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Author Topic: Near miss with a point and shoot?  (Read 2841 times)
louoates
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« on: September 27, 2012, 07:24:30 PM »
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One of the problems with carrying a small auto-focus point-and-shoot camera on the street is, for me, the difficulty of focusing well enough when a decent subject presents itself. In this print I cropped out a commuter who was standing on the near right who was closer to the camera than the woman, thus fooling the auto focus. Only had time for the one shot. Think this is just too soft a focus for a street shot?
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Chris Calohan
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« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2012, 08:00:52 PM »
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It is but it's such a great shot, i think I would keep it anyway. Can you do some selective sharpening on her face?
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« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2012, 08:37:02 PM »
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Love it, Lou! One trick you might think about is this: When I'm out on the street with my Oly E-P1 with a 25mm lens (equivalent of a 50 on FF), I stop down to f/8 and pre-focus at about 9 feet. Since with a half-frame sensor f/8 is a smaller hole than it would be on FF I have a pretty good zone of focus. In most cases I don't need to re-focus. I can just raise the camera and shoot. It's not a panacea, but I've made plenty of shots that way I'd otherwise have missed.
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WalterEG
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2012, 09:05:36 PM »
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As you say, everything is wonderful except for the focus.  It is a greatly rewarding scenario though.

I wonder if you can't go back and wait for another gem of a moment to present itself.  It might bring forth even better fruit.

In my own work I am no fan of auto-focus and invariably focus manually.  In fact, some of my lenses are manual focus only, anyway.

Keep up the good work,

W
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louoates
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« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2012, 09:13:20 PM »
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Love it, Lou! One trick you might think about is this: When I'm out on the street with my Oly E-P1 with a 25mm lens (equivalent of a 50 on FF), I stop down to f/8 and pre-focus at about 9 feet. Since with a half-frame sensor f/8 is a smaller hole than it would be on FF I have a pretty good zone of focus. In most cases I don't need to re-focus. I can just raise the camera and shoot. It's not a panacea, but I've made plenty of shots that way I'd otherwise have missed.

Alas, my little 12 mp Canon is auto focus only with no manual controls at all except I can turn off the flash. When I have my Mark III 1ds with me I do the pre-focusing and f-stop setting technique all the time. In fact, in a street setting where there is a particular shot like this with a fixed target (the sign in this case) I often set up my tripod also with my shutter release in hand. Once the camera is all set up I position myself so that it appears that I'm fiddling with some equipment or looking at something completely away from where the camera is pointing. Your peripheral vision is all you need to know when to click. It takes only 30 seconds or so with that setup for people to ignore the camera. That camera hand-held is a frightening object, much like pointing a bazooka at someone. The tripod technique eliminates that problem.

I could fool with some facial sharpening as chrisc suggests. I only ran fairly mild Nik raw presharpener on the whole image.

WalterEG: For me that sign location is now 10,000 miles away. Because of my vision shortcomings auto focus is a necessity with such a small camera. And 99% of the time it works fine. Sadly, you only get 1% keepers from this kind of shooting.
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WalterEG
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« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2012, 11:18:05 PM »
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Sorry to hear that the site is so distant.  But you did give it a good crack.

A friend has one of those P&S with limited control.  I can see it being a blessing and a curse in equal measure at times.

W
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Dave (Isle of Skye)
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« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2012, 04:22:58 AM »
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I don't see the softness of focus being an issue in this excellent image, it adds character and is representative of how fleeting the moment was. Most of the great street shots we all know and love are soft, or very much out of focus (HCB?), so I would leave it exactly as it is, a great street shot well seen and well taken. Bravo  Smiley

I see in the reflection that you shot from the hip, so to get this shot lined up at all is something to be applauded - I would just enjoy what it is and what it represents and forget about trying to achieve studio standards on the street.

Why have we all decided that pin sharp detail is the most important factor by which any image MUST be primarily judged?

Dave
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Rob C
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« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2012, 05:08:15 AM »
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I don't see the softness of focus being an issue in this excellent image, it adds character and is representative of how fleeting the moment was. Most of the great street shots we all know and love are soft, or very much out of focus (HCB?), so I would leave it exactly as it is, a great street shot well seen and well taken. Bravo  Smiley

I see in the reflection that you shot from the hip, so to get this shot lined up at all is something to be applauded - I would just enjoy what it is and what it represents and forget about trying to achieve studio standards on the street.

Why have we all decided that pin sharp detail is the most important factor by which any image MUST be primarily judged?Dave


We haven't; Walter and I have already stated as much but to somewhat less than universal rounds of applause. I guess it all depends on who's making the statements. Politics, politics, bullshit. Must be the season.

Rob C
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amolitor
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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2012, 05:16:08 AM »
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Why have we all decided that pin sharp detail is the most important factor by which any image MUST be primarily judged?

This is a VERY common problem, and it has been for a long time. I think it has to do with the fact that many photo enthusiasts are basically nerds, and nerds like things they can measure. The easiest thing to measure in a photograph is the resolution or sharpness. Now that we're all digital, we tend to look at histograms too much, too.

Every time someone criticizes something for lack of sharpness, I mutter to myself "Curse you, Group f/64, curse you!"

And then I go and pixel peep my own pictures and make myself miserable. Because I too am a nerd. It's AWFUL.
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Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2012, 05:35:36 AM »
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No, Andrew; a real nerd isn't aware of his nerdness. Rest happy!

The problem is indeed close to the f64 ethos - it's all the fault of those landscape guys with nothing else to compare with that drives them to said conclusions... Real-world shooters know that time and tide etc. etc. Oops! Too close to landscape again, there; better think of another one.

Anyway, lunch calls and I have to get presentable to face the world - the media not yet.

;-)

Rob C
« Last Edit: September 28, 2012, 09:36:22 AM by Rob C » Logged

Chris Calohan
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« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2012, 06:44:39 AM »
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This was done with one of those plugins that seem to PO some people but which I find quite useful at times. The sharpening, what little was added was never at an opacity higher than 22% so while it served to give some more definition to her and the gun, it was the conversion program that added the (missing?) depth.

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« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2012, 10:01:28 AM »
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. . .I often set up my tripod also with my shutter release in hand. Once the camera is all set up I position myself so that it appears that I'm fiddling with some equipment or looking at something completely away from where the camera is pointing. Your peripheral vision is all you need to know when to click. It takes only 30 seconds or so with that setup for people to ignore the camera.

I agree. It's a great technique, but one I can't quite bring myself to use. I'd rather blend into the background and raise the camera quickly but smoothly for the shot. Usually the subject either doesn't see you raise the camera or concludes you didn't make a picture, or at least is unsure enough to just let it go.

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That camera hand-held is a frightening object, much like pointing a bazooka at someone.

That's certainly true when you're hand-holding a DSLR, especially one the size of my D3 or your Mark III 1ds. Which is why I prefer my E-P1 with a 50mm equivalent on it. It's small, extremely quiet, and, for me at least, 50mm is the ideal frame for street.

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Sadly, you only get 1% keepers from this kind of shooting.

I'd agree with that statistic for the ones you keep around for a while, but for the stuff you'd actually be (or should be) willing to show, it's considerably less than that.
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Rob C
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« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2012, 12:23:48 PM »
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I'd agree with that statistic for the ones you keep around for a while, but for the stuff you'd actually be (or should be) willing to show, it's considerably less than that.


True, but if observed, also a reason why most of us would have to close shop and take up knitting or fishing or even, heaven help us, golf.

It's because of the general crappiness of most of our work that we are able to swallow personal pride and put out what we do on the basis that nobody else is doing it much better, so what the hell. Publish and be damned from a different perspective, then?

Rob C
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Dave (Isle of Skye)
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« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2012, 07:05:08 PM »
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True, but if observed, also a reason why most of us would have to close shop and take up knitting or fishing or even, heaven help us, golf.

It's because of the general crappiness of most of our work that we are able to swallow personal pride and put out what we do on the basis that nobody else is doing it much better, so what the hell. Publish and be damned from a different perspective, then?

Rob C

“The only difference between a pro and an amateur is the pro takes more bad pictures.” Galen Rowell
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Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2012, 05:01:45 AM »
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“The only difference between a pro and an amateur is the pro takes more bad pictures.” Galen Rowell


Like so many quotations, it only tells half of a story: the other half of the story is that the pro generally take a helluva lot more good photos, too, or he won't be a pro for very long, the difference being that he produces more of both by dint of the numbers he has to play.

But anyway, this is a false situation. My reference to letting it all hang out refers to the 'amateur' side of anyone's photography - the personal stuff that hasn't any client waiting at the end. By no means do I advocate giving one's poor stuff (commercially shot) any exposure at all. That's a very different thing. That's why you avoid situations where you can't edit before the client gets his eyes on the stuff, which was yet a further advantage of transparencies, as Mr Rowell well knew.

Rob C
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Dave (Isle of Skye)
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« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2012, 11:13:48 AM »
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Like so many quotations, it only tells half of a story: the other half of the story is that the pro generally take a helluva lot more good photos, too, or he won't be a pro for very long, the difference being that he produces more of both by dint of the numbers he has to play.

Rob C

I think what Galen meant, was that a pro's successful hit rate is no greater than that of the competent amateur, but that the pro takes many more images to increase the number of hits and therefore proportionately, also produces much more garbage as a result. Which I would then further interpret as meaning, that anyone can shoot successfully at the level of a pro, if only they are willing to put in all the time and energy such an undertaking requires - the example photographer I would use to reinforce this assumption, would be someone like Garry Winogrand.

But of course I may be completely wrong, but that is what the quotation says to me..  Grin

Dave
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« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2012, 11:46:50 AM »
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Let's take a wedding for instance. You can't go back and re-shoot a wedding, which is why you carry several cameras and overshoot with all of them. You'd be crazy not to overshoot with those cameras, because. . . you can't go back and fill in the gaps later on. To some extent the same thing's true of any commercial shoot. You may be able to go back and re-shoot but doing that usually is a seriously expensive operation, and if you blew it and didn't end up with the coverage the job called for it may be somebody else who gets to go back and do the re-shoot while you lick your wounds. (All of which is why I hated doing weddings and quit doing them not long after I started doing them, and almost lost a pro friend later on when I flat refused to fill in for him on a commercial shoot when he'd taken on one shoot too many.)

Which is not to say that the excess stuff if bad. It's just repetitive.

But then, there was Brassaï and the story of the kneeling tripod when he came to shoot his friend, Lawrence Durrell. He made only a couple shots, and as he told Durrell: "Yes, I only take one or two or three pictures of a subject. I find it concentrates one to shoot less. Of course it's chancy; when you shoot a lot you stand a better chance, but then you are subjecting yourself to the law of accident - if accident has a law. I prefer to try and if necessary fail. When I succeed, however, I am much happier than I would be if I shot a million pictures on the off-chance. I feel that I have really made it myself, that picture, not won it in a lottery." (From an October, 1968 MOMA press release.)

Now that's my kind of photographer.
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Rob C
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« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2012, 04:25:39 AM »
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I think what Galen meant, was that a pro's successful hit rate is no greater than that of the competent amateur, but that the pro takes many more images to increase the number of hits and therefore proportionately, also produces much more garbage as a result. Which I would then further interpret as meaning, that anyone can shoot successfully at the level of a pro, if only they are willing to put in all the time and energy such an undertaking requires - the example photographer I would use to reinforce this assumption, would be someone like Garry Winogrand.But of course I may be completely wrong, but that is what the quotation says to me..  Grin

Dave



David, that's where we part company in our sense of definition.

Winogrand would never, in my mind, have any relationship with being a pro, something that almost excludes the likes of HC-B et al. if only because their 'work' is more art/compulsion than work.

A pro, to me, is a guy who gets a commission, shoots it and receives - usually - a cheque in return some many months later. Photojournalists and others of that type are something else: a venture or limb of a genre unto itself. A professional has an establishment of sorts with a shingle hanging outside the door, and until relatively recently, a studio shooting space of his own.

PJs were always mavericks; who else could do the pictures?

I'm rather surprised that you also subscribe to the nonsense that, given time, a monkey with a keyboard could write The Lord's Prayer.

Rob C
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Dave (Isle of Skye)
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« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2012, 09:46:15 AM »
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I'm rather surprised that you also subscribe to the nonsense that, given time, a monkey with a keyboard could write The Lord's Prayer.

Rob C

Well to keep the ball rolling Rob, I am afraid I have to disagree with your disagreement. Most people at the top of their game (in what ever field), only got there due to the sheer effort they were willing to put in. Even the accepted greats did not come into this world fully formed and complete, they had to work hard for it.

Your remark about monkeys couldn't be further from the mark, I am talking about any rational, sentient human being, that is sufficiently driven to drag themselves all the way up to the top, a monkey is a monkey and is a nonsensical comparison.

Over to you!

Dave
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« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2012, 10:46:39 AM »
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. . .anyone can shoot successfully at the level of a pro, if only they are willing to put in all the time and energy such an undertaking requires - the example photographer I would use to reinforce this assumption, would be someone like Garry Winogrand.

Hi Dave, First off, let's get the term "pro" straight. "Pro" means that you make money at it. It doesn't say anything about your competence. The level of the average small town pro photographer is that he can haul around a ton of gear and shoot a lot of pictures at weddings, then produce the kind of cliche prints the bride recognizes as "wedding pictures." There may be a dozen people in the audience at the wedding who can make better art than the pro, but they're not there to shoot pictures.

But I also disagree with the second part of your claim. Winogrand was a talented guy. Part of his talent was that he was willing to slog around NY City even when he was supposed to be home. But the man had an eye that wasn't the result of hard work. Do you really believe that anyone can become, say, a concert pianist? I've talked about this before: My wife and I had a friend who was a concert pianist. She was a fantastic mechanic. She never missed a note. But she couldn't interpret, say, Rhapsody in Blue the way Oscar Levant could. Oscar used to miss notes, but the way he handled the piano on Gershwin could bring tears to your eyes -- even down your cheeks. A great musician has an inborn talent. A great painter has an inborn talent. A great photographer has an inborn talent. They all need to work their butts off at it, but they also need what they were born with or they'll never become what we'd call "great."
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