somewhat simple demarcation, means to me that for a memory or a fine art, there is no separation. A great photograph will always be a great photograph regardless... it will have that “WOW” factor.

Recently I have experimenting with the constructed narrative aka Inspired by People like Gregory Crewdson.  In that vein, I’ve actually gone back to film using multiple exposures to capture time, change and entropy themes. It is a work in progress but I’m currently working on a memory theme involving the concept of memories as we remember and dreams which are a recollection of an event in our life. To me it is all of the things discussed above, a memory, a process, a message as I saw it, a technique and hopefully it will stimulate the observer to arrive at his or her own interpretation. What it is not, is gear centric!

Just my 2 cents worth and responding to a what I thought was an interesting missive.

Tim

EvilOne
OP EvilOne Forum Pro • Posts: 14,513
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

Tim,

Thank you for your comments and observations. Ive been a photographer for 60 years.

While for most of those years its was as much about the journey as it was the final destination.  I was " That Guy " with the camera... A guy who shot everything.. did my best to learn " How to shoot  everything "  How to work with available light, subject and composition. I have a degree in Photography from 50 years ago. I learned the important things like hold discipline. I learned each frame shot was important. Today people will fire off 10 to 15 frames to capture one shot and hope to pick a keep from the luck of the shutter.  I learned how to time my shutter to capture the frame I wanted. Few people do that today.

Ive learned that for the most part photography is a solitary discipline. Meaning:. Few people outside the photographic world know anything about photography. IN the real world, images are glossed over for their content, not their quality. Most people do not know what goes into a great photograph. The effort, the time, the calculations, the moment of capture, etc. You can not find people who can understand both the art and the end result and what it took to get it there.

So as I said, while I can respect and appreciate a great photo, my own shots are more for me than for anyone else. Ive been down that road of trying to force my shots on people until they had enough. I was proud of my work, but I could feel that those viewing my photographs were too clueless to appreciate them for what they were.  There is a big difference between snap shots, and Photrographs.. Few people in my orbit would know the difference.

Just discussion through the eyes of an old Photographer. A guy that use to be thrilled to go to drug store to get the latest version of a photographic magazine, just to go the last few pages of endless adds from New York Photo shops.

Bill

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kcdogger Senior Member • Posts: 2,448
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

EvilOne wrote:

After 74 years of life, I know what is important to me, I was not asking for help.. I just wanted to offer a basis for discussion.

Bill aka ET

When I was in college 50 years ago, Photography was part of my curriculum. Back them I thought I knew what was important.. I spent the next fifty years trying to tell myself it was the most important thing with respect to photography.. I know what is important to me, Now, and its not that. At least for me.

Evil - I'm in about the same place as you relative to what's important in photography.  I followed a similar path as well.  Started in HS.  Worried about "what's right" for a long time, and came to the conclusion that recording of things I might like to see again is more important that perfection in photography.  Yeah, and I'm 76 tomorrow.

Peace.

John

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EvilOne
OP EvilOne Forum Pro • Posts: 14,513
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

Happy birthday John.. It seems like yesterday( prior to 2013 ) I was clocking 200 days a year in the woods. About 30 miles a week on foot. Now  when I go somewhere, I dont even think about taking a real camera.  I have serious health issues that prevent me from doing any real photography. 6 years ago I fainted in the shower and broke my back.. was diagnosed with advanced stage esophageal cancer and given two years.  Im now 4 years past my expiration date. A mire shell of my former self but still enjoying life and family, one day at a time IM in clinical trials, and am in remission. But the side effects are debilitating.

Bill

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Timothy S Broadley
Timothy S Broadley Senior Member • Posts: 2,399
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

So sorry Bill

while I haven’t gone through all you have, I can certainly share that I have had “body failure” issues

Tim

kcdogger Senior Member • Posts: 2,448
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

Bill - Thank you for the birthday wishes. You have had a time of it. ...and you are beating it. Best wishes for good health and good photography. I have nowhere the issues that you have, but I used to run AT LEAST six miles a day, then racket ball and then on the bike for 1/2 - an hour. Those days are gone, and today I don't even run across the yard. My youngest kid is approaching 50. Where did the time go? Moved almost entirely to m4/3 because it is a good system - and light.  Might take a look at some of that.

Again, wishing you everything good, starting with good health and, of course, good photography.

Peace.

John

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Atgard
Atgard Regular Member • Posts: 439
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

When it comes to kids, events, etc. then of course getting the memory with a technically imperfect photo beats missing the photo while trying to fiddle with settings or set up your lighting just so.

BUT with learning, practice, and the right gear for the job (not saying you need the latest & greatest, but good luck getting action shots or a faraway dark stage with a cell phone), you can at least get closer to photographic "excellence" while capturing precious memories. Since these memories only come around once, I want the best chance of getting a good, pleasing shot when I capture them.

It's also why I shoot RAW: it gives me the best chance to save a photo if I mess up exposure, WB, have poor lighting, etc.

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stan_pustylnik Veteran Member • Posts: 3,970
Re: Is It capture the memory, or Photographic excellence?

both

-- hide signature --

Person is taking photos, not camera. When photograph is bad, it's because photographer doesn't know how to choose settings optimal to "own preferences". Then blames camera for bad IQ.
This is same as blaming car about arriving to wrong destination.
http://stan-pustylnik.smugmug.com

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