Learning new areas?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by zedin, Jul 5, 2005.

  1. zedin

    zedin TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Not sure if this goes here or the photograhic discussion forum so feel free to move it if needed.

    My question is how have other folks moved into new areas of photography? For the most part all I tend to shoot is nature shots. I do a lot of closeup shots as well as a variety of other types but really all they ever are are nature shots.

    My problem is I want to learn how to shoot other types of pictures. I want to know how to do candid shots of folks as well as urban/industrial shots but don't even have a clue where to start. With nature shots I can generally look at a scene and have a composition in mind but I find I am completely lost and clueless when it comes to putting people or man-made objects into a picture. I can't reall say how I got familar with nature shots and composing them since its been so long ago (or it could be I have always loved nature) and I just seem to have trouble seeing pictures when there are people or items around. I can look at shots that have been done of people or urban settings and form a good opinion on them but I don't have the slightest clue where to start and shoot some for myself. Being a grad student with limited funds and still shooting film I can't just go fire off a couple hundred shots and sift though them to try and 'find' the process via trial and error.

    So basically it boils down to are there any suggestions for transitioning to a new 'type' of picture and how to develop an eye for what can be a good composition?
     
  2. Meysha

    Meysha still being picky Vicky

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    Practise.

    I'm in the same boat a little here. I hardly ever take 'people' shots. I always take architecture or really minimalist photos (I dunno if that's the right words to describe them). And a bit of nature landscapey stuff. However, unlike you, I do have a little bit of a luxury being a digital girl so I can snap off as many as I want until I find what I like.

    If you can't take lots of pictures yourself to find what you like... I'd only suggest looking at a lot of pictures you like and figuring out why you like them. Then try to find things like that in your everyday life. That's what I do. But I still find it very very hard to make something ordinary look interesting.

    Just as an aside ... I find that people shots are a lot more difficult than other types of photos. Mainly because, imo, you have to take all the aspects of the person in to account aswell... and they're always moving, changing expression etc. Whereas a landscape just stands still. Not saying that landscapes are easy - but I find them easier coz there's only one variable - me.
     
  3. hobbes28

    hobbes28 Incredible Supporting Member

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    I read a quote from a National Geographic photographer one day that has stuck with me better than anything else I've ever heard. She said to always take pictures of something you enjoy yourself. If you don't enjoy what you shoot, it will show in the photographs. That being said, I've been wanting to start taking urban candid shots myself but haven't gone out and tried really. I think that is the only thing stopping me as well as most people. The only way to learn is to just go out and start taking pictures, like Meysha said. Go through them and critique them harsher than you have ever critiqued any other photo. Post them here and get opinions on methods you're trying. The people here are really good at helping you to find new methods of photography because there's usually at least one in the bunch who takes the same style you're wanting to switch to.
     
  4. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    You just have to get out and start doing it. You can look up work by photographers who are working with the subjects you are interested in for inspiration, but the best thing is to grab the camera and go. To do portraits you have to start by asking someone to be your subject. Friends and family are good places to start.
     
  5. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'll also throw in that if you buy the cheapest consumer grade slide film, it's not all that expensive to process and you'll have a great color positive to review. Slides are a great way to study your progress. A roll of 36 is still an awful lot of images to be able to review at first - do you really think you'll do better with 300, when you're still so uncertain? ;) There is such a thing as visual overload!

    Shoot a couple rolls and take exposure notes, including time of day (for architecture, shadows can be so important). I'm willing to bet you'll learn a lot after just that much, and you may even have some great images to spur your thinking along.

    In a word: go for it! Have fun! :)
     
  6. wharrison

    wharrison TPF Noob!

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    I would suggest the reading of three excellent books:

    1) The Eye of Eisenstaedt by Alfred Eisenstadt. It is out of print, but should be available through your library's inter-library loan system and/or through either one of the excellent sources for used books: alibris.com or abe.com

    Eisenstaedt was one of the original photographers for Life magazine and is noted as the "father of photojournalism" His book is part autobiography; part photographic technique; but much in the way of seeing photographically.

    Here's a link to an interesting site about him. Please note his discussion of his photograph "Premiere at La Scala, Milan 1933". You'll see the photograph (and others) on the right hand side of the site listed below. And then read the last paragraph.

    The link:

    http://artscenecal.com/ArticlesFile/Archive/Articles1997/Articles0397/AEisenstaedt.html

    2) The second book, "Better Colour" by Walther Bensor is also out of print, but it contains one of the best discussions of how to see photographically that I've ever read. Again, you'll find a copy through your library's inter-library loan system and/or at the used booksellers noted above.

    3) The third book, "Halfway to Freedom" written by another of the original photographers for Life magazine, Margaret Bourke-White is an excellent read on her discussion of the transition of India from British control to an independent state. She was the last western person to see, talk with, and photograph Ghandi before he was assassinated. The book contains numerous and rather excellent photographs and provides a superb example of combining excellent photography with good writing and analysis.

    Again, it is out of print and available from sources previously noted.

    There are, of course, additional good reads, but these highly recommended books should get you off on a good start.

    Best wishes in your new explorations.

    Bill
     

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