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Author Topic: Compositionally Challanged  (Read 26705 times)
Rob C
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« Reply #40 on: August 27, 2013, 03:58:52 AM »
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Let me preface the below by saying that I don't intend this post as a direct reference to, or attack upon the original photograph posted here, more as an observation on the nature of much photography, its worth and what it seems to mean to different people.


And with all due respect, this image holds no interest.   Why not take one low res shot of something compelling?



That ¡s the problem with so much in the world of photographic images: too many elephants crowding the rooms.

Folks get blinded by the cost of their gear; by the manipulation facilities available and their competence in using them; others can no longer see the wood for the trees and despair of finding nirvana. Well forget it: there is no photographic nirvana. The best you can hope for is to find the occasional cracking great image, perhaps render it successfully and find somebody else somewhere who actually likes it so much that they let you know.

Someone mentioned the success measurement inherent in the bucks photography puts on the table. Yes, to an extent that’s true, especially in a really professional situation, where you win a commission in the face of the always stiff competition for it, where the buying is mostly done by people with a lot of experience in the medium and with a lot of practice in making calls and decisions on matters such as style etc.

I’m not so sure that you can extrapolate that to include the example of what the ‘public’ is buying or ignoring. Going by the evidence of my own eyes and ears, that usually comes down to the lowest common denominator in all things. If you make your purchasing decisions on whether you or your uncle can produce the same thing as the ‘artist’ is selling, whether an image matches or clashes with your curtains, then that is something very else to a professional judgement.

During my years as a Tony Stone contributor, as a sideline to girl pix, I tried to interest them in graphic travel stuff from the trips: you know – bold colours against pale backgrounds, one mule working an otherwise empty field; a bent road sign on a curve at the edge of a huge drop to the sea below; that single tree on the brow of a field of corn - stuff that had some visual drama or dynamic. They told me that they understood perfectly well what I was on about, but that there was simply no market for that kind of thing other than in postcards, and that brought in negligible return. Travel meant the standard ‘classic’ shot of the same church, palace or ruin. And Stone was very successful – became Getty’s take-off platform. They understood the world’s buying preferences and the precise horses for which courses.

In the end, if the thing is hobby, then why on Earth not forget about the latest and greatest equipment, about spending your kids’ inheritance (or your next car!) on some exotica that won’t make you any better a photographer but certainly much the poorer?

Does it make sense to pay through the nose to have the sharpest picture of something dull? The best thing you can do for yourself is to relax and realise that it’s just a game, some fun, an alternative to watching tv. I wouldn’t be at all surprised that you might discover something better in your work simply by cutting yourself free of gadgetry syndrome, learning how best to use what you have. With the realisation might come some ultimate pleasure rather than angst about what you’d really, really need to buy to make you a better snapper.

Rob C

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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #41 on: August 27, 2013, 09:31:54 AM »
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In the end, if the thing is hobby, then why on Earth not forget about the latest and greatest equipment, about spending your kids’ inheritance (or your next car!) on some exotica that won’t make you any better a photographer but certainly much the poorer?

Does it make sense to pay through the nose to have the sharpest picture of something dull? The best thing you can do for yourself is to relax and realise that it’s just a game, some fun, an alternative to watching tv. I wouldn’t be at all surprised that you might discover something better in your work simply by cutting yourself free of gadgetry syndrome, learning how best to use what you have. With the realisation might come some ultimate pleasure rather than angst about what you’d really, really need to buy to make you a better snapper.

Rob C
I often disagree with you, Rob, and I wouldn't be a proper curmudgeonly geezer if I didn't. But this time I think you are spot on!

Over the sixty-some years I've been photographing (for fun, not money), I have several times fallen for the lure of "better" equipment. Whenever that happens, the fun shifts from photography to toys, and the quality of my seeing and image-finding always takes a direct hit, for a while, until I get sufficiently bored with the new toys to start having fun with photography again.

You do some nifty, fun stuff with your cell-phone, so I hope you can keep on having fun.

Eric M
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wmchauncey
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« Reply #42 on: August 27, 2013, 12:43:29 PM »
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I'm glad to see how this thread has migrated, however...it seems to be talking to all the right-brained folks out there and ignoring the anal retentive, left-brainers.
We're the ones that obsess over that new gear and the MTF charts, PP at the pixel level and insist on a nose-length viewing distance...
the ones that are trying their damnedest to improve their underdeveloped right brain.

Granted those images of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (Blood of Christ) were taken after one year of photography experience,
but I assumed that capturing the colors, God Rays, and twin mulies counted for something.  Perhaps a different crop or including fewer images in the merge would help???
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proper curmudgeonly geezer
BTW Eric...you can't think that you're the only one out there.  Makes me feel right at home.       Grin
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Rob C
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« Reply #43 on: August 27, 2013, 04:08:06 PM »
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I often disagree with you, Rob, and I wouldn't be a proper curmudgeonly geezer if I didn't. But this time I think you are spot on!

Over the sixty-some years I've been photographing (for fun, not money), I have several times fallen for the lure of "better" equipment. Whenever that happens, the fun shifts from photography to toys, and the quality of my seeing and image-finding always takes a direct hit, for a while, until I get sufficiently bored with the new toys to start having fun with photography again.

You do some nifty, fun stuff with your cell-phone, so I hope you can keep on having fun.Eric M



Fortunately, Eric, I've mastered the art of turning the deaf ear. Thus, my ancient Smartphone will remain with me until it stops being smart any longer - i.e. the battery dies and/or becomes irreplaceable, as the previous ones all did, forcing me another step up the ladder in this crazy hi-cost world of cellphone living. Not slavery, mark you, because it only goes on when I want it on, which is seldom. In reality, I have made more exposures with it than calls, or text messages, which makes me feel both ancient and very wise all at the same time. For me, no mean feat.

;-)

Rob
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amolitor
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« Reply #44 on: August 28, 2013, 10:52:31 AM »
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Spot on, Rob.
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MoreOrLess
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« Reply #45 on: September 01, 2013, 10:50:15 AM »
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I'm glad to see how this thread has migrated, however...it seems to be talking to all the right-brained folks out there and ignoring the anal retentive, left-brainers.
We're the ones that obsess over that new gear and the MTF charts, PP at the pixel level and insist on a nose-length viewing distance...
the ones that are trying their damnedest to improve their underdeveloped right brain.

Granted those images of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (Blood of Christ) were taken after one year of photography experience,
but I assumed that capturing the colors, God Rays, and twin mulies counted for something.  Perhaps a different crop or including fewer images in the merge would help???BTW Eric...you can't think that you're the only one out there.  Makes me feel right at home.       Grin

They count for something but ultimately there pretty minor parts of the image as a whole which besides the clouds(that seem blown out in many places) doesn't really offer much to grab me compositionally. The lighting is pretty dull and robs the scene of contrast while making it hard to pickout any indivudal part of it while the foreground dispite the wildlife isn't really used in a way that adds much either.

Personally I'd say your shooting technique is holding you back, while its true such sitiching techniques can allow you to effectively compose in post sometimes they also IMHO make composition in the field much tougher.
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tnabbott
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« Reply #46 on: September 29, 2013, 09:28:59 PM »
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I wouldn't judge this image by how it looks on the web. Such a large image wouldn't compress well - it looks like it could be very beautiful seen larger.

Sharon

Good point.
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wmchauncey
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« Reply #47 on: November 23, 2013, 07:52:45 AM »
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Your right tnabbot when you say that Sharon has a valid point.
"judging IQ of an internet image is an exercise in futility" has been one of my mantras, but...is there another way to get peer feedback?
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #48 on: November 23, 2013, 07:59:05 AM »
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Your right tnabbot when you say that Sharon has a valid point.
"judging IQ of an internet image is an exercise in futility" has been one of my mantras, but...is there another way to get peer feedback?

Print and show your prints.
Work towards participating an exhibition.

An image unprinted is a non-image.

Cheers
~Chris
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Rob C
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« Reply #49 on: November 23, 2013, 01:12:47 PM »
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Print and show your prints.
Work towards participating an exhibition.

An image unprinted is a non-image.

Cheers
~Chris


I used to believe that too, Chris.

As time goes by my thinking is also slightly differently, and I seem to return to the same feeling I used to have when this journey began: it's the shooting that's the buzz.

Seeing the stuff on paper is fine, makes me feel I haven't quite lost it yet, but then what? I can find the same buzz seeing it on the monitor. In fact, it never looks better. Anyway, prints were never the same buzz as calendars: those brought validation and financial reward; print just wastes money in my case. I have no agents or galleries behind me, so what's the point of more boxes of expensive sheets of paper lying within equally expensive polyster archivals?

After the first flush of printing so many years after closing down the darkroom, it was exciting; now, I put it off, and the HP is playing up anyway, and I can't be bothered playing along with it anymore. It's bad enough my computers are dodgy!

I think it was Joel Meyerowitz I watched recently saying pretty much the same thing, that after some years, you don't really need to print anything anymore... do Garry Winogrand and Miss Vivian Maier come to mind?

Rob C
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #50 on: November 23, 2013, 01:15:33 PM »
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Printing is finishing the process.
I'm against non-printing as much as against coitus interruptus ...
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Rob C
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« Reply #51 on: November 23, 2013, 03:04:23 PM »
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Printing is finishing the process.
I'm against non-printing as much as against coitus interruptus ...


A ringing telephone in the middle of the night never ruined a print.

Rob C
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #52 on: November 23, 2013, 03:29:06 PM »
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Giving  a framed print to a relative or friend that you're proud of and will be appreciated by them is great.  No money changes hand; only love.
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Rajan Parrikar
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« Reply #53 on: November 23, 2013, 04:59:39 PM »
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Printing is finishing the process.
I'm against non-printing as much as against coitus interruptus ...

Christoph,

Don't you think the days of the paper print are numbered?  Flat panel digital displays will soon be cheap and commonplace, hanging on our walls.  The digital image file will be directly purchased & downloaded from the iTunes store (for $0.99?)  to be displayed.  This 'print' will be richer than the paper print.
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #54 on: November 23, 2013, 05:17:16 PM »
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Christoph,

Don't you think the days of the paper print are numbered?  Flat panel digital displays will soon be cheap and commonplace, hanging on our walls.  The digital image file will be directly purchased & downloaded from the iTunes store (for $0.99?)  to be displayed.  This 'print' will be richer than the paper print.

No, I don't think so.
There is a fundamental difference between physical things and virtual things consumed by the help of modern electronical devices.
The key to true experience always is the body.
Mind losing its connection to the body becomes messed and unhappy.
The experience of a print hanging on a wall is subtly and also fundamentally different from an image on the web or on a flatpanel display.
Though the power of the virtual world has surely become strong since the invention of writing and printing and all these technical means which came afterwards, we still see and hear and think and feel and live through a body.
Since I believe this difference will always be I also think that physical representations of art will always have their place, no matter how good technology becomes.

Cheers
~Chris


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Rob C
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« Reply #55 on: November 24, 2013, 03:49:48 AM »
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I agree with Chris; the problem for me is still that I no longer get a kick from making prints, only from shooting.

I also have limited wall-space, and the pix already there will there remain because they make a continuity in my life that has otherwise been shot to hell. One clings to straws, and since a single one can apparently break the back of a camel, maybe that cling is not a bad principle on which to depend!

;-)

Rob C
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amolitor
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« Reply #56 on: November 24, 2013, 08:51:46 AM »
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There's a useful distinction to be made between pictures made for a specific endpoint in mind, and pictures that are just.. made.

If you've got a goal, like a print (or an online portfolio, or a stock photography site, or a client, or a set of pictures to load into a digital frame for grandma, or whatever), it's going to be helpful when you're shooting. It will focus you and give you direction, because you know where you're going.

Prints are different, being physical objects, and that certainly exerts an influence on the photographer and on us when we're looking at the thing later.

But, from the point of view of shooting, I think a clear endpoint is perhaps a more important thing than the details of what that endpoint are.

Of course, shooting to no specific goal is also a viable thing, but it is again quite different. The results are much more spontaneous, much more in the line of "here is a thing I saw", it's much more stream of consciousness, much more ephemeral. Often the results are less satisfying, but not always and not for everyone.
 
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Rob C
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« Reply #57 on: November 24, 2013, 01:14:34 PM »
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Of course, shooting to no specific goal is also a viable thing, but it is again quite different. The results are much more spontaneous, much more in the line of "here is a thing I saw", it's much more stream of consciousness, much more ephemeral. Often the results are less satisfying, but not always and not for everyone.
 

Yes, and that's why I distrust the idea of the B/W Leica: it sort of demands that you know exactly what you want before you go out to shoot. Personally, as I age, I even choose the lens I want to play with, and leave the rest at home. At least the 'normal' camera lets me have the other, non-lens choices all the way to the computer!

Rob C
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Ray
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« Reply #58 on: November 24, 2013, 09:01:23 PM »
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In the end, if the thing is hobby, then why on Earth not forget about the latest and greatest equipment, about spending your kids’ inheritance (or your next car!) on some exotica that won’t make you any better a photographer but certainly much the poorer?

Does it make sense to pay through the nose to have the sharpest picture of something dull? The best thing you can do for yourself is to relax and realise that it’s just a game, some fun, an alternative to watching tv. I wouldn’t be at all surprised that you might discover something better in your work simply by cutting yourself free of gadgetry syndrome, learning how best to use what you have. With the realisation might come some ultimate pleasure rather than angst about what you’d really, really need to buy to make you a better snapper.

Rob C



Now the above is a comment, Rob, that needs deconstructing. Wink  You seem to be saying, if one's interest in photography is merely a hobby, then it should be of lower priority than the quality of one's car and/or one's children's inheritance.

I can certainly think of circumstances where one's children's inheritance should be of greater concern than the technical quality of one's cameras. For example, if one's children were disadvantaged, suffering from some incurable malady, whether physical or psychological, one might feel an obligation to leave them as much wealth as possible for their futute security.

Alternatively, if they had got themselves into some serious financial difficulty as a result of unwise investments, one might want to help them out immediately by either lending or giving them the $50,000 that one was contemplating spending on the latest MFDB system.

However, when it comes to one's preferences for the sophistication of material possessions and equipment in general, one should always choose what gives one the most satisfaction for the money.

For example, which would allow for the greater satisfaction?

(1) A new car costing $60,000, but no new camera equipment; or

(2) A new car costing only $30,000 with the other $30,000 being spent on the latestest DSLR, an upgraded lens, the latest edition of Photoshop, a new computer with at least 32 GB of RAM, and perhaps a large-format professional printer.

I, personally, would definitely opt for scenario #2 because I believe I would get greater satisfaction from the significantly improved capabilities of the camera/computer/printer hardware and software combination, than I would from the increased comfort and luxury of a more expensive car.

My reasoning is that a luxury car does not get one to one's destination more quickly or more safely. The choice for me is a no-brainer. However, if I were also to engage in the hobby of car racing, I would have a difficult decision, unless money were no object.

As Alain Briot has pointed out in his numerous essays on this site, the whole of the composition is important. If there's a distracting object in the lower left corner of the composition, then clone it out. I'll add that the whole of the composition also includes such qualities as degrees of sharpness, noise, smoothness of mid-tones etc. If these qualities are not pleasing to the person processing the image, whether that person is hobbyist or professional, the solution may not always be to improve one's technique, but to buy better equipment.

If one gets satisfaction from producing sharp images of birds and wildlife, one needs a good telephoto lens. One would be kidding oneself if one thought that one could get satisfactory results just by improving one's technique, such as quietly sneaking up on the bird whilst wearing a camouflage, and even climbing the tree with phone camera in hand.  Grin
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Rob C
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« Reply #59 on: November 25, 2013, 03:28:21 AM »
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Ray, it isn't even ten o'clock on a Monday morning. Perhaps my brain is still asleep, but I can't see exactly where your 'argument' lies or why you are in conflict with the piece of mine that you quoted.

If I had a reasonably good camera (which I do) I wouldn't (and don't) feel any desire to go out and buy another one. For what - to look better, richer, in a crowd where nobody knows me, anyway? I don't subscribe to the theory that spending more money makes one a better snapper; all you need is a set of tools good enough to allow you to function as you wish. And, you have to know that it's you that works the tools. I'm sure that Nikon or Canon, I'd still have worked as I did, produced nothing better nor anything worse. You don't need to spend more money all the time in order to have what you need. Now what you want is another matter, and then simply admit to yourself that you may not really be interested in photographs at all: you could just be a gadget freak.

Uprated/updated lenses: what a load of crap! Lenses were good (and far more reliable, too!) years ago, and unless one is making huge blowups from single exposures, I see it as a fine conceit to imagine anything one can do looks better because the old, good, 35mm optic has been replaced by another 35mm one from Zeiss or any other flavour-of-the-month name. Hell, they used to make billboard ads from 35mm film decades ago and they looked  stunning! It's about content, ablity to use what you have and content yet again. One could hide behind equipment prices for ever. Something will always be more expensive than one can afford, usually, so yes, that's a good bluff behind which one could hide one's failings! Far better to forget them and just enjoy the imaging.

And this isn't nonsense: one must learn to accept reality and stop self-inflicting damage. To that end I removed my Models ad from my website last night. The past is the past and it won't come back; dredging around on the bottom of the model heap won't bring any joy if you have been surfing at the top of it. Everything has its time.

Rob C
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