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Sniper or Spray and Pray
Old 03-21-2019   #1
chipgreenberg
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Sniper or Spray and Pray

I was able to knock off work early yesterday afternoon and walk around Albuquerque NM Old Town with the goal of finishing a roll of film I have in my Minolta Autocord. It was a gorgeous afternoon and I did finish my roll!

I'm a sniper. As an ex still life photographer I don't shoot a lot of film. I use a tripod, compose carefully. If I don't think the image is going to give me a big smile I don't push the button. In fact I framed up twice as many images as I ended up exposing yesterday. I tried some stuff, I worked it, but ended up saying eh, and just moving on.

I had seen this guy shooting his digital Canon and ended up sitting next to him and his wife at dinner. Obviously we talked photography a bit. They were from Ohio touring the Southwest. I asked him if he got anything good.

He said, I took thousands of images and won't know until I go edit the stuff. (I really know how good my take is when I push the button)

We talked a little about our different shooting styles. What I found REALLY interesting is he told me a friend of his that teaches photography supported Pray and Spray because you never know if you have a jewel in there.

For me at east this isn't a film vs digital thing. Though digital makes Pray and Spray more viable. I have a style of work I do with my iPhone and I'm just as picky about the shots I take with that.

I didn't now shoot the images I passed on yesterday because of the fe bucks of material cost, it was more "Why bother?"
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Old 03-21-2019   #2
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I got totally fed up spraying. I recall one evening returning from a classic car hill climb with 600 raw images to process. I'd spent most of the afternoon 100 yards from the start line trying to get motion blur, and frankly autofocus and the continuous shooting mode of the D700 did all the work. I couldn't load all the images as my Macbook ran out of memory and at the end of it there were 5 images in total that I liked. A month later I returned to film with a Rolleicord (no hurrying there) and totally slowed down. I still take too many, but the ratio of miss to hit is declining. I find colour film with motor drive and autofocus brings out the sprayer, whereas old cameras and black and white the sniper.
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Old 03-21-2019   #3
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Really poor metaphors folks, you make photographs, not "shoot" them.
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Old 03-21-2019   #4
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If a good picture is the goal then editing whatever you end up with has to happen. Sometimes having a bigger sample helps and sometimes it doesn't. How much time do you have?



Eggelston made a print of every shot he ever took. Someone else did the editing...
The last time I was in New York a couple of guys were doing street photography in the lovely early evening light. Their shutters were moving so much I think a video camera may have been a better choice. I did not envy how much editing would have to happen!


Did they get "the" shot or just "a" shot? Does it matter?
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Old 03-21-2019   #5
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I've been shooting digital exclusively since 2008 but I shoot it just like I shot film. I've never filled up a card, even when I used something like a 2GB. There have been vacation trips from which I've returned with only a hundred or so images on two cameras and of those I might delete 75-80. To my thinking, I go for quality over quantity.

I've never understood the philosophy of shooting a thousand images at an event and spending hours reviewing, editing and processing them later. Too much like the old adage "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with BS."
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Old 03-21-2019   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KM-25 View Post
Really poor metaphors folks, you make photographs, not "shoot" them.
From my newspaper days, we photographers were called "shooters". It was a term that indicated the photographer was dedicated to his work and usually quite good at it.
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Old 03-21-2019   #7
Mcary
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I generally walk around and look at stuff and think to myself either no, yes or maybe; if its no I just move along if it's yes I may 1-2, or 10 frames trying different angles or compositions. If its maybe than I generally snap 1 frame and from that I can usually tell if there's something there or if I should just move on. During a short outing say 1-2 hours I may shoot between 5 and 30 frames while on an all day outing it maybe 5-100 frames it just depends. Generally I feel that I'm very selective during the initial review/edit and usually delete about 50-60% of the images that I shoot. Personally I don't think there's a right or wrong approach instead everyone just needs to find what works for them.
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Old 03-21-2019   #8
Greg Maslak
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I'm much like you, Chip. Most of my successful pictures, film or digital are well composed. I consider and frame up many more potential images than I ever actually take. Even when I'm in an urban street environment where a "snapshot" aesthetic is considered correct, I don't bother pushing the shutter most of the time. Still, I'm a huge fan of Gary Winogrand who seemed to make images as he breathed - millions of images on tens of thousands of rolls of film. He edited them meticulously, picking the perfect one from a dozen rolls on any given day, but a major part of his brilliance is in the spontaneity of his image making. We see his personality and soul in those pictures. That's something my more careful approach may never have. Lately, I've been trying to make more pictures with less fuss.
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Old 03-21-2019   #9
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I tend to also shoot digital like I shoot film in the sense that I think about my shot, take whatever time I have to set it up (i.e., street shots may be 50 ms, landscape scenes seconds to minutes), compose, get the exposure I like (with visual feedback is nice), then shoot it. The difference with digital is I might take an extra shot or two more often, and I may be more open to taking a shot that with film, I may have let go. So with digital my volume of images is higher, but not by huge multiples, maybe 1.5-4 times what I would get with film for a given outing.

I do remember the big bulk film backs in the 1970s and 80s. That was the film version of pray and spray! I think for sports photographers and photojournalists (who wanted to get that one special expression on a hated politician for instance) this made sense.
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Old 03-21-2019   #10
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Am keeping my cameras on continuous shooting, at their slowest pace (which is still more than plentiful). Am usually shooting one shot per scene but if situation warrants, sometimes burst of 5-6 max. Agony am trying avoid is going through all those near identical shots and delete most of them.
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Old 03-21-2019   #11
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I kinda shoot like a hitman: three round bursts whether film or digital.

I studied Diane Arbus's contact sheet, the one of the little boy playing in Central Park with a grenade. She shot 12 shots in a Rollieflex for this image.

First off no duplicate shots. Both she and the subject were moving and interacting like they were sparing or dancing. The shot that made the edit was not in the beginning nor the end.

In editing of three shots generally one is better or more interesting than the other two. Three shots are not a lot, and I like the process.

How many times have I shot my Fashion Blogger girl and I catch her with eyes closed or some other defect that ruins the shot? Also know that generally these shots involve movement and sometimes magic happens. Realize that I am moving as well as the model in most cases.

In real life if you suffer a gunshot and are not hit in a vital organ you basically have two hours before you bleed out, and you have about an 80% chance of surviving.

The inverse is true: if you get shot twice in non vital areas you only have about a 20% chance of surviving.

In my shooting I increase the odds of a "kill" by using three-round bursts.

In gunshots multiple shots increase the chance of death.

Hitman tend to ensure a kill by three shots: Chest, stomach, and lastly a head shot.

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Old 03-21-2019   #12
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I make a lot of photos... but I walk around a lot and photograph many different things. Sometimes, something happens so quickly that I`m making a few photos in a row and then praying...and most of the time I am in control waiting for the right moment. BUT I never use continuous frames... I`m always in single shot mode. But I`ve mashed the shutter button on occasion. For me, compelling framing, nice light, and something compelling within the frame are the most important parts of photography. If I had to mash the button to get a great shot, I`m ok with it on occasion. I prefer not to. However, you cannot always be in complete control... that would be boring.
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Old 03-21-2019   #13
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I forgot some of my video training where I "Martini Glass."

In grad school you first get the wide "cover shot;" than you move closer and get tighter; and lastly a detailed close-up.

In street photography this also applies. The above training I got doing ENG (Electronic News Gathering) making "packages" to tell a news story that would be assembled into a 1 1/2 minute story broadcast on Long Island Cable.

Motion picture film crews also work this way.

Wide, closer, then detailed close-up.

Again three different shots.

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Old 03-21-2019   #14
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There are times when spray and pray works and times when waiting for a single shot is best. Almost all my work is digital now and I tend to shoot, as said above, in three shot bursts. Film work is slower, but if I'm not careful, I can quickly run through a roll with a motorized F3. For the ultimate slowdown, a Leica IIIa. Usually, I get more keepers when I shoot slowly, but at a basketball game, I take a lot of shots.
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Old 03-21-2019   #15
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I'm another one that shoots digital the same as film. There are no winders on my film cameras, although the use of one is good for sports. Also I'm not fond of spending a lot of time at the computer pouring over hundreds of images looking for keepers. I know whats on the film or card before getting home to process them.

It is different for some pros. I recall in the eighties my Father and Stepmother were models for hotel ads. The photographer took hundreds of chromes to get the two or three for the ad. That's lots of time over the light table with a loupe.
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Old 03-21-2019   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Maslak View Post
I'm much like you, Chip. Most of my successful pictures, film or digital are well composed. I consider and frame up many more potential images than I ever actually take. Even when I'm in an urban street environment where a "snapshot" aesthetic is considered correct, I don't bother pushing the shutter most of the time. Still, I'm a huge fan of Gary Winogrand who seemed to make images as he breathed - millions of images on tens of thousands of rolls of film. He edited them meticulously, picking the perfect one from a dozen rolls on any given day, but a major part of his brilliance is in the spontaneity of his image making. We see his personality and soul in those pictures. That's something my more careful approach may never have. Lately, I've been trying to make more pictures with less fuss.
I like Winogrand too. He took tons of pictures but he was in a category where I don't think "spray" is applicable. I have a book that shows a couple of his contact sheets, and pretty much every picture on the contact sheet is good, composed (his seemingly spontaneous snapshot compositions are actually very tough to do in an interesting way, and he talked of learning about composition from Robert Frank), and shows acute observational genius, even if only a tiny fraction was published. You can pretty much close your eyes, do a random blind selection, and get a viable gallery show. I would pay good money for a book consisting of any random sprinkling of Winogrand's contact sheets, if someone ever were to publish one.

I know Szarkowski accused him of spraying in his later work. However, from what I have seen of it his later work was just as good or even better, simply different (in a less exuberant mood than Szarkowski might have liked, I think).
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Old 03-21-2019   #17
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Glad you got outside on a good day. The weather's been funny, so I haven't been to The Square in a while.
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Old 03-21-2019   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olifaunt View Post
I like Winogrand too. He took tons of pictures but he was in a category where I don't think "spray" is applicable. I have a book that shows a couple of his contact sheets, and pretty much every picture on the contact sheet is good, composed (his seemingly spontaneous snapshot compositions are actually very tough to do in an interesting way, and he talked of learning about composition from Robert Frank), and shows acute observational genius, even if only a tiny fraction was published. You can pretty much close your eyes, do a random blind selection, and get a viable gallery show. I would pay good money for a book consisting of any random sprinkling of Winogrand's contact sheets, if someone ever were to publish one.

I know Szarkowski accused him of spraying in his later work. However, from what I have seen of it his later work was just as good or even better, simply different (in a less exuberant mood than Szarkowski might have liked, I think).
You might know this book already but "Garry Winogrand/edited by Leo Rubinfien for SF MOMA" is comprehensive with photos from the contact sheets Winogrand never saw. It demonstrates your insights well. Also, check out Jeff Wall talking about Winogrand. He explores the idea of being in the event or "happening" of the photograph as what Winogrand was doing especially later in his life.

https://davidcampany.com/the-domain-...ith-jeff-wall/
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Old 03-21-2019   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogman View Post
From my newspaper days, we photographers were called "shooters". It was a term that indicated the photographer was dedicated to his work and usually quite good at it.
I remember covering a Clinton speech in Wichita KS for regional AP. We were setup on the back riser with long glass, secret service all around and this young buck blurts out, "I can't believe I get to shoot the president!". Secret service then motioned for him to come over so they could have a chat.

It's time to lose the term "Shooter", it has never been a good one. I still make photographs for the New York Times by the way...
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Old 03-21-2019   #20
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...I still make photographs for the New York Times by the way...
Sure. But I can say that I stayed at a Best Western recently.
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Old 03-21-2019   #21
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Kudos to the Best Western. How was the complimentary breakfast?

I mostly use a film camera. So, I'll generally expose only a couple of frames per subject.

Now with regards to people on the move, my main strategy is to pre-focus, stay in one place and allow the subject to walk into a predetermine spot - which gives me a little control of the background in the photo.
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Old 03-21-2019   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solinar View Post
...

Now with regards to people on the move, my main strategy is to pre-focus, stay in one place and allow the subject to walk into a predetermine spot - which gives me a little control of the background in the photo.
That is a good strategy. In the following I snapped shot of the scene then noticed the bicyclist coming out of the corner of my eye, waited then snapped again (notice that I did not "shoot").


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Old 03-21-2019   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Maslak View Post
You might know this book already but "Garry Winogrand/edited by Leo Rubinfien for SF MOMA" is comprehensive with photos from the contact sheets Winogrand never saw. It demonstrates your insights well. Also, check out Jeff Wall talking about Winogrand. He explores the idea of being in the event or "happening" of the photograph as what Winogrand was doing especially later in his life.

https://davidcampany.com/the-domain-...ith-jeff-wall/
Thank you for the Jeff Wall interview reference. I think some of their discussion may be based on false assumptions regarding Winogrand though. Winogrand didn't "shoot without looking" or "work hard at not composing" as they claim - total misunderstanding of his pictures I think; indeed it would have been very hard to obtain his actually very precise compositions without a well-honed instinct for careful framing. See http://www.photogs.com/bwworld/winogrand.html
I tried shooting without looking through the viewfinder, but when Winogrand saw this, he sternly told me never to shoot without looking. "You'll lose control over your framing," he warned. I couldn't believe he had time to look in his viewfinder, and watched him closely. Indeed, Winogrand always looked in the viewfinder at the moment he shot. It was only for a split second, but I could see him adjust his camera's position slightly and focus before he pressed the shutter release. He was precise, fast, in control.
Footage of him that I have seen elsewhere of him at work confirms this. And he is on record as talking about the importance of the edges of the frame, what gets included and what gets left out. This is pretty much the opposite approach to the automatism ascribed to him in the Wall interview.

They refer to Stephen Shore's gift for composition, which I admire. I admire Winogrand (and Frank) in part precisely because to me they were as good as Shore in compositional genius.
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Old 03-21-2019   #24
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I'm wondering, especially given the age distribution of the population here, whether having grown up as a film shooter...oh, pardon me...photographer, trained so many posters above to be "snipers?" I started in film with a Yashicamat TLR. That's what I could afford, and I had read a book by Andreas Feininger recommending medium format in order to develop good habits and shot discipline. The Yashica taught me those things but also instilled deep 35mm envy in me when I somehow covered basketball and wrestling with that camera for my high school paper. At any rate, there are a lot of former and present older film photographers around here, and I wonder if their shooting habits were largely formed by film photography?

I have several digital cameras now, but still shoot only slightly more frames when shooting digital. I also try to compose carefully and pass on a shot when I don't like what I can get. But I am almost never shooting action or sports. If I did, I'd probably shoot a lot more and set the camera to "continuous high." As is, in my old age I am back to shooting mostly 6x6 black and white. Full circle.
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Old 03-21-2019   #25
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One case for using multiple shooting (Also known as Motordrive) is that the second shot has a better chance of being sharper. Most of us know this. Doesn't apply as well to tripod users I imagine. I don't spray and pray, I'm digital but I just don't seem to have the urge. A 16gb card will last me all week.
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Old 03-21-2019   #26
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Well, shoot! Before someone shoots me another dirty look I think I'll shoot on outta here and shoot a few hoops with some of my buds, a bunch of really straight-shooters.

Sorry...just messin' with the speech police.

Seriously...while I never spray and pray, I do oftentimes shoot on continuous with a moving subject or when circumstances that are fluid--just depends. But I seldom make more than 3-4 exposures. With cameras today capable to 6, 8, 12 or more fps, sometimes those turn out to be 7-8 exposures.
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Old 03-21-2019   #27
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I guess we’d better contact the mods and have the “Shooting the Shooter” thread title changed to “Making a photograph of another person making a photograph”.

“Shooting the Shooter” does sound quite murderous.

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Old 03-21-2019   #28
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Real photo snipers use this.
http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Zenit_Photosniper
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Old 03-21-2019   #29
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You kinda do. You do a shoot to get the shot


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Really poor metaphors folks, you make photographs, not "shoot" them.
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Old 03-21-2019   #30
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I wondered that too. The guy I was speaking was was my peer, in his early sixties I guess.

I was also wondering how end product matters. My goal is a print on the wall, not sharing on the web, social media or gigs of images to look through. Though scanning film does create gigs.



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Quote:
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I'm wondering, especially given the age distribution of the population here, whether having grown up as a film shooter...oh, pardon me...photographer, trained so many posters above to be "snipers?" I started in film with a Yashicamat TLR. That's what I could afford, and I had read a book by Andreas Feininger recommending medium format in order to develop good habits and shot discipline. The Yashica taught me those things but also instilled deep 35mm envy in me when I somehow covered basketball and wrestling with that camera for my high school paper. At any rate, there are a lot of former and present older film photographers around here, and I wonder if their shooting habits were largely formed by film photography?

I have several digital cameras now, but still shoot only slightly more frames when shooting digital. I also try to compose carefully and pass on a shot when I don't like what I can get. But I am almost never shooting action or sports. If I did, I'd probably shoot a lot more and set the camera to "continuous high." As is, in my old age I am back to shooting mostly 6x6 black and white. Full circle.
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Old 03-21-2019   #31
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I agree and I was careful not top pass judgment.

that said, I disagree with this guys photo teacher friend. If one in a thousand is a "gem" you never know how you got that gem or how to repeat the process.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Mcary View Post
I generally walk around and look at stuff and think to myself either no, yes or maybe; if its no I just move along if it's yes I may 1-2, or 10 frames trying different angles or compositions. If its maybe than I generally snap 1 frame and from that I can usually tell if there's something there or if I should just move on. During a short outing say 1-2 hours I may shoot between 5 and 30 frames while on an all day outing it maybe 5-100 frames it just depends. Generally I feel that I'm very selective during the initial review/edit and usually delete about 50-60% of the images that I shoot. Personally I don't think there's a right or wrong approach instead everyone just needs to find what works for them.
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Old 03-21-2019   #32
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Schnaiper, schprayier...

What still and tripod has to do with amount of pictures taken for something else?

Most of the multiple frames I have to retake is for my gear for sale. Taken with camera on the tripod .

I never used tripod in the film only era. I took next to none still something photos.
It was just expensive back then on film and not so cheap now to spray.

Sniper is wrong word, IMO. The kiss...
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Old 03-21-2019   #33
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One more Winogrand bit, if you will all indulge me. In the interview with Barbaralee Diamonstein he scolds her quite harshly for bring up the "snapshot" aesthetic. He talks about framing and composition while making lots of photos. You can watch it here if you like

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wem927v_kpo

Now no one would accuse Cartier-Bresson of "spraying" but in the box set of "Decisive Moment" there is a contact sheet reprint of the frames around the two Red Army officers eyeing the girls at the tram stop. There are at least four rather indecisive versions.

It's pretty hard to just take one and walk. I certainly can't do that.
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Old 03-21-2019   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yokosuka_Mike View Post
I guess we’d better contact the mods and have the “Shooting the Shooter” thread title changed to “Making a photograph of another person making a photograph”.

“Shooting the Shooter” does sound quite murderous.

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Old 03-21-2019   #35
Huss
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I spray n pray with my Fuji Instax.
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Old 03-21-2019   #36
wwfloyd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KM-25 View Post
I remember covering a Clinton speech in Wichita KS for regional AP. We were setup on the back riser with long glass, secret service all around and this young buck blurts out, "I can't believe I get to shoot the president!". Secret service then motioned for him to come over so they could have a chat.

It's time to lose the term "Shooter", it has never been a good one. I still make photographs for the New York Times by the way...

Not my favorite term, either. But, Shooter was the title used for David Hume Kennerly's book on working Vietnam, President Ford, etc.
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Old 03-21-2019   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dourbalistar View Post
Now a'days that could get you shot in a different way. Then asked questions.
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Old 03-21-2019   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wwfloyd View Post
Not my favorite term, either. But, Shooter was the title used for David Hume Kennerly's book on working Vietnam, President Ford, etc.
Didn't DHK marry President Ford's daughter?

Trying to get back on topic. Even when I had all the film I could consume and free processing I didn't take multiple frames of anything but groups and concerts. The vast majority of the shots on film that I thought were great were single frame events.

With my iPhone, I do multiples of close-ups as the focus is off where I want it about 50% of the time in the first shot. I do have to admit there are times when I fire off several frames a couple of times I surprised my self and got a triplet that I happy with.

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Old 03-22-2019   #39
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I'm totally a sprayer for three main reasons:

1. I love the action of taking photographs, and I mentally see photos all the time.
2. I have a powerful drive to document my life and world, almost compulsively.
3. I have a fear of gaps or missing segments in my recollections and knowledge of my history.

The result is terabytes of images, often very repetitive as they involve photos of regularly traveled paths, regularly visited places, and often-seen people. When I go somewhere different, I have an even greater urge to document it.

Some might ask what I'll do with my images later; I take great pleasure in being able to relive times in my life, and knowing exactly where I was and what I was doing at any given time. This has had practical benefits, as I have been able to know who was at particular parties or gatherings, when certain things occurred, and even being able to prove when I arrived at, and left an old workplace when my pay was in dispute.
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Old 03-22-2019   #40
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I snapped differently at different times!
When I was pro first doing model portfolios and "headshots" ,
I very quickly learnt to expose way less!
I moved to Medium Format and used 1 roll, 12 exposures..
Before it was 3x36 exposures.
Editing drove me crazy and having to print everything myself was hard labor.
Weddings, well covered were vever more than 10~15 rolls of 24 exp.35mm.
It was c-41 and done by pro-lab.
BW photojournalism if 35mm never ever used motor drive.
I occasionally still use film and 120 film in Rollei.
A roll can last a year!
One roll 36exp (usually 39/40) exp. as load in dark..
I never exceed it in a days walk.
Digital is more but not on almost video setting, seldom duplicate or bracket.
Less is more.
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