Visit without a camera first

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by nc5p, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. nc5p

    nc5p Member

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    Somewhere I heard that one should visit a place first without a camera. It's supposed to help you "see" things without the distraction of camera equipment. I've tried this several times recently. The first trip I took to the mountains I missed out on some great weather shots. Tonight I walked up to the balloon fiesta, my first trip there in 11 years living 1/2 mile away. In this case it was probably for the best as I had no idea what to expect. Anybody else do this from time to time?
     
  2. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Personally I have more sympathy for the "always have a camera with you" viewpoint, but I guess I see where this would make sense too. Especially if you're a person who easily gets too wrapped up in the gear and the "gotta get the image" mindset and forgets to just, y'know, *look*.

    Maybe it depends too on whether you're a "seize the moment" photographer, or more inclined to pre-plan and strategise and eventually set forth to get the image you already know you want. I incline strongly to the former, but I wonder if it wouldn't do me some good to practice working the other way sometimes.

    -NT
     
  3. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I don't understand why some people habitually wear a camera around their necks and hunt around like a freaking tourist. That would make me feel compelled to shoot and it would get annoying very quickly. I prefer to do my editing up front and take as few shots as I can stand.... rather than spend a lot of time and money and wind up with a Winogrand drawer.

    Every now and then, I take a "low end" camera with me like an XA, just to go through the motions and document some future opportunities.

    Why not simply take a camera with you and refrain from using it until you see something that truly feels important.
     
  4. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    That (the OP) is no doubt one way of working. It might depend on your subject interests too. I find I've often seen an unusual lighting or peculiar shadow that caught my eye and might never be seen again, what with other time obligations, weather variations and seasonal changes in sun angle. Given my druthers, I'd prefer to have some adequate gear with me as a simple matter of practicality. And yes, restraint and using the eyes first is essential.
     
  5. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Weather permitting, you could keep a camera in the trunk of your car. That way, you always have a camera available when you need it but you won't be weighed down with your gear all the time.

    An opposite approach would be to carry a camera with you every damn place you go. You'll just get so used to carrying it around with you that it will become second nature.
     
  6. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    I always have two cameras with me even when I don't plan on shooting. The Bessa R and the Canonet QL17 GIII don't weigh much and they are easy enough to handle that all I have to do is grab one then shoot. As I said, I don't always plan on shooting, like at work or going to the store but I would rather have a camera and not need it, than not have one and need it.
     
  7. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Hi nc5p,

    I've read, but can't find the passage, that when you want to take pictures of people, you need to get to know them before you take pictures. Take photos too soon and you destroy the rapport. Go to the bar, sit and talk with them, fight with them, then you can take a picture that communicates who they are. In this case I am convinced it's good advice to use restraint.

    You pointed out that you missed a potential shot by not carrying a camera. Nature photography goes that way. Here the best photographers return over and over. Galen Rowell's son went out dozens of times to the same place with a camera every time and finally got the shot of a cougar that Galen never could get. In this case, you should always bring a camera and always take pictures.

    I have the problem that once I take a photo of something, I don't feel compelled to take another. An uprooted snag I call the gates of hell sits on a ledge below Sally Keyes that I strolled right past while wielding a 4x5. I felt no need to retake a photo I had done a decade ago in 35mm.

    This is worth delving into. I might be better off if I had skipped shooting the first time. But I really think the lesson in this case and in your case is that you should always take a camera, but maybe not always take pictures.
     
  8. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I understand where this sentiment comes from. I have no problem enjoying a place with or without a camera, personally. However, some people do, and it is these people who came up with this rule in order to exercise control over themselves in an absolute manner and in advance, since they cannot control themselves or use proper judgment on a case-by-case, spur-of-the-moment basis.
     
  9. nick mulder

    nick mulder Subscriber

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    Its a mind set that at least suits a larger production - in cine its called a location recce.

    Even going so far as to regularly take directors viewfinder to see what a camera will see, but no film or sensor attached.

    The cameras are so damn large, unwieldy, heavy and going on an hourly rate it makes a whole heap of sense - makes sense with LF gear for some of those reasons... As for 35mm, 120 well - hmmm - I've been stuck staring at scenes in some places I just know will never happen again in that way, nothing left to do but watch and take it in yourself but start looking at those nice light weight rangefinders on ebay on you're home.
     
  10. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I think the bit of advice is for those who cannot seem to enjoy themselves when they are photographing, as opposed to arguing for the "scouting" benefits.
     
  11. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I always carry a camera of some sort because I believe the old dictum "The best camera is the one you have with you", I don't hang it round my neck and look like a tourist but keep it in a bag that's quick and easy to access it from
     
  12. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I do not have a camera available most of the time. When I go out photographing, I will usually walk around the area and look with my 35mm camera before I start photographing. Depending what I see I will use the 35mm, 120 or 4x5 as I decide.

    If I am out photographing I carry all three formats in the car with me unless I know ahead on time that I will only use one in particular.

    Steve
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 9, 2010
  13. tim k

    tim k Member

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    How much money did that "Moonrise" shot make? Humm...............
     
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  15. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    A lot of times when I don't have a camera with me, I wish I had brought one. You can always bring a RF camera or at least something small.

    Jeff
     
  16. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    Usually, the RF are enough but if I find a scene that 35mm does not do justice to then I will return later with a MF camera and I will have a better idea of how to shoot the scene. I would love to have a LF camera to shoot some scenes.
     
  17. Moopheus

    Moopheus Subscriber

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    I sometimes have a camera with me when I am out for a bike ride, sometime I don't, depending on my mood. Sometimes I just want to ride, sometimes I want to shoot. Most of the places I can reach by bike from my house in one day's ride I can easily return to later at some point. If I am, in fact, being a tourist in some place that I do not get to frequently or may not get to again, I'm more likely to want to have a camera within easy reach. I try not to get too hung up on which way is "better" and just go with the circumstance.
     
  18. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    Last Saturday morning, it was cloudy and gray in the morning. By noon it was starting to clear. I drove up to Mount Baker in the afternoon. It would have been a crime to not have a camera with me. It's really beautiful there.
     
  19. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    have a camera with you

    Henri Cartier-Bresson said "I always have a camera with me unless I am shaving in the morning".
     
  20. Grainy

    Grainy Member

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    Went to do street photography for four days now this week in Europe. All the time I had camera with me except for 10 minutes the last morning when I was just going out to pick up some breakfast. And guess when THE moment of moments happend, yap you guessed right, during those 10 minutes without camera!

    That beeing said, bringing camera does not mean you are obligated to shoot. Many times I come back without shooting any pictures.
     
  21. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I keep cameras in my car. digital and B&W film.

    I throw a camera over my shoulder when I go for a walk. Usually if it's dim light which it is a lot this time of year, I take my D300 with 50 1.4. I can continue to take handheld photos after the sun is long gone with it's variable ISO. If it's average or brighter, I might take my Yashica-C with some tmax film in it.

    Often I take no photos with either camera choice, even though digital is essentially "free" being that it's already paid for up front. Other times, I get some really nice photos. I don't hide it, but it doesn't get in the way either. If you complain about lugging a 2 lb camera, you need some exercise. I've been on canoe paddles too where the cameras just sit in their case and never get used because I didn't have the right opportunities.

    It's like being a "live to fish" fisherman and taking your boat out for a cruise without taking your fishing pole(s). It's neurotic and wrong.

    Another analogy perhaps more suitable to the OP would be a hunter who goes for a hike on a non-hunting day without his/her gun. It's nice to just enjoy the outdoors and not worry about how you are going to get that deer/bear/moose out of the woods if it were a hunting day.

    I prefer to "be prepared"; learned that and knot tying in scouts. I do prefer to keep a camera close by AND keep my eyes open. I like to go back too, often. Light, shadows, colors, atmosphere, clouds, snow cover, everything is different every time you repeat a route.
     
  22. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    There are many situations where photographic considerations could very well get in the way of fully appreciating a place or event. For those, it's best not to be tempted by a camera immediately at hand.

    Sometimes it is just best not to make a visual record.
     
  23. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    You mean, when you're in bed with a loved one? That's about the only situation I can think of, offhand.

    :wink:
     
  24. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    To give a personal example - how about the first time I saw in person Michelangelo's David?

    The setting was photographically stunning, and I did take photographs eventually, but I was glad I waited.
     
  25. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Oh I was just giving you a hard time. I agree that we simply need to see first.
     
  26. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    Being able to see and also take photographs are NOT mutually exclusive. You need to be able to SEE to decide if something strikes you as photographic or not. I have a ton of places that I have seen and thought were photographic but wasn't been able to shoot due to circumstances but I still had a camera with me non the less. Just because I have taken a picture of a scene does not mean that I haven't seen it, it means that I saw it and was able to record it on film and still appreciated it.