how to make better images

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by RalphLambrecht, Oct 10, 2013.

  1. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    this s a question to the more experienced photographers on APUG:
    Over the years,what was the most effective for you in getting better images? for me it was studying the iportfolios of other great photographers such asHelmut Newton, Yosuf Karsh,Horst Horst,|Richard Avedonand the like, technical books were interesting and helped to fine-tune technique buttheie effect on my learning curve was minimal. How about Your experience?
     
  2. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi ralph

    the most effective thing for me was working in a portrait studio for almost a year.
    SEEING and HANDLING beautiful negatives and karsh-esque portraits, and then
    working with someone to become a better printer. and then ... processing film and making prints
    for 9 hours a day :smile:

    i never really have gotten much out of technical books, not that i don't have any, i have a handful of them
    but the physical objects did it for me ...

    ( not that you can see much of that in the things i tend to post here on apug :wink: )
     
  3. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    For me it was improving my darkroom skills. I found books like the AA series to be invaluable.
     
  4. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    +1

    Jeff
     
  5. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Choosing my subject, and the Three Rs: Rote, Repetition and Refinement. It also helps to have a natural capacity for and awareness of, effective visual arrangement.
    I didn't have way back then, nor do I have now, much interest in Ansel Adams or other luminaries.
     
  6. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    "Let me cound the ways" - kind of an accumulation of things -
    After high school, the Army (don't laugh - you never know who you will meet that can help - or say something that you'll remember forever) for basics at least.
    Architecture school gave me a sense of design that applies to many areas, photography too.
    Books of course, but as you point out, value can be limited.
    Sharing work with others, shooting in groups, etc.
    Fred Picker's newsletters and phone conversations - again one viewpoint, but you never know where you will pick something up that changes you. Similarly, Lenswork magazine.
    Teaching is great, if your students are in the habit of questioning your lessons.
    Doing it.
    I know you asked for one - I got on a roll.
     
  7. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I'm separating "images" from technical skills and print quality here. So in terms of better images, mostly my work got much better when I let go of what I thought I liked, what I thought other people would appreciate, etc., and started being completely honest in my photography. Along the way the work of certain other photographers helped me do that. George Tice was an important influence in that respect, for example.
     
  8. Hatchetman

    Hatchetman Subscriber

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    You mean honest in terms of what you thought was important subject matter or enjoyable to work on or ??

    It's an interesting thought. I think I'm in the process of letting go of what other people think, but not entirely sure how to move forward from there.
     
  9. Regular Rod

    Regular Rod Member

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    Surely the first step to better photographs is to discover that the viewfinder is a picture frame and not a gun sight?


    RR
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2013
  10. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I went on a solo bicycle tour for a half-year in New Zealand with my 4x5. I took a 'portfolio' of 4x5 contact prints with me in a 4x5 film box to show anyone who might be interested. I got the flu and spent a week in my tent in the rain. With no book to read and no companion, I spent a lot of that time looking thru my portfolio...just taking them in, more emotionally than intellectually. And really not emotionally, either...just being there with them. Hard to describe. I still look at my work, and the work of others that way...or lack of way.
     
  11. hdeyong

    hdeyong Member

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    This is going to sound stupidly simple, but the best thing that ever happened to me was when somebody pounded into my head one basic question.
    "Why are you taking this picture?"
    Once I learned to answer myself honestly, I took less pictures, but much better ones.
     
  12. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Honest meaning I shoot what I like, and shoot it the way I see it in my mind's eye. It is all aesthetics for me. I'm not actively communicating anything. To the degree it is an honest photograph of a subject I liked and shot, printed etc. in the way I like, then by its very nature it has something of me in it. It is how I see the world around me. That's good enough. It is as valid a reason to photograph as any other, and the resulting images can be every bit as valid from an artistic standpoint as anything else. I've studied a hell of a lot of art, but I stopped following compositional "rules", and I stopped worrying about what other people might think. I don't care.
     
  13. Fast

    Fast Member

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    I relate to the people who are talking about honesty in their work. I came to a realization one day (actually more like the course of a year or so) that I should stop trying to make that perfect photograph. Stop striving for the perfect composition, the perfect lighting. Stop thinking that more gear would help my photography. Stop trying to emulate what other photographers (great or otherwise) were making. I had to (figuratively) throw out my AA books. I started seeing myself as an artist and not a photographer.
     
  14. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    When I made the shift to large format.
    Looking at others' work, learning how they worked gave me the impetus so I got a 4x5. After learning to use that I decided 8x10 contacts were a good thing so I got an 8x10 and a 300mm lens. I listened to the advice of "stick with one lens, one film, one developer" and learned as much if not more from that camera than all my other experience combined. What I learned was, " take your time and think. Know what you want the print to be before you expose the film. Compose right into the corners and do it right the first time". This improved my pictures dramatically - my best got better, and much much more consistent regardless of the format I'm using.
     
  15. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    As Ralph mentions, looking at the work of the great photographers certainly helps. But I would also say simplification of materials and equipment, coupled with practice, practice and more practice. Don’t chase a magic bullet, let it come to you.
     
  16. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    Visiting The Land exhibition at the V&A taught me a lot about appropriate technique (i.e employing technique that matches what and how you want to photograph). Lee Friedlander's early monograph taught me a lot about differing concepts of composition. The issues of Creative Camera in the late 1970s taught me that there was a whole lot more to photography than what I had learnt in camera clubs and at the RPS.

    However, the most important thing for me (as others have alluded to) was the decision to only make the images that I wanted to do regardless of other people's opinions. Naturally, experience and improved technical skills all play a role but good technique can be learnt in a matter of days and a lot of the experience you gain along the way becomes redundant as soon as realise that what makes your photographs truly unique is when you put away your photographic heros, concepts of what other people think and just get on with making the images that you want to make.

    Bests,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  17. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    +100.
    It's very important to use equipment which becomes transparent in that you can use it automatically, without conscious effort. Sort of a Maslow's Hierarchy of effort and attention; you can't be thinking about the picture if you're struggling with hard to use / unfamiliar gear and techniques.
     
  18. Doc W

    Doc W Subscriber

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    An important moment for me was when I stopped trying to imitate the photographs I admired and started thinking about what I wanted to see in my own photographs. So many of us want to reproduce, more or less, the images of the masters, so we pursue a wide range of styles and techniques because we think that being a journeyman photographer is the same as being an artist. Some journeymen photographers, i.e., those who can photograph anything with any equipment, are also artists, but not always. Rather than trying to learn everything, decide what you want to see in your photographs and that will determine what equipment and techniques you need. The owner of a local gallery once said to me that he didn't care if a photographer could do a wide range of styles. He wanted his clients to be able to look at a photograph and say "that is by so and so."

    Ralph, I have to say that your book has been of great benefit to me and no doubt many other photographers. Not all of us are technically savvy, and your book was extremely helpful.