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-   -   let's talk about improvement... (http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=111582)

back alley 10-11-2011 15:07

let's talk about improvement...
 
...of our photo skills.

we talk alot about gear and that's ok.
we post lots of images and that is pretty wonderful.

we ask lots of questions, good questions...lots of who, what, where etc. regarding certain images we like and maybe would like to copy.

i propose we start talking more about how we can improve our skills.
just HOW that would look i have to leave for the smart ones out there in rf land.

it might look like mini tutorials, maybe a how to or how i did this shot.
perhaps the reason you took a certain shot and how you chose the vantage point used.

if you agree then nod your head and start thinking, shooting and writing.
let's keep it all here in this thread for now and perhaps with some luck and time it will grow into it's own forum segment.

...just a thought...

jayhopkins2001 10-11-2011 15:24

As a noob back into film, I wholeheartedly support this effort as I will be a primary consumer.

To all, please show your expertise so I may improve.

Jay

P.S. Recently acquired a Yashica 35 GT which is great, an Olympus XA from GW for $2.99 that I'm now testing and (Sunday) a Kodak 1a Special - need to mod this for 120 though and get bigger pockets.

Roger Hicks 10-11-2011 15:34

LOOK at your pictures. Try to put it into words why they work (or not). Words are imperfect, but they're better than "Duh, I like it," or "Duh, I don't like it."

Try to divide your critique into content (or even passion), composition and technique. The three need to be balanced to some extent. Do not neglect the possibility that you may mark a picture down because you don't think it's a 'proper' or 'appropriate' subject.

Listen to the opinions of others, but then, reflect upon your opinion of their opinions (as it were). Are their opinions worth more than your own? If so, why? If not, why not?

Cheers,

R.

Roger Hicks 10-11-2011 15:37

Quote:

Originally Posted by PKR (Post 1728834)
Spend a lot of time looking at paintings and learn to draw.

If you want to look at photos, there are lots here:
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...ad.php?t=95325

Possibly. That's how I got accepted for art school. But I've never been convinced that it's really that much use for a photographer. On the other hand, because I've already done it, I am as poorly qualified to judge as someone who has never done it... You can't run controls on this one.

Cheers,

R.

ferider 10-11-2011 15:45

I have to figure out first why I photograph and what I want to photograph.

Then how to improve showing what I want to show.

That's what I've concluded. And I hope I'm making progress. At least it makes me happier.

jayhopkins2001 10-11-2011 15:53

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roger Hicks (Post 1728837)
LOOK at your pictures. .....

Try to divide your critique into content (or even passion), composition and technique. The three need to be balanced to some extent. Do not neglect the possibility that you may mark a picture down because you don't think it's a 'proper' or 'appropriate' subject.

Thanks for this advice Roger. I have spent hours on your site attempting to grok all the information there. There seems to be a gap for me between vision and final image. I understand the mechanics/science of what needs to be done but my final image never seems to live up to my vision. Maybe it's my evaluation of the scene, my choice of settings/framing/etc, my expectations. That's where I'm hoping to learn from the people here.

Jay

SimonSawSunlight 10-11-2011 15:56

shoot more, think more - not just about how you take photos, but also about what you photograph, the places you photograph in.

nikon_sam 10-11-2011 16:09

I have said this in other threads and I believe it to be true...
I shoot B&W and develop both the film and prints at home...I find that developing the film helps me to expose it better in camera...and printing helps me to fine tune my film developing...
It doesn't really matter what film camera you use, subject or composition if you're not able to pull a decent print from your negs...

Mackinaw 10-11-2011 16:23

For me, I got a lot better at photography (at least to me) when I trashed the old and embraced something new. For 30+ years I took mainly landscapes and scenics which, after awhile, all started to look alike. I decided I needed to re-boot myself and changed to street and people photography. Instead of hiding behind rocks, trees and barns, I was forced to confront people, establish a photo-relationship, and take a picture. What a thrill! No more comfort zone! It's been about seven years now and I haven't looked back.

Jim B.

SciAggie 10-11-2011 16:29

Joe, I think this is a good idea. I think there is a great deal of potential in this thread idea. I have a few photos from my recent trip that I was not happy with; my pics didn't match my vision. I also had several that as I looked closely at the images, I saw something new I wish I had captured.

I think it will be good to share pictures and have open discussions about how to improve our work. I would put something up now if I had time - I need to be grading papers but I'm procrastinating...

I will definitely be checking back after a while.

charjohncarter 10-11-2011 16:45

Some of my weak points are; composition, post exposure processing, and exposure determination. Even though I meter most scenes that I care about I still think I have something missing. Tutorials would be great. I could care less about gear, but any knowledge on technique would be great.

An example is Bob Micheals recent photo of long tone TriX; he just used 'Sunny 16' and got a great photo. The big question is why, does he have a better sense than the rest of us or is he better at seeing what can go wrong with a scene?

Maybe you or me should ask him, I couldn't find his post. I'll look further, and edit tomorrow. Right now I have to go cook Hamburgers.

Keith 10-11-2011 16:48

I think the instant you're totally satisfied with your own output, you're a gonner! The complacency will show in your photographs eventually and you may as well move to another form of self expression.

Just my opinion of course.

charjohncarter 10-11-2011 16:53

Quote:

Originally Posted by Keith (Post 1728888)
I think the instant you're totally satisfied with your own output, you're a gonner! The complacency will show in your photographs eventually and you may as well move to another form of self expression.

Just my opinion of course.

I just clicked back and saw your post. Complacency is really a problem. I have never done anything that I didn't think I could improve on. BUT even trying to improve is a very frustrating process.

Keith 10-11-2011 17:03

Quote:

Originally Posted by charjohncarter (Post 1728892)
I just clicked back and saw your post. Complacency is really a problem. I have never done anything that I didn't think I could improve on. BUT even trying to improve is a very frustrating process.


And if you're not frustrated (to a point) you're not trying hard enough IMO.

I tend to enter the complaceny phase slightly with my paid work occasionally ... and I see it the instant I download that storage card onto my computer! :bang:

nikon_sam 10-11-2011 17:35

Quote:

Originally Posted by Keith (Post 1728888)
I think the instant you're totally satisfied with your own output, you're a gonner! The complacency will show in your photographs eventually and you may as well move to another form of self expression.

Just my opinion of course.


True...I find that I'm always trying to improve on many levels when it comes to my photography...never satisfied with where I am...

gilpen123 10-11-2011 17:53

The learning never stops. if you come to a point where you are not challenged anymore, then it's time to do painting :angel:

zauhar 10-11-2011 18:04

Can I kick this off with a real elementary example?

Lynn (lynnb) left a comment about one of my gallery photos - he said it was overexposed:



I exposed for the shadows, and the sun was really strong that day - I was not sure how to best handle it. Exposure was (I think) f4 @ 1/250 (Tri-X)

Would could I do to improve that? Stop the lens down more? Change development strategy? (I developed in Rodinal according to the chart.)

UPDATE: I've had additional criticism that I was too far away. Who says that the RFF forum is all sweetness and light!? ("Good capture!") That remark stings - I am well aware that I do not get close enough, and using the 21mm lens at the march only made that worse.


Randy

paulfish4570 10-11-2011 18:15

this is a good idea, joe. i might suggest that, as a start, anyone who posts a week's best photo from the gallery should say why it was chosen.

SciAggie 10-11-2011 21:22

Quote:

Originally Posted by zauhar (Post 1728945)
Can I kick this off with a real elementary example?

Lynn (lynnb) left a comment about one of my gallery photos - he said it was overexposed:



I exposed for the shadows, and the sun was really strong that day - I was not sure how to best handle it. Exposure was (I think) f4 @ 1/250 (Tri-X)

Would could I do to improve that? Stop the lens down more? Change development strategy? (I developed in Rodinal according to the chart.)

UPDATE: I've had additional criticism that I was too far away. Who says that the RFF forum is all sweetness and light!? ("Good capture!") That remark stings - I am well aware that I do not get close enough, and using the 21mm lens at the march only made that worse.


Randy

I was not there, so I don't know the details of the circumstances you were facing. I find myself wondering if you would have been better off shooting from the opposite side of the street? Then you would have been shooting into the shadow of the building at your back, Could that have eliminated the high contrast background?

This is certainly the type of considerations I face regularly - I find a flaw in an image that often I did not recognize at the time of the exposure. I have to chalk it up to experience for the next time.

SciAggie 10-11-2011 21:28

Quote:

Originally Posted by paulfish4570 (Post 1728952)
this is a good idea, joe. i might suggest that, as a start, anyone who posts a week's best photo from the gallery should say why it was chosen.

Paul, that's a good idea.

I sometimes post an image that I like that gets very little interest. I think we all have had that experience as well. We could post samples like that and give our reasons why we like the image and state our intended goal. It might be enlightening to hear the contrasting opinions of why it isn't interesting to others.

SciAggie 10-11-2011 21:39

Here is an example of an image that was effectively ignored. I was driving through South Texas and was heartbroken at the condition of the rangeland in this particular area. I stopped and took this image. I only had a 50mm focal length and couldn't get everything in the frame I wanted, so I took two frames and later stitched them together in CS4.

I suspect I may have been better off depicting the dry conditions with several seperate images in a series. They could have shown more detail. #1 I didn't think of that at the time. #2 I didn't have access to the private property. ( I was shooting over a fence) #3 I was traveling on business, and couldn't devote time for more invloved reportage. That's my story - what do you say?


SciAggie 10-11-2011 21:44

Joe, I may be asking more for a critique. If this isn't what you had in mind, speak up. I'm just trying to participate.

For a tutorial, I want to know where Simon got his mojo lately.

f16sunshine 10-11-2011 21:52

Quote:

Originally Posted by SciAggie (Post 1729076)
Here is an example of an image that was effectively ignored. I was driving through South Texas and was heartbroken at the condition of the rangeland in this particular area. I stopped and took this image. I only had a 50mm focal length and couldn't get everything in the frame I wanted, so I took two frames and later stitched them together in CS4.

I suspect I may have been better off depicting the dry conditions with several seperate images in a series. They could have shown more detail. #1 I didn't think of that at the time. #2 I didn't have access to the private property. ( I was shooting over a fence) #3 I was traveling on business, and couldn't devote time for more invloved reportage. That's my story - what do you say?


Gary thanks for posting this. It brings my thought to the surface.
This post brings up what I find to be my greatest weakness or better put greatest opportunity in photography.
How to separate what I see with my own eyes as a worthwhile subject from what I create with my own eyes and kit into a expressive photo.
There is a separation. One I can not always come to grips with and therefore come away with an image (or several) that make little impact to a viewer who was not present during the take.
I think many of the greats know who to strip down a scene to bring back an image that expresses something rather than one that simply records something.
I choose Ralph Gibson as an example.

defektive 10-11-2011 21:58

This is a terrific idea for a relative beginner such as I. Not only to get advice on my own shots but also to see how those more advanced are trying to improve. I look forward to participating in whatever form is decided.

Sam

SciAggie 10-11-2011 21:59

Quote:

Originally Posted by f16sunshine (Post 1729080)
I think many of the greats know who to strip down a scene to bring back an image that expresses something rather than one that simply records something.

That is a pearl of wisdom. It reminds me of what I tell students when I give an assignment, "There is a difference between answering a question and putting down an answer". It is clear I simply recorded the scene. I may carry some emotion with the image, but that isn't conveyed through the image.

maddoc 10-11-2011 22:01

If you want to change your photographs, you need to change cameras. Changing cameras means that your photographs will change. A really good camera has something I suppose you might describe as its own distinctive aura. Nobuyoshi Araki

I like that concept.

jonmanjiro 10-11-2011 22:08

Quote:

Originally Posted by maddoc (Post 1729086)
If you want to change your photographs, you need to change cameras. Changing cameras means that your photographs will change. A really good camera has something I suppose you might describe as its own distinctive aura. – Nobuyoshi Araki

I like that concept.

The best justification for GAS I've heard/read to date :D

maddoc 10-11-2011 22:10

Quote:

Originally Posted by jonmanjiro (Post 1729088)
The best justification for GAS I've heard/read to date :D

Obviously it worked out for Araki-san ! :D

jonmanjiro 10-11-2011 22:12

Quote:

Originally Posted by maddoc (Post 1729089)
Obviously it worked out for Araki-san ! :D

I think all the nude women he photographs helped more (he is quite famous for being an エロオヤジ after all) ;)

jonmanjiro 10-11-2011 22:14

This:

Quote:

Originally Posted by ferider (Post 1728844)
I have to figure out first why I photograph and what I want to photograph.

Then how to improve showing what I want to show.

Followed by this:

Quote:

Originally Posted by SimonSawSunlight (Post 1728855)
shoot more, think more - not just about how you take photos, but also about what you photograph, the places you photograph in.

I think that's the key for improvement for me anyway :)

maddoc 10-11-2011 22:16

Quote:

Originally Posted by jonmanjiro (Post 1729090)
I think all the nude women he photographs helped more ;)

Well ... I think thousands of other photographer tried the same thing but not that successful ... ;)

EDIT: I was thinking about if the following is true or not:


You are either born to be a photographer or not. The art of photography is not something you can learn in the classroom or by watching someone do it.

jonmanjiro 10-11-2011 22:18

Quote:

Originally Posted by maddoc (Post 1729095)
Well ... I think thousands of other photographer tried the same thing but not that successful ... ;)

haha, indeed that is true. but thousands of other photographers also changed their cameras but were not that successful :)

lynnb 10-12-2011 00:00

Thanks Randy for the example - I've posted a detailed response here http://www.rangefinderforum.com/phot...p?photo=168766
which shows how quick responses are not always the best! In short, I recognise it wasn't exposure at all that I was responding to - it was relative brightness and contrast across the image. You've prompted me to critically evaluate an image and that's A Very Good Thing. Posting on mental autopilot is not just bad for my photography, it sends wrong messages!

I spend quite a lot of time looking at images and asking myself why I like then and why they work.

I really like the idea of posting an image and discussing all the considerations behind it - what you were thinking, what made you want to photograph the subject, what aesthetic and technical decisions you make to get the final image, whether it was preconceived or a grab shot.. and so on.

Which images to post and discuss that way? Maybe by invitation in the gallery - see a photo you like and post a comment against it asking if the member would like to put it in a dedicated thread like Joe suggested.

Austerby 10-12-2011 00:46

I've always found it very instructive to be able to see the sequence of shots surrounding a particular image - the contact strip that shows earlier and later attempts of the same subject. As well as working out why a shot works its good to understand why one doesn't.

zauhar 10-12-2011 04:28

Quote:

Originally Posted by SciAggie (Post 1729069)
I was not there, so I don't know the details of the circumstances you were facing. I find myself wondering if you would have been better off shooting from the opposite side of the street? Then you would have been shooting into the shadow of the building at your back, Could that have eliminated the high contrast background?

This is certainly the type of considerations I face regularly - I find a flaw in an image that often I did not recognize at the time of the exposure. I have to chalk it up to experience for the next time.

Gary, that is a good point - I did not check out the view from the other side, it may have been better (and less bright light).

Not to make excuses, but I was having trouble keeping up with the crowd - maybe I can figure out a way to shoot from my bike.

Randy

Sparrow 10-12-2011 04:45

It's a good idea Joe, but anything that's posted along these lines simply gets subsumed by all the new posts landing on top.

A couple of years back I posted an extended and illustrated essay on Art History, Composition and Colour Theory, it was well received at the time, mostly, but was gone from the home-page in a few hours and the forum-page in a few days ... it's hardly worth putting the effort in to write it that being the case.

paulfish4570 10-12-2011 05:13

we've got that forum asking for criticism of a shot, but it is seldom used. and when it is, there are few comments.
i'd like to offer a couple of tips anyhow:
1) if composition is your weakness, cut out a cardboard 3:2 window that is, say, 20-30 percent smaller than a full-size 35mm photo on your monito. click up one of your shots, and use this window to crop your shot, moving the frame to various areas to see if there is a more dramatic photo with the faux frame in one corner or to one side or the other, or to see what the photo would looked like if you had been closer. cut out a square empty frame, too, and move it around, looking for a photo within a photo.
2) visit a major museum if at all possible and look at paintings, from the renaissance to the abstract expressionist masters. look at how light was used, how composition was used, how perspective was used. after my own whirlwind tour of the met and moma a couple of years ago, i am now amazed at how the way i see was affected by holbein, mondrian, picasso, rothko and klee. i had grown up reading my dad's art books, and after seeing so many of these artists' and others' work on printed pages. seeing them "live" was revelatory, and seminal because i took up photography again shortly thereafter ...
3) when you bracket, bracket from different perspectives as well as exposures.

zauhar 10-12-2011 05:17

Quote:

Originally Posted by lynnb (Post 1729128)
Thanks Randy for the example - I've posted a detailed response here http://www.rangefinderforum.com/phot...p?photo=168766
which shows how quick responses are not always the best! In short, I recognise it wasn't exposure at all that I was responding to - it was relative brightness and contrast across the image.

Lynn, wanted to thank you here for the very detailed comments you made in the gallery - makes me glad I am part of RFF.

Randy

lynnb 10-12-2011 05:43

thanks Randy - I am very glad to be part of this community too.

shadowfox 10-12-2011 06:48

1. Don't Dream, Practice

Stop pitying yourself for the lack of time, beautiful subjects, wonderful sceneries, 'happenings'. Anything in the world can become your subject including those readily accessible to you. A subject looks mundane only when the photographer didn't want to spend the time or the effort to make it look otherwise.

2. Aim higher

If you decided that you want to use your cat as a subject, don't be satisfied with just taking snapshots of your cat. Do your homework, look for cat photos that engages you. Don't copy, synthesize, create your own version.

Obviously, substitute 'cat' with anything you like to use as a subject.

3. Don't bore you viewers

Before you post multiple pages of your 'work', stop and think, what are you trying to convey?
This simple question is what distinguishes posts like those of Chris Crawford's and some threads about using one of the most expensive camera in the world by showing *lots* of shots that cannot be distinguished from those shot using a P&S.

Again, not because the poster is not a good photographer, just need a little friendly nudge to kick him/her into higher gear.


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