The evolution of your personal photography

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Lee Shively, Dec 30, 2005.

  1. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    The new year is approaching and I've been in a reflective mood. Mostly, I've been looking back on my personal photography and considering how it has progressed. I'm actually pretty satisfied.

    I used to shoot almost every day and I shot rolls of film and only printed a few frames or kept a couple of transparencies from each roll. I now go weeks at a time without exposing a single frame. When I do shoot, I only make a very few exposures and I print only what I consider the best. This, of course, means I get more "keepers".

    At one time, I seldom used a normal lens. I went wide or long for everything. Looking at my photographs over the last couple of years, I can't find any that were done with anything longer than a normal lens. I don't remember the last time I used a telephoto but I still use wide angles and my most used lenses are now the normals, whatever the format.

    I've always been a general photographer. I can't commit to any one genre. But it appears I have standardized on black and white as my medium for whatever genre. I haven't shot a color photograph since 2003. I know this because I still have the unprocessed film in the freezer with the date and subject written on the cassettes. Black and white was my first love in photography and I've come full circle in this regard.

    I'm pretty happy with how things are going. How has your photography changed over time and are you satisfied with how things are progressing?
     
  2. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    My 28mm lens was the least used on my 35mm camera. But now I use a 90mm on 5x7", and a 21mm on 35mm, more than the other lenses. I think wide angle is something which takes a while to learn to use.

    I do take colour pictures once in a while. But 90% of everything is B&W.
     
  3. wfe

    wfe Member

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    I still shoot two formats, 35mm and medium format but have to say that I am much happier with medium format and find myself shooting more MF. As far as change and progress I too have not settled on one genre but have been focusing on people and portraits for the most part. My compositions and printing continue to improve. I have experimented with some alternative processes (Lith and bleach back) with a fairly good level of success. I continue to put efforts into improving on exposures and negative quality and they have improved. I don't believe that there is a destination but that photography and making art is a never ending journey and I am enjoying it learning new things every day. I also believe that it is important to reflect back on one's work to get a good perspective on progress. My work has sold more this year than in past years which is great but I don't consider it a measure of success. I have to like the photographs for me to consider them a success.
     
  4. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I was more of a general photographer for many years, shooting both color and B&W, mostly 35mm, although I dabbled with 6x6 for a while. I got my first 4x5 about 15 years ago, but didn't do much with it; about 5 years ago I got serious with it. I shot about 60% B&W for years (mostly Ilford), but in the past 20 years or so, I have gravitated to almost shooting exclusively color; last year for example, I shot 20 sheets of B&W and between 500 and 600 sheets of Velvia. The work of photographers like Jack Dykinga and Joe Cornish interest me much more than Ansel Adams. Likewise, I used to hate the work of people like Lisl Dennis, because of her constant use of wide angle lenses, but now I find that I am using my 80mm and 135mm 95% of the time (LF).

    I am reading a book now called "Landscape Within" by David Ward. It is an excellent book, mostly about the ethics and philosophy behind photography - mostly landscape photography, and why it moves us. I highly recommend it, if you are interested in this type of thing.
     
  5. highpeak

    highpeak Member

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    I'm thinking about the same thing recently. I start taking pictures 5 years ago, most of them were color film, and not that often. For the past two years, I took a lot of B&W films and start to develop them by myself and love to do it. I still don't have an enlarger yet, but I will have one in near future. As far as lens goes, I use more and more 35mm and 50mm now. I still shoot some slides now and then, not much. I was drowning to B&W, don't know why I like it so much and don't want to find out.

    I am in the process of getting my 4X5 system ready, very excited.

    That's all I am sure of so far. I think I made some progress as far as technique goes, but I am very confused with my style and subject, don't know what exactly I want to shoot and how to see a subject. In a nut shell, I am confused.
     
  6. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Interesting questions ...

    How has my photography changed over time?

    Truthful answer: I really don't know. I am fairly certain it HAS changed, but in what manner? I don't know - probably because I don't really know what it was like in the first place. I do see some of my earlier work in a different light now. I will print the images I rediscover after a period of time - and that I see differently - more clearly now.

    Am I "satisfied" with my progress? Whooo, boy!! Not really ... I am NEVER truly satisfied with anything I do ... I'll just choose a point where I stop working on an image. As far as "progress" goes ... how can I answer ...

    NAH! - But I don't see any choice, other than to keep on keeping on.
     
  7. rfshootist

    rfshootist Member

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    In a way which led to an exaggerated and unhealthy use of wides !
    Until I reached a point where I detected that I obviously had forgotten that there are longer lenses, because I tried to make a 50mm shot with a 25mm.

    So my intentions for the new year are to use longer lenses when needed, also more people shooting, less boring and static stuff, getting faster and more vivid. ;-)

    bertram
     
  8. esanford

    esanford Member

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    I am becoming more thoughtful as a photographer. Hence, I spend a lot of time trolling for pictures without having a camera in my possession. In short, I am really learning to "see" and chase the light. Without having a camera, I don't feel compelled to burn negatives on every whim or impulse. When I am riding along in my car, my wife often asks me "why are you so quiet and obsessed"? My answer is: I am taking pictures with my minds eye. Once I have a feel for a subject, I specifically go back with the intention of capturing an image with the light that I think is best. This has made me photograph "on purpose" rather then at impulse. I don't take as many photographs on film; however, I believe that I am improving my vision.

    I currently use the Hasselblad Camera. I built a 4X5 camera last spring. In a few weeks, I think that I will gain the courage to use it... Thanks for asking. This question actually made me consider what I was really trying to do...

    Ed Sanford
     
  9. Gustavo_Castilla

    Gustavo_Castilla Member

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    About my work

    I find that moving up to 8 X 10 has ben a trying experience .
    I love it jet i am not used to it and I hope I get there ,the logistics are so diferent not to mention economicsfrom 6X7 or 4x5.
    I find that I am more ntersted in making abstracts or abstract compositions
    I want to push the space and dimention on the print tours the viewer
    ans so far I find I have much to work on , Idid resive a welcome coment this year that was rather satisfying to me Gordon (Mark) said Your work is more about the subject than what a seen in some time and Richard Sullivan told me I do not like lower pictures but your are o.k. witch I take a a great complement.
    The Apis 2005 was lots of fun and it was great to meet so many wonderful people and to have them apreciate your work ( sorry but print look better on hand) any how I hope I can keep working and getting closer to my goals
    thanks guys
     
  10. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

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    This time last year I didn't even know how to develop a roll of film. Now I'm developing (E-6 as well), printing and seemingly coming across something new almost every time I pick up the camera. Obviously the past year has been a whirlwind of ideas by default since I started from nothing, but I look forward to refining my technique and continuing to learn from fellow Apuger's and others over the next year and years to come. The funny thing is that I look at a print I made almost a year ago and it's like "What was I thinking, this is horrible" Hopefully I'll be able to do the same thing a year from now. Its a sign of progress I think.
     
  11. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    I have found my work to evolve by leaps and bounds. I shoot 35mm 75% Black and white and still have not mastered the art of developing and enlarging. How I frame a shot has improved 200% and I have found my judgement on what to shoot has changed. The best way to learn is to ask questions and gain feedback from your peers.

    Bill
     
  12. mark

    mark Member

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    Ahhh hell. I typed a response to this but it just depressed the hell out of me. It is good to read about people realizing their visions and improving.

    Not being able to control certain circumstances is a real bummer.
     
  13. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    When I first developed an interest in photography my work was terrible. It has steadily gone down hill fom there.
     
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  15. Dracotype

    Dracotype Member

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    Strangely enough, the greatest change my photography took was when I took a long break from it just recently, and the other time was when I was on a deadline for a photo project for school. I think the pause in my frenzy of picture taking has helped me slow down and stop shooting reflexively. The photo project helped me become more creative and whimsical in my still life photography.

    I guess I realized that I was becoming more thoughtful and discriminating in my picture taking just recently. I was down at my aunt and uncle's for Christmas break and we had gone to Avala beach for an hour or so. Barely anyone was there, the weather was cool, mostly cloudy, and the sea was working itself into 6-10ft swells. I had my mother's Seagull 4A-107, loaded with PanF+. I must have taken close to 5 or 6 photos before we left. It was such a rewarding experience because I knew that more than a few photos I had taken would be great. This wasn't arrogance on my part. I just knew that more than a few were great. I guess it was me just willing to wait and watch for the right moment, and recognizing when the moment came. I might almost say that Divine Providence must have been in full flow at the time. I don't know. It makes one glad they were there.

    Drew
     
  16. kunihiko

    kunihiko Member

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    I became to think why to shoot more than what to shoot.
     
  17. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

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    I have always just followed my nose so to speak. Each year or over time I tend to find new things -- some I follow up on others I store for later. Every year or over time I lose interest in some things or even grow to abhor them. I read the tech threads here and elsewhere to keep my mind focused on the less thrilling, but peer to the thrilling aspects. The thrilling parts, the parts that relate to the message and the final image is fed by all things not photographic and seldom artistic. All in all, each year (or over time) I tend to get 'better' -- like overcoming a mental disorder.

    As for focal lengths -- wide for things needing to be big, long for things requiring intimacy. When both are required I go into convulsions.

    Happy new year.
     
  18. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    I find it really amazing how, I think I'm changing things up all the time adjusting and correcting yet when I look back, all the images look the same. kind of concerns me a bit but not enough to change. I shoot wide, normal and long all the time. Long probably the least. Usually reserved for portraits. sometimes graphic details. I like wide a lot! love to place the horizon line. It can be done with longer lenses but usually has more of an impact the wider the lense. Even with 35mm, the shift lenses really help. That is the frustraiting thing with the XPAN. As much as I love that camera there is no movements. I feel caged!
    I guess if there is one thing I'd like to work more effeciently at it would be "street shooting" I have way to much editing and to few successes. Kind of the nature of the beast but chosing the right place at the right time more often would make things a lot more productive.
     
  19. roteague

    roteague Member

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    The one thing that I haven't seen mentioned is the role of digital photography in the evolutionary process. For me, digital has futher strengthed my desire to concntrate on LF photography; I still shoot some 35mm, but not the volume I once did.
     
  20. kunihiko

    kunihiko Member

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    Good point ! I've tried digital. It made me realize I love film.
    And, oh yes. I became to shoot larger format.
     
  21. NikoSperi

    NikoSperi Member

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    What Claire said... just further down the hill.
     
  22. Carol

    Carol Member

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    Maybe we can have a bottom of the hill gang. :smile:
    I became so discouraged this year I haven't taken a photo for months. BUT it's a New Year, so I will go back over the basics and start fresh.
     
  23. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    I've enjoyed reading this thread immensely. I chose not to even bother when I saw the title a couple of weeks ago, evolution of my personal photography, oh please. What I've come to realize recently is the amount of knowledge it takes to make even small changes in my work. As an amateur photographer, I have no schedules, deadlines, tasking or assignments. This is freedom, especially with my work environment as it is. Why do I do this, then? I guess it is simply a love of making things, "hands on" and "brain on" while being completely engaged and immersed in seeing. I no longer build things for a living, so I must create something with my hands.

    My progress has been mostly in a technical direction, but this has allowed me to gain confidence in my ability to see a scene, compress the light and then interpret through a sheet of paper what I see. What a wonderful sense of freedom in taking the shot now, compared to "sweating bullets" over exposure and development even two years ago. I started in 2000 with summer vacation, 35mm and E6, but now am using 4x5 regularly and b&w. I actually printed three color shots from last year. The majority now is in b&w, 4x5, with a smattering of 8x10 (and rollfilm for convenience although at times it is anything but convenient).

    I continue to read, make small progress and work on "seeing" which is so much more difficult than looking. Thanks for posting this thread. tim
     
  24. sionnac

    sionnac Member

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    Me too. Have installed a darkroom in my basement to develop and print b/w. Experimenting with Polaroid (so sad about SX-70 being discontinued this year). Several projects in mind, one for my 24mm (Canon A1), one for my Ansco Shur Flash 6x9, and one for my Falcon Miniature (127). I like suiting each camera to the subject. Now I just need the proper negative carriers for all these formats!
    As for evolution, I can only judge how I feel, not being in the market or a professional. Since I took my first class I know I've improved, but I wonder if I'm spreading myself too thin instead of focusing on one format. I love the work. I've enjoyed reading this thread too - inspires me - Happy New Year.
     
  25. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    Sad to hear that, Carol. Hope you do get out and take some pics sometime soon and post them here.
     
  26. Ziggy

    Ziggy Member

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    I also went a number of years without shooting very many frames. Then two years ago a friend gave some of my photos, from a trip, some negative criticism. I used that to fuel my enthusiasm and haven't stop shooting since. Friends are now telling how much I have improved. Thanks for that critique Michael!