Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by elsapo, Sep 26, 2005.

  1. elsapo

    elsapo TPF Noob!

    Apr 29, 2005
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    Washington, D.C.

    I said a strange thing the other day. After looking at a batch of great photographs shot on the street, I told someone: “I really liked those pictures. What makes them great are many of the things I try and avoid.”

    The photos I was referring to were spontaneous and grainy and blurred and ambiguous. They were full of life, and fittingly they were far from perfect. Mostly, they seemed to carry with them an element of surprise and emotion that polish and perfection often washes away.

    When I think about the pictures I shoot – or strive to shoot – a lot of times I feel like I sometimes just sort of polish away the good stuff. The focus is sharp, the range of tones is good; the subject is dominant, the composition is ok. And really, so what? Sometimes, the best images have none of that.

    It is possible, I think, to perfect yourself towards boredom. Perfection can’t be achieved anyways, so sometimes maybe it’s important to stop trying.

    Fittingly, I recently bought a Holga 120 camera. It’s a $20 plastic toy, basically. The lens is plastic, it barely works, and the concept of “focus” is foreign to its use. And yet it makes these wonderful, 1950s-like, artful photographs. As if by taking away all the elements that give you more control, by removing things like correct exposure and tack-sharp focus, suddenly things come to life.

    None of this is to say that perfection and polish are bad. Really, the opposite is true, of course. But I do think that sometimes I, maybe everyone, can concentrate so much on getting things “right” that we forget to get things “good.” The ideal, of course, is to bring it all together – spontaneity and intention and focus and feel. To be able to use those technical skills to capture moments and images that feel like you just glanced down an alley and saw It.

    Anyways, this photo I shot seemed to sum up a lot of these thoughts for me and so I thought I'd post it. This image was shot with a Nikon D70 and an 85mm lens. Trying to catch some of that spontanaity, using modern tools to create an image that looks tool-less, so to speak.

    Any thoughts?

  2. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

    Oct 30, 2003
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    Hermosa Beach, CA U.S.A
    Focus and correct exposure can be over rated. Ultimately it comes down to what you are trying to say. Personally I think that the technical side of photography should become second nature. Once the tech is mastered you can concentrate and understand what your photos need to look like.
  3. jadin

    jadin The Mad Hatter

    Feb 18, 2004
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    Down the Rabbit Hole.
    I try to shoot by what looks right, not by technicals. In fact usually when I try to shoot technically that's when I fail.
  4. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

    Apr 29, 2004
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    You haven't seen holga images, have you?

    BTT: Holga is a tool which allows another level of abstraction: Soft, washed out... and often over or underexposed. Thus, the literal meaning dissapears, which forces the brain to look deeper.

    You don't need holga. Just set your noink to 1/500 and f/8, put a soft filter on, some glycerine on the edges and voila - you can even focus. :mrgreen:

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