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Author Topic: How to "see and create the image"  (Read 3333 times)
wmchauncey
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« on: September 19, 2013, 06:51:50 AM »
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I came upon a piece of advice the other day, will paraphrase...don't take a picture of what something looks like, instead take a picture of what/who it is.
I think I know what it means, but cannot put into words.  That aside, how does one take a picture of "what/who" something is as opposed to what it looks like?
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stamper
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2013, 07:21:54 AM »
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You will need to provide more information, such as a link, so that people can give it some thought.
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fike
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2013, 09:57:24 AM »
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I came upon a piece of advice the other day, will paraphrase...don't take a picture of what something looks like, instead take a picture of what/who it is.
I think I know what it means, but cannot put into words.  That aside, how does one take a picture of "what/who" something is as opposed to what it looks like?

That sounds like really good advice to me.  In the portrait sense, this is easier to understand.  taking a picture of someone's appearance wouldn't show their identity.  It might be considered something like a driver's license picture or mugshot (though sometimes they are accidentally brilliant).  If you want to get at a person's identity, you start moving into environmental portraits that put them in a context...perhaps with their tools or around their family or in a uniform, or holding something important to them (picture of someone else, toy, art, another person, food) or in a special place or performing (music, dance, theater, politics, preaching, athletics, or sport) or showing real emotions (laughing, crying, grimacing with pain, enraged). 

In landscape work  this is a harder concept, but no less important.  I think the idea is to impart meaning to an image...interpreting the elements in some sort of story.  This can be done by showing events like weather or by using techniques that illustrate time like motion blur or triptychs.  Most commonly, though landscape images are given meaning by the human element in the scene...whether that is a building, a road, a trail, a railroad, a boat, a car, a plane, a farm, or any other of the elements of the domesticated landscape.  These elements enable us to gain access to the meaning of a scene. 

There is a class of photography that frequently goes contrary to this intention, and it is abstract photography.  This work is all about novel appearance and generally ignores actually presenting something's essence.  This is part of the reason I rarely enjoy abstract photography.
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Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2013, 02:58:07 PM »
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Portraits reveal what, exactly?

If you have access to the Annie L. film, Life through a Lens, you will see this thing discussed by some prominent people in the world of media.

The view they seem to express (my own, incidentally), is that portraiture never shows squat about anyone that’s mystical, deep and revealing about the subject. What you get, at best, is an impression of what the models think you want them to show or, more likely, of something that they are keen to project as a public face. It’s why celebs are so easy to shoot: they have developed their ‘image’ and it comes naturally after a while. Easy. For both parties: model and shooter.

As for the photographer’s input, a portrait reveals a helluva lot more of him/her than of the subject: he guides his subject, uses his lights and eye and photographic possibilities to get what he thinks he wants to get. Outwith publicity shots, it’s a structure built from two opposing and pretty much mutually exclusive ambitions.

In that sense, a confrontational street shooter has a better chance of catching genuine ‘character’ than any portraitist.


Landscape. What character can one have? It has structure. It gets daylight or even, heaven forefend, moonlight. None of those lighting effects have any valid claim to creating character. It’s a matter of insentient materials and how they happen to look under different climatic conditions. Not character. It has no meaning; it just is for that period of time. Intrinsically meaningless.

Take the camera to the cities and you get all the character you could hope for. You get displays of massive ego, from the city fathers and the industrialists; from the bankers and the vanity of museum complexes to the architects who create the structures for all of them. Unbridled ego and projections of greed, avarice, pride and overwhelming confidence. That many such things get torn down a few years later because they are fatally flawed from birth doesn’t matter in the general photographic scheme of things: more to capture! Northern Britain is especially good at that rapid turnaround of in and out; I wonder how many versions of the infamous Gorbals the fine citizens of Glasgow will eventually have to pay for in the future? Manchester seems to be doing strange things too…

Newcastle-upon-Tyne has a gigantic figure of a man with what looks like a model glider wing-set; a Scottish town – if memory serves – is spending a fortune on two tin horse-heads of Trojan proportions. This, in a land where many people are fighting to find the money to pay the rent… that’s some character display of the priorities of those public bodies who commission this stuff.

Rob C
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Isaac
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« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2013, 04:11:23 PM »
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As for the photographer’s input, a portrait reveals a helluva lot more of him/her than of the subject...

Isn't the same also said of other kinds of photography.
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fike
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« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2013, 05:56:45 PM »
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Quote from: mark twain
You can find in a text [image] whatever you bring, if you will stand between it and the mirror of your imagination. You may not see your ears, but they will be there.
- "A Fable"
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Fike, Trailpixie, or Marc Shaffer
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Isaac
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« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2013, 11:18:22 PM »
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I think I know what it means, but cannot put into words.

What is the subject? - rather than - What objects are shown?
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wmchauncey
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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2013, 05:00:45 AM »
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Any subject...
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SunnyUK
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« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2013, 05:04:44 AM »
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Portraits reveal what, exactly?

If you have access to the Annie L. film, Life through a Lens, you will see this thing discussed by some prominent people in the world of media.

The view they seem to express (my own, incidentally), is that portraiture never shows squat about anyone that’s mystical, deep and revealing about the subject. What you get, at best, is an impression of what the models think you want them to show or, more likely, of something that they are keen to project as a public face. It’s why celebs are so easy to shoot: they have developed their ‘image’ and it comes naturally after a while. Easy. For both parties: model and shooter.

As for the photographer’s input, a portrait reveals a helluva lot more of him/her than of the subject: he guides his subject, uses his lights and eye and photographic possibilities to get what he thinks he wants to get. Outwith publicity shots, it’s a structure built from two opposing and pretty much mutually exclusive ambitions.

In that sense, a confrontational street shooter has a better chance of catching genuine ‘character’ than any portraitist.


Landscape. What character can one have? It has structure. It gets daylight or even, heaven forefend, moonlight. None of those lighting effects have any valid claim to creating character. It’s a matter of insentient materials and how they happen to look under different climatic conditions. Not character. It has no meaning; it just is for that period of time. Intrinsically meaningless.

Take the camera to the cities and you get all the character you could hope for. You get displays of massive ego, from the city fathers and the industrialists; from the bankers and the vanity of museum complexes to the architects who create the structures for all of them. Unbridled ego and projections of greed, avarice, pride and overwhelming confidence. That many such things get torn down a few years later because they are fatally flawed from birth doesn’t matter in the general photographic scheme of things: more to capture! Northern Britain is especially good at that rapid turnaround of in and out; I wonder how many versions of the infamous Gorbals the fine citizens of Glasgow will eventually have to pay for in the future? Manchester seems to be doing strange things too…

Newcastle-upon-Tyne has a gigantic figure of a man with what looks like a model glider wing-set; a Scottish town – if memory serves – is spending a fortune on two tin horse-heads of Trojan proportions. This, in a land where many people are fighting to find the money to pay the rent… that’s some character display of the priorities of those public bodies who commission this stuff.

Rob C


Bravo! Well put.
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Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2013, 05:39:33 AM »
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Isn't the same also said of other kinds of photography.


Absolutely, of some other kinds of subject. I was merely addressing the two main categories that had been proffered...

In there, should you wish to broaded the field, I'd put still life and street; also, very much stuff that's abstract because it shows what some see that others cannot or simply don't care enough about to photograph. In essence, amost anything I can currently think about that demands more than 'being there and f8' - in digital times, pick your own aperture failure point.

Rob C
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Isaac
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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2013, 11:34:53 AM »
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What is the subject? - rather than - What objects are shown?

Any subject...

Do you know what you want the subject of the picture to be before you click the shutter? Mortality? Joy? Youthfulness? Kindness? ...
« Last Edit: September 20, 2013, 11:53:48 AM by Isaac » Logged
wmchauncey
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« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2013, 11:58:03 AM »
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Quote
Do you know what you want the subject of the picture to be before you click the shutter?
Yes...in times past they have been almost exclusively BIF series which is kind of a no-brainer>get them in focus and merge them together.
But I want to go beyond that and do more than capturing a pretty scene...I'm having trouble visualizing my outcome before squeezing the shutter let alone where to take it in PP.
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The things you do for yourself die with you, the things you do for others live forever.
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Isaac
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« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2013, 12:39:33 PM »
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What is it you like about BIF? Gracefulness? Surprise that a bird like that can fly at all?

What is it you like about BIF series?
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wmchauncey
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« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2013, 01:02:04 PM »
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What is it you like about BIF series?
Probably because of the gracefulness and the associated indication of movement...      Sad
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The things you do for yourself die with you, the things you do for others live forever.
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Isaac
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« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2013, 01:27:00 PM »
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Take graceful movement as your subject, and work through questions like these:

What aspects of the birds flight show graceful movement?

What can you do to emphasize those aspects of the birds flight in your photos?

What prevents people from seeing those aspects of the birds flight in your photos?

What can you contrast that with in your photos?

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wmchauncey
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« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2013, 09:29:21 AM »
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Quote
I came upon a piece of advice the other day, will paraphrase...don't take a picture of what something looks like, instead take a picture of what/who it is.
I think I know what it means, but cannot put into words.  That aside, how does one take a picture of "what/who" something is as opposed to what it looks like?
I think Isaac, to quote Strother Martain, "What we've got here is failure to communicate."
I've been quite satisfied with my BIF series but have as yet not gotten the same satisfaction from other stuff.
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The things you do for yourself die with you, the things you do for others live forever.
A man's worth should be judged, not when he basks in the sun, but how he faces the storm.

My stuff...http://1x.com/member/chauncey43
Isaac
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« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2013, 10:34:04 AM »
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So rewind and ask yourself -- Do you know what you want the subject of the picture to be before you click the shutter? -- and this time don't answer for the BIF series you're "quite satisfied with" but for the "other stuff".
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wmchauncey
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« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2013, 10:55:10 AM »
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Short answer...No.  I only know that I want to show more than a technically good image, more of an emotionally driven image
My kids have always been asked in school "what do you want to do when you grow up"...I would rather they be asked "who do you want to be when you grow up"
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The things you do for yourself die with you, the things you do for others live forever.
A man's worth should be judged, not when he basks in the sun, but how he faces the storm.

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Isaac
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« Reply #18 on: September 21, 2013, 11:17:09 AM »
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So ask yourself - What is it I like about the scene? - and use that question as a way to think about what you want the subject of the picture to be.

Same as yesterday.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2013, 11:23:32 AM by Isaac » Logged
wmchauncey
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« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2013, 11:37:56 AM »
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I mean no disrespect in comparing your message with this video by Kelby but, you seem to be saying the same thing    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpHMuK7Htic
What am I missing?
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The things you do for yourself die with you, the things you do for others live forever.
A man's worth should be judged, not when he basks in the sun, but how he faces the storm.

My stuff...http://1x.com/member/chauncey43
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