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Thread: Find your image, or your image find you

  1. #1

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    Erik

    Find your image, or your image find you

    Hi All,

    I love to flip through journals and magazines on photography and even taking courses. A repeated theme that comes back over again is that we should have the image we want in our head already. Then, take a photo of that image.

    Maybe I am still too green in photography, but I have a very hard time knowing what I want to photograph, versus going for a walk a finding something that inspires me.

    How to you take your photographs? It is already in your head or do you look for it?

    Erik

  2. #2

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    Re: Find your image, or your image find you

    The image is always already in my head to one degree or another before I try to capture it. When I am setting up a studio shot or creating an informal portrait in any circumstance, that is the maximum amount that the image is previsioned. When I am going to an event, a themed place such as a zoo, or any walk-around environment, I have many kinds of photographs in my mind that I hope to make, though my ideas are less specific. When I come upon a scene unexpectedly that requires immediate reaction, I have the least amount of specific ideas in my mind about what I am trying to produce.

    Even so, regardless of the situation, I never release the shutter without first having a strong idea in my mind about the image I want to make. Sometimes I'm successful. Most often, I'm not. The very best world-classs baseball players fail at the batter's box about two-thirds of the time. The very best world-class photographers have a far higher failure rate when it comes to releasing the shutter.

  3. #3
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Richard

    Re: Find your image, or your image find you

    I sometimes have specific plans as to how I want a photo such as this image of hydroplane racing in Mission Bay, San Diego, California. I knew that I wanted an image of the hydroplane in a tight turn with the rooster tail of its wake in the background. I knew that I wanted this type of picture so I planned my position to be near one of the turns on the course. It worked out well I think...

    Find your image, or your image find you

    When I visited Beijing, I knew thatI wanted an image of the Chinese People's Army honor guard with the entrance to the Forbidden City and Mao's gigantic portrait in the background. However when I arrived at Tiennamen Square, our tour didn't give me enough time to set up the image exactly how I wanted it. It was also freezing cold with a biting wind coming down off Mongolia. I was not dressed for the climate. The images are O.K. but, not exactly how I planned them. I had a 1.4x TC along with me but, with the tour and my wife walking off, I didn't have the time to attach the TC and compose the shots exactly how I wanted them...

    Find your image, or your image find you

    Find your image, or your image find you

    I knew that I wanted a old street musician and was lucky enough to find one on the streets of Xian. This was a no-brainer...

    Find your image, or your image find you

    Other times, images have come to me with little or no pre-planning. i was sitting in the viewing area of a polo field with a 300mm f/4L IS lens and captured his player. I guess that pre-planning by having that lens on my Canon 7D did contribute to the capture...

    Find your image, or your image find you

    Having a 70-200mm f/4L IS lens on my 7D with a 550EX flash on a Stroboframe Camera Flip Bracket allowed me a good series of captures at various model shoots, among which is this one...

    Find your image, or your image find you

    Pre-planning which lens I have attached to my camera and whether or not I will use flash is a significant factor in good captures. Of course, having a selection of excellent lenses and cameras from which to choose makes my life a lot easier.

    With a pair of 1,6x cameras wearing a 70-200mm f/4L IS and a 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens, I am prepared for most capures. Of course, for sports, wildlife and macro, I have to change my setup.

    Every once in a while I totally fall upon my sword and arrived ill equipped. This is usually when I am lazy and don't want to carry enough equipment. I have shot buterflies in the past and my 300mm f/4L IS lens, by virtue of its long focal length and close MFD has been a valuable tool. But, I visted a butterfly preserve with only that lens. All of the action was up close, butterflies were landing on my camera and I couldn't get far enough away from a butterfly because of the crowds of people inching in with their P&S cameras. That was a total debacle.

  4. #4
    DanK's Avatar
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    Dan

    Re: Find your image, or your image find you

    Erik,

    I think that any rule like this just gets in the way. Sometimes, one can plan; other times you can't.

    For example, you may know you want to do a formal portrait of a specific person, or you may have a specific view that you want to photograph under a certain kind of light. These you can plan. I have a specific moonrise I want to photograph. Because of weather, I missed my chance this month, but I know what day to be back, and I have an idea of how I want to compose it.

    However, other times, you can't plan--e.g., when doing candid shots of people, or hunting bugs for macro photography. You may know enough to plan what equipment to take, and so on, but not what you may find. When I go bug hunting, I generally carry a 100mm macro with a 36mm extension, because that often works, but I don't know what I will find. Last year, I was walking down a dirt road in the Adirondacks, looking at the ditches (a good place to find bugs on flowers), when I just happened to stumble on this:

    Find your image, or your image find you

    I barely had time to get in position before he was gone. (I know it was a male, because male deer flies drink nectar, while females bite.) I could give quick attention to framing, but that was about it. Because I do this a lot, I had other settings pretty much as I wanted them.

    However, even if you don't know in advance what will interest you, you can still plan once you find a potentially interesting subject, if your subject is something that stays still (unlike bugs, which don't stay put, or sunsets, which don't last long). Once you find it, think about different perspectives, focal lengths, depth of field, etc. I do this with landscapes, for example (which don't do very well). For example, a few years ago, I was standing in a drizzle in Burlinton, VT. I had gone there with the intention of taking pictures of a friend's kids, who were running a marathon. At one point, I looked across Lake Champlain at the High Peaks of the Adirondacks and realized that the drizzle actually created an interesting effect. So, I then planned several different shots, one of which was this:

    Find your image, or your image find you

    For one other kind of photography, flower macros, I often take a bunch of quick shots to let me look at different perspectives in two dimensions. Most of my flower macros are quite involved, requiring a lot of fussing with lighting and then taking anywhere from 3 to 15 images to focus-stack, so I don't want to do them until I am reasonably sure that I have what I want. For this purpose, I find a variety of perspectives that I think might be interesting, and I take a single shot of each. These allow me to discard a bunch of ideas before investing the time in a careful shot.

    Dan
    Last edited by DanK; 8th July 2012 at 11:50 PM.

  5. #5

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    Allan Short

    Re: Find your image, or your image find you

    Often I have an idea of how I am want the image to come out as I may have been to the location before, other times never have been to the location, I look and I see im my mind the printed image. On one shoot we were take the skyline of a city and I way I saw it was not the usually way the finished image was in my mind before I had even setup the tripod. There have been other images that I have no idea of what the finished shot will look like. Sometimes it is like I go down a road and come to a sign post (like the one in M.A.S.H), pointing in all directions, but with no destination, so I go down one of the paths and see where it takes me. Sometimes not so good but every once in a while to the most beautiful of places when the image is finished, I look at it and wonder how did I get here.

    Cheers:

    Allan

  6. #6

    Re: Find your image, or your image find you

    Quote Originally Posted by DanK View Post
    I think that any rule like this just gets in the way. Sometimes, one can plan; other times you can't.
    Your right, not every rules applies all the time. I have a list of photos in my mind that I want to take. Some require being in a certain place or at a certain time. I can plan for these sorts of images. However I do a lot of street photography and, while I may want a specific type of shot the chance that random strangers are just going to do exactly what I want (unprompted) is unlikely. In that sort of situation it is less about planning and more about spotting the best potential image (and then capturing it).

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