General Photojournalism Question:

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by PhilGarber, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. PhilGarber

    PhilGarber TPF Noob!

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    Hi-

    I semi-recently did my first real "job" in Scottsdale, AZ. I was asked to take candid photographs. Since the photos were candid in nature, I found it very hard at times to be fast enough in my Canon XT's manual mode to capture all the shots I wanted.

    My question is this: when practicing photojournalism should I use the manual modes or the program modes? In fine art photography, I understand it is frowned upon to use anything but the manual mode. Is it the same for photojournalism? Everyday I read the newspaper and see photos that to my fine art photography eye look all wrong. Edges are cut off and photos look soft. I know it's not a shoddy photographer problem, because I see most of this stuff in the NY Times. In photojournalism, do you go for function or technicals and looks? I think I'm missing something.

    Phil,
     
  2. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Use whatever setting gets you the shot. In these cases, ultimate control is not the goal, but an acceptably exposed blur free shot is... if that means using aperture priority or even full auto... do it.

    However, I do weddings and there are MANY times that things move fast and I am still capturing images in 100% manual. Maybe some more practice is needed on your end?
     
  3. CSR Studio

    CSR Studio TPF Noob!

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    I agree with Jerry, do whatever you need to do to get the shot. But there were photojournalists when there was no fully auto and no autofocus so a bit more practice wouldn't hurt. Good luck!
     
  4. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    To be honest I'm not surprised. This is one place where the extra dial that comes with higher-end cameras helps (and not something people toting pro bodies tend to think much of; no offence Jerry ;) ). It's very hard to move as quickly on one of Canon's Rebel series of cameras in manual as you can on the xxD's or Mark series of cameras. You can change your settings pretty darn quick with practise, but with only one dial so you can't change two settings simultaneously, there's definitely an upper limit. The times I've really felt it is when I'm moving fast, and suddenly everything changes (like going inside to outside, or the lighting in a room is radically changed). Then I have to go through ISO, aperture, and shutter sequentially, with one dial, rather than changing everything in concert (I know where my new settings need to be, but without that other darn dial it's a more lengthly process).

    In photojournalism, the most important thing is to just get the darn shot. The subject matter and the action of the shot has a whole lot more importance than, oh, say the image's DoF. Not that that or the other technical aspects should be ignored, just that it's less important than capturing the moment.

    For me, I shoot aperture priority most of the time. When I'm using flash to actually light the subject (rather than say, fill), I go manual and use ETTL if I'm running and gunning. Using ETTL means the flash is going to be fairly forgiving about my monkeying-around, and I generally just concentrate on changing shutter speed to control the ambient.
     
  5. HeY iTs ScOTtY

    HeY iTs ScOTtY TPF Noob!

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    a good way to practice is to go into town and shoot people, moving cars, birds, anything that is erratic in nature. get use to your setting and try to change them without looking or at least doing it as fast and as accurately as possible. good luck.
     
  6. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    None taken. I do tend to forget that ergonomics changes with different bodies as I do not work much with more than what I personally own.

    I was watching the BBC specials on photography and was seeing at how they used to do it in the "old days"... I mean before there were SLRs. The reporter (not even a photographer... a REPORTER), who captured the Hindenburg dirigible explosion of May 6, 1937 and managed to take no less than *3* shots. No mean feat considering he had a meager 43 seconds to do it in... and the average photographer took 20-25 seconds to go from picture to picture.

    Today we ***** when cameras cannot autofocus in under half of a second and rip off less than 7 FPS.:lol:
     
  7. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    :lol: Indeed. Reading the Hot Shoe Diaries opened my eyes a little more to just how lucky we are with all our gadgets, even on the "entry" DSLRs. I believe McNally made a point of it in the early parts of the book; to just be thankful that we have all these wonderful things to make life easier, particularly the latest incarnation of TTL (iTTL/ETTL). I know it's saved my butt on more than one occasion already.

    And I can only get 6 RAWs in continuous shooting. Forget about getting that in a second. :( (Actually it's something I'm thankful for. If I started on a better body, the temptation to just spray and pray would be pretty bad; now I've had to get my timing bang-on and pay much more attention to the small details.)
     
  8. Nicholas James Photo

    Nicholas James Photo TPF Noob!

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    Program mode - on a photojournalist job - for the time being.
    The reason that I say this is because being an artist is one thing but missing the shot altogether is another. It's hard to sell to a client the idea that the shot you had in mind was great but time didnt allow.
    Then as ScOTtY said, get your self downtownand start shootting everything that moves, go indoors followed seconds later by an outdoor portrait to a fast moving car etc etc. AP.
    Sometimes, we put down snapshots as amateurish but the truth is IMO that a true snapshot is an unplanned event, where time for forethought was minimal and a moment that would be otherwise lost forever is captured. As JerryPH said, in this case, ultimate control is not the goal.
     
  9. Nicholas James Photo

    Nicholas James Photo TPF Noob!

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    PS Congrats on your first "real job"... Hope you enjoyed it, with loads more work to come.
     
  10. shmne

    shmne No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I look at photography the same way I do music.

    A well symphonic piece of music is amazing, excellent and astounding crescendos followed by immediate decrescendos, but takes hours of practice to master.

    While a piece meant to site-read is much more simplistic, however the musician still needs to be extremely quick to be able to play it without making a mistake. These don't have any time to practice.

    Photography is the same thing, except instead of a large symphony think of it as a well planned shot or concept shoot.

    Photojournalism is like the site-reading style of music, it is meant for right then and right there. It isn't about being perfect, however its main focus is to execute the piece. If this is something you want to get into just like site-reading musicians you must go out and practice getting used to adapting to your environment quickly, but not perfectly and understanding that you won't get the perfect shot 100% every time; though you should be getting an acceptable shot every time.
     
  11. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Actually, maybe you're not so lucky. I spent over 10 years as a photojournalist and I never shot anything but manual. With film, you didn't change the ISO constantly. One less problem. Then, your aperture and shutter speed dials are each right next to a finger so that you can make adjutments very quickly. And for focusing, you learn to use DOF so you'll be focused by just being in the correct general area when you don't have time to be right on the dot or you can't put the camera to your eye.

    Another trick was to use a 35mm lens. Point it in the general direction of the action and it's in the frame. It also helps to have several bodies so that you have several different lenses ready to go.


    EDIT = Let's also remember that some famous news photos were staged. Iwo Jima anyone? I recently read a piece about one of Robert Capa's most famous photo probably being staged also.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2009
  12. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    +1. I didn't do photojournalism but shooting in manual is like breathing, no thought whatsoever, it just happens.

    I stumble when I'm in one of the semi-auto modes like aperture priority.
     

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