Unpleasant experience

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by LaFoto, Apr 6, 2004.

  1. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Just a question to all of you:

    Have you ever gone through the very unpleasant experience of trying, and trying hard, with not gaining any success?

    Now this is still very generally asked, let me get some more specific.

    With my (still relatively new) membership to this very photo forum, I am in a huge learning process right now. I see sooo many wonderful, stunning, fascinating, interesting, exciting photos here - and I so want to try and put some of the things I learn here into practise.

    And it feels like with my trying so hard my photography gets worse than ever. Nothing works anymore. The last roll of film was THE big disappointment ever! I admit I wasn't precisely thrifty on film but took all those 36 photos in only a matter of hours. But four "nice ones" out of 36???

    Mind you: those 4 are only "nice ones". I wouldn't put ANY of those 4 up here, let alone any of the remaining 32!

    What's happening?
     
  2. Mr.ReDEyE

    Mr.ReDEyE TPF Noob!

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    don't worry about it....the best advice i can offer is to just keep shooting.....the more photos you take, the better photographer you'll be......for the few successfull shots you take there will be hundreds of failures....i average about 4 "nice" shots on a roll of 36......and if i can get just one "great" shot on a roll of 36 then it's worth it for me.....don't get dissapointed and just keep on shooting......peace
     
  3. Goofup

    Goofup TPF Noob!

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    Wow, you got 4... in one roll!!

    You're doing better than me!

    Seriously, I know what you mean. I see all these wonderful photos and know exactly how they did it, etc., but when I try something like it, it goes phhaatt. Maybe what we need to do is quit looking at their pictures and look at our own and figure out what went wrong, what could we have done better, why we took it in the first place.

    Just remember that I'm sure there's hundreds of Ansel Adams pictures we haven't seen for a reason... they suck!
     
  4. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I have to agree with Goofup....if you got 4 images you're pleased with out of one roll you shot "in just a matter of hours", why are you being so hard on yourself?

    Why NOT put them up here? If you're not exactly proud of them, pop them in the Bloopers forum and ask for feedback. THAT way you really might gain some insight into how to achieve the look you were after - but I'd guess they're not as bad as you htink they are. We're all our own worst critics.

    And keep in mind, the most painful words an artist and photographer can accept are these: learning curve. :wink:

    Keep shooting. You're doing fine. :D
     
  5. ksmattfish

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

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    It's easy to learn the first stuff with anything. You have started up the learning curve, or even hit a plateau. It's just part of the process. It's a catch 22: the more you learn, the more you realize how much there is you don't know. But it's okay; as long as you continue to learn and practice, eventually you will have personal success once again, but eventually it becomes rarer, and rarer.

    When I started "getting serious" about photography it seemed like I could count on being really excited about 4 to 6 images from each roll. Eight, nine years later I'm shooting ten times as much film, and getting very excited about 4 to 6 images a year. It's not that my ability has decreased, it's that my own standards have increased. I still look back fondly on those early photos, and can still get excited about them, but when I shoot similar quality stuff now, it gets little attention.

    The important thing is that as long as you find photography (or anything creative) fulfilling, that you continue to learn and practice even through the slow time or unproductive periods. Try something different, or concentrate on learning more about familiar techniques. Just keep doing and the inspiration and excitement will come around again.

    On the other side, don't feel bad about taking a break either. I really want to take some printing classes (as in printing with inks and woodblocks) or ceramics. When I get into a deep photography rut, I find that other arts, music, etc... can help rekindle the creative drive.
     
  6. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Nice advice, bp22hot!
    Rather than trying to create a great picture, just make pictures. A book that addresses this is The Tao of Photography by Gross and Shapiro. The book doesn't have a single word about the technical side of the craft; it's all about the philosophy. It can be a little abstract. Not everyone will agree with it, but I think it's a worthwhile read. There's another book out with a similar title, but I thought that one was a bit "mushy" from taking a glance through it.

    What is your goal in taking a picture? Are you trying to please others more than yourself? Are you going for that "wow" hole-in-one? What is it you want people to get out of viewing your images? Is there a overall message to your work?

    I'd also go to the library and take out some monographs to study. Get familiar with a bunch of different photographers' styles. Spend some time each week at local book store browsing through some of the collections there.

    I find that taking a picture can be a lot like writting an essay. If I try too hard, I just end up staring at the paper with sweat on my brow. The times that it just flows is when I let go and just let things happen.

    If I interpret Henri Cartier-Bresson correctly, good technique does not make a good photograph. Good technique, once it becomes habit, allows you to take a good photograph when the right moment presents itself.

    "Where observation is concerned, chance favors only the prepared mind." -- Louis Pasteur

    For myself, I didn't feel like I could get a good image with any kind of consistancy until the various camera settings became habit. Knowing the ins and outs of DOF, focal length, etc, allowed me to use them without really thinking. I can see a scene before me and have a good idea of what settings I need to use to make it look like I want as far as style goes. Once that's second nature, the trick is to keep an eye out for the right moment, the right composition, to trip the shutter.

    A good way to really have this sink in is to pick a group of settings and shoot an entire roll that way. Shoot nothing but normal (50mm) at f22, letting the shutter determine exposure. Then try telephoto at f22. Wide angle at f22. Then try them all at the widest aperture your lenses have. This kind of thing. Study every pic. What do you like about it? What don't you? All the pics might be crap, but I think that unless we have shot lots and lots of photos, much of what we do is still getting used to how things work. It's hard to make good pictures while fiddling with the knobs. It's still hard afterwards, but at least it's easier when we don't have to be distracted by it.
     
  7. jack

    jack TPF Noob!

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    i find this. its good to be a usician AND a painter , or photographer and
    and painter etc. Lafoto :0) 4 images which fit my criteria from a roll of 36,
    would be mission-adequately-accomplished. i shot 72 of restaurant
    dining-room the other day, and i have 5 or 6 from that post-produced
    as offered-product. i did a lot of bracketing and takes of the same shots
    with/without filters. incidentally, the portra 160 NC worked very nicely in
    the difficult lighting of the room (a mix of lamps and ceiling spotlight).
    the roll of NPH400 worked ok , but doesnt have the look of the portra film.

    ihdidnt want to use to fast a film,. i used both 160 and 400 to cover myself as best i could. as it was a mix of subdued and spotlit lighting, i was using tripod at 2 seconds and monopod / beanbag opportunities at 8th or 15th sec.


    the longer exp times produced kinda ... 'sprites' lol of lighting on the ceiling
    which i had to rubberstamp away. in the end with merciless reviewing
    standars there was 6 i supplied. i think i could have padded it out a bit but
    i went for the dynamic approach lol.

    * note: i used a 24mm which was great for the room but a note of caution
    - you have to choose your spots VERY carefully in relation to the corners of the room otherwise you get a strange perceptual look to airocnditining
    and things on the ceiling. i had to crop or reject many ceiling shots, where the thing just didnt look right.

    having used both now, ( i mean both VC and NC) i'm seeing a neat
    quality to the film that reminds me of 1970's album cover concepts.
    - especially in CYMK
     
  8. havoc

    havoc Jedi something or other

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    All great advice given on here, but i think the best advice hasn't been said. Its also the most obvious (at least to me) I guess it kinda falls back into getting back to basics though.

    First, Slow down, take your time. check your settings and double check them after that. Use a tripod (if feesable) and visualize what you want in your photograph.

    Second, bracket your shots, so you can see exactly what happens when your scene is over or underexposed, it also lets you see exactly what your doing.

    Third, and probably the most important, is take lots of detailed notes for every shot. Write down everything relevent to the shot your taking. draw a quick sketch of what you want to see in the photo. Write down what you visualize, and leave room for what you actually see when you develop the film. Make sure to write down even minute details. example: the sun was directly overhead, 1pm, it was partially cloudy, used lens shade at 80mm, exosure was f/16 @ 1/60th sec. used trpod set at 59 inches, (or fully exended). Anyways the point is to be as detailed as you can be, so when you develop your pictures and your looking at them, you remember (by reading your notes) exactly what you did, so if you succeed then you have a record of it. And if your less then successful at your attempt, then you again know exactly what you did, so you can recreate a base from which to make changes when you try again. And remember to leave room to add comments after you develop, so if you are successful, you remember it cuz you read it in your notes.

    Also, i almost forgot. Develop a numbering system for your negatives, so you can readily find them to compare/print. And follow it. example negative # 04-06-01-25. 04 for the year, 06 for the month, 01 for the roll number that month, and 25 would be the actual negative number. this can be a lifesaver if you can classify or negatives when you first start out. There are other conventions people use, but that is an example of the one i use. Mine is alittle more complicated because i deal with different film sizes, but the idea is the same.
     
  9. Sharkbait

    Sharkbait TPF Noob!

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    Some great advice given here already, that I'm just going to parrot. When I first started in photography, I'd only get a couple good shots for every 20 or 30 I took. As I improved, that percentage increased. Also, my 'good' percentage varies widely depending on what I'm shooting. When I shoot flowers, now I can get about 60-75% really good shots. When I shoot a hockey game, I'm happy with about 30-50% useable (and there are some off nights when I'll burn off 200 shots and only come out with 5 or 10 good ones). When I shoot the fish in my aquarium, I'm thrilled if I get 2 good shots out of every 100 I take. It's just the varying nature of the subject matter that increases the difficulty and complexity of the shoot.

    I saw someone mention something about taking notes about the shots. I wholeheartedly agree with that. When I first got going, I had a 'shot chart' that I filled out for every good shot. Shooting digital was easy--I just pulled the info from the exif information. But I kept track of shutter speed, aperture, lighting, location, post-production work, etc. Printed it out with the print of the shot, and put it right next to it in the portfolio, so I could always just glance at the outcome, and the steps I took to get there. Now I don't keep track of it as much, but there are many shots that I'll check the exif info as I'm working the image through post-production to verify what my eye was seeing. Give me a photo (especially one of mine) and now I can come really close to telling you the shutter speed, flash conditions, etc. just by sight, but that's part of the learning curve.
     
  10. drdan

    drdan TPF Noob!

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    Have you considered shooting digital for a while? If have access to a reasonably good digital camera with some manual control I think it can speed some aspects of the learning curve up. With little cost of taking pictures, you can take 1-200 in a few hours and be happy with one good one. For me at least the fact that it desn't cost me anything to take pictures puts a lot less pressure and judgement on my flubs. I can experiment with technique and settings as much as I want easily and cheaply.

    One of the most important aspects for me is being able to see so quickly what my results are. I can run outside, snap 2 or 20 pictures in a minute or two. Come back and bring them up for detailed review on my computer in about 30 seconds. That by itself speeds up the learning curve a lot IMO.

    I stopped on the way back to my office this morning and took 103 pictures of an ornamental pear tree in bloom. Even with setting up the tripod and remote and experimenting with many different aperture settings, this only took me 15 minutes. I haven't reviewed them yet but I will be very well pleased if I get two that I would consider posting here or printing for my lobby. I don't mind at all though, because the monetary and time investment was so low. Just in the last 10 days or so taking pictures of 5-6 different flowering bushes and trees I'm getting a good idea of what works and what doesn't (or at least what I like and what I don't). Because of that, my flowering tree pictures are less random accidents and at least a little more planned.

    The other thing is the control over the final product that digital gives. I consider it an event when a picture does not need any cropping at all. With control of color, contrast, brightness etc so easy it is easy to end up with a lot better picture than came from the camera.

    Here is a resized version of the original picture and then the picture I posted. Maybe you develop and print your own and can do all this. If not, I think digital is a big advantage. I believe I took over 100 pictures of this one branch.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Amen to that. I notice a jump in my work once I went to digital. I could get instant feedback (I suck at taking notes), and I stopped worrying about "wasting" a shot. Logically I knew that I would have to go through a lot of images to get a good one, but I still had a hard time taking risks.
     
  12. Harpper

    Harpper TPF Noob!

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    You guys beat me too it. I was going to say that was the only thing missing from all the great advices.

    I actually started with film by borrowing by dad's film SLR but I never stuck with it because of the slower feedback. It was also getting expensive to learn because a roll of film was only about 36 shots whereas with digital its basically endless. When I got my cheap Toshibia digital camera it opened up a whole new learning curve and experience for me.

    Havoc explained a great way to learn by taking notes, but like markc I was never one to write down notes. The notes were in my head and with digital I was able to quickly reinforce and learn from my results. With film by the time I got the roll developed I completely forgot what I was trying to learn.

    This could only be me, but I learn a lot better through trial and error or in other words hands on training. With ditigal I take a shot and then I immediately look at it with the camera's LCD preview. I try to figure out what went wrong and then retake the shot base on my theories of how to improve it. The shots always look different than what I saw in the viewfinder especially for point & shot cameras. I've also noticed I'm experiementing more and I'm less worried about wasting $$$ a shot. With this forum and digital I've learned so much in so short of a time frame.

    Lafoto, don't worry about only liking a few of your shots. I think it's normal for artists to not like most of their work. I like about 5% or less of my shots and I always think my acceptable ones can be improved even if I don't know how. If all your shots were good then you would never want to improve. Just learn from your bad shots. What I do is study my bad shots and compare them with any good ones. See what's good about the good ones and then try to use that technique/style in the bad ones to see if it makes any difference. After awhile your brain starts to learn what's bad and what's good. Don't worry about taking a lot of bad shots...just learn from them.
     

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