When did you "get it"?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by JenR, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. JenR

    JenR TPF Noob!

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    At what point (if ever) did you start to feel like you really, truly understood photography?

    I have done some reading and understand the basics of aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc. I have read my camera manual cover-to-cover and understand most of it. :)

    I see great picture opportunities all the time, but can't quite get the camera to capture what I envision. Once I get the images to the computer, I realize that I should have been shooting at a different angle or with more or less DOF or whatever. I take plenty of pictures (I just took 40 of my daughter eating a snack), but can never quite capture in pixels the scene that I see in my head. Does it ever get more instinctual (is that even a real word?) or am I expecting way, way too much?

    ~jen
     
  2. rmh159

    rmh159 TPF Noob!

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    Hahaha good question. It probably depends on education, experience, equipment, etc. I've been shooting for about 4 years now, 2 of which I would say more seriously (implying I've thought more about the pics I take).

    I do feel like I understand what I'm doing and how I can help my chances of getting a good shot but it's rarely a sure thing. I read a quote somewhere (not sure who said it) but it was something to the affect of "If I knew how to take good pictures, I'd do it every time."
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    Sounds pretty true to me as well :lol:

    There are so many aspects to photography...I don't think there is a point when you 'get it all'...it's just a unending series of things to learn.

    Here is something that I read somewhere and sort of took to heart...It's a profound moment when you stop seeing the things you photograph and start seeing the light.
     
  4. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    The more you shoot, the more it becomes ingrained in you, but I always feel like there's more to learn. If I haven't discovered something new in a while, I start to feel stagnant.
    (Which is where I am now, as I haven't been shooting.)
     
  5. Mole

    Mole TPF Noob!

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    Don't worry your not the only one that feels that way. I've been having the same problem. I always hear, just keep taking pictures. Other than that I really can't give any advice on this, I just wanted to let you know your not alone.
     
  6. ThomThomsk

    ThomThomsk TPF Noob!

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    What you are talking about here is something called "pre-visualisation", and it is an important skill. After all, you need to plan your composition and exposure carefully if you are going to stand any chance of making your photograph look like the image in your head.

    So it's easy then, isn't it? Just learn to control the camera so you get what you visualised... Well of course it isn't, and that's the challenge. You are some way ahead of me, having a clear vision of what you want before you release the shutter, and I've been taking pictures for over 20 years. I'm really making an effort to do this, and this is my method:

    1. Slow down. Sit and look. Look hard, even when I don't have a camera with me and think about how that scene could look. Look at lots of other people's photographs and think about what I like and what I don't. Try to work out how I would copy something I really like

    2. Work out how to compose the shot. Do I want everything I can see, or can I use the camera to pick out a small part of the scene, to help to tell a story? Can I isolate the main subject using depth of field? Where should I be focussing?

    3. Exposure. Whether shooting on film or digital, if you don't capture the details you need (through under or over exposure) then there is nothing you can do to fix that later, but your pre-visualisation will guide you - if you have to choose between blocked shadows and blown highlights then you will know which to go for. Most of the time this won't be an issue.

    I mostly shoot landscape, and I work very slowly and record my settings. Trying to capture your daughter obviously demands that you work more quickly, and I think that experience will help, so you don't have to think too hard about exposure and composition. It would be interesting to see an example, and hear why it doesn't match what you saw in your head.
     
  7. ksmattfish

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

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    That would be Robert Doisneau.

    http://www.masters-of-photography.com/D/doisneau/doisneau.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Doisneau

    I agree with most of the above posted opinions. It's a life long learning process. The basics can be grasped without too much effort, but mastery is an ever elusive goal. It's like a mountain; you think you are about to reach the peak, but when you actually get to the top, you see the next peak waiting to be climbed....

    I agree with Thom that pre-visualization is an important skill. Pre-visualization requires practice. The good thing is that it doesn't require a camera, so you can do it anytime or anywhere your mind is free. First of all, you don't start with the camera; you have to start with the finished photo, and knowing what you want can be a skill that requires much practice itself. I don't do it as much anymore, but for a few years when I was starting out I always had my imaginary camera with me. I would look at a scene, and think about the entire process of how I would go about photographing that scene.

    Once I can clearly imagine the finished photograph, I reverse engineer it. I think about what gear and materials will be necessary. What are the strengths and weakness of the gear and materials? How can I use them to my advantage? Where should I be to get the angle of view/composition/perspective that I want? What problems are going to arise, and how can I solve them? It can take a lot of concentration at first, but eventually it will become almost intuitive.

    I don't pre-visualize every photo I take 100% from start to finish. It's not practical in every situation, and I like to experiment and try new techniques. There is room for surprise in my creative process. But even when I'm taking family snaps I think that having practiced pre-visualizing helps.
     
  8. Jazz

    Jazz TPF Noob!

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    JenR,

    Good question/thread.

    <<< Does it ever get more instinctual >>>
    Yes.

    Once when I was researching a presentation I had to give on Ralph Gibson, I had a chance to see his contact sheets and study his style. His method was to start big and wide and keep moving in, eliminating what he considered unnecessary, until he got to the core of what he wanted to show and say. His contacts showed him moving in and eliminating, which he continued in the darkroom, burning out details. So, my point is, keep shooting, yes, but with experimental goals in mind, as opposed to just shooting for the sake of shooting. Eliminate unnecessary stuff until your vision emerges, which will probably happen when you stop looking for it. Life is sneaky that way. :D

    I agree with the posts above. As it happens, I do the same thing as ksmattfish. I start with the finished image in my head, or at least an idea of what I want, and work backwards.

    An older experienced photog once told me to spend a lot of time looking through the viewfinder and thinking. When I returned with lots of photos, he said “now go do the same thing, but don’t push the button so damn much.” So perhaps an experiment with your daughter might be a good idea. Take 20 minutes and look through the viewfinder, compose, eliminate, breathe, experiment in your mind, eliminate some more, but don’t push the button, not even once. The more you do this, the more precious each image will become when you resume shooting.

    Not saying I’ve found “it”. I’m still climbing those mountains too.

    Good luck
     
  9. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    I'm expecting it any day now..
     
  10. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Jen, it took me about a year, I think. You'll know when you're starting to really get it when you see a shot with your eyes, then when you hold the camera up to your eye, you realize its going to be boring when you see it later, and just pass on the shot.

    I think I got better more quickly because the mistakes were more costly back then. I couldn't just fire away, because it was film. Try to treat your digital shots as if they're costing you money to shoot, and I bet you'll see an improvement quickly.

    I read and reread an old National Geographic Photographer's Field Guide, wire-bound, that I learned a lot about composition from. The newer ones aren't quite as good, IMO.
     
  11. neea

    neea TPF Noob!

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    And this has been my problem lately.
    When I first started the shutter was going off non stop.
    Then last year in May I entered pictures into a local art show. I pulled all the boxes and bags of unorganized pictures out. Layed them all on the floor and started looking.
    It was painful to see all the 'wasted' pictures I had taken (not to mention wasted money).
    I see now how my pictures weren't a waste but a learning experience.

    However.... I have now become TOO CAREFUL about what I take pictures of.
    I literally have over 50 rolls of film STILL waiting to be developed. I cant justify taking new pictures when I have yet to see the work I've done till now.
    This becomes a problem because I get stuck in an uncreative rut. And of course that means I havent learned anything new in a LONG time.

    The others are right. Keep shooting. And read everything you can get your hands on and as often as possible. Do a google search for 'landscape photography', 'wedding photography', whatever your interested in. Look at others work ALOT and let it inspire you.

    I love b&w and a few years ago I saw the entire world in black & white. It was inspiring. But I've temporarily lost that too :confused:
     
  12. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I had that phase too. I had two full boxes of photos. It was not practical to save every print. So I just saved the good ones from each roll, and even ones that I thought I might like to see later. The rest went in the trash. I still have the negatives, if I ever change my mind. I just have a few photo albums and one small plastic shoebox now.
     

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