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let's talk about improvement...
Old 10-11-2011   #1
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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...
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Old 10-11-2011   #2
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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.
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Old 10-11-2011   #3
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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.
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Old 10-11-2011   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
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.

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Old 10-11-2011   #5
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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.
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Old 10-11-2011   #6
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shoot more, think more - not just about how you take photos, but also about what you photograph, the places you photograph in.
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Old 10-11-2011   #7
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This:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider View Post
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 View Post
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
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Old 10-11-2011   #8
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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...
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Old 10-11-2011   #9
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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.

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Old 10-11-2011   #10
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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.
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Old 10-11-2011   #11
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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.

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Old 10-11-2011   #12
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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.
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Old 10-11-2011   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
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.
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Old 10-11-2011   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charjohncarter View Post
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!
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Old 10-11-2011   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
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...
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Old 10-11-2011   #16
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Old 10-11-2011   #17
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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.


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Old 10-11-2011   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zauhar View Post
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.
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Old 10-12-2011   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SciAggie View Post
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
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Old 10-12-2011   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zauhar View Post
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
Randy,

In high contrast light like that, you can reduce contrast by shortening the developing time. The developing times manufacturers recommend are for normal brightness ranges, basically what you get in light that is soft, like in overcast conditions. When the sun casts dark shadows, the range of brightness in the scene is too much for the film to handle when developed to normal contrast.

Try reducing the developing time 30% from normal. You will need to increase exposure one stop when you do this because the film's effective speed drops about a stop from such shortening of the developing time. So, determine correct shadow exposure, increase it a stop, then shoot and drop the developing time 30%.






These are two examples of this. Film was 120 size Tmax 100, developed in Rodinal for 30% less than normal with one stop more exposure than normal.
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Old 10-12-2011   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
Randy,

In high contrast light like that, you can reduce contrast by shortening the developing time. The developing times manufacturers recommend are for normal brightness ranges, basically what you get in light that is soft, like in overcast conditions. When the sun casts dark shadows, the range of brightness in the scene is too much for the film to handle when developed to normal contrast.

Try reducing the developing time 30% from normal. You will need to increase exposure one stop when you do this because the film's effective speed drops about a stop from such shortening of the developing time. So, determine correct shadow exposure, increase it a stop, then shoot and drop the developing time 30%.


These are two examples of this. Film was 120 size Tmax 100, developed in Rodinal for 30% less than normal with one stop more exposure than normal.
Chris, thanks very much, and for the nice examples - that is one thing I have not experimented with and want to try. I will do so soon.

One thing I HAVE tried is stand developing, but I am not sure it would work so well in this situation?

Randy
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Old 10-12-2011   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zauhar View Post
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
Hi Randy,

I would have exposed and developed this image exactly as you did...

Why less exposure/development if your subject is fine?

It would be a dull image in case of shorter development: you'd have less pronounced direct sun on the buildings, but at a much worse price: lower contrast on your real subject...

A photograph or a print doesn't require all parts of it inside a normal tonal range always: some parts can be, sometimes, a lot more important than others... Why show better buildings under direct sun (read, with more detail) when what matters and what you're showing is happening on the shades exclusively?

I'd even prefer the image with a bit more contrast on the subject... That's where dynamism is required...

Cheers,

Juan
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Old 10-11-2011   #23
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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.
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Old 10-11-2011   #24
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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.
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Old 10-11-2011   #25
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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?

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Old 10-11-2011   #26
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Quote:
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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.
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Old 10-11-2011   #27
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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.
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Old 10-11-2011   #28
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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.
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Old 10-11-2011   #29
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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
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Old 10-11-2011   #30
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The best justification for GAS I've heard/read to date
Obviously it worked out for Araki-san !
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Old 10-11-2011   #31
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Obviously it worked out for Araki-san !
I think all the nude women he photographs helped more (he is quite famous for being an エロオヤジ after all)
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Old 05-09-2013   #32
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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.
This is superb got lot of meaning and sense
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Old 10-12-2011   #33
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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?

About 8 years ago, my morning commute to work was on a freeway that was almost always crowded, with frequent bumper-to-bumper slowdowns. One night a snowstorm had come through. As I was driving to work the next morning, there was 1 other car on my side of the freeway. I thought, "This will make a great picture - no cars on the road!" So, I took a picture through the windshield.

The picture was of a road covered with snow and one car off in the distance. Totally pointless and boring.

I saw the lack of a traffic jam and no cars as something amazing.

The camera did not record that at all.

When I saw your picture of the barren land in Texas, I was reminded of that picture I took. Perhaps you know how this rangeland really should look - but having never seen the land, I don't have a clue, and what I see is just apparently a barren field with a windmill. There's no recorded context of what ought to be there instead.

I saw some 'before' and 'after' pictures of a tropical island that had been stripped clean of trees by a hurricane. The before shot had lots of large trees on a hill. The after shot showed a barren hill. That was impressive, and the context was right there for comparison.

So, that is my critique of your rangeland photo. Hope that it helps.
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Old 10-13-2011   #34
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About 8 years ago, my morning commute to work was on a freeway that was almost always crowded, with frequent bumper-to-bumper slowdowns. One night a snowstorm had come through. As I was driving to work the next morning, there was 1 other car on my side of the freeway. I thought, "This will make a great picture - no cars on the road!" So, I took a picture through the windshield.

The picture was of a road covered with snow and one car off in the distance. Totally pointless and boring.

I saw the lack of a traffic jam and no cars as something amazing.

The camera did not record that at all.

When I saw your picture of the barren land in Texas, I was reminded of that picture I took. Perhaps you know how this rangeland really should look - but having never seen the land, I don't have a clue, and what I see is just apparently a barren field with a windmill. There's no recorded context of what ought to be there instead.

I saw some 'before' and 'after' pictures of a tropical island that had been stripped clean of trees by a hurricane. The before shot had lots of large trees on a hill. The after shot showed a barren hill. That was impressive, and the context was right there for comparison.

So, that is my critique of your rangeland photo. Hope that it helps.
Yes, that is helpful. It is easy to "miss the forest for all the trees" as the saying goes. I think this thread has value as we share these sorts of experiences and opinions. In a previous post, and as you have alluded, this image is a record of a place but it contains no information to help the viewer see and feel what I was experiencing. That is a very helpful realization for me. Thanks for your input.
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Old 10-13-2011   #35
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Originally Posted by SciAggie View Post
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?

My two cents: I personally feel this would be better in colour. If you're trying to capture the barren, dried-out wasteland look, colour would probably convey that more than black and white (from this particular angle). As it is, the bottom half of the image looks somewhat empty.
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Old 10-11-2011   #36
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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.
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Old 10-11-2011   #37
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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.

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Old 10-13-2011   #38
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1: avoid the picturesque, always.
2: never try to emulate someone else
3: be selective in what you show others
4: develop a style YOU like and ignore others criticisms
5: never, ever, equate sharp with good.
6: forget your gear.
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Old 10-13-2011   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teuthida View Post
1: avoid the picturesque, always.
2: never try to emulate someone else
3: be selective in what you show others
4: develop a style YOU like and ignore others criticisms
5: never, ever, equate sharp with good.
6: forget your gear.
Great axioms, on number one; I went to a Yosemite exhibit at the Oakland Museum it had all visual disciplines. Ansel, the guy that did the swimming pool photos, and many famous paintings were there, but the one I remember was a photo of Yosemite with one of the typical (overdone) icons in the background but it was taken with the entire parking lots (which was over full) in the foreground.
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Old 10-12-2011   #40
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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.
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