A plea to Digital Matt and the Photo Lords

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Zen, Jan 19, 2007.

  1. Zen

    Zen TPF Noob!

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    Hello everyone,

    I am new to this forum and the art having only worked with full auto digitals. But, I am ready to expand my knowledge of photography past point and shoot. So, I put some money together and picked up a Canon 350D, 430EX and 50mm f1.8. A friend of mine also helped me out with giving me his adobe photoshop 7, which he claims will be an invaluable tool for tweaking photogaphy.
    I want to learn small studio lighting as well, so I found a large backdrop stand and both white and black backdrops from a well reviewed company called Amovina(?). I wanted to pick up a small studio lighting set, but I decided to wait until I had a little better understanding of studio flash/lighting before getting into that purchase. This is where the TERROR began…as I’ve scanned through hundreds of posts and forums in the past couple of months I have only succeeded in further confusing myself. So many questions are answered without really answering clearly. And, even more are answered with so much jargon and so many steps left out that the beginner is left behind. There is such a vast divide in opinions on everything that the untrained pupil gets lost in the quagmire of endless debates.

    I have picked up a few books on the subject only to find that many photography books read like a droning mathematical textbook. I also found that all the photoshop tutorials I have run across center on graphics creation and not photography tweaking. This makes learning the photoshop curve even harder as it does not seem very intuitive.
    Where I was hoping to stay focused and confident about progressing into the art, I find myself becoming more and more disillusioned about what it takes to go to the next level. I know it takes time and patience to learn any new skill, but you also need to find the correct path best suited for YOU to progress in the best way possible.
    I thought photography was all about artistic creation, I seemed to have greatly underestimated the science involved. I suppose this is the root of my problem, I would not consider either math or science one of my strong suites.

    With all this weighing heavy on my mind I decided to take a different more direct approach. I have been looking through forums to find a photographer whose work speaks to me. This brings me to my joining and first post on this forum(Let me repeat that I am new here and I have not had the opportunity to review a lot of your galleries. So, I am not slighting anyone else I am only giving my heartfelt opinion).
    That being said, Digital Matt I am begging you for help. As I look through your work, I can’t help but smile. I love what I see and I know that is the direction I want to go. I understand we are all individuals and will produce different results with even the same methods. However, I love what you see and cannot think of a better point of view to start from that that.

    Now, I suppose I should get to exactly WHAT I’m asking here. Knowing that I am starting from a (mostly)clean slate, What books/dvds would you suggest I read/watch to give me a solid foundation for both photography basics(f-stops, correct exposure, shutter speeds) and small studio lighting?
    Also, what is the best method for a beginning photographer to learn the photoshop skills needed to tweak pictures in the manner you do?
    And, What flash lighting kit would you suggest for me? I want something to work with now, obviously cheaper is better for the beginning budget. But, I will do whatever I have to do to get what you think I need. As far as the results I am looking for(some day)…on mattperko.com the colors and clarity in the pictures (of your wife) in book, breakout, lunch, makeup, pearls, flip, the woman and the sea and on and on all look so perfect. I don’t know if you do this in camera or in photoshop, all I know is that I’ve never had a photograph look like that. I don’t know the correct terminology for the look of your pictures, I just know I LOVE the dark rich color and contrast of your everything you do.

    Well there is my plea to the forum and you in particular Matt. I can only hope you will shed some light on my problem. Also, anyone with a tip or two, a suggestion or a comment feel free to post whatever you like for my impending education here.
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    From you first post, I'd guess that you will eventually get to where you want to. You certainly seem to have the desire and the willingness to learn. Finding something that you like and working to emulate that...is a good way to learn and to start out. You will eventually develope your own style.

    Matt is a great photographer...both his shooting and editing (Photoshop) skill are very good. I think that's important in the world of digital photography. Just like it was important for Ansel Adams to be a master in the darkroom. I haven't seen Matt around here today, but I'm sure he will have some great knowledge to impart on you/us.

    I've always heard good recommendations for the book 'Understanding Exposure'. I've read a few of John Hedgecoe's books and I think they are pretty good. I'm not sure if he has a studio lighting book...but there are plenty of books on the subject. I received a book called 'The Digital Photographer's Handbook' as a gift recently. It might be a good purchase for you.

    Practice, Practice, Practice. There is an endless amount of reading you can do about Photoshop. I suggest looking over the 'Understanding' and 'Tutorials' section of this site... http://www.luminous-landscape.com/ I know Matt likes this site as well.

    AllienBees are highly recommended by many people. I know that is what Matt has. I have one of their lights and I plan to get more. They offer a pretty good value for 'entry level' studio lights. I would suggest getting a softbox with the lights, rather than just umbrellas.

    Welcome to the forum. :D
     
  3. fightheheathens

    fightheheathens TPF Noob!

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    if you have the time and the money, i would suggest taking a community college intro to photography course. Most likely you would have to use film,
    but you can find a good film body and lens on e-bay for 150 bucks and if you found a canon body, you could use your digital lens's
    A course like this will not only point you to books but you will get instrustion from someone whos job is to explain photography to people who perhaps have never done this before.
    you would learn the basics of photography, which still apply to digital, you would lean many things in the darkroom which you can also apply in photoshop later, and you would get hands on experience (most likely) with a studio and studio lighting.
     
  4. Player_1

    Player_1 TPF Noob!

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    Nah. I've been in college for too long. The only thing college does is make people write argumentative papers and have an opinion, or possibly new theory for the world. Other than that, the rest is learning.

    I suggest the person buy a college photography book. Perhaps he or she could visit a college library, check out some books (or read them), and learn some stuff. Other than that, you could email a professor at a university, meet one in person by checking visiting hours, and/or ask the professor for book recommendations. Heck, some librarians possess photography knowledge. They could point you in the direction of some decent books.
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Good suggestion.

    I don't know about where you live...but around here, most classes are gear toward digital now. It's what most people use/want now...and it's a lot more efficient to run a computer lab/class room...than it is to maintain a darkroom space. Even if it is a film course, there will be lots of good info...the principles are still the same.

    There is often a big difference between getting a college degree and taking a few night courses. That's what I've found, at least.
     
  6. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    Well, this was an unexpected surprise. Thank you Zen and also Big Mike for your kind words.

    The first thing that popped into my mind while reading your lengthy (in a good way) post was, SLOW DOWN. Don't even consider photoshop, or studio lighting, until you can understand this "scientific artform" we call photography. You can't run until you can walk. You can't walk until you can crawl.

    That being said, I know Mike mentioned this, but I'll reiterate. John Hedgecoe writes great books, and I've recommended him before. I have his book, "New Book of Photography", and it's very comprehensive. I can't stress this enough though, learn the basics and learn them well. Understanding exposure is paramount to making good photographs. You may have the best ideas, and see things you want to capture, but you'll never get the results you desire, not with photoshop, or any other method, if you don't understand basic exposure.

    I hope that helps. A basic photography course at a Comm College is always a great thing. Reading is fine, but having someone talk you through it can often mean the difference between being confused, and "getting it".
     
  7. Player_1

    Player_1 TPF Noob!

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    I often read introductory books or other academic books, write down things I don't understand, and email/talk to people about the things I don't understand.

    I often found myself emailing professors in different cities, states, and sometimes countries. I have a large collection of Internet forums I attend, and I often create threads about things I don't understand.
     
  8. gizmo2071

    gizmo2071 TPF Noob!

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    Hey Zen.
    What country/city do you reside in?
    That might help people point you in the right direction for night courses to take.
    I've been doing photography for 7years. It was never a serious hobby until the past couple of years and I have only just now brought studio lights.
    Before that, everything I did was with natural light or simple objects that I had in the house.

    I suggest, as everyone else has above... get used to the basics of photography before you even consider lighting and other expensive equipment.

    Get your friends and go out and shoot on the street. Use the best light source that you have avaliable, the sun.
    Get used to working with your new camera.
    I never went on a course to learn about photography, now 7 years in, I find myself on a part time course at college learning what I already knew, but it's become much easier to understand and use when I'm being told it by a professional. So if thats an option for you, then go for that.

    Use your camera when ever you can, take it with you and use it when you get an oppourtunity.
    Working in different light settings, in different scenearios, all these things will help you learn.

    The "Illford guide to photography" is a very good hand book and covers everything from basic's and upwards.
    It is abit outdated, but I believe there is a newer version out now for the digital world, but the basics are still the same.
     
  9. Zen

    Zen TPF Noob!

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    Well, lest me start by apologizing. I hate that I took 3 days for me to respond to answers on my own post. This was a busy weekend and I forgot to check back.

    Now for the thanks:

    Big Mike, thank you for th warm welcome and very informative response. 'Understanding Exposure' definitely sounds like something I should check out. You, fightheheathens, Digital Matt and Matt/gizmo2071 all seem to agree some college courses would be of good valuable to me at this point. I think I would agree with that. Matt is right, having someone "talk me through" some areas would make a big difference at this point. I seem to find some small details missing most times, and getting past those small points may well make all the difference. I will begin looking for available study here in town. We'll see what comes of it.

    Digital Matt, you are very welcome. I admit in my usual haste I was looking for a different answer from you. However, I know what you say is the truth. I have no real foundation and trying to slip past that fact will only result in more problems down the road.
    I do have have one more question for you if you 'll allow me. I believe exposure is my real seething point of interest right now. If you can indulge that for a moment, what would you recommend I do(by action, book or other) to work on this all important aspect of photography? And of course, practice goes without saying.

    And Matt/gizmo2071, I would like to take a moment to thank you for your response to my PM(first I've ever sent). You insight and thoughts were a great help to me. You reinforced what D.Matt said as well in that I'm going too fast too early. I tend to do that and try to digest too much too soon. I want you to know what you said hit a cord with me and I really appreciate it. Also, let me reiterate what I said in private. I'm sure you are no stranger to compliments, but I'd like to say I enjoyed you gallery very much. I only hope my photos are that interesting when I get more time behind the lens.

    Last, Player1 this comment made me laugh:
    "Nah. I've been in college for too long. The only thing college does is make people write argumentative papers and have an opinion, or possibly new theory for the world."
    lol, yes I know some people who have done exactly that. I DO have a great respect for education. But, I love your cynical commentary. >:D
     
  10. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I just had a funny thought.

    Big Mike is a moderator. LaFoto is a moderator. That other dude is the site admin. But you, Matt, are a Photo Lord and outrank them all.

    :hail: :hail: :hail:

    :lmao:
     
  11. PNA

    PNA TPF Noob!

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    Your choice of Mr. Matt as your photo Guru was not only wise, but one of the best you could have made in you early start. That's not to pass judgment on anyone else, but I'm absolutely sure he will offer you the advice, direction and encouragement you need at the outset. He and others on this forum are extremely knowledgeable and by listening to their words, as I have, your understanding of photography will become clearer as it expands.

    Paul :D

    And welcome to TPF.......
     
  12. jemmy

    jemmy TPF Noob!

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    But you, Matt, are a Photo Lord and outrank them all.

    :hail: :hail: :hail:


    here, here!!!! a true inspiration!
     

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