Good pictures -- bad places

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Roger Hicks, Sep 5, 2006.

  1. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    More than once, I have found that I get a disproportionate number of good pictures from places I didn't really enjoy while I was there (e.g Istanbul and Han China) and disproportionately few from places I found more congenial (e.g. Transylvania, even if the food isn't as good).

    Has anyone else found this? Any ideas on why? My weak hypothysis is that the contrast is what matters, and with the places I don't like, the pics seem better, whereas with the ones I do, the pics don't seem to do it justice.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  2. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    No, I think I get better pix when I relaxed. What didn't you like about Istanbul? I find it interesting and easy.

    -LG-
     
  3. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I can't say that. Since I mostly shoot landscapes, I have to have a feeling for the place in order to get good images, those places I don't like, I find it hard to have good feelings for. Fortunately, I have found very few places that I've been that I didn't like very much (Japan, Paris) - I haven't found anyplace that I don't like at all.
     
  4. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Speaking from my own experience, I think that it is a mistaken belief that place has a consideration in making of meaningful photographs.

    Good photographs have everything to do with what is inside us and very little to do with what is external to us.
     
  5. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I try to see interesting things in any place that I am, even or especially in places I don't like (although I try not to stay for long in places I don't like). Even when I don't have a camera with me, I look at where I am - if the buildings themselves lack interest, are there interesting details? are the people interesting? what about the plants? the overall landscape? I think perhaps being someplace you don't per-se relate to can force you to think more critically, so you do make better images because you're forcing yourself to SEE more.
     
  6. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    As a portrait photographer I can get frustrated at the fact that some people have sort of a beautiful aura about them and yet may be not so traditionally beautiful, but getting that on film can be very illusive.

    It always pisses me off when, I look at the finished print and I know that I missed it. Sometimes it reveals itself, but other times it will escape the film.

    Perhaps the feelings you get when at beautiful places or places you feel the most comfortable is the same thing. You can't quite capture the intangibles. You capture the scene but can nail down the feeling.


    Michael
     
  7. matt miller

    matt miller Subscriber

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    I agree with this. My state of mind affects my photography much more than where I am. That said, where I am and what's going on there has a great impact on my state of mind. When there are crowds, or I am uneasy for some reason, I do not see well at all. When I am alone and free from worries, I find that I can see good photographs regardless of location.
     
  8. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Very true.. Some of my favorite photos were made in my back yard! And when we took a trip to Europe last spring to visit my grandmother, I got a great photograph of my son in the hotel bed! Like you Matt, I see good photographs wherever I am!
     
  9. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    LG: Well, put it this way. I spent four of my first ten years in Malta, which explains a certain anti-Turkish bias. And I'd been to Greece several times before Turkey. Then, when we arrived the first time, a cartoon Turkish immigration official (fat, badly shaven, in an ill-fitting uniform) stole ten pounds (UK -- about ten million Turkish lire) from me and was well upset when he failed in his attempt to get twenty pounds (UK) from my wife (travelling on a US passport) in lieu of $10: he clearly didn't think we'd have US currency with us on a UK charter flight...

    Robert, Donald, FlyingCamera, Matt, Suzanne: yes, that's what I'd have thought too. That's why I posted it -- I was very puzzled at how it happened. I was shooting essentially to satisfy the UK tax-man that this was a legitimate business expense, not because I liked the place.

    Michael: I think that's it. When you're comfortable/happy/ecstatic and can't capture it, you feel let down.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  10. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Wherever I feel being in my backyard or some kind of playground from my childhood experiences, I have full control taking good pictures.

    Yesterday I drove around the rural part of Japan by the coastline not far from where I live and found this little path in the bush to get to the cliff from the road. There were many butterflys and little wild flowers there that I don't see in other places. Usually even in this kind of rural areas, everything is already covered with asphalt concrete.

    It was only a five, ten minute walk, but I was so excited and happy.
     
  11. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    My experience in the city of Istanbul was quite nice a couple of years ago. I got so many good pictures because people were nice to me. Although some people wanted to sell me rugs so bad, and a few people tried to drug me out and/or rip me off in a restaurant. But I didn't have any rough time. :smile:

    The only thing I didn't understand was/is about the women. I know, generally speaking, most Turkish women are tough and they have this tradition that they cannot really hang out or be seen with men in public. But I ran into quite a few flirty ones and couldn't figure out what to do...
     
  12. nc5p

    nc5p Member

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    I don't get to travel far like most of you. However, I did find the same sort of thing with two day hikes I took into the Sandia Wilderness last fall. The first was on the La Luz trail, a very popular trail travelled by thousands a year with magnificent rock formations and views. I got an assortment of typical photos one might expect.

    The second trip was the much less travelled Pino Trail. This one I shot a roll of Adox 125. The resulting photos were way more beautiful, even though the subjects might be considered mundane to most. I sold several 11x14 prints of two particular pictures. I would have to say this trip was more productive from a photographic perspective than the La Luz trip. I would also have to say I had a better time as this was a trip without many people around. People bother me (and I bother them) as I am always blocking the trail composing shots. Most people on La Luz are looking at their watches and trying to beat their last time to the top. I'll take all day getting there.

    Doug
     
  13. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Doug,

    Interesting story; thanks. Like you, I've often made my best pictures 'off the beaten track'. And what's intriguing is how short a distance you may need to go. In Yosemite, for example, go a hundred yards from the car park or food concessions and you'll see one-tenth as many people. Go five hundred yards and you're very nearly on your own.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  14. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    After that first bad experience, almost all the people I met were very helpful and friendly, but the trip had been 'poisoned' to some extent. There were other bad bits at the beginning too: I had to ask for another hotel room (the first one was awful) and the weather was bad for several days, clearing up only on the last day-and-a-half of the trip.

    I'm told that in any case, Istanbul is about as typical of Turkey as New York is of the United States or Paris is of France.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  15. colivet

    colivet Member

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    I tend to make more and better photographs when I am able to descend into that state of hightened sensitity. I really try to connect to the place just for the sheer pleasure of being there, sensing it. My mind needs to slow down to the point it is so still, so empty, so blank, that it really feels there no one there. Then it almost always it starts flowing. I see stuff that I wouldn't have seen and see it in ways that I wouldn't have seen it.

    There are places in which I connect more profoundly than others. When there is the connection I am compelled to pull the camera and do some work. When I am unable to connect for whatever reason, I really don't even bother making photographs. I much rather drink a cappucino.
     
  16. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Place mean a lot and perhaps bad places sharpens your view. What about warzones,
    New Orleans after Katrina or places i Africa with hunger and deceases. All these places good pics are made and not all of them is about the disasters and misfortune in the area. some is about beauty, hope, happiness and human relations or just daily life.
    I can be in the mood for photography yet find myself in a place that does not inspire me to take pictures and I can feel uninspired yet suddenly see the great pic in my surroundings.
    Cheers
    Søren
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2006
  17. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Hah! If there is a "Rosetta Stone" approach to Fine Art photography, this is it!

    I agree completely, and that "slowing down" - quieting the internal dialog, is a wonderful way to heighten one's senses, and to open the door to our internal capabilites, which, I've found, are FAR greater in ALL of us than we can consciously perceive.

    - To "hear", shut up and LISTEN. That principle applies to ALL art.

    Where is my chisel? This deserves to be carved in stone...
     
  18. goros

    goros Subscriber

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    That is pure Zen. And I agree 1000%.

    Cheers
     
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    maybe it is a adrenaline/serotonin-thing?

    sometimes the added stress of not wanting to be somewhere helps edit-out the bad images that could be made ( kind of like a filter )-- you just want to leave. when you are somewhere enjoyable, your senses are so overwhelmed by the beauty of the surroundings, nice people &C that even though things are so bad they look good ?

    i always read about people doing darkroom work or shooting film while under the influence of " ------ " when they were exposing their paper or film, they were constantly saying " this is gonna be great! " and the next day when they were sobered-up they said " can't believe i wasted all my time doing that" ...
    maybe it is the same sort of thing ?
     
  20. davetravis

    davetravis Member

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    I am blessed to live in Colorado, where there are few "bad" places.
    In my 20's & 30's it was all about getting to "the place." Always in a hurry to "see" the next destination. Watching the clock, beating the traffic, finding the "perfect" campsite. Mostly because I only had the weekends to explore.
    Almost like being on assignment with a specific criteria of shots. Looking back, I think I missed a lot of things that today I care about. But that sense of urgency seemed to make everything more "important." But for what I do, that was the only way to find the best places to match my inner vision. Discarding the ones that don't work, where I don't see anything, in favor of the ones where I basically go nuts, and shoot way too much film. But I still return to those forgotten places, and today see them in a different light.
     
  21. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I agree with Donald's comment about what's going on inside us rather than the quality or otherwise of the location. I also feel that getting into the habit of making exposures every day generates better images and helps in the development of seeing. Sadly not many of us have the opportunity to make exposures every day.
     
  22. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Dave, I grew up in Colorado, and while I love the state, I don't think I could ever go back. I left in 1993 because it was getting too much like California, for my tastes. Probably what happens when you grow up in a place like that, you see the good places overrun with crowds.
     
  23. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Getting good photos automatically makes it a good place.
     
  24. davetravis

    davetravis Member

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    Robert,
    I hear ya about the crowds, but the scenery sure beats Mississippi! But you know what? Every time I disappear into the hills, I look around and ask myself, "Why am I the only one here?" Most of the hoards stay around metro Denver, and I am still able to find places that are remote, with solitude. And besides if it gets too crowded for me, I just start blasting one of my pistols, and it becomes remote again pretty quickly! :tongue: