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Author Topic: It's the photographer?  (Read 31722 times)
LeifG
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« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2006, 07:15:13 AM »
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On this occasion I agree wholeheartedly with Michael. It gets on my nerves no end when some folksy know it all posts that hoary old cliche, and then the discussion goes down the same old route. "Oh yes it is. Oh not it isn't. He's behind you." I wish someone would create a standardised discussion, and then we could all link to it when needed, and avoid repetition of the same old stuff.

I make no claims to bring a skilled photographer, just someone who enjoys nature, but most of my pictures of fungi and insects could not have been obtained with lower grade gear.

I like that statement that using quality equipment means that there is only one person to blame i.e. the photographer.

There's also the statement that sometimes it is possible to get images with cheaper gear,  but it is so much nicer to have the luxury of using some of the finest kit available. What's wrong with stimulating the world economy and generating an income for clever Japanese, and other peoples?
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brucepercy1
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« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2006, 07:55:07 AM »
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Bernard,

I agree. The statement is most usually used in reference to the over emphasis on photography gear. This site, and many others deal with the technical aspects of photography i.e equipment and the craft side of what photography is all about, but the art side is often neglected. It's been very welcome to me, to see Alain Briot's articles regarding his motivations and more about his 'philosophy'.

But so often, I do think that people believe that if they had some top range camera or special lens, that their images would be better. Surely this is just as as foolish?
And we all know this isn't true. If it were - anyone with a lot of money to buy top range equipment would be making fabulous pictures.

I think there is indeed an over-emphasis on the equipment, certainly in many forums on the web. I'd love to see people getting out there more with their existing equipment and shooting and improving their 'art'.

That, to my mind, is where this statement about the photographer comes from. I know in my own case, I'm always getting asked what sort of camera I used to create the images on my site, when I feel they should be asking me about my motivation, what attracts me to photograph the subjects I choose, and why I feel that certain subjects are more worthy than others.
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dturina
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« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2006, 08:24:22 AM »
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But so often, I do think that people believe that if they had some top range camera or special lens, that their images would be better. Surely this is just as as foolish?

Well, not really. When I didn't have a fisheye lens, I always thought I could use it to take the kind of pictures I otherwise couldn't. When I bought the fisheye, this proved to be correct and I really did take some pictures that would otherwise be impossible. It's just that one needs to have realistic expectations. If you want to take sharp photos, you need a sharp lens. It doesn't have to be the most expensive lens, but it needs to be sharp. If you want to take blurred arty shots, you need Holga or Diana, but choice of equipment is as important as light, subject or anything else involved in the process of taking pictures. The real question is, when is it good enough, where's the point after which better equipment doesn't really produce discernible or relevant differences. I guess that's what is usually meant by "it's the photographer, not camera"; I translate it as "improve the weakest link first".
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« Reply #23 on: December 18, 2006, 09:26:43 AM »
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No question ever raised by a human being that contains even a single abstraction is ever settled. There are still people arguing in favour of a  flat earth (although with how much tongue in cheek I can't say).

Each proposition like "it's the photographer, not the camera", as this thread proves, is not cherished for it's ... OK: I have to say it ... truthiness, but for it's catalytic efficiency in that most human of all human endeavours - the bar stool debate. I can well understand Michael's exasperation when an old chestnut like this is dragged into an equipment purchasing thread. But even if someone could settle the issue, he'd be doing photographers everywhere a profound disservice in removing one of a limited number of photo-related conversation-starters from the photo forum, pub, camp fire, and coffee house repertoire.

How many megapixels does it take to equal film?

How far can you enlarge a [fill-in-the-blank]-megapixel image?

Is photography an art form?

Nikon vs. Canon.

Who makes the best tripod?

German lenses are superior to Japanese lenses.

Primes are better than zooms.

SLRs are superior to rangefinders.

A simple old all-manual SLR is better than a modern, fully automated, whizz-bang wonder-cam.

Large formats are superior to smaller ones.

All the thousands of frames you young-uns shoot now-a-days just proves you don't know how to use a camera.

Film is dead.

Yes: the list goes on - but not forever. We need to cherish every one of these debate-provokers, not destroy them ... otherwise we'd have to listen to yet another discussion on who makes the best luxury car or which political candidate will win the next election or which team will make the play-offs.
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darwin
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« Reply #24 on: December 18, 2006, 09:54:41 AM »
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The simple fact of the matter is that to create a photographic image you need some sort of equipment and means to capture the image. Those who are most successful in photography are those who have embraced specific tools that enhance their personal way of seeing things. That may be a Brownie, a pinhole camera, a 4x5 or an SX-70.  It is really the marriage of the mind and the 'appropriate' gear and technique that  works together to express the photographer's inner vision.
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Ray
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« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2006, 09:58:43 AM »
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Yes: the list goes on - but not forever. We need to cherish every one of these debate-provokers, not destroy them ... otherwise we'd have to listen to yet another discussion on who makes the best luxury car or which political candidate will win the next election or which team will make the play-offs.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91180\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Dale,
You appear to be saying that you'd rather watch Luminous Landscape than CNN.

Is this correct?
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psyberjock
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« Reply #26 on: December 18, 2006, 10:20:27 AM »
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I thought this was a great article. I have disagreed very strongly in the past with other articles claiming that the gear doesn't matter and that the photographer is the only filter of success.

This article that Michael has written contains the perfect balance. He makes the point that equipment is important then counter balances it with examples of the importance of the photographer.

Obviously the photographer is the biggest variable in the equation, but the equipment is still a large part. I know this to be personally true from my own photography. I started with a Canon Elph 200, (my first real camera, I think) and I carried it everywhere and took tons of pictures. I was very happy with the versatility and quality of my pictures.

Then about a year ago, I hit a wall that I couldn't climb over with my Elph. My mental pictures kept improving as I learned about new techniques and desired to experiment in new ways, but my physical (as physical as pixels can be) pictures stopped progressing. I just couldn't do what I wanted to do any more. It wasn't because my camera was breaking (though it was getting beat up and foggy), I just began wanting to do things I had never tried before. Things that I couldn't do with an Elph.

I started to become very frustrated and one day as I walked to a shrine and saw some fall leaves floating down a gutter in light that required more than what I had, I went home and bought a Canon 20D. I began taking pictures with my new camera and I immediately noticed a difference.

Then once I bought my first additional lens I realized how much more I could accomplish. Going from 18-55mm to 55-200mm changed things completely. However the new lens also introduced more problems as I realized my kit lens was not very sharp and actually did a horrible job compared to my new 55-200mm.

Then I bought my L 24-105mm as recommended by this site.

My entire photographic experience has shown me that gear matters. If you don't have a hammer of some sort (nailgun equals really great camera), you're not driving any nails. You need the right tools for the job.

Now I also think that it is true that Michael could take a better picture than me if he used a Kodak disposable and I used an H2. I don't think that is the point. The point is that I take better pictures with my good equipment than I do with my crappy equipment. I believe Michael feels the same way.

If presented with his choice of ideal equipment for the job I don't think he would have chosen the G7 for his picture of the dusty driller, but that's what he had available. If you want to discover if the equipment has any effect, compare that picture to Michael's other pictures. Not to your own or someone else's, because then you're introducing new variables and the experiment is useless.

So, does equipment matter? Of course it does. Are some photographers better than others? Of course they are. Do I take better pictures when I use better equipment? Of course I do. Do you?
« Last Edit: December 18, 2006, 10:23:28 AM by psyberjock » Logged
Dale_Cotton
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« Reply #27 on: December 18, 2006, 10:26:23 AM »
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Dale,
You appear to be saying that you'd rather watch Luminous Landscape than CNN.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91188\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Yes. But for sports entertainment nothing beats the fora at dpreview ... unless photo.net is still up to its old form.

Incidentally, I would have had to end every single line of my previous post with a smiley, so I ended up not putting in any ... hope it was clear to all where my tongue was as I wrote it.
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brucepercy1
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« Reply #28 on: December 18, 2006, 10:56:09 AM »
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Hi,

Equipment enables us to capture images, but it doesn't guarantee we will take good ones with it.

Here are a few points to consider:

* Steve McCurry takes incredible pictures. Do you think this is because he uses a Nikon Camera?

* If I bought a Nikon camera just like Steve's, would I take images just as good as his?

* Do you think his style would be unrecognisable if he used a completely different system?

* Can you look at each of Michael's images and tell me which system he used to create them?

That for me, is what is meant by 'the camera does not matter'.
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John Camp
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« Reply #29 on: December 18, 2006, 12:38:39 PM »
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This has been a fun thread, and afer reading all through it, you know what I'd like to see? I'd like to see some also-ran camera company like Fuji or Kodak (I doubt Leica or Canon would do it, for obvious reasons) give a P&S digital with decent specs to a really good sports photographer and have him cover a pro football game -- and then compare his shots with the published photos of the regular shooters with their super-long lenses and their trunks full of gear.

I used to work for a newspaper as a reporter and I'd see our guys at the ball games with two-foot-long lenses on their super cameras, and monopods that probably weighed fifteen pounds, and the next day, there'd be three shots -- a guy going into the end zone, a guy leaping to catch a pass, maybe a shot down the line with a bunch of helmets facing off...in other words, mostly cliches, but done with only the most exquisite (and heaviest) gear. Is it really necessary for a newspaper shot, that is essentially printed on toilet paper? Maybe mobility and lightness would wind up counting for more than 800mm and f4.

JC
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #30 on: December 18, 2006, 01:07:32 PM »
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This has been a fun thread, and afer reading all through it, you know what I'd like to see? I'd like to see some also-ran camera company like Fuji or Kodak (I doubt Leica or Canon would do it, for obvious reasons) give a P&S digital with decent specs to a really good sports photographer and have him cover a pro football game -- and then compare his shots with the published photos of the regular shooters with their super-long lenses and their trunks full of gear.

I used to work for a newspaper as a reporter and I'd see our guys at the ball games with two-foot-long lenses on their super cameras, and monopods that probably weighed fifteen pounds, and the next day, there'd be three shots -- a guy going into the end zone, a guy leaping to catch a pass, maybe a shot down the line with a bunch of helmets facing off...in other words, mostly cliches, but done with only the most exquisite (and heaviest) gear. Is it really necessary for a newspaper shot, that is essentially printed on toilet paper? Maybe mobility and lightness would wind up counting for more than 800mm and f4.

JC
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91220\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Perhaps the limitations imposed by the gear would cause the photographer to be more creative rather than shooting the same old shots.

That said, what the readers probably want is the "same old shots".  They're not looking for art, they're looking to see their favorite player making the key play.
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #31 on: December 18, 2006, 01:15:33 PM »
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Wouldn't this be a good time to revisit the ...

(Drum roll, please....)

FunkyCam?
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brucepercy1
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« Reply #32 on: December 18, 2006, 01:59:44 PM »
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Lovely article regarding the funky cam:

"I am as guilty of it as the next photographer. There's simply far too much attention paid to the technical quality of our images. Ultimately though, this isn't what's important. It's what the photographs are "of" and the vision behind them that makes them succeed or not."

Does this mean? It's the photographer, not the camera?
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #33 on: December 18, 2006, 02:16:38 PM »
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I think it means that Michael has no role to play in the current US administration.

He's capable of seeing issues from various perspectives and changing his mind when a better idea strikes....

 
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #34 on: December 18, 2006, 04:09:01 PM »
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I think it means that Michael has no role to play in the current US administration.

He's capable of seeing issues from various perspectives and changing his mind when a better idea strikes....

 
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Well said, Bob!
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« Reply #35 on: December 18, 2006, 04:22:46 PM »
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On this occasion I agree wholeheartedly with Michael. It gets on my nerves no end when some folksy know it all posts that hoary old cliche, and then the discussion goes down the same old route. "Oh yes it is. Oh not it isn't. He's behind you." I wish someone would create a standardised discussion, and then we could all link to it when needed, and avoid repetition of the same old stuff.
Within Usenet, where the art of repetition is perfected, this happens occasionally.

Some enterprising person creates a FAQ, and the FAQ may contain a typical discussion.

Some people have also used the Flame Warrior roster to -- ahem -- "prove" their point.

Funny reading, though.
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Jan
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« Reply #36 on: December 18, 2006, 05:13:49 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.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91053\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

On this one, I have to side with the camera.  Otherwise, how could LL have 10 pages and counting on why Canon left RAW off the G7?  Or all the debate about the M8"s problems?

If good images were made by good photographers, couldn't folks just accept these cameras for the flawed tools they are?  And go take some decent images anyway?
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #37 on: December 18, 2006, 07:16:21 PM »
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On this one, I have to side with the camera.  Otherwise, how could LL have 10 pages and counting on why Canon left RAW off the G7?  Or all the debate about the M8"s problems?

If good images were made by good photographers, couldn't folks just accept these cameras for the flawed tools they are?  And go take some decent images anyway?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91274\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

The whole debate could be helped by a 20 new pages thread on the topic "where does valid camera performance discussion stop - where does pixel peeping start?".

Until now, it appears that the border location is influenced mostly by:

- the age of the captain,
- the second derivative of Southern Alaska bear popullation numbers,
- the thickness of the ice layer on the hidden side of the moon (hint: this is a trick),

I will start this thread in a few seconds in the "camera" section of the forum.

Cheers,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
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« Reply #38 on: December 18, 2006, 07:23:34 PM »
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When I see a superb fine arts image, the first thought to come to mind is: who's the photographer!
Same goes with my profession in the skilled trades....when I see equipment that's been superbly installed and tuned, the first thought to come to mind is...who's the teck who done the work!
jj
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JJ
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« Reply #39 on: December 19, 2006, 02:33:28 AM »
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"Knowing what I know now, any photographer worth his salt could make some beautiful things with pinhole cameras." - Ansel Adams

Equipment expands the photographers possibilities.
The photographer limits the equipment's (sometimes).
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