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Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

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Old 03-11-2008   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris101
Seeing it without a camera is just plain frustrating.
That's what has prompted me more than once to consider drawing lessons....
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Old 03-11-2008   #42
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I've tried to have an empty mind, but I'm not really cut out for executive management

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Old 03-11-2008   #43
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Originally Posted by myoptic3
Why the arbitrary 2 rolls a week and 3 prints. It IS arbitrary. Just shoot whenever there is a shot worth taking (you would be surprised how few shots you will take) and print only the great shots (not the good or very, very good ones). The empty mind comes from not, not thinking. Not from not thinking. Or, just shoot. However, Buddhist practice is one thing and photography another. You may actually want to think MORE and shoot less.

I am reminded of a commercial stock photographer who shot, according to him, over 2,000 rolls of film a year. Figuring it was just 24 exp per roll, that's , mmm, lets see....that's a LOT of pics! And he got 4 or 5 a year that paid the bills. So I wouldn't be worried about printing. I can sometimes get several printable shots a month, then not get any in a year. Edit, edit, edit.
I didn't set out shooting the two rolls with any thought or concern about the end products. I did it to assure that I would continue shooting personal work. Photography not connected with my professional life.

For me I know that if I keep shooting something good will happen. It may mean I sell a print, make a new friend, find a new place to eat my lunch, or have a great ride on my Vespa. It has never worked for me to just shoot when I feel like it. The inertia of sitting still is too great. And waiting for motivation and inspiration to touch me too unreliable.

Once I am in motion though I am a different person. So I need the arbitrary two rolls a week. It is obvious though from reading all the responses here that were are all different in what works for us. And what works for me could quite possibly be the worst for someone else. But I keep looking and listening for new ideas and paths.

I do understand your comments about printing and "printable" negatives. I'm printing for different ends though. And like almost all of my prints they are short lived. I show them to a few people and they go into a box and may never be seen again. Still, printing them has value to me. Just not monetary value...
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Old 03-11-2008   #44
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For me it works the other way around.
With an M I'm less bothered with the technical side of the process. I can concentrate much more on the image. Only a few controls and I can predict the outcome. Same with my Leicaflex SL2.
With the Canon 20D I'm much more busy with the controls and checking the exposure etc. It keeps me from getting into the flow. I might need more practice with it but I just don't trust the camera to get the result I'm looking for. I use the 20D less and less in favour for film.

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Old 03-11-2008   #45
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Neither is pocketable, but surely you don't believe that the M8 is the same size & weight as the D200 (even assuming each has a comparable prime attached)?
The Leica is smaller, but not by much. Either camera is too damned big to carry around in a pocket. Unless you consider a Domke 803 your pocket.

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However, I do agree that a compact digital like the Caplio might be more "mind-emptying" than a D200 & be a lot easier to carry around.
The notion that a Leica M is small enough to always have on you is largely a myth. It's smaller than an SLR, but still too big. These new small sensor digital cameras like the Ricoh's are truely pocketable and they have very good manual controls. Is their image quality equal to an M8 or even scanned film. No, but so what? There's something to be said for always having a camera on your person, and there's more to be said about a camera so innocuous that no one takes it seriously. I think the images being posted on the GET DPI small sensor forum certainly prove that.

The Ricoh GR-D and GX-100 ARE the Barnack Leicas of our time. Yes, I'm serious. Too bad no one at Leica recognizes that.

Last edited by kevin m : 03-11-2008 at 07:16.
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Old 03-11-2008   #46
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Geez! I carry Leica + 40mm f2 lens in pockets. It even fits in ANY cargo pants pockets.

Kevin, why are you so stubborn?
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Old 03-11-2008   #47
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Well, having handled both, I think an M8 is considerably smaller (& lighter) & much easier to carry around. Besides, I don't think the OP mentioned anything about pocketability, just that the D200 was "a pig to carry" compared to an M6; the M8 is just a bit thicker than an M6.

Personally, I think ultra-small cameras (e.g., Olympus XA) can be a pain to use because the controls are too small (same goes w/cellphones). Easy to carry, yes; easy to use, not so much. The typical "Barnack" body is about the smallest form factor I'd be willing to accept for daily use, so the Ricohs do qualify by that measure, I suppose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kevin m
The Leica is smaller, but not by much. Either camera is too damned big to carry around in a pocket. Unless you consider a Domke 803 your pocket.



The notion that a Leica M is small enough to always have on you is largely a myth. It's smaller than an SLR, but still too big. These new small sensor digital cameras like the Ricoh's are truely pocketable and they have very good manual controls. Is their image quality equal to an M8 or even scanned film. No, but so what? There's something to be said for always having a camera on your person, and there's more to be said about a camera so innocuous that no one takes it seriously. I think the images being posted on the GET DPI small sensor forum certainly prove that.

The Ricoh GR-D and GX-100 ARE the Barnack Leicas of our time. Yes, I'm serious. Too bad no one at Leica recognizes that.
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Old 03-11-2008   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevin m
The Leica is smaller, but not by much. Either camera is too damned big to carry around in a pocket. Unless you consider a Domke 803 your pocket.



The notion that a Leica M is small enough to always have on you is largely a myth.
Carrying a camera around with you all the time is something that you just decide to do. Even if I have the Domke satchel with me the camera is always around my neck (M6). Traveling light I just have the camera around my neck with an extra roll of film in my pocket.

With the Nikon D200 I carry it with me around my neck. It's bigger and heavier but you get used to it. It becomes invisible unless you feel self conscious. I have had smaller cameras, point and shoots, that fit in my pocket but I use them less. Around the neck works best. Even at work in meetings I arrive with a camera.

I suppose after years of hauling an 8x10 around everything else is tiny...
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Old 03-11-2008   #49
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I deliberately don't carry a camera with me all the time so that I enjoy what else life has to offer apart from photography.

My simple philosophy is live to photograph, not photograph to live.
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Old 03-11-2008   #50
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I'm willing to wager a rather large sum of money that the majority of people who say they "always" have their M body with them are engaging in a form of deception. Self-deception at the very least. The M is not small; it's only smaller than an SLR. It's not light, either, and it's not water-resistant. Plus, it's a rather valuable item, and there's the understandable tendency to want to keep valuable things out of harms way.

Those factors combined mean that while the M is a very fine tool, it's often not THERE to do the job. And any tool that's not there is a rather useless in its roll as a tool.

Sure, the M is lighter and smaller than a DSLR. But if your real aim is to have a camera on your person at all times, there are some real "no excuses" choices out there nowadays.
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Old 03-11-2008   #51
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I always carry my m mount body with me, though theres no way its fitting into my pockets. I just wear it bandolero with a neckstrap and pull it up to shoot whenever i see something interesting.
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Old 03-11-2008   #52
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I could never get comfortable carrying the camera around my neck. I always ended up bringing the Domke 803 with me. And if I was bringing THAT, then I might as well bring the second body, too....and the 90....and the flash, because you never know....
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Old 03-11-2008   #53
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Same here. I've never understood those who insist on going strapless & carrying their camera in their hand(s) all the time. What if they don't have a bag & need to hold a drink or something?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbf
I always carry my m mount body with me, though theres no way its fitting into my pockets. I just wear it bandolero with a neckstrap and pull it up to shoot whenever i see something interesting.
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Old 03-11-2008   #54
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After have tried Rollei 35, I think that Barnack and M bodies are perfectly balanced for taking shoots. Especially M when it is about take sharper pictures with slower shutter timings. I don't even manage 1/30 on rollei 35 due very sticky shutter and too unstable body.

I had backaches after using d70 with 17-70 zoom kit. It is not definitely light setup. Nikor af 50/1.8 feels quite large when I compare it with summicron
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Old 03-11-2008   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nh3
I deliberately don't carry a camera with me all the time so that I enjoy what else life has to offer apart from photography.

My simple philosophy is live to photograph, not photograph to live.
My God! That's it. Except I am closer to being you're polar opposite. For good or ill I don't pay as close attention when I am not photographing. The camera parallels a hearing aid.

I have gone for long periods not making photos and that's when things get generally messed up for me.

Carrying the camera is not a burden though. And I don't fret anymore about having all the right equipment along just in case.


We are one varied bunch of people...
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Old 03-11-2008   #56
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I remember how many times I regret at last few years not having a camera with me when good occasions appeared. Recently I have decided to put rollei or barnack in my pocket when I go to work or outside every time.
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Old 03-11-2008   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonofdanang
As we invoke 'empty mind', consider that there are essentially three ego-states: Superior to, inferior to, and equal to.

Consider the 'unique'.

When you hear that 'blah and blah...' in your head, ignore it as you would chatter at a gallery and keep looking at the photograph. There is something else there. You took the picture. Follow the threads. As a famous writer once said, 'Just get the words down. You will always re-write, following alleys previously unrevealed".

Just keep working. The process is just the boat that gets you across the river. Once you're on the other shore, you gonna carry that thing on your head for the rest of the journey?
it is called zen mode
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Old 03-11-2008   #58
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Originally Posted by tomasis
I remember how many times I regret at last few years not having a camera with me when good occasions appeared. Recently I have decided to put rollei or barnack in my pocket when I go to work or outside every time.
Me too. I think it's been at least 4-5 years since I've started carrying a camera everywhere. When I go out specifically to shoot it can be any number of cameras I have. If I'm in casual dress mode I typically carry my Contax T2 or Rollei 35T in a coat pocket. But even on a day like today where I'm in my business suit the light-weight yet very sharp and capable Olympus XA is in one of the inner suit pockets....
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Old 03-11-2008   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomasis
it is called zen mode
Is that located on the function dial of my DSLR?
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Old 03-11-2008   #60
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Hi Steve,

I can only suggest you the exercise our teacher gave us during the reportage (photo-journalist) course.

Since he saw our way to shoot too "rational" and "far" from the subject, he suggested us to stroll along with our camera, whatever it was, and one or two friends that should have taken us in a secret / unknown place with OUR EYES COVERED, so basing our shooting only on our ears, smell and tact (our feet, mostly, when sensing you're passing through a different terrain / road) and shoot. Blindingly. Well, don't ask me why or how, but it worked. A lot of us (unfortunately me not since I was ill and couldn't do the exercise, and my wife felt ashamed to do such thing (!)) improved significantly and suddenly. Their shots were now more intense and interesting than when shooting only with eyes, and this doesn't mean necessarily they should be "straight" (horizontal). It worked like a removed lock from our minds. Try it and see if your way to shoot is later more pleasant to your eyes. The aim is making your other senses more important in the shooting process, not leaving to eyes the 100% of your shutter tripping decision.

Best wishes for your shooting.
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Old 03-11-2008   #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevin m
I'm willing to wager a rather large sum of money that the majority of people who say they "always" have their M body with them are engaging in a form of deception. Self-deception at the very least. The M is not small; it's only smaller than an SLR. It's not light, either, and it's not water-resistant. Plus, it's a rather valuable item, and there's the understandable tendency to want to keep valuable things out of harms way.

Those factors combined mean that while the M is a very fine tool, it's often not THERE to do the job. And any tool that's not there is a rather useless in its roll as a tool.

Sure, the M is lighter and smaller than a DSLR. But if your real aim is to have a camera on your person at all times, there are some real "no excuses" choices out there nowadays.
But from where do you dig out these pathetic conclusions? Kevin, I'm starting to think you only like to stir a debate for the sake of doing so.

The M system is VERY small. Like you say, it's only smaller then SLRs, but please don't forget the SLRs are created to be a small alternative to bigger formats. This is where the M system gained its reputation: its size and build.

Please visit this link and PM me so I can tell you where to send the LARGE sum of money you are talking about.
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Old 03-11-2008   #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevin m
I'm willing to wager a rather large sum of money that the majority of people who say they "always" have their M body with them are engaging in a form of deception. Self-deception at the very least. The M is not small; it's only smaller than an SLR. It's not light, either, and it's not water-resistant. Plus, it's a rather valuable item, and there's the understandable tendency to want to keep valuable things out of harms way.

Those factors combined mean that while the M is a very fine tool, it's often not THERE to do the job. And any tool that's not there is a rather useless in its roll as a tool.

Sure, the M is lighter and smaller than a DSLR. But if your real aim is to have a camera on your person at all times, there are some real "no excuses" choices out there nowadays.
I have carried an M everywhere for years. M6 originally, then M7. In briefcase, in belt pouch, or in shoulder bag. Now I carry a Barnack, but because I like the experience, not because I couldn't stand the weight of the M anymore. Collapsible lenses are our friends, in both M and LTM mount

Enough with the sweeping generalisations, eh?

Regards,

Bill
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Old 03-11-2008   #63
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This is where the M system gained its reputation: its size and build.
Ned, you're an exception to the general rule, that's for sure. In fact, I thought of you while I was typing. But the M gained its reputation in 1954, and it ain't 1954 anymore. The M isn't that small, it weighs alot for its size, and it doesn't like water. Which is why we see so many pics shot in "safe" locations, I guess.
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Old 03-11-2008   #64
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I have carried an M everywhere for years.
Really? Everywhere? Are you sure this isn't just a figure of speech?

Out in the rain? In a Kayak? When you're wearing nothing but a pair of cut off shorts and flip flops chasing the kids while they play on the lawn? That kind of "everywhere?" Those are the situations where my M bodies normally got left in the car, in the hotel room, or back in the house.
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Old 03-11-2008   #65
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Well, with the digital M8, I think we're going to see a surge. If I was a war photographer, I'd be shooting the M8 instead of any other camera. But then again, with technology being what it is, even Cell Phones can do a good job over Leica, Nikon and Canon.

I think it's only personal... Depends on the photographer. The world is big and we represent a microcosm. Leicas are Tanks and they don't fear water, IMO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kevin m
Ned, you're an exception to the general rule, that's for sure. In fact, I thought of you while I was typing. But the M gained its reputation in 1954, and it ain't 1954 anymore. The M isn't that small, it weighs alot for its size, and it doesn't like water. Which is why we see so many pics shot in "safe" locations, I guess.
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Old 03-11-2008   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevin m
Really? Everywhere? Are you sure this isn't just a figure of speech?

Out in the rain? In a Kayak? When you're wearing nothing but a pair of cut off shorts and flip flops chasing the kids while they play on the lawn? That kind of "everywhere?" Those are the situations where my M bodies normally got left in the car, in the hotel room, or back in the house.
Yes. Unequivocally. Except the Kayak bit, of course, since I am English and have some modicum of decorum. Once it becomes part of you, it is not a chore. If it is not in my briefcase, belt pouch or shoulder bag it is on the floor, desk, seat, coat pocket, or what-have-you, close at hand. Now, as I have already said, my IID occupies that position, but because I'm having fun with it, not because it's necessarily smaller.

Y'know, it's ok to have a different opinion. There's no need to grind everyone to your point of view.

Regards,

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Old 03-11-2008   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevin m
Ned, you're an exception to the general rule, that's for sure.
If you really believe that you speak for the general, why not see that that belief is one exception too. Recognize that between millions photo camera users exist very very few photographers who don't see any obstacles. Antic Leica M pieces might look as some bothersome obstacles for most people. It is very natural and at the opposite some find using m system as far liberating. Rules of sport, journalism photography don't apply to art and vice versa.
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Old 03-11-2008   #68
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I don't get the "I don't take risks" approach with film.

Film is cheap. Especially B&W film. I buy in bulk, and shoot mindlessly if I want to.

If you need to work faster and like film, then by all means get AF and AE, VR, higher frame per sec, etc. There is great technology for doing so in film cameras. An F5 or an F6 is probably as humanly close as possible as a "no opportunity wasted" camera.

People who really like digital are as enamoured of the process as are people who are in love with film. It's not a trap to like the process: how else can you achieve pixelation than with digital? how else can you achieve grain but with film?

I don't see how shooting digital to prevent you from being "enamoured of the process" is anything good. What, you like film, and should shoot digital, and hate it, in order to make better photographs? Do you think any competent photographer hates their tools?

Yes it's important to see past the warm fuzzy feeling of handling a Leica or a Nikon, but if it wasn't there in the first place you wouldn't be taking pictures. At the same time it's important to get out of your comfort zone, but I really don't see how digital would get you out of your comfort zone. Most people I know who shoot both in fact find the stronger discipline required by film to be an asset for their digital shooting.

If you want to learn to see instead of playing with toys, then don't get new toys. Go read on art history, learn to draw, practice composition, get a portfolio review, engage in heated debates about aesthetics, set up an exhibit and try to convince galleries to show your stuff, but DON'T GO BUYING NEW GEAR!

It's not the gear that will make you learn how to see. It's the people you meet and their art.
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Old 03-11-2008   #69
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhotoMat
Is that located on the function dial of my DSLR?
hehe good one. it might take thousands years for DSLR manufacurers to design zen mode

If you really want use zen mode, you can find one invisible on antic leica m cameras after a long time meditation
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Old 03-11-2008   #70
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I'm usually a little skeptical of abstract phrasing especially when the said phrase sounds rather mysterious and philosophical yet it does not make any sense.

Let’s say ‘empty mind’, for one it is a priori conjecture which predicates an idealized mental state with certain criterion of action and thought etc... But if pondered closely it reveals itself as just another mind-game which tries to achieve the basic and automatic function of human brain and that is the ability of human mind to simply perform an action without actually 'thinking about', like fixing your hair or breathing.

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Old 03-13-2008   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nh3
I'm usually a little skeptical of abstract phrasing especially when the said phrase sounds rather mysterious and philosophical yet it does not make any sense.
You might be taking the term "Empty Mind" too literally. I think my friend intended in as a suggestion to me to let go of my rules, expectations, beliefs, and such as it related to photography. Just for a little while. And god knows I have a lot of them that have served me well until they got obsessive --- things like the search for the finest grain, perfect developer, best camera, best lens, best subject, best paper. And others even more sinister like no cropping. Or one induced by Fred Picker of always having the view camera at eye level.....*what's that about*.

Anyways, he has suggested I let go. And I have at times and that's usually when I move off the plateau and onto another level. Sometimes up, sometimes down.

Right now the one that stands out best for me as an example of letting go is related to my reactions to the work of the Starn Twins. When I first saw it I rejected it as utterly without worth. Bollocks as some would say. Bad technique, just another example of the terrible art crap bull**** that arrives in public.

And when I was able to let go and view it with the "Empty Mind" I was able to see things that were quite amazing on a lot of levels. Still not the kind of work I would do or be interested in but I was able to abandoned my narrow minded view of things.

And this appears in so many areas, not just photography. What is difficult for me though is letting go of my beliefs in how photography should be. And look at it like a little kid. The world is way more cooler through those eyes. And it doesn't cost a thing or hurt me one bit.

Until I have to go to work..... *grrr*

I appreciate your comments and everyone else's. It has kept me thinking all week!
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Old 03-13-2008   #72
Ara Ghajanian
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My 2 cents: your friend is wrong. It has nothing to do with the camera. Digital has it's own processes also and you could get caught up in those too. The M8 won't solve it either (been down that road myself), the image quality is NOT better than film, I don't care what anyone says. Stick with film if you feel comfortable with the process.

It's your mind that needs to be emptied, not your camera. By asking this question on the forum, it is obvious that your mind has been filled even more with your friend's opinion and now all of ours. You need to forget everyone's opinion (except mine of course). Jjust shoot for pleasure, not to reach a particular goal. Only them will you enjoy what you produce.
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Old 03-13-2008   #73
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Photography is far, far to important to be taken seriously.

Try to find what you like, then stay there.
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Old 03-13-2008   #74
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Have to agree with Ara. It isn't about the camera.
Here is an interesting podcast in which photographer Henry Wessel discusses the importance of keeping the mind out of the shooting process...
http://www.sfmoma.org/podcasts/2007/...cast_feb07.m4a

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Old 03-13-2008   #75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Williams
You might be taking the term "Empty Mind" too literally. I think my friend intended in as a suggestion to me to let go of my rules, expectations, beliefs, and such as it related to photography. Just for a little while. And god knows I have a lot of them that have served me well until they got obsessive --- things like the search for the finest grain, perfect developer, best camera, best lens, best subject, best paper. And others even more sinister like no cropping. Or one induced by Fred Picker of always having the view camera at eye level.....*what's that about*.

Anyways, he has suggested I let go. And I have at times and that's usually when I move off the plateau and onto another level. Sometimes up, sometimes down.

Right now the one that stands out best for me as an example of letting go is related to my reactions to the work of the Starn Twins. When I first saw it I rejected it as utterly without worth. Bollocks as some would say. Bad technique, just another example of the terrible art crap bull**** that arrives in public.

And when I was able to let go and view it with the "Empty Mind" I was able to see things that were quite amazing on a lot of levels. Still not the kind of work I would do or be interested in but I was able to abandoned my narrow minded view of things.

And this appears in so many areas, not just photography. What is difficult for me though is letting go of my beliefs in how photography should be. And look at it like a little kid. The world is way more cooler through those eyes. And it doesn't cost a thing or hurt me one bit.

Until I have to go to work..... *grrr*

I appreciate your comments and everyone else's. It has kept me thinking all week!
You're welcome.

I actually felt burned-out after an extensive period of constant photography. During this period I was simply shooting clichés and trying to imitate the photographs that I had seen and admired - most of the time unconsciously. My shots were all over the place, basically trying to say everything in catchy one-liners instead of a cohesive paragraph or an essay... My memory was overloaded and I finally burned-out and lost motivation to shoot.

Now, there is nothing wrong in great one-liners, they could be more interesting than a paragraph but to my mind they got tiresome and their finiteness stifled my drive to be creative. So, I stopped shooting, instead I went and studied the great masters... The experience was a total revelation and a humbling experience. I also realized how truly complex serious photography is and how one can easily get lost if not careful. So, that's when actually my mind felt free of all the prepackaged ideas of photography and I did not felt the empty mind but I felt librated. So, I decided that if I'm considering photography as my only means of self-expression then I should make it as cohesive and structured as possible and avoid the one-liners and catch phrases.

Anyway, I want to be prepared and focused and wait for the right subject. So, I guess what you need is to findout the right subject for you and then give it all.



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Old 03-13-2008   #76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nh3


Anyway, I want to be prepared and focused and wait for the right subject. So, I guess what you need is to findout the right subject for you and then give it all.
It is not the way an empty mind works. But rather quite contrary. If you like preoccupied mind, that's fine too
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Old 03-13-2008   #77
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i carry an m almost EVERYWHERE.
I used to carry mine "almost" everywhere, too. But then I discovered that I was missing alot of pictures I wanted to take in those "almosts."
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Old 03-13-2008   #78
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Originally Posted by kevin m
I used to carry mine "almost" everywhere, too. But then I discovered that I was missing alot of pictures I wanted to take in those "almosts."
maybe you have better chance with plastic dslr
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Old 03-13-2008   #79
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maybe you have better chance with plastic dslr
The fact that I actually used a pair of Leica M's professionally means nothing, does it? All one has to do is simply question the myth of Leica's supremacy as a silent, compact, take-anywhere camera and the darts come flying. This place too often resembles a house of worship more than it does a forum.

My point is that if one's camera is too heavy/bulky, too fragile or too valuable to take EVERYWHERE, then perhaps that particular camera is a limitation on one's photography. If one's CAMERA is more precious than the images it takes, perhaps one has the cart leading the horse, n'est-ce pas?

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Old 03-13-2008   #80
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It's the other way around.

It's not that shooting digital results in "empty mind" photography.

It's that you must have an "empty mind" to shoot digital photography.
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