Photo quality question

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by proton32060, Apr 29, 2004.

  1. proton32060

    proton32060 TPF Noob!

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    I have a question which I have always been curious about but now have a practical reason for asking.

    The question is regarding what I would call Professional Photography.

    I’ll try to explain:

    The best example is a motion picture. There is something about the photography that can not be duplicated by regular people. I am not even sure how to describe it but it is very apparent when you see it.

    An example that is more to the point is the photography you see in magazine spreads. I could be standing right next to the guy taking the picture and could never duplicate his results. I guess the best way to describe what I am talking about is the pictures just look “more real” than your run of the mill pictures.

    And I doubt if computer enhancement is the whole story since the quality I am talking about existed long before high powered computers.

    Granted Motion Pictures use millions of dollars worth of equipment but what I am referring to is evident in magazines, posters, and array of other media.

    I am not even sure exactly what it is that does make these types of pictures different, but like I said, you know it when you see it.

    The reason I am asking is I am in the process of creating a Website for my wife’s Real Estate Company and will need pictures of local landmarks to put in it. And they should not look like some guy went out with an instamatic to take a few snapshots.

    I have looked at other Websites and the quality I am talking about is evident in many of the pictures on their sites. So I know it is possible. I am not sure if you should post links on forums but I will be happy to post it so the rest of you can see what I am talking about if it is acceptable to do so.

    My basic question is are these pictures a result of the equipment used or the way the picture is taken? I am not talking about composition, it is more the quality of the photography itself.

    I have tried to determine just what it is about these pictures that makes them different. I think part of it is accomplished by opening the aperture wide open so there is much more of the foreground and background in focus at the same time.

    I hope this makes sense. I hesitated to even ask this since I am having a hard time even describing what I am talking about.

    But I am going to have to go out and get these pictures and hoped someone could tell me how these shots were taken and if it was possible for me to at least approximate them.
     
  2. PhotoJoe

    PhotoJoe TPF Noob!

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    I wonder if what you are talking about is that "polished" look that is most often achieved through a combination of command over the medium, and the perspective/"talent" of the artist. This can often be effected by the quality of the equipment, however I have known people that can take a disposable camera, and shoot content for use in advertising and "fine art". I am not one of those people. In fact, those people both impress me, and depress me. On one hand I am excited about the work they produce, and on the other I feel like I will never reach that level of "talent". Alas, I will just have to be satisfied with my own level of "talent", and try to increase my technical command over time.

    But I ramble.....

    My advice to you is to just go out and shoot some shots. See what you get. Then reshoot if you have to, or if the first shoot inspires you. Often, I will have to shoot a subject more than once to get it right. I'll often look at the first round of shots, and think to myself, "Hello. McFly. Is anyone home McFly? I missed the most obvious way to shoot that!" So I go back and shoot it again. Sometimes, I can get what I am aiming for, sometimes I can't.

    Hope that all helps.
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    You have this backwards...a greater depth of field is created by closing down the aperture (which is a larger F-stop number). A good photographer knows how to manipulate the DOF to their advantage but that does not necessarily make for a better photograph.

    I think that a big difference that some people may not realize about pro photography is the effort that goes into getting that good shot. Any shmoe might go out and snap off 24 exposures trying to get good pictures of 22 different things. A pro might shoot 36 frames (or more) doing their best to get that one good shot of one particular subject. How many novice photographers do that...I guess that it's very few.
     
  4. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    There is a fairly long discussion about this kind of thing in the "Photogrophy vs. Photoshop" thread. I believe it was Matt who also posted a link to a good article about chasing after better equipment.

    What it comes down to is, the equipment helps you maximize quality and your options, but it's the skill of the photographer that makes use of them. There is not special piece of equipment or secret process that will give you that look. It's lots of experience knowing how all the different options fit together. I know what you are describing. I have a friend that consistantly shows amazing images, but she uses a camera and lenses no different from so many other others; uses the same film, etc.; but it's her skill that gives her amazing results.
     
  5. ksmattfish

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

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    Excellent point. I've heard that National Geographic photographers shoot 10,000 35mm frames for each published photo.

    Would your wife send an amateur to sell a house? No, because it's a complicated process and a lot of time, skills, and energy go into doing it right. It is the same with photography. If you want professional looking shots, you're going to have to hire a professional who has the equipment and know-how to get the photos right. If you can't afford a established pro, then maybe you could hire a photography student. Of course, like many things, you will most likely get what you pay for.
     
  6. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    IMO if you give a super pro photographer 5 minutes, no control of the lighting and 3-4 exposures...

    Do you think he'll be able to come up with a journal quality pictures?

    hell no

    Professionals have:

    Total control of the lighting
    Professional models, which are trained to smile right, which aren't gonna run away
    Tripods, lenses, filters...
    And most importantly the whole day to shoot (time)

    After playing around with exposure...
    After taking a few hundred shots or so, you'll come up with a few that look really good

    Out of those, you select ONE BEST SHOT

    This is the shot you see in the magazine :shock:

    Give me enough time, and I'll give you a super pro picture :roll: :wink:
     
  7. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Many photojournalists have none of the above and still get amazing shots. I don't think we should discount the skill involved. Take a look at James Natchwey's work: no control over the lighting, no professional models, and he works with two cameras (one lens each). True, he usually takes many, many shots to get the ones that he uses, but not always. The nature of what he does can make that impossible. If you gave him the above assignment, he'd still be able to give you something that was a notch above what you see from most people. He's just that good.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    No wrong answers to that question. Chances are that you were asked because of your photo experience. Shoot a thousand exposures during magic hour and all that happy stuff. It is YOUR photo style that is going to make for the client happy. Keep in mind that the photo greats have been at it a long time. Have other professionals and friends critique your work. That generally gets the ball rolling faster than anything. Your thoughts and attitude are most certainly conveyed through you photos. I would not be thinking in terms of amateur or professional. Meaning that if you take your time and think every frame through the results will be great. It also helps if you have the technical side (exposure etc) down to the point that it all becomes second nature

    We are all familiar with the work of James Nachtway etc. It is my belief that if someone gave me x amount of money to shoot the war in Iraq or whatever I would produce some dramatic results as well.
     
  9. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    I don't doubt it. My point was just that these guys often don't have anything special going for them beyond their determination, skill, and experience. And on average, I think their throw-aways are better than most people's keepers.

    Proton, do you have any examples to point to? If you have two similar pics, one that shows the quality you are looking for and one that doesn't, we might be able to tell you what the difference is. There's no magic going on, so it's usually just a matter of being aware of what does what.
     
  10. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Yeah! I do not think that point is stressed enough. Beyond the obvious I think it is photographer not the camera. I second the motion of seeing some examples.
     
  11. TwistMyArm

    TwistMyArm TPF Noob!

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    James Nachtwey is a fantastic photo journalist, but he's not perfect. He still takes hundreds if not thousands of exposures in order to get the few dramatic photos that we've all seen.
    Nachtwey has done some amazing things, but he still has his bad days too.

    BTW Mark, the first and third photos that you posted are my two favorite Nachtwey photos and possibly my two favorite photos of all time.
     
  12. monvural

    monvural TPF Noob!

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    I'm no professional, but I know that at the end of the girl's basketball season this year I felt like I knew the plays the team was running and that allowed me to get fantastic pictures because I knew where to be with my lense. Professionals who follow something that intensively might also have this advantage. Sometimes, they just know....
     

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