Is it a greater skill to know which pictures NOT to take?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Mendoza, Jun 18, 2010.

  1. Mendoza

    Mendoza TPF Noob!

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    With film, one was limited to 24-36 shots per roll. This limitation caused us to be fairly deliberate before pressing the shutter. Now we have essentially an unlimited number of shots we can take. On the surface that's a tremendous advantage. But the downside (and of course I'm speaking of art photography, vs. snapshots and so forth) is how it tends to reduce our ability to previsualize and determine whether or not a shot is going to work before actually taking it.
    Some would say: "So what? What's the harm in taking 41 shots of a flower and picking the best one?" I can't really argue against that type of method other than to say: "Wouldn't it be nice if you could arrive at that 'best' shot in 3 instead of 41 because you already had a pretty good idea how they were going to turn out?" Of course there are exceptions, like with novel subjects or situations where you need to experiment.
    To me, one of the hallmarks of a "great" photographer is a person who travels to a beautiful location, surveys the scene, notices for one reason or another that the conditions just aren't right, and leaves with at most a few token or experimental photographs. S/he doesn't try to force what just isn't there.
     
  2. travistank

    travistank TPF Noob!

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    You can still do all of this with digital, you just get to look at the picture on the back of the screen to see if it matches with your mental photo.
     
  3. bhop

    bhop No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I still shoot mostly film, so on the rare occasions I use my digital cameras, I have the same mentality. Part of it comes from not wanting to edit a lot of photos, (just the good oens) but i'm sure most of it is just my 'film' mindframe.
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The argument that 24 to 36 shots per roll of film causes one to shoot carefully is a bogus argument. Ask anybody who grew up with three or four film holders and a 4x5 camera; when you have only six or eight shots at your disposal, before needing to empty the film holders or take them in for processing, rolls of 36 exposures encouraged sloppy, careless, thoughtless work.

    And the guy that had three glass plates with him for each paying assignment in the 1890's...what would he say about a rich amateur with four of the new-fangled double-sided film holders and EIGHT, count 'em, eight shots of that infernal new cellulose-based sheet film at his disposal!!! The Devil's work, I tell, you that sheet film!!!
     
  5. DennyCrane

    DennyCrane No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'd hate to be the guy who composed the perfect shot, pressed the shutter once, and then later noticed something moved through the shot and through the focus off. And now it's too late.
     
  6. Petraio Prime

    Petraio Prime TPF Noob!

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    The photos that I don't take are often better than the ones other people do....:lol:

    "Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not an ornithologist!"
     
  7. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    :lol:

    You should see the stuff I haven't taken pictures of... I'm telling you..., it would blow your mind.


    ---

    Just because your card can hold 400 or whatever pictures on it doesn't mean you have to fill it up every time you go out.

    I'm shooting mostly film these days, but a lot of digital too. The exact same thought process for each one. Hell, half the time I end up burning the last few frames on random crap just so I can send the roll out.


    And it's still possible to shoot tons of pictures with film too... You just have to carry more rolls.


    ----
    EDIT

    I'm sure back in the days before digital, there were lots of people that would shoot 20 rolls of film on one subject - just as today there are people that carry 20+ memory cards in their bag.

    Both of those seem completely insane to me, but hey - whatever floats your boat.

    I usually keep about 10 rolls in my bag, just so I have a nice selection wherever it's time to reload. The most I can remember ever using in one day was 3 rolls.
    I have 3 memory cards (2GB, 4GB & 8GB), I have only filled one up (the 4GB) once (airshow, lol).
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010
  8. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Agreed 100%. When I read about wedding shooters with 800 to 1500 shots I just shake my head. Back in the days of film we had a list of must-not-miss shots for weddings that ran about 24 shots. I never shot more than 300-350 images at a wedding and clients were more than happy with the albums they got.

    Today's photogs seem intent on giving themselves way too much work. They're shooting themselves in the foot if you ask me. I seriously doubt that the amount of photos sold is that much different.

    I also agree with Derrel's post. Although I have to add that as a pro, I shot until I was satisfied I had gotten the shot. 10 rolls of 36 frames for one portrait shot on Kodachrome was not unusual because of blinking, moving, and lab sloppiness. When I switched to Fuji film and got away from the Kodak lab, the number went way down but still... When you work with a model, you keep shooting because a lot of things can go wrong with each shot.

    Now, amateurs probably were more careful than today's because they didn't have anyone to pass the cost to.

    But the big difference is that today's amateur is often way less knowledgeable about the technique and compensates by shooting a lot more. Yes, there's a better chance of getting something this way. But it's kind of stupid thinking. Learn how to do what you do and you'll do it right all the time without having to shoot a million images.
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Here is an excellent story...I had to search for it using the key phrase, "Print 'em both, kid." This story is about modern-day PJ David Burnett, who has covered national-level photojournalism stories for the last few years using an old 4x5 Graphic and vintage lenses. The look of his photos is very much influenced by the actual equipment used, like Rolleiflex square TLRs and the 4x5 Graphics and their fairly long lenses and very shallow depth of field that comes with larger-format cameras.

    Anyway, here's the story about Burnett, and his relating of the somewhat famous story about long time UPI photographer Frank Cancellare, who grew up shooting press and news events on a 4x5 camera.

    Camera Works: Photo Essay (washingtonpost.com)

    Here's Burnett relating this story about what an old-time press shooter did after a lengthy flight about the jet carrying then-President John F. Kennedy:
    "One of my favorite stories is about [the late] Frank Cancellare, the curmudgeonly gifted UPI photographer who, after the agencies switched from Speed Graphics to 35mm, kept in [his] head the way [he] had worked for 20 years. Cancie, getting off a Presidential plane unloaded his 20-exposure roll from his Nikon, looked for the UPI courier in the crowd, tossed him the film and said 'Print 'em both, kid.'
     
  10. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Very nice story Derrel.
     
  11. j-digg

    j-digg TPF Noob!

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    Haha, that is so awesome, thanks for posting it Derrel.... It has a very "Clint Eastwood cool" type of feel to it haha.. Kickin serious *** mixed with a little arrogance... Takin care of business. :thumbup:
     
  12. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    Is shooting according to the law of averages "worse" than paying careful attention to each and every shot? I don't know. I pay careful attention to each shot and I still only get a few good ones out of every hundred or so. What I do know, is that I know which 97 are the bad ones, even while I'm taking them. And I still take them even though I know they're s**t. Maybe that makes me a fool. But what frightens me about firing off shots like a machine gunner in a bunker, is that I have no idea while I'm shooting if I'm actually hitting anything.
     

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