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Thread: Not putting my brain into gear.

  1. #1
    JPS's Avatar
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    Not putting my brain into gear.

    Hi all, I am just sitting here reading the CIC tutorials and reflecting on what I have learnt since taking up Photography. On one hand I feel I have got a reasonable understanding now of the basic principles. However, my problems start when I get out and about, camera in hand; “what’s the problem I here you all say”, my answer “not putting my brain into gear”. For some reason as soon as my camera is out of the bag I seem to forget all I’ve read and all the good advice you guys offer freely on a daily basis. I start with all good intensions and think I’m doing really well, until I get back home look on the computer and find I never achieved any of the goals I had set myself. How do you all stop yourself going ‘mad’ and snapping without thinking; or is it just me? I really want to improve but seem to produce the same old ‘Snap like pictures’ anybody could take. I particularly like Street and Architectural Photography. Any hints or tips would be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by Donald; 12th May 2012 at 05:59 PM. Reason: Remove quotes from title so that it appears

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    Practice, practice, practice, practice. And as you do so, concentrate on applying just one of the things you feel you've learned about; i.e. either composition, or exposure etc., NOT both. Do this until that particular skill/topic is embedded in your brain so that you find yourself doing it automatically - without even thinking about it. The go onto to the next skill/topic.

  3. #3
    JPS's Avatar
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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    Thanks Donald,
    I have some free time tomorrow and will be out and about early ready for a few hours with my trusted Canon 450D.

    I'm going to set myself a challenge now, for tommorrows shoot and concentrate on composition.
    I’ll post some shots tomorrow in the main Forum and see what you all think.

  4. #4

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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    Ditto on what Donald said. It can't get much clearer. Learning and practice is the key to most skills whether they be karate, golf, riding a bike, even walking.

    Carry your favourite book with the basics or even better, create and carry a notebook in your bag that has all the basics you've heard, any tips you like, etc. Everything you deem important in what to look for and how to take the shot. Nothing detailed. Just enough info to make you think about what you are trying to do and the processes. You don't have to read the whole thing every time but just flipping through it will bring items back to mind. Second, make some of your trips into an exercise to purposely force you to slow down. No "snapshots". Take a tripod and take your time to think about what you want and how to achieve it. Step through the notes and heed your own advice. Look through the viewfinder with the same critical eye you would use evaluating one of your prints or screen results. Subject, DOF, lighting, composition, lines, focus, colour, perspective, exposure, background, etc. etc. Think about each shot before you press the shutter button. For a while you may only get one tenth of the number of shots you're used to but as you get comfortable with always considering your steps it will become second nature and you will speed up. You'll get to the point where you no longer have to think about the basics and can advance to experimenting with new concepts. You say you have a good handle on the basics in your mind, just take your time and make sure you are putting them into practice.

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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    Hi John,

    Just a couple of tips from me, first; Street photography can mostly be about luck in getting that "moment", so with that in mind you don't want to be fiddling with dials and menu functions when you're out in the real world. So let the camera do some of the work. Stick it in a mode where you only have to worry about one thing, maybe A or S (Tv for Canon) or even P. These will hopefully give you a decent exposure whilst all you have to think about is composition and getting the shot. And please don't do it in black and white. It's 2012.

    Architectural photography for me requires a bit of planning and research. And sometimes permission. :O And the British weather doesn't help. But sometimes you get lucky,

    Not putting my brain into gear.

    And always use a tripod. Just to annoy the public if nothing else!
    Last edited by The Blue Boy; 12th May 2012 at 07:13 PM. Reason: Spelling, 'cos I's thick, innit?

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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    Andrew,
    Thank you for taking the time to reply.

    You are both spot on, when you advise me to slow down, that is my problem.
    If I am in an environment with few or no people, I feel comfortable and do slow down; a bit (still need to slow down even more). However, I still feel a little uncomfortable and exposed when there are people around. This is when I panic and snap like a mad- man in the hope one shot will be good, invariably they are not.

    As I said I love Street Photography and as you have both advised, only continue practice will build my confidence and skills, to the point where it is second nature.

    Keep watching, it might take time but I’ll improve I promise.
    Once again thanks for your help.

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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    I often find, John, that good intentions disappear with those quick 'no thinking time possible' shots. Sometimes it is literally just a case of pick up the camera and click; then hope.

    But, when circumstances allow, after a couple of shots just to make sure that I have something in the camera, I like to start thinking about what I am doing. Then, if the scene is still available, I start making adjustments for improvement.

    Basically just a case of saying; What shutter speed do I need, what aperture, check the Iso isn't excessive. And, is the camera level.

    Then consider if the camera is focusing on the best spot.

    Review the results and then make 'clever adjustments' to the camera, and vary the composition a bit, etc.

    It takes a real expert to get the quick shot settings correct every time.

    I sometimes look at a scene, without a camera in my hand, and think about what settings and composition would I use here.

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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    All good advise. I know when I first started to improve I was "seeing" the image but as you say...came home with snaps. My issue was that when I started to really see the shot I would get excited and loose focus on what I was trying to achieve. I would suddenly become a happy snapper.....until I got home. When I figured out what was going on, I forced myself to slow down. Take more time. Use of a tripod has this helpful bonus to it. Even then....compose, step back take a breath....is that the shot you want? Granted in street photography this time taking is not going to get your shot. Although the practice with static subjects will help things become more second nature.

    Taking a note pad with tips is a good idea, however you must take the time out and read it and do so fully. I tried this and found that because I knew what it said....I would stop reading and say....oh yeah I know that and right back to happy snapping. Read it threw, think about what you have read and apply it.

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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    Mark / Geoff,
    Thank you both for your advice, it makes entire sense while sitting here tonight, hope I don’t mess it up again tomorrow.

    As I said I’m out tomorrow and will try to remember everything you have all told me. My Wife has just found me a small notebook; from her secret notebook stash, lol, so I will make some notes tonight, so that I can refer to them, when out and about in the morning.

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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    Paul,
    I am glad I am not the only one who has been 'finger happy'. The fact that you have conquered this and have moved onto more considered and professional looking pictures, gives me some hope.

    Tomorrow will be a day of calm practice, with time not being an issue; I hope.
    Thanks for your advice.

  11. #11
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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    I've learned to slow down and consider a number of 'what if' alternatives when I'm shooting landscapes but as soon as I start shooting moving objects like wildlife or aircraft I fall back into the snapshot mode and regret it.

    One other thing you can do when you are not out shooting is to consider a scene that you had a problem with and see how quickly you can go through your mental checklist and configure your camera for that situation. For every image that you feel you've lost because you didn't think ahead, see how quickly you can get set up for that image. The idea being that if you can get to the point where a particular situation occurs, that you have practiced your checklist for that scenario in advance. Then go out and pick a situation, not necessarily a prize winning one as this is just for practice, and see how well you do. Hope this helps.

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    The Blue Boy's Avatar
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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    John,

    What are you going to be shooting tomorrow? We're here to help.

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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    Hi John,feel as if I,m in the same boat as you take loads of snaps without thinking bout tips and advice,think they are ok but when I get home they are usually mince,good advice from Donald should practice one setting at a time till it becomes natural,

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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    Thanks Frank, good advice. I have plenty of pictures that I have taken that fall into this category.
    I’ll give this a try; I’ll try anything if I slowly start to improve.

    Mark, I’m off to the coast tomorrow, so am looking to take pictures of the shoreline, boats and hopefully people, with the aim of trying to get the composition correct.

    Bernard, at least we are not alone, together lets learn and become the next David Bailey. Lol
    Thanks all for your comments, I’ll post tomorrow and see what you all think.

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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    A few things that always work for me when I get sloppy in my photography:

    1. Go out alone and don't take anything that can distract you (like an iPod) along;

    2. If you have a fixed lens, shoot with it, rather than a zoom. If you don't have one, pick a focal length on your zoom and stick to it;

    3. Before you press the shutter release, run your eye around the edge of your viewfinder to see if there is something sticking into the image that shouldn't be there; and

    4. Work your subject matter. Take 10 or 20 shots of the same thing, vary your composition, exposure and aperture. Keep moving around, looking for a better angle to shoot from.

  16. #16
    JPS's Avatar
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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    1. Go out alone and don't take anything that can distract you (like an iPod) along;

    2. If you have a fixed lens, shoot with it, rather than a zoom. If you don't have one, pick a focal length on your zoom and stick to it;

    3. Before you press the shutter release, run your eye around the edge of your viewfinder to see if there is something sticking into the image that shouldn't be there; and

    4. Work your subject matter. Take 10 or 20 shots of the same thing, vary your composition, exposure and aperture. Keep moving around, looking for a better angle to shoot from.
    Manfred,
    All good advice. Many thanks.
    Please watch this space I would like your feedback after tomorrows shoot. Regards.

  17. #17
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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    Hi John,

    If you cannot remember everything, do not worry. It gets easier.

    There are some great tips on this thread already. I would advise that you decide what gear for your brain before you go out. Just try and concentrate on one thing. Vary it each time you go out. After 100 outings you will find that you have done it all before.

    Practice, and practice some more. Try to make one thing better each time. Small steps still cover the distance.

    Have fun.

    Alex

  18. #18
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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    John,

    The same happens to me on many occasions. Improving in photography reminds me of when I was improving in golf: improve on one aspect at a time, master it then move to the next. That said, I still forget a basic thing like metering mode or ISO every now and then, but practice overcomes that.

    I find that deliberating over a photo, and producing a good one, is always more gratifying than the scatter-gun approach of taking lots and happening upon a good one. In reality, it's always a combination of both, but you can always argue that the delibration produced it in the end.

    Tony

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    Hi John,

    I have settled into a routine where I do tend to take several shots of the subject and each iteration gets better, so when reviewing in PP, I give the last shot in the series the most serious consideration first because the earlier examples are likely to be the ones with extraneous content, not level, bad choice of aperture or shutter speed, wrong exposure, etc. (i.e. 'the snaps')

    So you're not alone, good luck tomorrow/today,

  20. #20

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    Re: Not putting my brain into gear.

    Just the kind of discussion I need.

    Great and wonderful tips here.

    One technique that I picked up a short while ago while shooting the fog series. Some other guys were there doing the same. One was using a light meter but the others all had their phones out and using the phone camera at arms length to help frame "the" composition. When they found a composition they liked, they took a snap of it and then setup the camera at about the same angle, distance off the ground, orientation, etc, fine tune and shoot. Yes, I watched others while others in my group were already happily shooting. Have not done that yet but will tomorrow if weather permits.

    One other thing I started doing a couple of months ago was keeping a notepad in the bag. One side is for tips and techniques that have been taught me here and the flipside for field notes.

    Sometimes when there are other photographers around I feel a bit awkward about taking it out and reading but with pen in hand they think I am just taking notes. hehe So for something that keeps bugging me (eg landscapes) the first thing that comes out is that notepad.

    Just saw your main thread post and those 2 shots are really good so it is working well for you. Hope someday to get all these things become like second nature. That is my "simple" ambition for now.

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