when you know a photo is there ???

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by ader, Sep 6, 2003.

  1. ader

    ader Member

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    Hi,

    what do you do when you know something would make a great photo but when you take it it looks like the proverbial "crap".... I see tons of stuff that I think look great, then when I've taken them and printed them, they look very plain !!!!!maybe I should just be more discerning ...........


    ta ade
     
  2. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I don't really think *any* of my work is so bad that I'd label it "crap". The majority (not overwhelming!!) is less than what I would call "successful".

    What do I do with the unsuccessful ones? I'll store the contact sheet, and possibly a print or two, and re-visit them at a later date. Often (no, I don't count) I'll find that some take on a new life wen seen with fresh (or, more properly, "re-freshed") eyes.
     
  3. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I think that is just a part of the photographic art.
    So many elements must work together to make the final image, Subject, lighting, atmosphere, optics, film choice, processing, printing, presentation.

    When all those things come together on a single sheet of paper, you have the definition of a superior photograph but that is bound to happen rarely. As a photographer becomes more experienced and develops his eye and technique the chance of bringing these elements together in a single image goes way up but I don't think that it is realistic to expect that magic to happen every time.

    If I see a subject that I believe will make a good photograph and the results are disappointing, I will return and reshoot multiple times if necessary (and possible).

    -Neal
     
  4. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Quite a bit of that may be involved in seeing only the subject material at hand and not seeing the light. You could take a picture of an empty soup can in great light and make a good looking picture, but the best scenery under bland lighting looks, well...., bland.
    Try to involve yourself in seeing the quality of the light and you may start seeing a difference in your shooting.
     
  5. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    Once again we are involved in the who really knows zone. I agree with the statement : "Try to involve yourself in seeing the quality of LIGHT". Yet in some ways that only satisfies the needs for images based on immediate gratification. Those images are kind of like fishing, you can bait your hook, pick the best time of day at your favorite spot and toss in the line. Then wait for luck to intervene. There's a lot of photo-artists who have been very succesful this way and I love their work. A succesful piece of art is really an exploration of all the elements, This exploration requires destruction, evaluation,re-assembly then destruction again. So that you understand the very instincts that attracted you to this idea in the first place. Hopefully along the way you're creating then re-creating your Idea allowing it to detract you then returning back to the essential components with refreshed opportunities for evolution. I think this path is called a series, but really by default because, you've used it to explore. There's all kinds of light, just as there's all kinds of subjects to light. It's really fun to chase it, watch it, and re-create it, but beyond that the conversation between light, the subject and its environment is what we need to listen to and translate to our veiwers. It takes fortitude and some luck combined with technology. We can build our own pond and seed with the fish we hope to catch. With some feeding and nurturing the fishing becomes more predictable, develops its own personality and periodically offers some great supprises.
     
  6. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    First off, it is all practice. In my mind a good photographer is ALWAYS practicing. You may take the best picture ever, and you should be proud of it, but you should also always be thinking "how can I do better". It is all about building on your past mistakes and triumphs.

    Secondly, look at what other images you like. Now, this is tricky, but don't try to reproduce them, but try to let them influence you. Look at cropping, angles, exposure, etc. and see what you like. Do you like contrasty images? Tightly cropped images? Images where the subject is off center? Look at what you like and try to work off of that. Everyone has different tastes.

    Thirdly, post images here in the critique gallery. I have found that APUGers tend to be GREAT critics. They don't criticize, but critique. This can give you ideas to build on.
     
  7. Lex Jenkins

    Lex Jenkins Member

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    I try not to pre-judge prospective photographs. Film is relatively cheap (I shoot only 35mm and 120). I'd rather waste a frame than miss a potentially worthwhile photo. While I don't shoot recklessly I do try to be generous.

    That philosophy has rewarded me with at least a few unexpectedly good photos. And there have been a few instances when I've declined to snap the shutter and later wish I'd gone ahead and made the shot.

    Like Neal I'll return to site or subject as often as necessary when I believe it has potential and previous efforts lacked only the right light or something else - preferably something I can control.
     
  8. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    The question was,

    I was replying rather narrowly to that specific question. If you modify that to "What do you do NEXT...", I would answer, somewhat simplistically, "Move on".

    Every photograph you author will NOT be a wonderful masterpiece... not *EVERY ONE*. At whatever level you are, there will be some that ARE.
    As far as I know, there is no one set method, mindset, philosophy ... short cut ... that will guarantee success. There IS one way to invariably guarantee that you will NOT make a "wonderful masterpiece", and that is to stop.... not take the photograph at all.

    There are (and were) *many* well-respected, "great" photographers. Each seemed to share one distinguishing trait - the were ALL different... and they all regarded their differences as sacred to their art. Ansel Adams did NOT "see" things in the same light as did Edward Weston. Horst was markedly different in viewpoint than Irving Penn. I agitate in a different manner than Aggie does...

    What to do... NEXT???
    Keep at it. One of the hardest lessons I've had to learn is that the body of knowledge/skills you will gain from experience (and I really don't know of another way - experience can be directed by teachers) WILL improve YOU. The more you do, the more instances there will be of "wonderful work".

    Stillman Clarke - from an article in Camera and Darkroom - said it ... he spilled the great "Rosetta Stone" secret of photography. Some of us had to endure the trials and tribulations, to struggle up the mountain, to finally obtain "The Great Secret" - which he revealed - and I am about to relay to all here... Ready? ...

    "Shoot, and shoot... and shoot some more. It will come. It *WILL*."
     
  9. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    It reminds me of my wilder days when, living in LA I would go to bars and try to pick up girls. Some of them looked sooo good while I was sitting talking to them. They even looked good when I took them home. Unfortunately the next morning I was wondering what the hell I had been thinking.

    Perhaps while viewing the scene you were about to photograph you kind of fell into kind of an infatuatiion with it and were seeing it with rose colored glasses. The next morning in the darkroom reality fell onto you like a ton of bricks.

    Then again perhaps I'm just full of shit.


    Micahel McBlane
     
  10. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Fecetitious. The word is "fecetious", from the Latin, "Feces". Means the same thing.

    No, I don't think you are being fecetious.
    The same process probably happens. We become "infatuated" (as good a word as entranced, or hypnotized, or fascinated) and possibly that "infatuation" sort of dulls the senses. Later, in the cold light of day, we MAY intellectualize, or rationalize, or filter the image through our "good/bad" filter ... or our "guilt" filter --- or something - but it just doesn't seem the same.

    Human beings are wonderful entities ... but SO damn complicated! Sometimes. it is better to just DO ... and let the chips - and fecetiousness - fall where it may.
     
  11. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  12. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    Hmmm...interesting, the "Beer Goggles" theory applied to creative photography. I think there might be book in that :D

    Seriously, I think that you have an excellent point there. I'm thinking of people that I know who have visited the Grand Canyon and, overcome by the spectacular vista, the depth, the color, the breathtaking scale, they shoot dozens of frames sure that every one will certainly be a masterpiece. When they get their 4x6's back, they are inevitably disappointed. The prints just don't convey their experience of standing in front of the real thing (must be the damned lab's fault).

    -Neal
     
  13. Lex Jenkins

    Lex Jenkins Member

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    Speaking of "fecetiousness" one of my favorite expressions that's often misused is a variation of "taking something with a grain of salt."

    In contemporary parlance the phrase has no meaning. What do condiments and dubiousness have in common?

    The original expression was "dose of salts" which referred to taking a laxative.

    So when I suggest that others take my advice with a dose of salts you can be assured that I, not they, may be full of it.
     
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  15. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  16. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    My theory is that as with all artists you have to be emotionally involved with your subject in order to create great images. Technique is a necessary precursor; but you can't say today I'll shoot architecture, tomorrow nudes & day after natural lnadscapes, and expect to create something that grabs you. Tourists create mementos whereas the great work is created by those who live in & deeply respond to the beauty of an area.

    Ansel Adams, Clyde Butcher, etc. create inspiring images of their areas; but with few exceptions create only good technical pictures of areas they visit. Weston created thousands of portraits, but they don't inspire. Reading his biography one realizes that even his pepper series evolved from his interest in food & health.

    So, find a subject that grabs you, inspires you; then your images may do the same.
     
  17. jansenh

    jansenh Member

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    That's what's called editing, isn't it? Sorting out the very few good ones from the rest... Being critical to ones own work, sorting out what's working and not working immediately, then revisiting later with new perspectives. Or revisiting and re-discovering "crap" as being part of a theme, a body of work.

    I find myself these days printing negatives 2-5 years old, negatives that I did not find interessting at first glance, but are rediscovering in a new context. I am doing a streetphoto portfolio with exhibition in mind.

    What I do with the rest of the "crap"? Contacts of course. And then filing archivaly and maintaining a database. The crappy ones I am emotionally attached to - kids & family - travels - holidays - are printed as workprints on RC paper. As archival as RC can be, stored in print-books.
     
  18. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    That is exactly as it should be. If doorknobs fascinate you, for heavens sake, take photographs of doorknobs. Or clouds, or ...
    I once saw a wonderful book based on an unusual theme, "Outhouses"; another on *wonderful* graffitti in the Greenwich Village area of New York....

    With all respect for our individual "pre-dispositions" ... I AM inspired with many of Edward Westons portraits... case in point would be "Galvan Shooting, 1924"; there are MANY of Tina Modotti (aside from the Azotea nudes) - protraits of a beautiful, emotional, expressive woman; "Nahui Olin, 1925".... so many more.
    Possibly I am just weird ... I've been accused of that before ... but I experience a great deal of "emotional involvement" from the work of Ansel Adams.

    Interesting ... Steiglitz was once asked about his fascination with clouds ... so many images produced on Kodak Postcard stock. "Why do you photograph clouds? What do you `see' in them?", he was asked.

    His answer: "Naked women."
     
  19. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    Are you implying that naked women make us see cloudy? maybe it's not my lenses fault afterall for my images being out of focus.
     
  20. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    LOL, ED, I just found an old doorknob that had been taken from my girlfriend's house and photographed it :smile:
     
  21. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Yes.
     
  22. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Hell, look at Siskand.

    The guy made an AMAZING image of peeling paint!

    Remember, you can find beauty in the least of things....
     
  23. lee

    lee Member

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    I am glad that Robert mentioned Siskind. As I stated before, Aaron Siskind was a mentor to me. He just did not know it or me. He would have been 100 years old this year and there is/was a very major exhibit at the Center for Contemporary Photography in Tucson. I trust Robert went to see the exhibit. Aaron was a photo verison of an Abstract Expressionist. In Black and White....

    lee\c
     
  24. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    Ader: "what do you do when you know something would make a great photo but when you take it it looks like the proverbial "crap".... I see tons of stuff that I think look great, then when I've taken them and printed them, they look very plain !!!!!maybe I should just be more discerning ..........."

    It is how one sees, not what one sees that makes any photograph interesting.

    You need to see space and not just the ostensible subject.

    This posting is not meant to be an advertisement for our (Paula Chamlee's and my) workshops (we don't need it--they are always full), but your problem is exactly what we deal with.

    Practice alone, if you are not seeing photographically, will not help you. For now, save your film. Look at the work of the great photographers and try to see what the difference between their work and your work is. When you fell you have it, go photograph again.

    Good luck.

    Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith
     
  25. BobF

    BobF Member

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    I feel I must question this statement, but as your experience and knowledge is so far beyond my own I am probably missing something.

    I have tried what I believe you are suggesting and without the feedback from my own efforts I have made no progress at all. What seems to help is to focus in (pun intented) on a particular subject such as the famous Weston green pepper and see how close I can come to duplicating it. Not so that I can show "my pepper photo" but so that I can learn how to achieve a particular look as to framing, posing, exposure, processing etc. Just because I photograph a pepper and it looks blah doesn't mean there isn't something there.

    For me the same applies to landscapes and architecture and sometimes requires that I travel a long trip back to the scene of my failure and try it again after analysing the results. If I haven't learned HOW I can achieve a particular look I will probably continue to feel that it was just not a suitable subject instead of a failure in my technique or vision.

    I have always felt that if you don't waste some film you will never learn. This despite my addiction to numerous books.

    Bob
     
  26. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    I agree with Bob, Micheal that statement is rediculous!