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Thread: What made you a better photographer?

  1. #1

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    What made you a better photographer?

    This thread is started thanks to the question from Anton of Norwich UK: Improving as a Photographer.

    We all want to be beter Photographers, taking beter pictures and getting a WOW from others.
    The object of this thread is not to discuss any remark or opinion by any other member. All of us have something to offer. We have so much to share and we are all eager to learn from one another.

    The question is: WHAT MADE YOU A BETTER PHOTOGRAPHER, not what the general opinion is about taking better pictures.
    Please refrain from any comment on the opinion of other members. Please, only share your personal experience with us to evaluate and apply in our own photographic experience.

    What makes you a better photographer, is so often asked by so many. I do believe by just sharing our own experiences might help someone else improve their own skill.

  2. #2

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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    Let me start:

    I will not consider myself to be a better photographer, rather an improving photographer. A lot of the improvement I am experiencing has to do with being actively involved in finding out how others do it.
    Here at CiC I have learned a lot from looking at the pictures of others, reading comments and giving my own opinion about the work of others. Trying to give constructive critique is educational in its own way, to me. I ask myself, if I had to take that shot, what would I have done.

    The constructive critique from other members have opened my eyes to look at my own work in a more critical way and from a different perspective. There are a couple of good photographers here at CiC and looking at their work from a critical point of view has definitely helped me a lot.
    Upgrading from a bridge camera to a DSLR has definitely made a massive improvement in getting the shots. The bigger sensor allows for better crops and I believe a 36MP full frame camera will make it even better, getting the shots. Upgrading lenses has also assisted in widening the field of photography I can venture into. Learning to work with a tripod and using it has made a big difference in getting sharper pictures.

    Running around with my eye glued to the viewfinder has helped me in evaluating possible good shots. I never use the LCD screen on the back to frame my pictures (with a D200 you can’t). IMHO the LCD at the back is only there to evaluate an already taken shot.

  3. #3

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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    For me it was the realisation that it's a journey - and although there are certain "efficiencies" that can be used to speed up the learning process, there are few shortcuts. One must be prepared to invest in their own photographic educations - and to reinforce that education by engaging in real-world shooting.

    Learn from those who know more, and pass knowledge on to those who know less -- both help make me a better photographer.

  4. #4
    Melkus's Avatar
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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    Might sound funny but retiring is what help me. Now I have all the time in the world to work on my skills In having this time I'm able to read all the great tutorials here as well other places then take what I have read out and try. I know I learn a lot from CiC like Andre was saying about looking at pictures of others, reading comments and giving my own opinion about the work of others. I still have a long ways to go, every day is a new day and there something eles new to learn.

  5. #5
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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    Where I live there are lots of photo opportunities in a relatively small area (the city of Dubai itself). In terms of taking pictures of 'the sights', what made me a better photographer was an appreciation of light, weather forecasts, and getting into a position to take photographs from a different location or time. Taking time over composition and location can make the difference between a nicely exposed photograph which many other people can take, and getting a picture that has the "wow factor".

    Similarly when travelling on vacation, my wife doesn't realise that I plan a lot in advance! I use Google Earth a lot to scout locations before we get there, seeing what other people have shot, from where and at what time/season. Then if we are on a road trip we may accidentally 'stumble' on a great location to relax, take in the view and for me to take some photos!

    Don't tell her that!

    In terms of progression and developing a style, I'm still doing that and things are evolving. I'll continually try to challenge myself with projects and revisiting sites with different focal length primes at different times. I've being doing a lot of street portraiture recently in the early mornings due to the weather getting ridiculously hot after 9am. Now the temperatures are dropping I will try more street candid photography during the day and early evenings when I get the chance. If i get brave enough, I'll try using a smaller softbox which is more portable and try some outdoor flash/ambient environmental portraiture with a more professional/commercial look.

    So I'll continually look for something different, continually absorb from websites/forums/blogs...

  6. #6
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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    Digital has actually made me a better photographer. It has allowed me to shoot as much as I want with no fears of film cost and processing. It allows me instant feedback with the shooting data recorded. It also allows me to do my "darkroom" work free of smelly chemicals and not needing a room set aside for that purpose...

  7. #7
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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Digital has actually made me a better photographer. It has allowed me to shoot as much as I want with no fears of film cost and processing. It allows me instant feedback with the shooting data recorded. It also allows me to do my "darkroom" work free of smelly chemicals and not needing a room set aside for that purpose...
    I agree with Richard, however unlike him, I did little to no processing in the film days.

    The nearly instant feedback available with digital has enabled me to correct my mistakes and learn much faster.

    It starts in the field with the first step of getting exposure correct - the RGB LCD permits immediate evaluation of exposure/clipping. Bracketing is pretty much a thing of the past.

    At the computer, the errors become magnified a very short time after capturing the images (last night it wasn't twenty minutes from shooting to evaluating the shots). The sooner the lesson comes, the more effective it is.

    Glenn

  8. #8
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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    I am still on the rising part of the curve when it comes to learning to improve my photography. The two things that have helped are
    1) Submitting my images for microstock, because the screeners are really picky about the technical quality (focus,exposure, colour saturation, sharpness and noise) so I have learned to be very aware of these aspects.

    2) taking two online courses on macrophotography. The instructor was very good at discussing composition.

    I still have a long way to go, but with every image I try to self criticize the composition. I really need to submit more images for general critique to CIC because I feel my composition and artistic vision are still my weakest points

  9. #9
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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    I agree with Andre--I would say I am improving, but I still have a very long way to go.

    Taking digital as a given (although I started out a long time ago doing my own film & darkroom work), I think the key things are reading, asking questions, lots of practice, and good critiques. I often will focus on one particular weakness--say, some aspect of postprocessing--and work on that for a while. There is a vast amount of good reading material readily available, thanks to the web, including some great tutorials here. I tend to avoid the websites where people's feedback is mostly along the lines of "great," and instead post some images to websites where people will give you thoughtful critiques. I don't always agree with them, but I have learned a lot that way.

    Although digital makes taking additional images essentially free, in most cases, I try to avoid the digital temptation to take huge numbers of pictures in the hopes that one will actually look good. I don't think people learn much that way. Better to think and plan first, and then experiment deliberately. There are some exceptions, of course. When taking candids of people, I shoot lots of extras because you don't know how expressions will change. And in doing macros of bugs, I assume a very high failure rate and shoot lots.

  10. #10
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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    My hope is that by joining this forum and putting some photos in the mini competitions I will see what is popular and if I get many or any votes. However, the main purpose is to look at others photos and compare mine. To see how they have taken their shots, and what they have done to them to make them "pop". It is the Comments of CIC members I am finding helpful in developing an "eye" for what needs to be done.
    Last edited by rawill; 15th November 2012 at 09:15 PM.

  11. #11
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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    The question is: WHAT MADE YOU A BETTER PHOTOGRAPHER, not what the general opinion is about taking better pictures.
    1. Carrying a camera almost everywhere - and for many years
    2. Making mistakes with my cameras
    3. Identifying what were the mistakes I made
    4. Identifying why the mistakes happened
    5. Planning a course such that each mistake would not happen again
    6. Executing that course of action and then
    7. Returning to point 2.

    Also noting that points 2 to 6 are all best done (mostly always) with the assistance of other people or the assistance of other’s experience and tutelage via, for example a book. Etc.

    #1 is the most important point:
    One doesn’t become ‘better’ by having the camera sit on a shelf at home Monday through to Friday – mostly every ‘Photographer’ I have met does exactly that – and many just continue so to do . . . and have told me (genuinely) that they think my opinions on this matter are whacky.

    The camera HAS to be an extension of one’s hand and it must work without one’s thinking.

    It’s easier than learning to be a ‘better’ Concert Pianist – Pianos are very heavy to carry around to work each day and they also make a lot of noise.

    WW

  12. #12
    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    Yup - I always have my gear with me

  13. #13

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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    William pretty much mirrors my experience. Paying attention. With film I carried a notepad and detailed the particulars of each shot. In some cases I would shoot an entire roll on one subject then with the notes, dissect the results later. Having a darkroom made B&W quicker and more enjoyable to do. Digital has made things a bit faster in reviewing photos but it presented a whole new set of challenges which has put the learning curve in reverse. Practice and paying attention will get me going forward again. I think the most positive single factor in the last few years has been from joining a camera club. It's like CiC but in person. Lots of two way discussions, suggestions, practice, and especially competitions escalated the learning.

  14. #14
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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    May I turn this round, with tongue only half way in cheek? What made me a worse photographer was getting my first zoom lens (a long time ago!). I just got lazy with composition, and maybe sometimes still am

  15. #15
    William W's Avatar
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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    Zoom Lenses should be banned.

    There is only one worse retrograde invention responsible for such poor photography and that is the TTL Pentaprism Viewfinder – any Photographer worth their salt: still shoots from the hip and KNOWS exactly the exposure to use.

  16. #16
    William W's Avatar
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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    my point above, but expressed another way is:

    there is a lot of value in understanding (not 'knowing' - but 'UNDERSTANDING') - First Principles.

    WW

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    Zoom Lenses should be banned.

    There is only one worse retrograde invention responsible for such poor photography and that is the TTL Pentaprism Viewfinder – any Photographer worth their salt: still shoots from the hip and KNOWS exactly the exposure to use.
    I agree!

    Why just yesterday I had to pull out a 14mm prime because the darn zoom wasn't wide enough!

  18. #18
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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    A leap forward happened when I realised the thousand words I saw when I looked at one of my photographs was part of a long story. When someone else looked at one of my photographs the thousand words had to be the story.

  19. #19
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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    Zoom Lenses should be banned.
    All of my lenses are zoom! But if they all had to be replaced with prime lenses I still wouldn't let that, or whatever camera is handy for that matter, get in the way of enjoying photography.

    What made you a better photographer?

    What made me a better photographer? Assuming that I am getting better (and that might be questionable!), it would have to be looking at the fine images posted here and trying to learn how to do as well with my images.

  20. #20
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    re: What made you a better photographer?

    I don't even consider myself a photographer, I am just a Plumber with a camera. But as Bill stated, I ALWAYS have my camera with me. If it is not on my shoulder it is in my truck not far away. I shoot what catches my eye. If I like it, and sometimes if I don't, I will share with others for their feedback. No matter if the feedback is possitive or negative...that is how I believe I will get better. Listening to the critique and applying to the next time I pick up the camera. That and time...lots and lots of time. Some day I will get there. Not tomorrow but if I keep working at it I will eventually learn.

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