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Author Topic: discerning good images  (Read 19098 times)
Rocco Penny
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« on: April 13, 2010, 11:55:02 AM »
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I've been at it- intensely aware of opportunities for a good exposure,
watching, waiting, listening for animals and aware of shapes and interesting features,
hacking away at the poor judgment that a beginner has, having an interest in going as far as I can with the technical aspects of exposure on a protracted lay approach and having ideals like any creative person,
just a pleasing piece to hang or store,
something pretty or just neat.
But why?
What is it that as a photographer I should be interested in?
vacuous and neurotic, i swear there isn't a square meter of ground I haven't traipsed around here,
I like capturing wildlife images, and could see myself in the fishbowl for 200 hours this year, but really how many butterflies are enough butterflies and why won't this dang camera work in the dark.
Is there anything you guys have that gets you on track to making something good?
Just effort?
Just effort?OK thanks for any small help or direction
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fredjeang
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2010, 01:45:05 PM »
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Hi,

I think that effort without direction is like a sailor without tiller.

Efforts, talents, or whatever have to be aimed to your purpose.

Most of the time it is more difficult to see where one wants to go, what does he want to express.
That's why you have a lot of very experienced photographers, but they can't direct their experience where they want to,
generaly they don't even know it.

Saying: "I want to do landscape" is one thing.
But, what do you want to say through the landscapes is a much more difficult quest.

IMHO.

Fred.
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2010, 02:35:00 PM »
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This might help: http://www.dewittjones.com/resources/seeing_the_ordinary.htm

Mike.
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If your mind is attuned to beauty, you find beauty in everything.
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Joe Behar
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2010, 03:34:35 PM »
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Quote from: Rocco Penny
I've been at it- intensely aware of opportunities for a good exposure,
watching, waiting, listening for animals and aware of shapes and interesting features,
hacking away at the poor judgment that a beginner has, having an interest in going as far as I can with the technical aspects of exposure on a protracted lay approach and having ideals like any creative person,
just a pleasing piece to hang or store,
something pretty or just neat.
But why?
What is it that as a photographer I should be interested in?
vacuous and neurotic, i swear there isn't a square meter of ground I haven't traipsed around here,
I like capturing wildlife images, and could see myself in the fishbowl for 200 hours this year, but really how many butterflies are enough butterflies and why won't this dang camera work in the dark.
Is there anything you guys have that gets you on track to making something good?
Just effort?
Just effort?OK thanks for any small help or direction

Sounds like maybe you need to cool off a bit. There's nothing that says you have to put in X number of hours or days per year. I know the frustration of wanting to create something and just not being able to because "there's nothing happening" there's nothing interesting" "the light's not right" or any other of a million reasons.

Why not take a short break? Take a walk WITHOUT your camera. Refocus. Enjoy the surroundings and look around without a photo in mind.

I'm pretty sure that after short while, you'll get a better idea of what you're after.

Don't force it.

Someone once told me "if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong"

It sounds like you're a serious hobbyist, so there's no pressure to produce in order to feed the family. Just relax and let your mind rest and clear. I'm betting you'll come back after a short break with renewed creativity.




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fredjeang
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2010, 04:05:39 PM »
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Quote from: Joe Behar
Sounds like maybe you need to cool off a bit. There's nothing that says you have to put in X number of hours or days per year. I know the frustration of wanting to create something and just not being able to because "there's nothing happening" there's nothing interesting" "the light's not right" or any other of a million reasons.

Why not take a short break? Take a walk WITHOUT your camera. Refocus. Enjoy the surroundings and look around without a photo in mind.

I'm pretty sure that after short while, you'll get a better idea of what you're after.

Don't force it.

Someone once told me "if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong"

It sounds like you're a serious hobbyist, so there's no pressure to produce in order to feed the family. Just relax and let your mind rest and clear. I'm betting you'll come back after a short break with renewed creativity.
Joe, I agree 100% and I think your comment is very wise.
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Rocco Penny
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« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2010, 09:40:14 AM »
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Ok
so let's say the enjoyment is constant.

I'm more wondering how really good images are conceived.
So looking through some art books yesterday, a thought dawned on me that there are works of 'art'
and there are surviving examples of manmade 'items'
the difference being just when I look at a piece, it seems like either art or artifact.
Art seems obvious, and it's obvious I'm not too close to rendering art.
So the interest I have just now is to get technically decent images.
I'm looking at thousands of my images, and I have found maybe 30 worth printing.
I want even 1 new good thing,
and I want it to be art.
thank you for the advice.
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walter.sk
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« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2010, 09:48:34 AM »
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I think some of your anxiety about how to proceed might be allayed by reading the articles on this site by Alain Briot, who talks about how he developed his style and market.  His wonderful writing concentrates not on the "rules of composition," but on his personal vision and how to hone it.
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patrickt
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« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2010, 10:50:34 AM »
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"What is it that as a photographer I should be interested in?"

Who knows? I met a photographer who was asking every woman between 18-45 to pose nude for him. I think his interest was in getting laid. Some people think they have something to say. They usually don't but that their vision. I went to an exhibit and laughed when I saw two, single-spaced pages of the photographer explaining his "message". I laughed, looked at the photos, and left. I know a woman who has a thing for butterflies. She can actually name them all. For my brother-in-law it's birds.

My interest? I'm retired and my primary interest is getting up and taking photos. I am far more interested in what the photo says to me and other people than I am in any agenda I have to say things. If one of my photos makes people smile or makes them feel anything, that's enough for me. I have photo of a mother with a newborn who was dying. I showed the photo, with no comments to people and was amazed at how different the responses were between men and women. Yes, the picture "spoke" to me and others but they didn't all hear the same thing.

I have a photo of a clown couple walking through a park in the late afternoon. I took the picture in large part because of the light. But, in invariably makes people stop, look for a moment, and smile. I like that.

I sometimes sell photos to raise money for a charity. I am interested in taking photos that will sell for them but I can't say that very often drives my photography.

I guess it's just up to you to decide what you are, and should be, interested in.
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2010, 08:01:34 PM »
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Quote from: Rocco Penny
I'm looking at thousands of my images, and I have found maybe 30 worth printing.

That's not necessarily a bad thing.  Photo editing is one of the most important skills a photographer can have and one of the most difficult to do well.  I found it much harder to learn how to choose my best images than to learn how to make them.  

In landscape photography, at least, my "keeper" rate (worth showing) runs between 3% and 5%.  But my batting average for images worth printing and hanging on a wall is less than 1%.

Paul
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stamper
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« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2010, 03:01:52 AM »
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Quote from: Paul Sumi
That's not necessarily a bad thing.  Photo editing is one of the most important skills a photographer can have and one of the most difficult to do well.  I found it much harder to learn how to choose my best images than to learn how to make them.  

In landscape photography, at least, my "keeper" rate (worth showing) runs between 3% and 5%.  But my batting average for images worth printing and hanging on a wall is less than 1%.

Paul

I can definitely relate to that. The more photography you do the more fussy you get which means the less keepers you get. This should happen. I knew someone who has been into photography for over 40 years who thought that all of his photographs were good and none were to be deleted. Paradoxically when windows on his hard disc crashed I asked if he had them backed up? He shrugged his shoulders and said that they weren't worth bothering about. His oxymoronic  attitude showed to me that he wasn't a good photographer which I had suspected for sometime. Photography is like panning for gold. A lot of dross has to be got rid of to get the nuggets.
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daws
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« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2010, 04:42:34 AM »
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Quote from: Rocco Penny
Is there anything you guys have that gets you on track to making something good?
Just effort?
Peace of mind, as much as you can muster.


Quote
Letting go of self is an essential precondition to real seeing. When you let go of yourself, you abandon any preconceptions about the subject matter that might cramp you into photographing in a certain, predetermined way. As long as you are worried about whether or not you will be able to make good pictures, or are concerned about enjoying yourself, you are unlikely either to make the best photographs you can or to experience the joy of photography to the fullest. But when you let go, new conceptions arise from your direct experience of the subject matter, and new ideas and feelings will guide you as you make pictures.

Preoccupation with self is the greatest barrier to seeing, and the hardest one to break. You may be worrying about your job, or the kids, or other responsibilities, or you may be uneasy about your ability to handle a new lens or to calculate exposure. There always seems to be something standing in the way of real freedom. Frederick Franck in
The Zen of Seeing calls this the "Me cramp"; too much self-concern blocks direct experience of things outside yourself.
-- Freeman Patterson
Photography and the Art of Seeing



Quote
As I work from the belief that there’s more than one right answer, I find I’m approaching the world from an attitude of abundance rather than scarcity, from cooperation rather than competition. When I walk into the forest with my cameras, nature doesn’t say, “There is one great photograph hidden here. One photographer will find it and be the winner. The rest will fail!” No, what nature seems to be saying is, “How many rolls of film do you have, Dewitt? I’ll fill them all with right answers!”

When we bring that same attitude to our life, we become more and more comfortable with searching for that next right answer, with reframing problems into opportunities, with embracing change rather than fearing it.

So we’ve found a definition that makes creativity accessible to us; we’ve opened ourselves to the possibility that there’s more than one right answer. We’ve looked at the challenge we’re facing and asked, “Do we have the right lens/perspective and the right focus?”

So why do we still hesitate? What’s keeping us from seeing that extraordinary solution and manifesting it into reality? Could it be the fear of Making a Mistake?

Fear of mistakes is the single greatest enemy of the creative spirit. It haunts me in my business dealings, it looks through my lens, it stands at my shoulder every time I’m on the platform. Constantly it intones, “Don’t take the risk. Don’t try something new. Do it the way it’s always been done.” Again, it’s my photography that shows me the foolishness of this kind of thinking.
-- Dewitt Jones
Seeing the Ordinary as Extraordinary
« Last Edit: April 15, 2010, 04:53:33 AM by daws » Logged
stamper
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« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2010, 05:37:22 AM »
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I hope he doesn't mind you quoting large chunks of his book? I got to about page 40 and didn't look at the book again. I found it difficult to relate to what he was stating. Obviously others found the book worthy. Alain Briot's book I got about two thirds of the way through it before abandoning it. Relating what is in these books and others to the reality of the opportunities of what I photograph I find difficult. I am left wondering if it is my fault or do others have the same difficulties? I am probably at the limit of what I can learn - I am not saying that I am a great photographer - and will struggle to get more meaningful data from books and magazines.
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2010, 05:48:26 AM »
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Quote from: Rocco Penny
I'm more wondering how really good images are conceived.
Think more "previsualised" than conceived: having an idea what you want to achieve before you press the shutter button helps a lot. And of course, practise, practise, practise - when you look at a scene, do you automatically mentally frame the interesting bits? If not, try taking out a cardboard rectangle with a rectangular hole cut in it (at your preferred aspect ratio) and use that as you are walking around. Separating the seeing from the mechanics of taking the photo can be a good thing. Or if you feel silly doing that, use a tripod to slow you down.

And if you are really interested in art, get a book of composition theory and study that, so you have an idea of why certain conventions work - and almost as importantly, when to ignore them. You could even start on this very site: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/columns/...ion-intro.shtml

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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2010, 05:59:42 AM »
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Quote from: stamper
I am left wondering if it is my fault or do others have the same difficulties?
I don't think you are alone - perhaps I have been unlucky, but I have yet to find a book on composition that is both lucid and technically accomplished: in most of them, the words obstruct or obscure understanding rather than being transparent aids to that flash of "ah, I get it".

I am currently wading - slowly - through "The Photograph: Composition & Color Design" by Harold Mante - which is one of the worst adverts for translation I have read for a long time. The English is so heavily Teutonic and clumsy that it actively annoys me, and the layout was designed by someone who thinks that it's acceptable to be spending half your time flipping from page to page to find the illustrative thumbnails that are relevant. Both features obstruct what is basically a very sound introduction to the theories of composition.

The opposite extreme is the waffly, rambling prose beloved of other exponents of the theory. Lots of these guys are excellent photographers with a sound grasp of the principles, but not of technical writing.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2010, 06:01:10 AM by LoisWakeman » Logged
stamper
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« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2010, 06:10:57 AM »
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Despite being a member of Flickr I don't often look at anybody's Photo stream closely. I tend to pick one or two to look at and then go on to someone else's images. However I have just looked at about half of this person's images and to say that I am impressed - I take a lot of impressing - is an understatement. Enjoy!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/41825523@N02/
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RSL
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« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2010, 07:07:31 PM »
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Rocco, You've seen some good suggestions in this thread. Let me make another, that in some ways runs counter to the others: Reading "how to" books, inspirational books, or as Lois suggested, books on "composition theory" can't even begin to teach the really important things you can, and should, learn simply by studying the photographs of the masters. People like Eugene Atget, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Elliott Erwitt, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, W. Eugene Smith, Robert Doisneau, Andre Kertesz, Paul Strand, Brassai, Steve McCurry, Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, among others. Since you didn't bother to fill out your profile, I have no idea what your background is, how old you are, whether or not you've had any training in the visual arts, but if you're like most of us, once you've studied a few of the masters you'll focus on a particular one who does the kind of thing you'd like to be doing. You'll take off from there by trying to copy that artist. This happens in any art: music, poetry, painting, photography -- doesn't matter. But as you progress you'll find that you can't actually copy your model and that, even if you knock off a few prints that seem close to your ideal, they won't be very satisfying. Eventually, after a lot of disappointments you'll begin to develop your own style. You won't need to think about what you want to shoot, or go looking for something to shoot. Instead, your subjects will begin to present themselves to you. You'll get to the point where you simply won't be able to avoid shooting what's in front of you when one of those subjects presents itself. From that point on you won't have even to think about subjects like this one.
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Rob C
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« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2010, 03:43:43 AM »
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Russ, I agree with you 100% but have given up writing the message; people simply don't want to read it and are unable to accept the truth that you either have or have not got what it takes.

If you have to start to ask yourself what to shoot, you asked the wrong question first. The first question should have been which camera should I buy in order to shoot the subject(s) I want to cover? If there are no pre-existing desires to shoot something specific, then save your money for something more worthwhile than another paperweight. If the desire already exists within you, then develop it and give it some sense of direction by seeking out sites, books, magazines and exhibitions that cater to that interest. There, you will find suggestions that help indicate what you need to get where you want to go.

But please don't convince yourself that you can buy talent for yourself; the only talent you can buy is that which others offer for hire.

Rob C
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stamper
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« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2010, 04:29:12 AM »
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Does anyone agree that there is a limit to your photographic ability - just the same as other pursuits - and it is possible to reach that limit without realising it? Obviously taking images of different subjects widens your horizons but it might disguise the fact that your limit has been reached. Is it possible to spend months or even years trying to educate yourself in vain without actually improving?. I played competitive chess for thirty years before "retiring" from it. Probably the last ten years I had been playing at a "optimum" level without realising it despite the fact that I was still trying to learn more. I gave up when my ability to win games went into a decline. No doubt that some will reply that you must keep going but there has to be a day when you realise it isn't getting better. Now will a new camera help?Huh?
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RSL
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« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2010, 06:33:37 AM »
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Stamper, To answer your initial question: I don't think so. Art isn't "like other pursuits." As Rob pointed out, you don't pursue "art." You pursue something you're trying to express. If you do that well enough that others can react to what you created in the way you intended, it's art. Chess is something different. In chess you're not creating; you're exercising logic to win a game. I do think you can reach a ceiling in that kind of pursuit. But in visual art I think your vision can expand indefinitely. Which is not to say you won't hit plateaus along the way. Art is from the inside out. Chess is from the outside in. Different kind of thing.
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Rocco Penny
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« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2010, 08:52:26 AM »
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Thank you all very much.

This is a discussion I needed to hear.  Maybe it's as simple as that;
I've rarely had any talent or ability.
There are no doubt people that overcome their lack of talent for the work they put in at getting technically good at photography.
Maybe no masterpiece is in me.

I am a tradesman.  I can see talent in people in my trade in 10 seconds of watching them, and it's true,
they either have it or don't.

RSL thank you,  I have a d300 and a 50, 10-20, 600, & 18-200, gitzo, ballhead, & wimberly, easily pack all of it and walk 10 miles my limitation being real work for real $
I use color managed workflow.  I have a wide gamut 8 bit IPS screen & a large format printer.
I mount and frame my pieces.
I have a drymount press and have been all over the map on which backing and media I use.
I have a matcutter but am struggling with making a matted piece that looks good to me.


It's frustrating to find myself struggling with understanding the correct procedure to produce the exposures I want.
I have had some slight success, and it gives me hope that I may have something to contribute artistically.
I have made a person gasp upon opening a piece, & have seen a wore out drunk get a genuine smile on his face viewing one of my works.
I have sold a few without trying.


I simply have not made a really great piece in 3 months.
So I go out and shoot and come back with junk.
Like a tradesman that can't sand flat...
OK thanks again
thank you,
Rocco
« Last Edit: April 16, 2010, 09:08:43 AM by Rocco Penny » Logged
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