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Author Topic: Mike Johnston's Scenic Fatigue.  (Read 34131 times)
Hank
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« Reply #40 on: June 09, 2004, 12:45:30 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']I love the term "newbies!"  It's usually disparaging and says so much about the person using it.  Makes me think of terms like "snob" and "insecure" and self-serving."  All of us had to start somewhere, yet many who label beginners "newbies" seem to have their highly refined panties pulled tightly into their cracks.  

Anyone who feels that beginners are fair targets forgets that beginners won't always be beginners, and some in fact grow into prominence.  Once they have advanced, they also tend to remember folks that stomped on their toes along the way.

Back to Mike's piece, I don't put him or his comments in the category of "newbie bashing."  Beginner or expert, all of us should spend more time looking objectively at our portfolios and learning from them.  It's a lot tougher than judging other people's work, but so much more valuable in the end.[/font]
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Ray
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« Reply #41 on: June 10, 2004, 12:22:09 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']But I would rather take 3 images and get a good one, than 1000 and get 3 good ones.[/font]
[font color=\'#000000\']Howard,
If I take 1000 images in the time it takes you to take 3 images, then I'll get 3 good images for your 1 good image. I'll end up having a greater quantity of good images than you. Isn't that what counts?

I vaguely recall some relevant quote from George Bernard Shaw who, when asked what he thought about the proliferation of mass produced cameras and amateur photographers, replied, "I think it's a good thing because the more photos that are taken, the greater the number of good photos that will result."  (By accident or design).[/font]
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howard smith
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« Reply #42 on: June 14, 2004, 10:00:25 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']If I were hungry enough, I'd get needed photos at the stock shop.  So far, my demand has not exceeded by capabilities.

But mabe if I had an autoeverything camera with a motor and zoom lens, I'd be the stock shop.  I guess we are back to each his own and it all depends on what you like to do.[/font]
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #43 on: June 15, 2004, 05:08:00 PM »
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Poor quality equipment can be just as detrimental to the final outcome as bad technique or poor creative vision. A deficit of any of these factors will negatively impact the result; all are equally important.
IMO, of the three mentioned, poor quality equipment and bad technique are the lesser detriments. At least these can be corrected.[/font]
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #44 on: June 16, 2004, 06:28:10 PM »
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I suspect if Galen Rowell had been given the choice between the cheap Nikon FM-10 with kit lens and an equally light but better quality and sturdier camera with superior lens, he would have chosen the latter.
I have absolutely no doubt that you are correct. But can you name another Nikkor-mount SLR/DSLR today at any price which meets the admittedly extreme criteria Rowell used to select the FE-10/FM-10? I can't.

BTW, I'm sure Rowell didn't use the kit lens (see the equipment list link in a previous post) I only mentioned the kit lens because it was part of the price on B&H.

Apropos of not a whole lot, Galen Rowell's comment on the 28-80mm 3.5-5.6 AF-D (a lens he used in specialized situations) was, "7 oz., $100, and sharp!" On the other hand he also owned a $5,000 500mm 4.0 ED P, which he prized "for its optical quality, and for its relative portability." Are we getting the idea that light weight was a high priority? ;-)[/font]
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Ray
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« Reply #45 on: June 19, 2004, 04:30:16 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Ray, The quote is to the effect the image should not be "just" detail. I certainly have no problem with details. But many folk seem to be of the detail is an end in itself school. "I could take better photos if I only had a 1Ds and L lens." That makes an image boring. I get tired looking for something that isn't there. [/font]
[font color=\'#000000\']Howard,
There are certain subjects and compositions that don't require fine detail, for example, a misty early morning or a blazing red sunset. There are other subjects where detail will enhance the over all effect, and there are yet other subjects such as the contorted grain of an old piece of driftwood, a peeling timber door, the wrinkled faced of an eighty year old Tibetan peasant, a woman's hair blowing in the wind etc etc where fine detail might be essential for the photo to have impact.

If you don't want to celebrate the camera's amazing potential to deliver spades full of fine detail, perhaps you should take up painting  .[/font]
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Ray
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« Reply #46 on: June 17, 2004, 12:15:10 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']To continue the digression, in terms of absolute image quality a film camera body is just there to hold the film in place. Since you've conceded that Rowell probably didn't use the kit lens, then a light plastic body was no great sacrifice. He saved a few ounces for the penalty of maybe slower autofocusing and slower continuous shooting.

Opting for the D70 as opposed to the Kodak 14n would have involved an unavoidable loss in image quality, whatever the lens. Do you think Rowell would have sacrificed that to save a few ounces?[/font]
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #47 on: June 06, 2004, 07:13:54 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']My two cents:

There is certainly a time and place for "pretty" shots.  If that's what people are posting in droves, then a significant fraction of those people are probably doing it because that's what's meaningful to themselves in some way.  Just because they aren't particularly meaningful to MJ doesn't mean they aren't meaningful to the photographer.

In my case, most of my photos are taken while on vacation in interesting places.  The major purpose of my photography is to hang it on the wall to remind myself what the places I've been to looked like, and, more importantly, how it felt to be there (a more difficult thing to capture, but I try).  Some of the places I've gone are most remarkable for their prettiness, so, in those cases, what I've tried to capture is, well, their prettiness!  What else is there?  Anything else wouldn't make sense (in those particular places), given my goal.  MJ would probably not enjoy looking at my photography after looking at three thousand other people's similar photographs, but does that mean we should all just stop toting cameras on vacation to avoid overloading his poor brain?  My photos are more meaningful to me than other people's are because I was the one *there*, and that's what it looked like (and felt like) to me at that time.  Multiply that by a lot of people having similar experiences in "pretty" places (which after all are far more popular as vacation spots in general than non-pretty places), and then they post their photos to some web site just because it's there and why not, and what you get is what we have and what MJ is complaining about.  If you get bored by other people's scenics, don't look at them.  It seems presumptuous to complain about what they're doing just because it isn't meaningful to *you*, but that doesn't mean it wasn't meaningful to the photographer.

Sorry, end of rambling rant...

Lisa

P.S.  No, I don't post photos to those sort of web sites.[/font]
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #48 on: June 09, 2004, 11:03:17 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Howard -

Amen!  That's exactly what I was talking about in my earlier post.  Thanks for perhaps putting it more clearly.

Lisa[/font]
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b.e.wilson
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« Reply #49 on: June 10, 2004, 09:36:52 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Mr. Johnson's experience with photo critique sites are identical to mine, and that experience is why I wrote an essay on the dilution of effort a while back with my advice to get out of the snapshot pattern.

More recently I've written another (I hope not too pretentious) advice-giving essay on landscape photography for the beginner in an attempt to define my own technique.[/font]
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Tony Sx
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« Reply #50 on: June 13, 2004, 12:41:22 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Ooh! Lots of good points in this thread now. From what I've read, most people take 'pretty' pics but for a variety of reasons. Most reasons seem to fall under the heading of 'remembrance' which is what I said in my first reply. And the  fairly recent line of thought - 1 good from 3 vs 3 good from 100. It seems to me that digital cameras are built to provide burst mode and to bracket exposure and from what I've read, most people seem to do this. And why not? Take 5 pics of a scene and throw 4 away - hell! throw all 5 away, nobody knows or cares. But if one comes out clearly better/prettier than the rest and it will provide a memory then I for one would probably keep it. And I stick to my popgun - MJ's criticism of pretty shots is destructive and therefor leaves a sour taste. I liked the comment that one of these 'newbies' may well grow up to be renowned, and may turn out to be an elephant. Hope it's me.[/font]
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #51 on: June 16, 2004, 11:30:33 PM »
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But can you name another Nikkor-mount SLR/DSLR today at any price which meets the admittedly extreme criteria Rowell used to select the FE-10/FM-10? I can't.
I'm not familiar with Nikon equipment. Would the Canon 300D be much heavier?
The 300D body weighs 40% more than the FM-10 body (19.7 oz vs. 14.1 oz, 560 gr vs. 397gr). Since Rowell used Nikon equipment exclusively, the D70 would be the real equivalent: it weighs 21 oz, 49% heavier than the FM-10. Note: I'm not sure if the DSLR weights include the battery pack.

Of course, depending on how much one shoots, you also have to factor in the weight of the film for the FM-10 and possibly spare batteries for the DSLR.

Sure, it's "only" a 6 or 7 ounce difference. But if you've ever backpacked or mountaineered, you know the importance of cutting weight any way you can.

Now we return you to the discussion in progress regarding Mike Johnston's essay :-)[/font]
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opgr
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« Reply #52 on: June 15, 2004, 05:57:20 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Hi everyone,

I guess this goes to show that the old adagium still applies: talent is inversely proportional to equipment...[/font]
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Oscar Rysdyk
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« Reply #53 on: June 15, 2004, 07:07:14 PM »
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Poor quality equipment can be just as detrimental to the final outcome as bad technique or poor creative vision. A deficit of any of these factors will negatively impact the result; all are equally important.

I don't think that is neccesarily true either.  I think that equipment is less important.  I think that someone with good technique and creative vision will be able to create something in spite of their equipment.

If I had more money to spend on kit I propbably would, but I don't think that would make me a better photographer.[/font]
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Willowroot
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« Reply #54 on: June 17, 2004, 11:34:21 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']
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Also, a comment out of left field: I find that many if not most landscapes share a common flaw, that of being overly complex.

Do you mean that it is therefore more prone to fatigue?[/font]
[font color=\'#000000\']No, but rather that the "use a wide angle and the highest resolution possible to get all this stuff in the frame" effect might be one of the things that Johnston was getting tired of.

I was thinking about this recently when going through my own work - those landscapes that were most successful could be analyzed in terms of only a few clearly defined image elements.[/font]
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Jason Elias
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howard smith
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« Reply #55 on: June 18, 2004, 05:01:31 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Ray, The quote is to the effect the image should not be "just" detail.  I certainly have no problem with details.  But many folk seem to be of the detail is an end in itself school.  "I could take better photos if I only had a 1Ds and L lens."  That makes an image boring.  I get tired looking for something that isn't there.  "There's a lot of stuff here, but what is this a photograph of?"  After a few, I go get a sandwich.  Yes, and the next image may be fantastic, but the portfolio couldn't hold my interest long enough.

I learned in critique sessions that if you go last, you better have a darn good image.  The judges were tired of looking at boring stuff, and the last piece of boring stuff got trashed.  So I always arrived early.  If my contribution was weak, I put it where it wouldbe looked at first.  If it was dynomite, I would go last.

It is possible for less to be more.  Two front page images Michael has posted recently are quite nice and diffused to take out detail.  Seems to work very well  when the whole photograph is the subject.

I build my portfolio the same way.  Strong images first.  Keeps interest  Strong images last.  Leaves a lasting memory.  The weaker stuff fills the middle.   Adds volume and it usually the stuff that gets flippe past anyway.[/font]
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etmpasadena
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« Reply #56 on: June 07, 2004, 12:18:56 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']The irony is that if we all started making self-conscious art photos, Mike would be compaining about too much self-expression in photography and photographers who didn't possess the vision and intellect to make good art photos. So you're damed if you do and damed if you don't.[/font]
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howard smith
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« Reply #57 on: June 09, 2004, 08:31:32 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Sunsets are very mature subjects, even the big nuclear ones.  Nearly everyone with a camera has photographed at least one.  To be more than just a pretty sunset, the mature subject requires a more mature treatment.  Jack calls it impact. Otherwise, hohum.

Frequently what makes a sunset special to the photographer isn't in the photograph.  I have a photo of a very pretty sunset.  It is hohum though, except for me.  I was there with my younger son and we were having a grand time.  I look at the sunset photo and I remember what was happening, what we were talking about, not the sunset itself.  No other viewer except maybe my son can experience that, or even know it was going on.  The image may remind a viewer of another sunset and time they experienced, but it jst isn't the same, so it just doesn't have the same impact.[/font]
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Ray
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« Reply #58 on: June 10, 2004, 11:24:39 AM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Well, I think I understand where Mike's coming from. We're bombarded with thousands of images every day, in a sense millions. Every time I turn my head, there's another scene. It might be interesting. It might not be. But it's an image nevertheless. I pick up a newspaper or magazine, or watch the tele and there are yet more images, a lot of them downright ugly.

Amidst the squalor, tedium or ordinariness of everyday life, there are patches of 'prettiness', a single  rose, a garden in full bloom, autumn leaves, a forest, a waterfall, rolling green hills, a blood red sunset that moves us because it's a spectacular ending to the day. We photograph such scenes because we want to capture the moment, replay it, relive it and perhaps share it (okay, and sell it).

But who can honestly say that their photos ever do justice to such magnificent scenes? Our cameras don't have sufficient resolution, our printers are not nearly wide enough and our color spaces and ink have insufficient gamut.

So we post a miniature jpeg on the web that gives the merest hint of what we experienced and is just another of the thousands of failed attempts to capture the majesty of nature.

ps. Looks like Michael R agrees with Mike Johnston. Michael's latest cover photo is a break from his usual style  Cheesy .[/font]
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howard smith
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« Reply #59 on: June 13, 2004, 03:28:02 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Ray, to each his own.  There certainly nothing wrong with shotguns.  I used to pay pool that way.  I figured if I hit the ball hard enogh and it bounced off enough cushons, someday, it would find a hole and go in.  I am a terrible pool player.

I have one out shooting with people who had a great time and took 5 rolls to my one.  I've been ith folks that didn't eeven take the camera out of the bag.  Really, to each his own.

I have nothing against pretty picture either.  I think the point was, take pretty pictures (another hohummer) if you want to, but don't feel compelled to show them to the world.[/font]
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