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Thread: 10 kinds of photographer.

  1. #1
    Wayland's Avatar
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    10 kinds of photographer.

    I once heard it said that there are 10 kinds of photographer today.

    Those that understand binary maths and those that don't...

    While I'm not sure it is that black and white I do think there is some truth in that statement.

    Cameras have become more sophisticated and automated and there are programs and apps that turn their output into some semblance of a picture but do you think modern photography has become a victim or a beneficiary of the new technology?

    I'll play Devil's Advocate here and say that I think a deep understanding of the technology and software is essential to the process.

    (I'm not going to be offended if you disagree. I enjoy a good debate.)

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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayland View Post
    I once heard it said that there are 10 kinds of photographer today.

    Those that understand binary maths and those that don't........

    (I'm not going to be offended if you disagree. I enjoy a good debate.)
    HI,

    B4 we go into debate. May we clarify who the other 8 kinds of photographers are?
    [ you only mentioned 2. ]

    Thanks

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayland View Post
    ... I think a deep understanding of the technology and software is essential to the process.
    I'd say a 'working knowledge and understanding'.

    I was no use at maths in school - I knew it; The teachers knew it (or at least they told me I was pretty dumb!) - and it still doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

    I think you need to know enough about the technology and software to be able to get the best that you can out of a photograph. But that knowledge can't 'see' the scene in the first place, nor can it compose the picture. But I'm aware that there are probably areas of knowledge that, if I had them, would mean that I might do things differently and/or better. But, as Donald Rumsfeld said about known unknowns and unknown unknowns, etc, etc!!

    Technology is a means to an end, not the end in itself. Compared to the knowledge levels on here, I am way, way down the scale in terms of technical knowledge. But I get by and produce things that I'm content with.
    Last edited by Donald; 6th April 2013 at 08:27 AM.

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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    Can we say the same about tv viewers?

    Those that understand binary maths and those that don't...
    That to enjoy watching tv , they should have

    .... a deep understanding of the technology and software is essential to the process.
    can tv viewers enjoy viewing their tv even if they don't know binary etc?
    can photographers enjoy viewing their images even if they don't know binary etc?
    Should they know binary etc before they can enjoy viewing their pictures?

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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    Quote Originally Posted by nimitzbenedicto View Post
    HI,

    B4 we go into debate. May we clarify who the other 8 kinds of photographers are?
    [ you only mentioned 2. ]

    Thanks
    Binary 10 = 2 in decimal notation.

    Whereas B4 in hexadecimal = 180 in decimal or 10110100 in binary.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayland View Post
    Binary 10 = 2 in decimal notation.

    Whereas B4 in hexadecimal = 180 in decimal or 10110100 in binary.
    Like I said .............."it still doesn't make a lot of sense to me"!

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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    Donald, I agree about the seeing, nothing so far has replaced that for which I am grateful but the processing of photography has become a manipulation of data, just as it used to be a chemical process and there were few great photographers from those days that ran their films through Bonusprint.

    I heard a photographer saying recently that his pictures were "faithful" because he took raw images and presented them without alteration. That simply is not possible because software is required to turn that raw data into something our eyes see as a picture and that necessarily alters that data.

    I would maintain that the only way to produce a meaningful representation is for the photographer to exercise careful control of that process.

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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    Victor, watching TV is a passive pass time no matter what TV producers would have us believe.

    Photography should be a creative one, although the content of many Flikr accounts might throw that into question.

    If we are to create something meaningful should we not take control of that act to the maximum of our ability?

    Sometimes we can rely upon the technology to deliver the result we want but only if we understand how that technology works. For example, knowing that the meter in our camera will try to make the image 18% grey.

    Other times we realise that we need to override the metering to get the result we need but if we don't understand that fundamental concept then we are likely to be constantly surprised when we look at the image on the back of our cameras.

    I maintain that we need that level of understanding for the rest of the process too if we are going to be truly creative.

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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    Knowing how your focusing system (auto or manual/ compact or DSLR ) works would be more advantageous than knowing the math, preceeded by a lesson of exposure, rounded out by a quick lesson in design or composition, then maybe a refresher course in binary math.

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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Like I said .............."it still doesn't make a lot of sense to me"!
    And of course the "10 kinds of photographer" quote is just an old gag to illustrate a point. As I suggested, I don't think we need to under stand how to multiply in binary or hex, I certainly couldn't, but I do think it is important to understand that behind the scenes it is all about the numbers.

    I can remember being mortified when I realised that years of experience in the darkroom had become largely irrelevant in modern photography as it seemed like yet another of my career choices, as photography once was, had been replaced by computers.

    It has taken a long time for me to feel even remotely confident about my photography once again because I faced a massive learning curve at first.

    I still struggle with the final output, I tried printing my own work with limited success and am now looking for a printing lab that can deliver the consistent quality I'm looking for.

    Personally I feel that even that is an abdication from part of the process and it saddens me but it would appear that printers are designed to be in regular use and if not, they are designed to clog up. I simply don't produce prints regularly enough to justify that amount of hassle.

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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    John, I absolutely agree, the fundamentals always come first.

    But how many photographers throw away half of the quality that their cameras can produce because they do not shoot in raw, look at the histogram or expose for the data instead of how it appears on the camera screen?

    When I show people the pictures I have taken on that little screen many of them look shockingly bad because they are exposed to the right or shot for multiple layer combination in PhotoShop but the important thing is that I know what I can produce with them when I get home.

    If Ansel Adams had dropped some of his sheets of film into a commercial lab the results would have been awful. Most would seem over or under exposed.

    For him it was the combination of exposure, controlled development and hand printing that allowed him to pre-visualise his work to such fantastic effect.

    I feel there is a similar relationship between recording the image and post processing that is just as fundamental to the digital process.

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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    I am going to have to disagree with this statement.

    I would be more tempted to suggest that a basic understanding of some key elements of physics is really the key to understanding photography. Physics describes how the basic photographic elements; light, optics and key camera components work. I guess one can argue that to understand basic physics, one needs to understand some math as well, as physics does rely on math to describe these concepts.

    I don't consider myself particularly strong in math or physics; but most people would likely disagree with me on that self-assessment. After all, I did manage to graduate from university with an engineering degree.

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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    Good point, the first part of the camera's role is down to physics of course so perhaps like Adams we need to think of it in three stages.

    First we have the seeing. That includes composition and perhaps pre-visualisation.

    Then there is the analogue part of the image recording. Starting when the light hits the front element of the lens and ending when the Analogue/Digital converter sends the signal to the camera's main processor.

    Then we have the post production. Starting with the camera's file settings and ending with the final image on our monitor. (Although there is also a physics element to that as well.)

    I would still argue that we still need to understand what is going on in at least two of those processes in order to have creative control of our results.

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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayland View Post
    ~ it would appear that printers are designed to be in regular use and if not, they are designed to clog up. I simply don't produce prints regularly enough to justify that amount of hassle.
    Ain't that the truth

    Along with "hang on, I just need to use that last 1/4 cartridge to clean my nozzles so there isn't enough left to complete the print you just sent me"

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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    I shall never look at those "Photography 101" videos in the same way

    High 5 Wayland?

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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    I shall never look at those "Photography 101" videos in the same way

    High 5 Wayland?
    Takes an IT guy to spot that one..

    Yes it's a real shame about printers, they're too expensive to run regularly unless it's part of a business and if you don't they soon become totally useless.

    I've sort of stopped producing prints because I don't like passing my work to someone else to finish but the irony of it is that it would have been a lot cheaper to not bother with a printer and just go to a print lab in the first place.

    I have to admit, it niggles...

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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    it would appear that printers are designed to be in regular use and if not, they are designed to clog up
    If you want to print at irregular intervals, buy a printer with dye-based inks. this is the only reason I use dye. I may print a bunch for a week or two and then leave my printer idle for weeks or even months. I have two Canon dye-based printers sitting on a table next to me now, and neither one has ever clogged once. The older one is 4 or 5 years old. The newer (a pro 9000II) is perhaps a year old. The cost of this decision, of course, is that the prints fade much more quickly. For most of my purposes, that's fine--I replace my prints from time to time and don't care if they will last longer than I do. However, if I started selling, I would have to use a lab (I like Bay Photo, but that is not helpful for you UK folks) or buy a printer that uses pigment-based inks.

    Re the technical aspects of things: I think it helps, but it is not the starting point. If you don't have an idea of what you want to create, no amount of technical knowledge will be of any help. However, I do find that learning about the technical aspects of things--up to a point--helps me accomplish what I want, or at least come closer to it. I do a lot of macro, which may be relevant, as that is a particularly technical form of photography. Some of the most essential things, of course, are not specific to digital, e.g., understanding the relationship between aperture and depth of field. Some are new. When I switched to digital about 5 or 6 years ago, I found it very easy to learn the new camera controls, as the principles were the same. What was very hard was learning about postprocessing, which is more complex than the darkroom work I used to do and largely unrelated.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayland View Post
    Takes an IT guy to spot that one..
    Guilty as charged

    In fact a telecoms, then television, engineer who turned IT

    So analogue, then digital, pictures have been part of my working life an awful long time, just that in television, they move.

  19. #19
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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayland View Post
    (I'm not going to be offended if you disagree. I enjoy a good debate.)
    Good.


    Quote Originally Posted by Wayland View Post
    Sometimes we can rely upon the technology to deliver the result we want but only if we understand how that technology works. For example, knowing that the meter in our camera will try to make the image 18% grey. . . I maintain that we need that level of understanding for the rest of the process too if we are going to be truly creative.
    Nonsense.
    That level of technical detail is not required.
    I’ve taught (talented) 8 year olds who know nothing about Photographic Grey Cards and 18% Reference (actually about 12 % for a DSLR if you want to get pedantic ) – all they need to see is the light and how it falls on different tones in the scene.
    Set the DSLR to Evaluative (Canon) or Matrix (Nikon) and the camera’s TTL Meter will do a very good job most of the time.
    Teach the (talented) 8 year old that the special case of back lighting means the Subject is in shadow (it is really obvious – they usually say ”Duh!”) and explain that therefore we need to allow a bit more light in to make the exposure of that darker area “correct” . . . so make the hole bigger: open up the aperture one stop OR make the time longer . . .


    Quote Originally Posted by Wayland View Post
    I can remember being mortified when I realised that years of experience in the darkroom had become largely irrelevant in modern photography as it seemed like yet another of my career choices, as photography once was, had been replaced by computers.
    That’s very sad.
    I suspect you’ll remain mortified, if that is how you continue to allow this to occur to you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayland View Post
    It has taken a long time for me to feel even remotely confident about my photography once again because I faced a massive learning curve at first.
    quod erat demonstrandum


    WW

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    Re: 10 kinds of photographer.

    Dan, I agree with you that technical issues can never be the starting point. I've said many times that it is easy to teach people photographic technique but far more difficult to teach them how to "see" a picture.

    Like you, I found the transition to digital equipment quite easy but it was the post processing that proved much harder. As you say the relationships between what you wanted to achieve in the darkroom and the software solutions now offered are very different but having an understanding of what can be achieved is often still central to your ability to actually realise that vision in my opinion.

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