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Author Topic: Do You See What I See?  (Read 57902 times)
LightCapture
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« on: May 27, 2009, 01:26:55 PM »
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It's been over a year since my last post: "I Saw the Light... Finally," (here) and the interesting thing I've discovered is that if one simply pays attention, one will continue to "see the light." So what have I learned since then? That it's worse than I first thought: the whole digital craze's fixation with equipment is creating a generation of photographers who can't see.

For what it's worth, I agree with most everything I said in my post a year ago, and particularly--if you care to read the thread--with the few comments I made in response to some of the responses. But things have changed. And let me be clear: contrary to how it may have appeared in my previous post, I had actually used a few different digital SLR's by then, but when I had my little epiphany, I parted company with them. But then, through nothing other than sheer curiosity in the face of temptation, I purchased another SLR--two others, in fact--and began life once again in the instant-gratification world of digital photography. But--and here's the reason for this new post--after my second foray into digital SLR'dom, I realized that something wasn't right. What was it? Was I becoming intimidated with film because I couldn't see the finished product and was forced to take chances? Was I becoming obsessed with how many pixels I had at my disposal? Was I losing precious hours at my computer adjusting white balance and a million other things when I could be with my family? Was I relying too much on "P"? Was I, in short, becoming a worse photographer because the equipment was dumbing the whole process down?

Allow me to explain. (And just so we're clear, I'm talking about fully manual street/travel/candid photography here, not professional action sports photography, studio work, etc.) With film, I was forced to pay really close attention to the image at the moment I was making the shot, and I had to rely on what I'd learned previously about the properties of light passing through glass, the idiosyncracies of a particular lens, the characteristics of a certain type of film, etc. In other words, I was forced to do some guesswork, take some chances, follow some hunches--in short, pay attention. And then, even in the darkroom later, short of completely turning the image inside out and the darkroom upside down, the most I could do is dress the image up in new clothes--that is, if I wanted to. 99% of the time, I didn't. I wanted to know what I'd captured at the "decisive moment." After all, it was that moment, and no other, that I was interested in recording, and I didn't see any point in capturing a moment in time if I was simply going to doll it up as something entirely different later. I wasn't interested in changing history... I wanted to record it. Yes, of course, I wanted to record it from a certain angle using certain equipment, but the art of photography had always been such that, after seeing the shot and framing it, you generally had only three parameters left to work with: the film you chose (I usually used chrome or b&w), the lens you used (I was usually with a Zeiss or Pentax), and the combination of shutter speed and aperture you'd fixed (the camera itself, actually, which wasn't much more than a glorified light trapping device, was always a secondary consideration... and remember, I acknowledge that action photography and studio work is a slightly different beast where the camera one uses can make a significant difference).

Then along came digital. Now, instead of thinking about the image and all the other attendant considerations, I was:

a. letting the camera think for me ("P" mode)
b. doing a little thinking myself but still letting the camera do a lot of thinking for me ("A" or "S" modes)
c. think completely for myself ("M" mode) but still have at my disposal all the post-processing marvels that I could now apply PRE-processing; and I could take a thousand shots of the same image given enough time and battery power and then just make little tweaks here and there until I created the "perfect" image.

And instead of having the power to simply dress the image up in new clothes (burn, dodge, extend/decrease processing time, etc.) in a darkroom later--assuming I wasn't shooting chrome, I now had a plastic surgeon's scalpel in my hand (aka Adobe Photoshop, et al.) and I no longer had to rely too much on the original image itself. In other words, no more having to mess with technique that had been acquired through years of guesswork and trial and error: now I had instant fixes to virtually any problem and could tweak away to my heart's content.

But notice that I said "virtually" any problem. There was one problem that digital could never fix (and herein lies the rub): the ability to see the image in the first place, which is what separates photographers from gearheads, or if you prefer, developing artists from casual snapshooters. But not only could digital not improve one's ability to see--after all, neither could film--but it actually had a deleterious effect on the process. I was starting to fixate on the equipment itself whilst the image slowly became an ancillary issue. I could let myself off the hook now since I knew that the camera would "fix" a lot of problems for me, and there was always Photoshop waiting at home. In other words, the longer I was in pixel world, the less I thought about capturing an image at a particular moment and the more I thought about my equipment and what I could do to whatever image I'd happen to capture. Gone was the decisive moment. Now it was all about the reductive equipment.

Photography had been turned upside down. No more silly talk about decisive moments--how quaint; or for "seeing" the world with an artist's eyes--how elitist; or for capturing a moment in time as closely as possible to the original moment--how idealistic. Now it was all about AWB and Foveon vs Bayer and 10.0 vs. 14.0 and image processing size. Have you noticed? Do yourself a favor. Pick up a photography magazine from ten years ago, or buy a book of photography of the same vintage, and you'll see a glaring difference between then and now. Then, it was almost all about the image--yes, of course the equipment mattered, but check out the ratio between talk of equipment and talk of developing a photographer's eye. And now? It's almost exclusively all about equipment. And do you think the camera companies are complaining??

So what has suffered in the process? Give someone with a photographer's eye my Leica and ten rolls of Tri-X film, and then give any gearhead a Canon Mark-whatever, and set them loose on a weekend family reunion. See who comes up with the better shots; and spare me the nonsense about "what is better?" We all know what's better when we see it--we haven't completely lost the ability to make aesthetic distinctions... yet.

Allow me to indulge you with a parting personal example. Two of the best shots I've ever taken were of Annie and Rosebud, my two dogs who did a lot of living and traveling with me before they both passed away a few years ago. Each shot, both subsequently enlarged to 48"x24" poster-size and mounted, captures the personality of the two dogs perfectly: playful and spontaneous Annie the white English Setter howling for sheer pleasure, nose pointing at the moon; and brooding, serious Rosebud the black Australian Cattle Dog staring back straight at the camera with head cocked sideways, sitting on a bed of red maple leaves after an October rain, thinking long and hard about what I was doing and saying to her at that moment. The pictures say it all, and you can take out a magnifying glass to the enlargements and not find a single "pixel" (aka grain) from frame to frame. And yes, I shot chrome almost exclusively for the very purpose of forcing myself to rely on the moment of the shot. And what was my equipment? A Ricoh XR-M with the kit Rikenon 35-70mm zoom and a roll of Kodachrome.

In the end, all my work--trial and error, and a lot of error at that--got me to the point where I didn't need a light meter. So what if a battery went dead? I'd finally reached the point where I was starting to understand light. And then along came digital, and the broad primrose path it lead to was not a good place. Will I some day have to go exclusively digital? I'm sure I will--it's amazing how few color processing labs are left. I'll still shoot mainly b&w and do much of my own darkroom work in the meantime, and when I want to go color, I'll either send my film into A&I here in Los Angeles for processing or--that's right--use my digital SLR with an M42 adapter and a fully manual lens, put the camera in manual mode, turn off preview, and start shooting.

The point I guess I'm making is this: in the world of photography, I've come to learn that less is actually more. And vice-versa.

The reason I got into photography in the first place was because of some rolls I'd taken as a college student on a trip to Europe with my girlfriend back in 1987 using her father's Minolta XD-11. People told me that the shots I'd taken showed some photographic promise, whereas I was just taken with the fact that they allowed me to remember things and people I would've forgotten by now. After a few subsequent trips to Africa and Asia, and then the above-mentioned Ricoh as a graduation gift, I fell in love with the process of developing an eye to see the world in a new way. And this is where the liabilities of the current digital obsession with pixels and processors comes in. It's producing a generation of photographers who don't actually know the first thing about photography. Perhaps we should coin a new term for this new hobby, Adographers: people who spend an inordinate amount of time at their computers in Adobe Photoshop (et al.) manipulating images and adjusting contrast and shadow detail along with a dozen other fixes and getting on discussion forums to wax eloquent about the virtues of this or that technology, whilst Photographers are out there taking shots, getting wet and dirty, waking up early, analyzing the vagaries of light and letting nature run her course while trying to capture her in the act of doing so.

Speaking of which, I've gotta run while there's still some morning light left. Caught a shot of a ruby-throated hummingbird perched on a gorgeous, large white cactus bloom yesterday afternoon (need to find out what kind of plant that is) while hiking on the trail through the chaparral behind my house. And now in the late morning light with a little thin cloud cover?

Matilda, grab your leash.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2009, 01:28:52 PM by LightCapture » Logged

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Ancient City Photo
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« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2009, 03:50:22 PM »
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I definitely feel similar.  I feel a lot of the passion that I had for photography is hard to recapture with digital.  Not that I don't love doing photography...but i've lost the passion for the touch.  These new cameras just feel lifeless.  I feel somewhat disconnected with all of the circuitry and menus, etc...  

I shoot primarily with a 5DmkII and a 5D.  A 5DmkII with a 70-200, Brightscreen magnifier eyepiece and RRS L-plate is a hefty piece of gear.  In fact, its huge.  (Let me not even bring up the 1DsmkIII here.)  It's just not fun to carry around when exploring or going somewhere new.  I really miss the feel of my Pentax KX and similar cameras.  Small, light weight, nice viewfinders, and no huge hand grips.  (handgrips are overrated...i support from my left hand on the lens anyways...)

My 5D is a beast of a camera next to those old film bodies with a small lens on there.  Lens size has grown too!  82 front thread on some lenses!!!  85 1.2?!?!?!  MASSIVE!!!!!

Point an shoots just don't have the detail, quality, and allure of the process that I like.

So, recently in trying to rekindle the feel of what photography used to be for me...i thought i would try something...

I took my 5D body (which I use as a second body most of the time anyways) and gaffers taped it up.  No logos visible.  I also taped the mode knob so it cant be seen or adjusted.  I left the camera in Manual mode.  I stuck a 50 1.4 lens on there.  I took off the L-plates, and put the original eyepiece back on.  The camera is a lot lighter, and the tape makes it look smaller visually.  Nothing to distract the eye.  

I have been carrying that around here and there without a case.  Just a strap.  I feel a little more connected again.  Its definitely not as cumbersome to carry.  I thought about an Olympus E-420 with a 25mm pancake lens...but honestly I didn't like the quality.  I never had to worry about that with film.  The camera body didn't contribute to the quality.  Only the film and the film size made the real difference.

I will say adjustable ISO has been very spoiling and the one feature I really miss when I shoot film...but oh well.

Hopefully one day they will release a digital that has the feel of yesterday.
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LightCapture
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« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2009, 04:08:07 PM »
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I love what you did with your Canon, ACP! Very creative. If only more people got the duct tape out, they might actually become better photographers. Cheers to you, and happy shooting! It hasn't all become a commodity yet...
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bluekorn
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« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2009, 08:42:26 PM »
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LightCapture,

In spite of the fact that I agree with everythng you've said, I find myself wanting to respond, not antagonistically, but with some kind of yes, but....
Digital photography undoubtedly offers instant gratification and we all know what instant gratification has done to our economy (and, if I may, our souls). Digital photograhy has also opened the door to many who otherwise would have found no interest in image making. There are a lot of beginners out there clicking away. (And kudos to them all.) I would venture to say that the proportion between those who shoot with the decisive moment in mind and those who are absorbed by equipment fashion is probably not that different from twenty years ago.

I am amongst those who began shooting images in the 1960's and followed along as the technology developed to include the digital industry. Because I am who I am I struggle with the waiting period between the shutter tripped and the image returned, positive or negative. I don't seem to have the capacity to take good field notes to apply to the eventually developed film. My enthusiasm is for image making, not note talking.  And often times my memory of a decisive moment is of what I had hoped for rather than what was actually present when I fired the shutter. Anyway, two points.

Firstly, there is a difference between instant gratification and instant feedback. I will not even try to explain the parameters of instant gratification and all it entails to me. Instant feedback is wonderful as a learning tool. I snap the shutter, I instantly refer to the image and my learnng process immediately begins. I say to myself that if I had lowered the camera six inches and moved two feet to the left my composition would improve. I try it and it's still not quite right but I like it better. I think if I stepped forward a little to enlarge the foreground object the compositional harmony would improve. I try it and get instant feedback. And on and on it goes. With depth of field, with exposure, etc. I am engaged in the process. My dissatisfactions with each image challenges the photographer in me and I think and feel furthur into the subject and my motivations for shooting it. I find myself exploring more deeply than ever what photograpy means to me, what kind of decisive moments I want to spend my time stalking, what kind of light I want to inhabit.

Secondly, decisive moments are different for everyone. I've seen astonishing images born of camera which ultimately have less to do with photography than with post processing. Nothing wrong with that. The "photographer" can be less concerned with the decisive reality before her eyes and more concerned with gathering via camera the various components of a vision that will eventually find their culmination in photoshop in a decisive moment when she executes the last decision in creative manipulation. Photography has long included images that depend to a greater or lesser degree on what's before the shutter at the moment it is tripped. Darkroom skills can be applied to outer vision and they can be applied to inner vision as well. The decisive moment regarding any finalized image can come long before or long after the shutter has been tripped.

bluekorn

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dalethorn
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« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2009, 09:30:26 PM »
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I got tired of the darkroom, so gave up B&W processing.  It was becoming too tedious - too much like a hobby, and hobbies to me are repetitive.  I got a Leica M4-2, then M6 for color photography, but quit using them after a year or so - again, it seemed tedious and unnecessarily expensive to keep running to the dealer for processing and prints.  Then came digital.  What an absolute godsend.  I can print my own, and get the prints *right*.  I can shoot all I want to for free, and shooting is what I like to do best.  This is so perfect - no agonizing over how much each shot is costing, no reloadng of film (NOTE: reloading film is obsessing over equipment instead of photography), no worries about perfect composition. Instead of obsessing over all kinds of digital manipulation in Photoshop, I just don't use Photoshop, so I instead just do the minimum amount of fixing to make the keeper images as perfect as they would be if I obsessed over composition and other such frippery. Note #2: Manipulating dials and settings all the time is also obsessing over equipment instead of photography.

So now I'm free, and I can say that with digital, thank God, we're free at last.

And that's just the camera and editing end.  I can put tens of thousands of digital images on a fingernail-size chip, and they never deteriorate.  So my advice is this - if you can get yourself out of camera hobby mode and think just about photography - capturing the images you like and displaying and printing them, then you'll enjoy the sport a lot more.

Another suggestion that can improve your enjoyment of photography is sharing your images.  Not just on a photo forum, but in places where few if any other photographers share theirs.  Get an iPod or a PDA-phone with a large (~3") screen, and add your current images to it, then when you walk around photographing and talk to other people, you can pull out the photos and show other folks what you're doing with your cameras.  On weekends in the state parks, I encounter a lot of people who are interested in nature, and like to talk about what they've seen, or are looking for, etc.  I frequently show a few images of birds, flowers, and other items, and I get a lot of responses like "how'd you do that?", or "what camera did you use for that?"
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LightCapture
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« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2009, 11:22:08 PM »
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Bluekorn, I agree with most everything you say, as well. Where we part ways, I think, is in our understanding of the decisive moment and the idea that the proportion of those who shoot with the decisive moment in mind and those who are absorbed by equipment fashion is probably not that different from twenty years ago. I respectfully disagree, and all it takes is a simple comparison of articles in any photog journal from twenty years ago as opposed to today--you will see the stark difference. Also, the very nature of the decisive moment as defined by Cartier-Bresson, whose work I think is astounding, is, as he says, "to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes." By that definition, the decisive moment can't happen before or after the picture is taken. It's all about that moment and, given the minimal parameters of shutter speed and aperture, what your lens can capture with the decisions you make at that moment.

That said, I do agree that there are a lot of people out there who are interested in photography who might not otherwise have been interested at all, and that can be a good thing. On the other hand, the fact that they're coming at photography from the back end, and all the talk on forums seems to be about the post-processing and not so much about the artistry of the shot, makes me wonder if the whole nature of photography isn't changing for the worse. Digital, I'm fairly certain, hasn't made for better photogs in most cases. You appear to be the exception, and I know why--because you understand and appreciate the subtleties of light, proper framing, etc. I'm perfectly well aware that this kind of talk can sound quaint to the jaundiced ear, but it is, in fact, what folks like Cartier-Bresson, et al. were concerned with.

And dalethorn, I say more power to you that you don't obsess over Photoshop--I wish more people had the same attitude--but your notion that worrying over composition is "frippery," if I understand what you mean by that word, is where we part company. But given your responses to my post last year, I can't say I'm surprised that you feel the way you do. As for your idea that "manipulating dials and settings all the time is also obsessing over equipment instead of photography."... well then, I'm guilty as charged. But of course, I don't agree with you at all. I suppose picking up a camera and turning it on is obsessing, too? Where does it end?

And your kind advice: "if you can get yourself out of camera hobby mode and think just about photography - capturing the images you like and displaying and printing them, then you'll enjoy the sport a lot more" tells me that you didn't read my post carefully enough to see what I was actually saying. I love photography, and I think I enjoy it as much or more than the next guy--I just don't think all of this current obsession over post-processing is the point. Never has been--not for me, and not for a lot of folks whose work I respect. I do, however, applaud your idea about getting an iPod and showing your pics to folks. I think that's a great idea. I've thought of getting an iPhone or iPod for just such a purpose, but then when I realize that I'm showing my pics on a 3" screen, I shake myself out of my stupor and realize that it's not all that it's cracked up to be. I myself put most of my pics in albums and share them with friends when they come over, or I email them to family.

I know for sure that there are many people out there who won't agree with ideas about the decline of photography as an art due to the digital mania over pixels and such. Call me a purist. But in the end, like music or any other art form, I want to go as low to the ground as possible, have as little between me and the art form as I can, and start learning about how to see my world in a different light and record that vision for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of others. That, to me, is the whole ball of wax.
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« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2009, 11:55:57 PM »
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Quote from: LightCapture
....but your notion that worrying over composition is "frippery," if I understand what you mean by that word, is where we part company. But given your responses to my post last year, I can't say I'm surprised that you feel the way you do. As for your idea that "manipulating dials and settings all the time is also obsessing over equipment instead of photography."... well then, I'm guilty as charged. But of course, I don't agree with you at all. I suppose picking up a camera and turning it on is obsessing, too? Where does it end?

....I do, however, applaud your idea about getting an iPod and showing your pics to folks.

I know for sure that there are many people out there who won't agree with ideas about the decline of photography as an art due to the digital mania over pixels and such.

I doubt we're that far apart on anything except personal tastes, and perhaps the variables of language limiting accurate descriptions of our thoughts. The frippery comment is apt given a long recent thread obsessing over how composition just *has* to be done right in camera, not compensated later.  Only you can decide whether you're obsessing or not, but you certainly seem to have some anxieties about photo issues that should have been resolved long ago.  As far as the mania over pixels goes, here are some valid points: 1) At the end of the day, all you have is pixels. Period. Now that's important. And given the prices of MF and LF that some are willing to pay, and the proven resolution they offer, I rest my case on pixels. People can argue about the quality of pixels on small sensors etc. Why bother? There are good small cameras out there - just use one. As to the decline of photography, I don't see it here.  I don't post on any of the major "picture" sites, so I may be missing the joys of rubbing virtual elbows with the hoi polloi.  I don't know if what I see here will last forever, but something comparable will somewhere, and that's good enough.  What I see here is a lot of vigorous and healthy photographic activity, not a decline, unless I expected more Henri C.B. type work here and less of the, er, amateurish stuff. I'm the same way with music. Even Le Tigre is too commercial for me - I prefer the raw stuff from unsigned bands, or in the case of established musicians like Branford Marsalis, live recordings with the coughs and missed notes.
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Ancient City Photo
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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2009, 07:51:30 AM »
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Something to add about the digital aspect of all this:

Photoshop is a tool like any other.  I don't remember off the top of my head developing times anymore.  I would be worthless in a dark room today.  However, having part of my career require graphic design, I learned photoshop extremely well.  Daily use for 8 years does that.  

I can say if people were to spend sometime understanding the software, especially raw conversion software...they would not need to spend the time in photoshop or in any software.  When you can understand you tool, its used intuitively.  You see the photo even in the field.  When you load to the computer you instantly adjust what is "needed" and move on.  As a DNG file you don't need to go into photoshop and save new files, etc... like you do with JPG.  

White balance takes two seconds.  Recapturing highlights only takes a second.  Become intuitive with these things and they will not be the burden so many make them out to be.  

The only time I enter photoshop lately with an image file is when I want to create further derivative artwork from it, or I need to do some special processing for my output goal.  Even then, droping a few layers and painting with a tablet still feels very "manual."  I think the tablet saved the day in this respect...and my wrist!  (mice are no fun!)

I think people get caught up in the options and adjustments, and everything is so overwhelming.  Especially in raw converters like lightroom or ACR where its all laid out.  People don't understand what they are trying to achieve.  Or they do but don't know where to start to get there.  

I think this all comes back to the classical knowledge of photography that is getting lost or pushed further back as people try to describe how to work with the software and not why.  


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Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2009, 10:58:53 AM »
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I think that if we get back to the OP, do a little fierce editing, we come to the conclusion that what is being said is the basic truth: photography in the days of film was relatively honest, simple and absolutely democratic (if that is worth much, which it might not be) because the entry point was far easier to reach. I speak of photography and not snapping. I see a difference.

It has been my contention in this space, for a longish while, that digital and film attract different mindsets; that both ways result in a fairly similar image is perhaps unfortunate.

The attractions of film photography came to me via the allure of the exquisite machinery that I could not then afford. Nothing looked more beautiful than those Leica lllGs! (Never ever owned any Leica, but a variety of top-end 35mm slr and 6x6 slr stuff instead.) The other and more important component was the need to find a way that I could use to put ideas down on paper better than I could with pencil or paints: the camera provided that way.

The photographic process never seemed to me to be difficult; if anything, it was very straighforward if only because I followed the belief that the abilty to repeat the process exactly, each and every time I processed what turned out to be thousands of films over a career, removed yet one more variable from the equation and made success that little bit more likely. My entire b/w career was built around D76 1+1. I found no need for extended development nor for the opposite. Colour was almost always dealt with via Kodachrome and Ektachrome - colour printing seldom raised its ugly head even though I had spent much time before going solo doing just that. Come to think of it, perhaps thatīs one of the reasons I donīt do much colour digital: I do not find it very interesting and even when via the wet, it boiled down to testing, testing and testing unitl you ran through the educated steps and knew there was nowhere else to go. So damn boring. A process and not a particularly instinctual one at that. But hardly as boring and unnatural as I find computers to be, even if they provide a means to an end.

In pursuit of that end, and perhaps applying some of the fierce editing I suggested where I came in, I conclude yet again that the most pure form of photography has to be black and white and shot on film. I see no virtue in the archaic īalternativeī processes that some espouse and believe that the scope available with b/w film, a good scanner and a decent printer is all one could ever wish. The limitations lie in our imagination at the time of clicking that shutter. You donīt need a darkroom to process a film, just a toilet; I would not like to return to the darkroom for producing prints, even if they were always pretty easy for me to do. The sour note has to be the too high cost of dedicated 120 format scanners; would have enjoyed working that format again...

Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2009, 11:18:55 AM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
I got tired of the darkroom, so gave up B&W processing.  It was becoming too tedious - too much like a hobby, and hobbies to me are repetitive.  I got a Leica M4-2, then M6 for color photography, but quit using them after a year or so - again, it seemed tedious and unnecessarily expensive to keep running to the dealer for processing and prints.  Then came digital.  What an absolute godsend.  I can print my own, and get the prints *right*.  I can shoot all I want to for free, and shooting is what I like to do best.  This is so perfect - no agonizing over how much each shot is costing, no reloadng of film (NOTE: reloading film is obsessing over equipment instead of photography), no worries about perfect composition. Instead of obsessing over all kinds of digital manipulation in Photoshop, I just don't use Photoshop, so I instead just do the minimum amount of fixing to make the keeper images as perfect as they would be if I obsessed over composition and other such frippery. Note #2: Manipulating dials and settings all the time is also obsessing over equipment instead of photography.

So now I'm free, and I can say that with digital, thank God, we're free at last.

And that's just the camera and editing end.  I can put tens of thousands of digital images on a fingernail-size chip, and they never deteriorate.  So my advice is this - if you can get yourself out of camera hobby mode and think just about photography - capturing the images you like and displaying and printing them, then you'll enjoy the sport a lot more.

Another suggestion that can improve your enjoyment of photography is sharing your images.  Not just on a photo forum, but in places where few if any other photographers share theirs.  Get an iPod or a PDA-phone with a large (~3") screen, and add your current images to it, then when you walk around photographing and talk to other people, you can pull out the photos and show other folks what you're doing with your cameras.  On weekends in the state parks, I encounter a lot of people who are interested in nature, and like to talk about what they've seen, or are looking for, etc.  I frequently show a few images of birds, flowers, and other items, and I get a lot of responses like "how'd you do that?", or "what camera did you use for that?"

Dale, That's a lot of advice, but if you're going to give out advice like this you really ought to post your best pictures on your web so we can see the results of the advice you claim to follow. I'd suggest you might think more about your lack of worries about composition and your lack of manipulation in Photoshop. You're correct: if you get your composition and exposures right in the first place, about all you need out of Photoshop is a little bit of sharpening, but if, as you say, you're not worried about composition, etc. on the camera then you'd better become pretty familiar with Photoshop.

If photography actually is going downhill, and I'm not sure I agree that it is, it's because a lot of photographers have become snap-shooters, not worrying about composition, etc. when they trip the shutter because they figure they can fix it all later.
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Rob C
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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2009, 03:44:40 PM »
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Sharing your pictures.

Hmmm, Iīm not sure that I agree with this. In fact, the more I think about it, the less a good idea it sounds. Have you never enjoyed the agony of sitting down in somebodyīs home whilst they proudly thrust their album at you? Do you not remember the rigor mortis of your smile?

In fact, the more I think about it, I am now pretty sure that a display of photography should never be done under the guise of sharing. If you think you (not you in particular, I mean anyone) are good enough, hang the mothers on the wall. Then they will either be commented upon by virtue of their own wondrousness or studiously ignored without the social damage of forced response. The thought of having a complete stranger stick an electronic gallery in my face and invite comment is horrific! What on Earth could one say? (I notice that I tend to write it Earth, as in the planet, whilst mostly I read it earth, as in the soil; I wonder which is correct? Iīll have to ask the kids.)

Another thing that strikes me as unusual is the concept of making pictures and talking to other people - at the same time. It has always been my belief that photography sans model is one of the most onanistic of adventures; why spoil it? Like walking: why complicate it with clubs?

There was a time when I looked at the images published on this site under the threads dedicated to such adventures; I abandoned the practice some months ago when I realised that comment had to be positive or it was deemed insulting. There is no future to something that works on that principle and since communication is the main purpose of this site (I think?) there remained little point in visiting, so really, nobody is losing out on the deal. Why recreate the problem on a personal, real-life level and with your own pictures?

RSL writes that if photography is going downhill, not necessarily his view, perhaps itīs because a lot of photographers have become snapshooters, not worrying about composition et al because they can fix it later.  Maybe thatīs got it the wrong way around: could it be that the entire point of photography today is to emulate the zeitgeist, in which case, they have got it exactly right! Ask any politician.

Rob C
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2009, 04:28:42 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
... the basic truth: photography in the days of film was relatively honest, simple and absolutely democratic

I can't agree with this.  I attended an art show (Chihuly glass) in the Phoenix botanical gardens recently.  Virtually every single visitor (and there were thousands) was shooting with some form of camera.  That's photographic democracy.  In the past, photographers were a minority.  Now, everyone's a photographer.

The Golden Age of Photography is now.  Never was it simpler, easier or cheaper to acquire high quality imagery.  We are so lucky.
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bill t.
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« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2009, 10:17:45 PM »
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Quote from: Peter McLennan
The Golden Age of Photography is now.  Never was it simpler, easier or cheaper to acquire high quality imagery.  We are so lucky.
I agree.  Look through some dismal old photo annuals from a few decades ago if you think the quality of photography is going downhill.  If I filter out snapshots and pictures of Antelope Canyon, there is some really good photography right now today on pbase, photo.net etc.

People are learning to see and share their vision as never before and once in a while some really brilliant work comes out of it.  I have finally gotten over the idea that the mastery of arcane photo technology is some sort of initiation into photographic virtue.  The ability to see well and think visually leads to photographic virtue.  And I have to admit that I sometimes find it intimidating when some guy off the street comes up with imagery as good as my self-admired, experienced best, now that's the worst.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2009, 11:22:08 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Dale, That's a lot of advice, but if you're going to give out advice like this you really ought to post your best pictures on your web so we can see the results of the advice you claim to follow. I'd suggest you might think more about your lack of worries about composition and your lack of manipulation in Photoshop. You're correct: if you get your composition and exposures right in the first place, about all you need out of Photoshop is a little bit of sharpening, but if, as you say, you're not worried about composition, etc. on the camera then you'd better become pretty familiar with Photoshop.
If photography actually is going downhill, and I'm not sure I agree that it is, it's because a lot of photographers have become snap-shooters, not worrying about composition, etc. when they trip the shutter because they figure they can fix it all later.

I'm not concerned about your idea of composition, just mine.  And mine is fine.  And I don't post my best - ego is not the point, the point is getting a critique on problem or difficult images.  And photographers don't become snap-shooters, it's the other way around.

If you really are so big on learning, you should study Minnesota Fats. There you could learn something.
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LightCapture
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« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2009, 12:56:42 AM »
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Rob, Couldn't agree with you more about shoving pics in front of a complete stranger and essentially pleading with them to take a look. No thanks, no way. But getting together with some friends and a bottle of wine and oogling over an album of, say, a summer road trip... now that I miss. These days, people either don't print the shots they take and insist on subjecting their hapless friends to gather all around a computer screen and hunch over to look at a slide show, or they show them off to strangers on a 3" screen. And don't get me wrong: I'm very selective about who I invite to look at pictures. Some people, I know, couldn't care less. There are others, however, who love to look at pictures, and they're generally the same people whose albums I'm eager to see when I go to visit them. It all depends on one's friends. And for what it's worth, I do tend to mount and hang my best shots. Listen, photography isn't some lonely hearts club, here. The medium is meant to be shared. That's half the fun. As for emulating the zeitgeist... be my guest. I, for one, don't think there's much of a zeitgeist to emulate, and what z. there is isn't worth emulating.

Peter, I understand your enthusiasm about everyone having a camera to take pictures with. To a certain extent, that's good. But I'm not sure I buy your premise: that just because more people are doing it, that makes it more democratic. Democracy has more to do with freedom than conformity. Just because everyone's walking around with cell phones doesn't mean we've gotten better at communication, or that because everyone is walking around listening to music on their iPods that we've all become better musicians or learned anything more about music. Just because more people are doing something doesn't mean they aren't doing it badly. The Golden Age of Photography? I think not.

And Bill, I quite agree that "the ability to see well and think visually leads to photographic virtue." But those qualities come with deliberate effort and much trial and error. The digital age takes a lot of guesswork out of the process and as a result, I don't see many people concerned nearly as much with the picture they're actually taking than with what they can do to it afterward. That, to me, takes much of the artistry out of the whole enterprise. But don't get me wrong... more snapshooters and post-processing geeks isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just isn't what I've always understood photography to be: mastering the art of capturing a moment in time without feeling the compulsion to fictionalize it later with deeper blues or sharper contrasts.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2009, 12:58:32 AM by LightCapture » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2009, 10:33:53 AM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
I'm not concerned about your idea of composition, just mine.  And mine is fine.  And I don't post my best - ego is not the point, the point is getting a critique on problem or difficult images.  And photographers don't become snap-shooters, it's the other way around.

If you want to give advice it's only fair to the people to whom you're giving advice to let them see the results of your advice. That has nothing to do with ego. If your idea of composition is "fine," then you shouldn't be afraid to demonstrate that idea with examples.

Quote
If you really are so big on learning, you should study Minnesota Fats. There you could learn something.

Well, I knew Fats was a pool hustler but I wasn't aware he was a photographer. I guess you learn something new every day. Where can I see his pics? Does he have a web?
« Last Edit: May 29, 2009, 01:17:35 PM by RSL » Logged

dalethorn
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« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2009, 11:35:15 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Well, I knew Fats was a pool hustler but I wasn't aware he was a photographer. I guess you learn something new every day. Where can I see his pics? Does he have a web?

When you ask the wrong questions you get the wrong answers, or no answers at all.  Lucky you - you don't have to contend with that pesky learning curve.
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RSL
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« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2009, 11:36:28 AM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
When you ask the wrong questions you get the wrong answers, or no answers at all.  Lucky you - you don't have to contend with that pesky learning curve.

Dale, You didn't tell me where I can see Fats's pictures. But I guess he's another "dead dude," so his photographs really don't matter anyway. Right?
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dalethorn
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« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2009, 02:23:13 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Dale, You didn't tell me where I can see Fats's pictures. But I guess he's another "dead dude," so his photographs really don't matter anyway. Right?

As I said in the last post, you're talking a lot but not listening. Once you decide to listen and learn, I'll explain about Minnesota Fats. Vince Lombardi also had some things to say about winners and losers, which you could also learn from. And it has everything to do with photography - separating the photographers/winners from the fanboys/losers.
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RSL
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« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2009, 02:50:02 PM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
As I said in the last post, you're talking a lot but not listening. Once you decide to listen and learn, I'll explain about Minnesota Fats. Vince Lombardi also had some things to say about winners and losers, which you could also learn from. And it has everything to do with photography - separating the photographers/winners from the fanboys/losers.

Interesting. I never realized that photography was a contest with winners and losers. Who are some of the winners? Can you name some of the losers?
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