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Author Topic: It's the photographer?  (Read 31051 times)
larsrc
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« on: December 17, 2006, 06:22:31 PM »
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Thank you Michael for challenging some of the trite sayings in photography.  If it was just the photographer, surely we wouldn't be seeing top-photographers spending massive amounts of $$$ on equipment.  But it probably takes a good photographer to get the potential out of expensive equipment.

If you're into more challenging of triteness, how about taking up the "zoom with your feet" saying?

-Lars
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2006, 06:52:19 PM »
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A couple of corollaries to Michael's essay come to mind:

1. No images are captured if no shutters are released.

2. A less-than-perfect image is better than no image at all.

Paul
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Kenneth Sky
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« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2006, 07:27:08 PM »
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Whenever you hear the phrase "With all due respect" the speaker usually means "I don't respect your point of view at all"
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2006, 08:23:41 PM »
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Quote
Whenever you hear the phrase "With all due respect" the speaker usually means "I don't respect your point of view at all"
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91063\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Is there really something like "respecting a point of view?".

I would think that you typically respect "people" or "institution", but "agree" or "disagree" with opinions, which doesn't imply a lack of respect for the person expressing the opinion you "disagree" with, hence the expression "with all due respect".

But anyway, what does it have to do with the article?

One throught about the article. The opinion "it's the photographer" might be an extreme reaction to what might appear to be an overblown focus on the impact of gear (resolution,...) on the value of images.

One of the strenght of this article is that the example photograph was shot with cheap gear, but is nonetheless an interesting image. The natural focus on the latest and the best here at LL and on other sites tends to hide the underlying truth that situation, light and the photographer are always key elements of a succesful image.

Some people react because that isn't said often enough anymore, it is taken for granted and therefore hardly ever stated.

Cheers,
Bernard
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John Camp
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« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2006, 08:40:32 PM »
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Forgive me for being a bit obtuse, but didn't Michael just prove the opposite of his argument? That is is, in fact, the photographer and not the equipment? That he used an inadequate camera and still got a very good image? Maybe I missed something there...

JC  
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DaFu
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« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2006, 09:56:08 PM »
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I thought the article was on the money (and that picture grows on you).

It was also rather funny.

Dave
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Jann Lipka
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« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2006, 10:43:53 PM »
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Of course it is both, but what is most important depends on the resulting image :


What I hear from customers:

A The image came out good.

- Very nice picture , this camera must be very  expensive
( a 40+ lady looking onto LCD screen of my 5D )

B The image is not so goood (actually you rarely hear that )
   

-The photographer is crap .
« Last Edit: December 17, 2006, 10:44:39 PM by Jann Lipka » Logged
Paul Sumi
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« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2006, 11:54:15 PM »
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IMO. from purely the craft side of photography, what a skilled photographer does is use whatever camera he/she has in hand to its maximum potential.

Obviously, Michael's Hasselblad has far greater image-making potential than the G7 but I would argue he got much more out of the Canon than many others would have from the Hasselblad.

Paul
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2006, 12:08:20 AM »
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Forgive me for being a bit obtuse, but didn't Michael just prove the opposite of his argument? That is is, in fact, the photographer and not the equipment? That he used an inadequate camera and still got a very good image? Maybe I missed something there...

JC 
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91072\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


You're probably the kid who pointed out that the Emperor was walking around in his birthday suit, aren't you?
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Ray Maxwell
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« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2006, 02:20:04 AM »
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When I was 10 years old I was invited to a local adult camera club by one of the members.  At the time, I had just purchased my first 35 mm camera, an Argus C3.  One of the club members had a Leica.  I naively asked him why he used such an expensive camera.  After all at age ten, I was very happy with the images I was getting.  He replied, "If I use one of the very best cameras and I don't get a good image, I can only blame myself and not the camera.  This made a strong impact on me.
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Craig Arnold
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« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2006, 02:40:01 AM »
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I would say though that there are occasions where, as trite as the saying might be, it's still an appropriate comment.

In a forum thread that has gone on for 100 posts about which camera is better the D80 or the 30D for example, for someone upgrading from their digital P&S and looking to learn more about photography.

For all intents and purposes there are a great many situations where, given the (very limited) skill level of the photographer, subtle choices between similar equipment are really irrelevant. And yet weeks and months of obsessing over which camera shows better detail at 100% at ISO1600 are taken to be significant. In that context I believe the saying is apt.

If I climbed into a Formula 1 race car it really wouldn't make any difference which manufacturer's car I happened to be in. I simply don't have the skill to exploit the differences. For Michael Schumaker of course it makes an enormous difference.
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pixman63
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« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2006, 02:45:12 AM »
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Forgive me for being a bit obtuse, but didn't Michael just prove the opposite of his argument? That is is, in fact, the photographer and not the equipment? That he used an inadequate camera and still got a very good image? Maybe I missed something there...[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91072\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
The other version of this saying is "a good photographer can get great pictures with a Box Brownie", which, in the words of a British writer contains just enough truth to prevent it being called a lie, but enough falsehood to make it very misleading.

Michael's picture in the article was dependant (to a large extent) on the focal length he desired, rather than the camera per se. If he had had a 135mm (preferably the old f/2.8 Elmarit with glasses, which uses the 90mm frames) to put on the M8 would the choice of kit been different? Perhaps, if he could have been assured of focus accuracy, but that's a question for Michael. If the Hasselblad had been closer to hand, again, would the choice have been different?

Michael's skill enabled him to get a good result despite the limitations of the camera, so to that extent the argument - ie, that its the photographer, not the camera -  is proved. However, there are a multitude of reasons why professional photographers use the kit they do, and vanity (which might be partly behind a well-heeled amateur buying a pro camera) isn't one of them.
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pixman63
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« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2006, 02:50:33 AM »
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A thought just occurred.

Would it be wrong to suggest that for film users the idea that the photographer's eye is far more important than the camera is certainly true - given the same film stock and same lens, a low-end body can give results of equal quality to the most expensive in the rannge - the same is not necessarily the case for digital users.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2006, 03:04:36 AM »
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I just finished a deployment to Iraq. I was not able to take my Canon DSLRs and L glass with me due to space and weight limitations. So I took my Olympus SP-350 point-and-shoot, which while much more limited than the DLSRs, still got me some very good captures:







Was I frustrated at times with the slow RAW mode shooting rate? Absolutely. Did I miss some shots as a result? Definitely. And the noise levels are painfully high after using a 1D-MkII. But in spite of the equipment limitations, I still got some images that I believe I can be proud of, because I used what I had available to the fullest of its capabilities. However, that doesn't mean I'm going to sell my Canon gear; there are things it can do that the SP-350 is really terrible at, like available-light-only concerts, indoor weddings, and fast action.

I use the least limiting tool that is available when the opportunity presents itself.
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2006, 03:06:40 AM »
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Was Superman better because he wore his underwear outside his tights?
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David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2006, 03:14:52 AM »
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Was Superman better because he wore his underwear outside his tights?
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Isn't that going to be the main question answered by the next movie?

Cheers,
Bernard
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Forsh
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« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2006, 04:00:29 AM »
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Another Superman movie?  

Let's hope not!

With regards to the topic, I have seen some amazing stuff shot by people with point & shoot cameras. I mean, things that made my jaw drop. With art isn't the real inspiring stuff always the stuff that the true artist captures, regardless of the medium?
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Futenma Shrine My HDR Photography from Okinawa Japan.  | okinawa japan Other from Okinawa Japan. So what do you do? You don't want create a scene as they can call upon their members beating you down with their home made reflectors in nanoseconds, and creating an international incident over a pix of the rare Zebra butterfly is probably not a great idea.
Scott_H
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« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2006, 05:04:07 AM »
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In my mind this is a bit like referring to certain characteristics of the medium as defects.  I know equipment can be limiting, and frustrating at times.  I also know that the cause of my frustration is generally my preconceptions more than anything else.  My challenge is to  let go of those preconceptions and be creative, and work around and with those limitations.  It would be nice if there were no limitations, but there always will be; even with and uber-camera.

I think a lot of the time that a lot of people seem to spend agonizing over equipment choices would be better spent actually taking pictures.  Get out and find out what your camera can do, and push it to its limits, rather than worrying about what it can't do.

If I need a specific output, that has specific characteristics, that might guide my equipement choices somewhat.  I guess its one of the luxuries afforded an amature that I don't need to make those choices based on a clients needs, and can learn to work with the gear I have.
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erusan
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« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2006, 05:22:29 AM »
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Two thoughts that came to mind after reading the essay (I remember a remark by Michael somewhere earlier that had me waiting fo rthis one for some time...).

1, Why all the trouble as a professional photographer to educate a deliberately ignorant crowd? If I am right, the said cliche comes up most on internet forums with high put-through -a certain well-known review site comes to mind- where people oblivious to the relationship between aperture and shutter speed are taught by the "nouveau photographe", who started photography with a DSLR and expensive glass and learned from these forums themselves.
Is there something to gain by taking up the glove with people who are in a totally different realm of experience regarding photography?

2, The combination of different factors and the degree in which they matter is very much dependent on the sort of photography I would think. Classical "beautiful" photography will gain more from good equipment than, for instance, hard-core experimental fine art. I have in mind the factor of subject matter here, and the time allowed and needed to compose and process it into a rewarding capture.
Again, the specific character of fast-paced journalism/reporting photography against for instance, slow paced pinhole art photography comes to mind.


Perhaps I, as a non-pro / shallowly-experienced amateur hobbyist photographer with lenses too good for my skills, may be wrong here, but what I would be interested to know more about the motivation for a pro succesful photographer to take so much issue with what the people down below enjoy spending their time with: pixel peeping and lens stroking :-)
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erusan
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« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2006, 07:10:41 AM »
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Having read the article and viewed the image what comes across to me is the photographer [michael]saw the opportunity,assessed the possibilties,used the equipment to hand[g7] was aware of it's limitations,used his very considerable talents to both conceive and compose the shot knew exactly how too pp the image and produced a very fine photograph.
The question arises as to whether a less skilled person could have produced such a fine image in similar circumstances is one we can argue over forever,as far as this corrospondant is concerned the photographer was the most important element in the process.
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