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Author Topic: Making of a image  (Read 26874 times)
wmchauncey
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« on: April 19, 2014, 10:02:39 AM »
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We all, at the early stages of he learning process, have gone out and shoot tons of pictures...mostly as a way of learning the exposure triangle.
Then we go through the groping stage...like the proverbial blind squirrel groping for the acorn, trying to determine what works and what doesn't.
It should be said that quite often, I have no clue as to what works and what doesn't. Kinda why I'm here.
Regardless, I'm asking how you make that image...does it start in your mind, previsualizing the image that you have in mind then creating it in studio or on site.
Or, by just meandering around until something catches your eye, then working that scene, perhaps returning for better light, until it all comes together.
What's your technique?
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2014, 10:54:26 AM »
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Hi Chauncy,

Seems to me that for the most part successful photography is based on different strokes for different folks.

Ansel Adams studied the terrain and often came back again and again in order to get exactly the light he wanted before he had exactly what he was after. Moonrise over Hernandez was one of the few times when he winged it, and that turned out to be the defining shot of his career.

HCB, on the other hand, always winged it. He was familiar enough with his equipment that he didn't need to think about it, and in his street photography as opposed to the kind of reportage he did in The People of Moscow he didn't depend on conscious thought. It was his unconscious that did the trick. Of course he'd mastered composition thoroughly before he ever lifted a Leica.

In the end I think reacting without conscious thought produces the best pictures, but I'm sure there will be those who disagree, and I'm sure we'll hear from them.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2014, 01:35:18 PM »
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I wrote this earlier, in another thread:

I am closer to "playing around" in post processing than pre-visualizing. I am much more selective in the capture phase though (I guess that is a remnant of my film days), and take something because it "speaks to me," although, at that moment, I am not exactly sure what it is saying. I often discover it in the post processing phase, playing around, until it again speaks to me, this time "loud and clear."

[I was then asked: "When you are playing around, do you have a notion of the direction you are headed, or are you just pushing all available buttons...?"]

Now, these days, I do have some notion where I am going. But that notion today is a result of accumulated experience from yesterday, when it was more of a happy accident and fooling around. Through experiment and playing comes the realization of what it is that I like, and then it becomes the "notion" of where I'd like to go in the future.

I think what we are witnessing in this transition from film to digital is the shifting of our skills (craft) from being front-loaded to back-loaded. It has been dictated by the limitations of the medium. In the past, with film, we had to prepare many things right before we click the shutter. Why? Simply because we had no choice, we had a limited number of shots with us (especially true with large format) and we knew that in the processing stage we had much less options. If you were shooting transparencies, there wasn't any processing stage at all (bar push-pull processing within a limited range, and even that was not possible with all films, e.g., Kodachrome). What you did before pressing the shutter was it.

Enter digital. The choices and options in the latter stages, in post-processing, vastly outnumber what we had in the past, both in type and scope. Thus our focus, attention, knowledge, as photographers, shifted toward the end of the process. All I have to do today is to capture a moment and get a decent file. Sometimes I have to bracket, but even that is not always necessary with certain modern cameras. Which brings us to an interesting phenomenon how our required skills change even within the digital realm. Yesterday, you could not call yourself a competent photographer if your skill set did not include bracketing and subsequent exposure blending in post. Today, for the newest generation of photographers, which is starting with, say, D800 et al, the need to bracket is perplexing. So, who is a better photographer? We bracket, because we have to (limitations of the medium), not because it is somehow a badge of honor of a competent photographer. The kids today will just "push buttons" to extract all the info they need from a single shot. Our skill was in bracketing, their in "pushing buttons." Is our "trick" (what we like to call skill) inherently better than their "trick" (what we like to call "playing around")?

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Slobodan

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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2014, 02:04:04 PM »
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In the past, with film, we had to prepare many things right before we click the shutter. Why? Simply because we had no choice, we had a limited number of shots with us (especially true with large format) and we knew that in the processing stage we had much less options.

My own approach hasn't changed with the advent of digital, Slobodan --  especially not on the street. I don't shoot any more frames now than I did with B&W film in a Leica. On the street you don't get a chance to shoot a bunch of frames. Oh, you can shoot them, and once in a blue moon you get something better in a subsequent shot than in that first frame that made you raise the camera, but that's very rare. Nor has my approach changed with landscape or wabi sabi. I used to do that kind of thing with a 4 x 5 on a tripod, with cable release and single-sheet film holders. Now I do it with a D800 on a tripod with cable release and mirror up. Same difference, same result, same limited number of shots. If you get it right on the camera you don't need to waste your time with subsequent shots.

I'm not sure you really have more options in the processing stage -- at least if you're going for B&W. Color's a whole different ball of wax of course, except that if you learned to frame on the camera with transparencies you're still going to tend to do that with digital. What's different with B&W is that what used to take hours and hours now takes minutes.

So I'm not sure there's a shift from front-loaded to back-loaded for most people. I have a good friend who'd rather spend time dorking around with his files on a computer than going out and looking in an attempt to get something new and exciting, but he's an exception rather than the new rule. Photography takes place at the moment you trip that shutter. That's never going to change. I will admit that there are a bunch of clueless kids out there who think that if you bang away with your cell phone eventually you'll capture a winner, and, like monkeys on typewriters coming up with Gone With the Wind, they may get lucky before the phone gives up the ghost, but I wouldn't want to bet on it.
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Isaac
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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2014, 02:09:30 PM »
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So, who is a better photographer?

It's just a moot point, when neither have anything to say.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2014, 02:11:29 PM »
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Our approaches ain't that much different, Russ. You sad:

Quote
Photography takes place at the moment you trip that shutter.

And I said:

Quote
All I have to do today is to capture a moment and get a decent file.
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Slobodan

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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2014, 02:37:31 PM »
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It's just a moot point, when neither have anything to say.

Ah yes. One of our bystanders, who doesn't make photographs perhaps never has made a photograph, but in his own estimation has an encyclopedic knowledge of photography.
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Isaac
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2014, 10:50:43 AM »
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…who doesn't make photographs…

Does.

…perhaps never has made a photograph…

Has.

…but in his own estimation has an encyclopedic knowledge of photography.

Not true.
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Fine_Art
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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2014, 09:18:57 PM »
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I imagine it is a lot like a chef. Put a bunch of ingredients in front of a chef and their mind races with what they can do. Put an amazing world scene in front of a photographer and their mind races on how to capture it.

Everything follows from the subject.
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iluvmycam
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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2014, 11:40:24 AM »
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Op, I can't predict when I will make an iconic image. I just keep blasting away and hope for the best.

Elliot Erwitt said it best..."I just take picture and hope something comes out of it."

and lets not forget Jay Maisel..."If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you're not out there, you'll only hear about it."

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WalterEG
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2014, 05:36:07 PM »
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Top marks to Maisel and Erwitt!!

Zero marks for the resident sciolist dilettante.

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RSL
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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2014, 06:50:38 PM »
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+1 Walter.

And check http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4qZ3Z8shZE&feature=related, where HCB points out that "It's always luck. It's luck that matters. You just have to be receptive, that's all."
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OnyimBob
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« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2014, 07:22:19 AM »
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"One of our bystanders ..."
I think it's time for a little dose of humility here for everyone.
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2014, 07:47:33 AM »
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Basically, PS deals with exposure and color adjustments.  It can't correct for perspective, balance, arrangement, basic lighting, action, decisive moment, connection with the viewer, etc.    You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear.
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wmchauncey
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« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2014, 11:05:30 AM »
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Quote
Basically, PS deals with exposure and color adjustments.  It can't correct for perspective, balance, arrangement, basic lighting, action, decisive moment, connection with the viewer, etc.
I might differ from that viewpoint based upon the CGI that I see in movies...mostly Photoshop!     Wink
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« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2014, 11:20:47 AM »
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Basically, PS deals with exposure and color adjustments.  It can't correct for perspective, balance, arrangement, basic lighting, action, decisive moment, connection with the viewer, etc.    You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear.

Alan, I don't know whether or not you use Photoshop, but I have to tell you that you definitely can correct for perspective (up to a point), and you can make some lighting adjustments (up to a point). But the rest of what you said is right on. The most post-processing with software or with a darkroom can do is overcome some faults produced by the camera and lens. You simply CAN'T make a silk purse from a sow's ear, though there are too many here on LuLa convinced you can do exactly that. A lousy or indifferent (which is the same thing) picture simply isn't salvageable with post-processing. The most you can do is turn a technically lousy bad picture into a technically good bad picture. Pretending this isn't true isn't fair to the person posting the lousy picture. Our critiques should be willing to call a spade a spade.
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DennisWilliams
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« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2014, 04:49:13 PM »
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In response to the original post...

I rehearse in my head  exactly what I want to see in the finished image. I know what the point of the image is. I know what I am selling.  I frequently build the set from the ground up or set decorate an existing location. I am known to take furniture to locations or to resurface an existing location - Yosemite  tent cabins in Ralph Lauren Home for example-  for exactly the look I want. I shoot relatively few frames  per set up. 20-30 is average.

I have an extensive reference  covering multiple states  of where to go  at what time of year or time of day for the correct look.  Experience and age count for something. Some locations,  even after decades,  have never been fully utilized. A great advantage shooting for clients who naturally don't want their images identical to others, even from two or ten years prior.

I art direct and style  my models.  I rehearse with my models what they are to do,  their position  and what they are to look at.  I never just say "do it".  Smiles are generated thru commentary, usually profanity. Keeps them real.

My portfolio does contain images which are technically spur of the moment but  when you factor in that the equipment, the model(s),  the styling, the light at a given time of the day  and me are a relative constant,  nothing is actually all that random.   Whether  we show up at Yosemite Falls or a hundred year old train station on a guess,  or come across an  abandoned swimming pool filled with sand in the middle of the desert completely by accident,  what to do with these visual opportunities always seems incredibly obvious.  Through preparedness  I position myself to  take advantage of such gifts of location. It helps to maintain a certainty of  vision.
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luxborealis
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« Reply #17 on: May 25, 2014, 05:53:35 PM »
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In response to the original post...

I rehearse in my head  exactly what I want to see in the finished image. I know what the point of the image is. I know what I am selling.  I frequently build the set from the ground up...

I work much the same way, but in nature, with the natural elements as they present themselves. The "building" is in the composition, moving in three planes to get just the right perspective. By the way, one May be able to make some "lens corrections" in Lightroom (H and V adjustments, tilting and cropping), but true image perspective you can't change. They are a poor substitute for perfect composition in the camera!

The "rehearsing in my head" is, as Slobodan referred to, the cumulative years of experience in a variety of situations that I've learned from. From the thousands of photo "sketches" I've made over the years, I have a pretty good notion of what "works" and what doesn't. There is no substitute for hands-on experience and careful studying of what you like and what you don't like, or what "works" for you and what doesn't.

I am also a previsualizer (despite the negative connotations others on this forum have with this concept) in that I try to envision the final print so that I can do as much in field as I possibly can towards achieving that outcome, factoring in my abilities with the host of options available in Lightroom. Spending an extra few minutes in the field really working with the light (perhaps the most important element for me), the concept and the composition/perspective before the shutter is tripped is worth it when the photo may spend years "on the wall".

Digital has opened up a Pandora's box of options for post-processing, that continue to enrich the visual experience. But I must agree with with Alan about getting it right in the camera. That hasn't changed with digital as post-processing has yet to correct a "fuzzy concept"!
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« Reply #18 on: July 08, 2014, 09:12:12 AM »
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Top marks to Maisel and Erwitt!!

Zero marks for the resident sciolist dilettante.



Well said!
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Isaac
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« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2014, 11:59:31 AM »
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Digital has opened up a Pandora's box of options for post-processing, that continue to enrich the visual experience. But I must agree with with Alan about getting it right in the camera. That hasn't changed with digital as post-processing has yet to correct a "fuzzy concept"!

As Slobodan has said previously, what has changed is what it means to get it right in camera.

Now "working that scene, perhaps returning for better light" can mean multiple exposures (over an extended period while the light moves across the landscape) which will later be selectively combined to create a single final image.

"Preemptive Photoshop"
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 12:09:29 PM by Isaac » Logged
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