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Thread: Many different ways to good images

  1. #1
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Many different ways to good images

    Hi all,

    It occured to me while commenting on someone's shots just now that we all come at this photography hobby/profession from differing backgrounds, with different initial skills and different ideas on how to improve ourselves...

    People learn basic photography in many different ways;
    1. by reading; i.e. studying books, magazines and internet tutorials
    2. by attending a school or "higher education" course
    3. some are just naturally gifted
    4. some don't initially learn the basics, they start taking pictures, but crave better results


    Their motivations might be;
    1. selling their work and being mainly driven by what sells best
    2. getting good feedback from a local photo club or internet forum(s)
    3. aspiring to a career in (or some earnings from) their photography
    4. producing something that is personally satisfying


    People then produce better images by;
    1. trying to do everything 'in camera' and shun PP beyond its unavoidable use for optimising images for publication
    2. start by making improvements to mediocre shots in PP, but try to avoid the issue 'in camera' next time
    3. try to take the best possible shot "in camera", then post process to make it even better


    Now I'm not suggesting any particular path is better (or worse) than any other, how we each get onto these paths can be almost accidental in life's rich tapestry (mixed metaphor anyone? )

    I see myself as a "A.2.ii" person in digital - although (minor confession) many years ago, I did attend evening classes for film photography and wet processing and a camera club.

    Please don't take this too seriously , but let's discuss ...
    Have I missed anything out of the lists above?
    How do you see yourselves?

    Warm regards,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 13th June 2009 at 02:43 PM. Reason: Added 4. and iii as a couple of people needed them

  2. #2
    Doughboy's Avatar
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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    I'm still unsure of a lot of things of what I want but its coming together fast. I have been really into photography for just over a year now. I have always enjoyed taking photos, but only lately have a craved to want to learn more.

    So I have self taught my self with what I could, but am now reading some books and magazines on photography as well as photoshop elements 6 so I can turn my good photos into great photos with more knowledge.

    So, out of you list, I would have to say I am:

    -A- but have been considering doing some schooling

    -2- but would like to possibly have a career in it in the near future, lets see if i can get the talent

    This one is harder.
    I used to be the type of person who would try and do EVERYTHING in the camera and shun PP, but in the past while I have turned the other way around. I still try and do what I can in the camera, but since I can take so many pictures, I don;t worry about it as much and just wait till I get home to deal with them. Tho, I also try not to do anything to heavy to the photos in PP, I overall prefer to keep them as natural as possible.

    Cheers

  3. #3

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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    I tend to agree with you, Dave, but with a few occassional modifications.

    Yes I read everything possible before use; and if possible, print out those internet tutorials and computer Help menu advice. For some reason I find information sinks in quicker when read from paper as opposed to a computer screen. And I can easily refer back to items while working.

    To some extent, I may consider a different style for something which is being offered for sale compared with what I would produce to hang on my own walls. For the ultimate in criticism, I take a print to the pub; those guys are real experts in criticising everything!

    Also agree that I try to get things correct at the time of shooting but I am prepared to do whatever is necessary with editing software to achive the desired result. Quite often I find that I only get one click at a shot without any 'thinking time' so have to settle for less than perfect camera work.

    But I suggest that we are really talking about semi serious users with decent kit.

    The most photographs, by far, are taken on bottom end of the market Point & Shoot cameras by people who just pick up the camera and click with everything on auto. Their prints are auto processed by the cheapest local shop and 90% of prints are discarded within a week. No thought necessary!

    Admitedly, the best of those modern P&S cameras can produce good results, even on auto settings.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    I'm certainly an A 2 ii at the moment, but in category 3 would (sort of) like to be a 'i' instead of a 'ii'. There's probably a sub category of 'i' that I would put myself in, in terms of trying to be capable of getting it right in camera, but enjoying the ongoing journey of discovery re what can be achieved in PP.

    So far as Category 1 A, is concerned, what I've found challenging is knowing when to stop. Or more correctly perhaps, learning to be more selective and start trusting that you can achieve something reasonably competent. When you're nearer the bottom of the learning curve than the top, the thirst for knowledge is such that you find yourself (or, I found myself) reading everything you can get a hold off. One of the consequences of this is confusion. So I now find myself trusting in 3 or 4 tutorial sites, this forum and books according to taste. There's inevitably an awful lot out there that I'm missing as a result. And whenever someone makes reference to knowledge or a skill that I don't have, the temptation is to come over all frustrated and remind yourself that a) your stupid, b) incompetent or c) not reading enough (or all three). And I find that quite a powerful emotion and difficult to resist at times. That, I suppose, is why some people give up before they realise their potential - it just seems such a steep hill to climb. The key to it is, I think, to acknowledge and celebrate what you do know and can achieve, and to reaffirm the joy of learning.

    In a way that is similar to Geoff, I copy all those 'pearls of wisdom' I find and paste them into a Word document, with various category headings, for reference. You'll never know how many of your comments are posted under the various headings I have. For which I am grateful to everyone on this forum and why being part of it is so stimulating.

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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    About learning the basics i fit "A".

    About motivation i don't fit a given category.
    My main motivation is to make pictures wich i like (with press on "i")
    Despite i am sensitive for feedback the most important is what i think about my pictures.
    I am aiming to make pic's that are worth to enlarge and put in a frame to hang on the wall.
    Make posters for myself.

    To produce better pictures i fit "i" the most.
    To be more exact, i take pictures in RAW only and use DPP (Canon-software) for post-processing.
    DPP is very simple and a lot of functions are in the camera as well but in bigger steps (e.g. 7 steps in cam, 500 in DPP)
    Post processing for me is about minor adjustments for optimising purposes.
    More and more i see the importance of proper post processing and in future DPP might not suit my needs anymore.

    I am newbe in photography and do not learn in a systematic way, pick up some tips here, pick up some tricks there.
    A course should be good for me because then i am forced to learn in a more systematic way.
    To be honest with you, until now i did read to much and take pictures to few (?)
    I 've got stuck in a swamp of information wich halve of it doesn't make sense for practical photography anyway.

    At the end the biggest problem for me is to be creative.
    For example, another photographer walks two hours in Amsterdam and has seen and taken at least ten beautifull pictures.
    I can walk for days and i don't see a single thing worth to be photographed.
    It's not because it isn't there, it's because i don't see it.

    For the left-brain side of Photography i need a more systematic way of learning.
    For the right-brain side of photography i am totally in the dark about how to activate the right-brain.

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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    I'm 65 in a couple of months and it's a bit hard to slot myself into one of Dave's categories due to the fact that 95% of my photographic life was spent in the days before digital and the WWWeb.

    I started taking photos at 10 and progressed through the shoot everything stage, high school camera club, adult camera club, several years as a pro, many years as a casual shooter, and finally went digital with a Fuji P&S, ending up getting a bit serious again with a Nikon D90.

    My advice is as follows. It's a bit like driving a car, learn how to drive it before entering an F1 race.
    Become fully competent with the functions and mechanics of your camera to the point where adjusting anything becomes second nature and can be done without thinking or taking the camera away from your eye.
    Become aware of what makes/breaks a shot. Framing, composition, lighting (natural and/or artificial), background etc.
    Once you have learned the above you have effectively become a competent camera operator, and the vast majority of you will have, through natural talent and learning, become a good photographer, and this is where it gets hard. Which field of photography are you going to pursue to become the best photographer that you can ever be?

    Many people are content to be good general photographers, taking shots of any and every subject, occasionally snagging a blinder. Others have an interest in a particular field of subject. The big pursuit at the moment seems to be in the field of "Art", and if this is your choice then go for it.

    I personally don't have an artistic bone in my body, and realised it many years ago. While I like photographing birds, flowers, and scenery, my strong point is, and has been for quite a while, sports action shots and sports action triptychs (three shots in a row showing action).

    To sum up what I've been rambling on about, first become technically competent, then, if you want to try and become great, choose a speciality and give it all you've got. Don't get discouraged, remember the difference between an "Also ran" and a "Superstar" can often be only .1 of a second or less, the same applies in the photographic world.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    Bill

    I suggest that 'teacher' should be included in that photography CV listed in your second paragraph.

    A beautifully succinct and erudite statement that should be pinned on the wall of every student photographer. Should be printed and put in the box of every new camera sold.

    Thank you.

  8. #8
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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    D 2 ii here

    With digital D is so much easier nowadays starting with auto then progressing to manual
    2 - suggest both; forum better for Q&A, Local club judging & comps comparing what one is doing with other people's approach and learning from each other

    maybe ii and half or iii: I have found it useful to keep fairly bad shots of a subject one has ambitions on and then keep trying to improve on it. Latest failure: a fox charging off with rabbit in tits mouth, no waiting for photo-calls and silly habit of doing it at dusk grrr. One of my 1st ambitions with E4500 6 years ago now was Black-back gulls in flight, now pretty well taped.....then saw a Red Kite yesterday, properly wild, away from the standard feeding centres, hadn't even got the camera....

  9. #9

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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    I'm an A3ii myself, I think.

    The bug was born when we did a science project in high school, one hour of "This is how photography works". It consisted of being shown the workings of a camera (something like a 6 x 9cm thing with a bellows front and twiddly levers to set the shutter speed and aperture), then a play at putting objects onto photgraphic paper to watch the paper darken and a quick dunk in fixer to make it stop. After that I read avidly and moved on to having a rather nasty darkroom in my teens. When I got a job I bought a Pentax SLR and played with that for a bit. I got bored of it when almost all the photographs were rubbish.

    About twenty years later we needed to get a camera so a Nikon D50 arrived and I was once again taking rubbish photographs and reading lots.

    Now that I can take the photographs, I need to learn what I should be taking them of, the composition bit etc. So that's where I'm now stuck.

  10. #10
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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    Hi Dave,

    You don't have enough categories!

    I started learning about photography when I was a small child from my grandfather and also from two of my uncles so not really a school or higher education course but given that all three people from whom I learned have won various still and motion picture awards I think I was in good hands. So I guess that sort of makes me a "B." though if I believe artist friends and family then I am a "C." as well. Perhaps some of those good genes came through from my grandfather...

    For motivations I am happy if I like my photos and that's what drives me the most but having friends and family, customers, and now-a-days forums, too, tell me they like my photos is great, too. So I guess I am sort of a "2." and a little bit of a "3." though I actually don't (yet) charge for my work as I enjoy it and I have only done shoots for friends...

    Lastly I am a "I." though I recognize that one can use PP to enhance images in ways that my camera could not have taken (e.g. to enhance dynamic range, boost contrast, selectively make an image B&W keeping subject in colour and cool things like that). So I am probably really in between "I." and "II." here.

    I certainly agree with you that there is no Right Way(tm) or Wrong Way(tm) to learn about photography. Different approaches will work for different people...

    Best regards,

    Anton

  11. #11
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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    My motivation (not listed) is purely artistic expression. There's a bit of magic in being able to capture a moment in time and then utilize my image-editing skills to produce a pleasing result.

  12. #12
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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    I think I'm an A.4.iii:

    4. Motivated by personal satisfaction - not really motivated by sales, career or showing the photos to others.

    iii. Try to take the best possible shot "in camera", the post process to make it even better.

    Overall, I think this way of scoring is an interesting idea. If it were fully developed and if we got many of the posters to do an evaluation, we might learn something about the people who post here. I suspect that it would come down to just a few groupings.

  13. #13
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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    Hi Everyone -

    New member here (introduction in the welcome section, btw). This seems like a good thread to jump in.

    I aspire to be professional, and earn money with this art form. I guess I am semi-pro, in that I take a pretty good photo, and have earned some money taking pics. I also love taking pics and would do so if no money were involved. I love art, and I am also a musician, and I am particularly a jazz lover.

    I learn by reading, and then going into the field, experimenting and practicing what I have read. My aim is to capture the best photo possible in camera with generally predictable results. When I attempt something new I usually take a step backward before getting to the next step. I see PP as a way to make my pictures better, not as a fix. Of course, aside from some cropping, there is not much software is going to do for a lacking composition.

    greylover ~

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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    I guess I fit into the A2ii category.
    Although I do like to do a bit of photography, it will never....or maybe never... be my No1 hobby, maybe.
    My competition fishing takes up most of my time away from work, photography and general life with the preperation I need to do.
    Having said that, I do not have the same enthusiasm I had a couple of years ago for fishing, so maybe photography may become a replacement to fishing.
    Although I enjoy my time going out and taking photo's, I have a thirst to learn techniques more, hence my interest in CiC and what other people do with a camera.
    I find some peoples inventiveness (if there is such a word) fascinating, I, like Bill44 don't have an artistic bone in my body, but maybe one day I will make the effort to try and make an artistic photo driven by someone's work they have shown on here.
    I don't like to remark too much on peoples efforts as I am not experienced enough to be critical of someones work.... we all see results differently anyway!
    So maybe there should be another category put aside for me....a might be...wanna be....could be...but probably never will photographer

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    Thank you all for the interesting posts, I have now added a fourth motivation option (4) and a third Cam+PP option (iii) as several people stated a need for them.

    The running totals are;
    A2ii times 5 *, then one each of;
    A4i, D2ii, A3ii, B/C2i, ??iii and A4iii
    Oh and a couple of ???s!

    * Now I have added the extra options, I have a feeling most A2ii people may see themselves as A2iii (I know I do).

    Once again thanks for the interesting posts, especially Bill44, who although he couldn't be classified, still left us much to think about.

    Do keep the posts coming; e.g. anyone who hasn't yet, or anyone that wants to have another go

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 13th June 2009 at 02:59 PM.

  16. #16
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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    My turn
    I was making photography when I was 10. At that time there was the "Portuguese Youth" pro-Salazar regime and my father didn't like it (the regime). Young boys had to ware uniform and going to Photography Session was kind of run away from there.
    As a 10 years boy I was enthusiastic about the uniform and so but my father made a good option. He himself, was an amateur photographer with some activity in Setubal, where I have been living all my life.
    I can remember my father and my uncle working on photography late at night under a small room under the stairs ...
    I am not going to tell you the story of my hole life because that would be a bore and would take too long but I made photography since that period when I was 10.
    However, I stopped for some time: profession, kids all that kind of thing as you may imagine.

    In the last years - 2 or 3 - I am more and more interested in photography. Because it is digital it is easier to do because we don't have all those liquids and dark room. Where would that be, these days, in spite of their multiple charms ?

    I have a lot of equipment and these days I try to get into groups of artistic photography in Portugal. It is very difficult. I am very technical and little speculative. May be I am too critical, towards other people's work and to my own.

    Lately I have been working with LR which made me improve greatly my post processing. No, I am not selling this program.

    Now, let me try to classify myself:
    A and C a little of C yes. I can easily look and get what I consider to be a good picture. It doesn't mean that I am not shooting great garbage also sometimes.

    2. and 4. Lots of weight on 4. It's for pleasure, for fun. Trying always to do better than before, under a different angle and/or view, technique.

    No doubt: iii (try to take the best possible shot "in camera", then post process to make it even better). I think this is the best way for sure. Don't you ?

  17. #17
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    Some people SEE images, others just LOOK at them!

    People of today have the opportunity to view far-far more images than persons from older generations. We are inundated with images on video, on the Internet, on advertising billboards, in newspapers, and in multiple magazines and books.

    Some of us have the gift of actually SEEING these images and benefiting from them. It is an education in itself because the images are mostly of good quality.

    However, many of us just LOOK the the images and never SEE them. These people never benefit from the free education which is all around them.

    We often say that NATURAL photographers (those people who seem to be able to shoot good imagery from the beginning) are naturally gifted and artistic.

    I WILL AGREE THAT THEY ARE GIFTED... BUT, IMO, the gift is being able to SEE the images all around them and benefit from the education imparted by this opportunity.

  18. #18
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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    I'd have to say,
    A,2-4,iii. I think 2&4 about equal.
    The biggest gratification I get (not all that often though) is the wow or oh nice.

    The other week I posted on DSLR sensors, your reply was "it's eye behind the camera" or "finger on the button"... How true, searching this forum alone you can see the different styles and perspectives from some real talented individuals.

    rpcrowe, I think you summed it to a tee.

    Well, that's my 2 cents worth.

    PS. leaning toward Canon...

  19. #19
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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    A 4 iii here!

    After taking many 1000s of transparencies, I am now committed to digital. I am a fan of Ken's article's http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/masterpiece.htm on how to create a Masterpiece. Whilst you're still a beginner, I suggest sticking to a fixed lens, NOT a zoom. Why? because it makes you walk around a lot, and find the best pictures yourself. At the end of the day, the equipment and techniques play just a small part - what is important is your 'eye' and how you see an image. It takes a long time to get there, unless you are lucky, but these days at least you can take 1000s of digital photos for little cost. Judge yourself harshly, because everyone else will too! How to know what a good photo looks like? Try visiting http://1x.com/ and looking at the photos. Spend a LONG time looking at the photos. Study the photos. Pick one you like, and try and take something similar in your own town - you will learn a lot by doing so. Then look at the photos some more.
    Tim

  20. #20
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    Re: Many different ways to good images

    Hehe well i guess ill be the rebel here. D/B, 3/4, iii

    i started out with my dads canon ae-1 35mm. no training, no knowledge, nothing. but have since started going to school for it so ive shifted to a B.

    going along with the first category, i would like to make a living doing this. but i also want to keep getting better and taking new and interesting shots.

    ive always been a "in camera" photographer. even with ps3 i still prefer to do as much as i can before i even take a picture and during a picture. i will use pp to improve images and to clear away spots my camera gave images.....stupid dust....but rarely will i do anymore than optimize what ive already taken.

    now all that said, i dont see myself as artistic or wanting to take artsy shots. sometimes they just kinda happen. ill compose an image but sometimes it turns out better than i imagined. and sometimes i try for a more "artistic" image. though im not a fan of pure abstract photography, keep it to the canvas imo.

    on a similar note, when show people my work, usually only a handfull of images, they make comments about how good my camera and gear must be. this has always bothered me. it has never been about the equipment, sure it helps express creativity a little better but its not needed for a great image. thats 100% the eye behind the viewfinder.

    and to tim, i partially agree with you on the fixed lens idea. i grew up on a 25-75 or something. even that small zoom forced me to move myself to get the image i wanted. on the other hand, i love running around with a fixed lens and just shooting away and seeing the odd and random angles and compositions.

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