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stradibarrius
07-23-2010, 06:01 PM
Like so many things that are a combination of skills, you initially struggle with the technical aspect of the art form. learning how to use your "tools"effectively. At some point you are able to move past the "stuff" you use to make the art and actually begin making art.

I am curious how many of you have had the experience that I describe? If you are a musician it is your instrument. If you are a sculptor it's your carving tools and if your a photographer it is your camera gear.
I hope that I am about to make that next step in my effort to create photographs that I truly like...the step where I am able to concentrate on the end results and not my gear.

I am interested in your views.

eddym
07-23-2010, 06:20 PM
Like so many things that are a combination of skills, you initially struggle with the technical aspect of the art form. learning how to use your "tools"effectively. At some point you are able to move past the "stuff" you use to make the art and actually begin making art.

I am curious how many of you have had the experience that I describe? If you are a musician it is your instrument. If you are a sculptor it's your carving tools and if your a photographer it is your camera gear.
I hope that I am about to make that next step in my effort to create photographs that I truly like...the step where I am able to concentrate on the end results and not my gear.

I am interested in your views.

I think everybody has it if they keep working at learning photography. Any time you take up a new art form, you have to learn the techniques. It takes as long as it takes, and that time may vary with each person. It has been said that one does not become an artist until they have painted 1,000 paintings. That was rounded off by one lecturer to one a day for three years. I asked the lecturer how that related to photography, in which one can make 1,000 photos pretty quickly. His reply was, but are you intentionally, consciously trying to make each and every one of those 1,000 photos a work of art? That would take a little longer, especially depending on your format and subject matter. I don't know if you could do it in three years, but I suppose that if you applied yourself to making one photo a day, trying to make it the best you have ever done, then certainly after 1,000 days, you should have your technique down pat.
So quit worrying about it and go shoot!

Ektagraphic
07-23-2010, 06:32 PM
I actually feel like the simplcity of shooting with my newly aquired Rolleix has helped me walk across the bridge into the more artistic side. I am feeling with a fixed lens high qulality machine that gives me options I need, I no longer make the technical stuff a worry at all when I am shooting. I am just concerned about getting my visions painted onto the film. I will always be interested in the techinal stuff though as is naturally my nature with everything but I am now making art more than ever.

36cm2
07-23-2010, 06:40 PM
Posted wirelessly..

It is certainly a journey. Personally, I'm stuck right in the middle of it. Technically sound, but not perfect. Compositionally improving, but not inspiring. Artistically challenged, but hopeful. I agree that the only way to achieve is to do.

juan
07-23-2010, 07:48 PM
I messed around with cameras and techniques for years and years. Since I've finally decided on a format and method of working, I am finally able to really work on seeing.
juan

Dan Henderson
07-24-2010, 07:10 AM
I believe that it is Malcolm Gladwell in his book, "The Outliers," who investigates the idea that about 10,000 hours of practice is one of the things that allows someone to master his or her calling. In the earlier parts of our photographic journey we have to think harder about the technical aspects of film speed, camera operation, and exposure factors. As we begin to master these things we can spend less time thinking about them and more time thinking of how to express what made us want to photograph something. Or as Bayles and Orland wrote, "art is the visible edge of craft."

Q.G.
07-24-2010, 07:24 AM
I'm not sure it's mastery that matters. I rather think it is confidence.
If you are able to use whatever you are using to achieve what you want with confidence, i.e. without being distracted by worries about the "how to", you're free to focus on the "what".
That's what changes tinkering with tools into using a medium.

The level of mastery needed depends entirely on what you want to do.
Think about, for instance, the many great photographers who have never even bothered trying their hands at, say, platinum printing.
Or, in other words, mastery is a reative thing. You may need 10,000 hours of practice to learn one trick. Maybe only 8 to master another. And if that other is the one you want to use...

keithwms
07-24-2010, 07:32 AM
For me it is a continuous cycle of discovering some new technique and gobbling that up and hen it becomes part of the creative process. There wasn't any one "aha" moment when suddenly I shifted from a camera user to an artist. I suppose the art interest was always there; the gear part just masks that sometimes.

I recommend looking into Minor White's [unusual] teaching methods, and perhaps read the little book he gave to his students, Zen in the Art of Archery. That was quite interesting to me, and a very quick read, although I found myself re-reading some chapters and puzzling about the message. I also enjoyed the book Rites and Passages which presents both sides of the argument for White's methods. Both of these gave me some ideas about liberating the inner art. Some people recoil from the Zen stuff though! The bottom line is that the art is there and it is yours. It always was there, waiting to be discovered. You have to do that patiently so that you don't force it, i.e. let it happen as naturally as possible.

Joe Lipka
07-24-2010, 07:55 AM
The hurdle is getting over, or getting by the love affair with gear and technique. The quicker you can get over this hurdle, the faster you can worry about what is in front of your camera rather than what is in it. I think that is where Fred Picker's contribution is so misunderstood. Fred had a dandy method and approach to technique that, if practiced, would get you through the technical part of photography very quickly so you could concentrate on what is in front of the camera and not have to worry about the exposure and development part of the process. Once you get there, then photography begins.

Ian Grant
07-24-2010, 08:12 AM
Art has to be built on craft, so mastery of the craft is important.

Some people are afraid of knuckling down, honing the craft parts, the learning how to control the process to make it work properly for themselves. They seem to think it will restrict their photography when the exact opposite is true, with mastery of craft behind you it liberates your work.

But if you stop learning and re-invigorating and expanding your craft then you become stagnant. On the other hand it's important not to be obsessive of technique.

So sound craft allows you to shoot confident the results will be the best quality possible under those particular circumstances. This craft is all the more important when shooting 35mm where control of grain, sharpness and exposure is more critical, it's what makes photographers/photojournalists like Salgado so highly respected, it show in the quality of his work.

Ian

Q.G.
07-24-2010, 08:25 AM
Hmm...
Visit a Salgado exhibition, and you'll notice that it's best not to look at the photos from too near. Obviously a photographer who decided that control of grain, sharpness etc. isn't the most important thing to spend time on.
;)

I agree though.
It's a very old thing, i know, but they say that rules are best mastered, and then forgotten.
As long as you keep focussing on technique, you'll never get round to doing the things you need that technique for.

Ian Grant
07-24-2010, 08:42 AM
Hmm...
Visit a Salgado exhibition, and you'll notice that it's best not to look at the photos from too near. Obviously a photographer who decided that control of grain, sharpness etc. isn't the most important thing to spend time on.
;)

I agree though.
It's a very old thing, i know, but they say that rules are best mastered, and then forgotten.
As long as you keep focussing on technique, you'll never get round to doing the things you need that technique for.


Salgado's work suffers because it's often printed too large, it is 35mm after all, and I think Tri-X. The images I've seen are close to the max quality you can expect under those circumstances. I've seen worse from 100 ISO films.

I'd add I saw an Ansel Adams exhibition 2 years ago in Oxford and the quality wasn't the best, it was work from his daughters collection, later prints were far higher quality.

But your second paragraph sums it up, you master the craft, it becomes second nature, it isn't exactly forgotten, it's become subconscious, intuitive, then you have greater creative freedom knowing your images will work, and pushing your boundaries further.

Every now and again you have to take stock of your own work, be harsh, critical and rfealistic in analysing your images asking yourself how you could do better, that way you grow.

Ian

Q.G.
07-24-2010, 09:07 AM
Every now and again you have to take stock of your own work, be harsh, critical and rfealistic in analysing your images asking yourself how you could do better, that way you grow.

It happens, at least for me, all by itself.
Whenever i see things i've done a (short) while ago, i can't help but think " what a load of c*@&".
I'm not sure that is because i do grow, or because i can't master anything yet fail to acknowledge that at the time, when 'in the groove'.
I expect the latter.

Ian Grant
07-24-2010, 09:16 AM
It happens, at least for me, all by itself.
Whenever i see things i've done a (short) while ago, i can't help but think " what a load of c*@&".
I'm not sure that is because i do grow, or because i can't master anything yet fail to acknowledge that at the time, when 'in the groove'.
I expect the latter.

This is where workshops are useful, getting critical feedback about your work.

Also just meeting up with like minded people who's work you respect and showing work, discussing ideas etc.

Ian

Q.G.
07-24-2010, 09:18 AM
What? More people to tell me what i do is no good?
I'm not sure i need that... :D

Bob Carnie
07-24-2010, 09:43 AM
While I agree with pushing 35 mm one will stress the possibilities of making a good print.
If the body of work is strong it will over come any obstacles.

I visited the George Eastman House where there was a major Salgado show and yes you are right the prints may have been too large, but it was very easy to get past this fact and view a wonderful body of work.

That day I saw some people standing in front of photographs and crying with emotion over what they were viewing.

The moment you stop fretting about making a perfect print and start telling a story that you can tell with your camera is a turning point.
I know many technicians with tens of thousands of hours practicing who cannot create great art with a camera, I in fact am probably one of them.
I also know photographers who have never made a print but have a wonderful story to tell and have work in Museum's.


Rock , Paper Scissors

A good story trumps technical excellence.





Hmm...
Visit a Salgado exhibition, and you'll notice that it's best not to look at the photos from too near. Obviously a photographer who decided that control of grain, sharpness etc. isn't the most important thing to spend time on.
;)

I agree though.
It's a very old thing, i know, but they say that rules are best mastered, and then forgotten.
As long as you keep focussing on technique, you'll never get round to doing the things you need that technique for.

markbarendt
07-24-2010, 09:53 AM
Yes, it is quite a step too.

One of the things that becomes a struggle is that many of the critics around you (mostly other photographers) will be looking at your application of technical skills and rules. Most are studying your craftsmanship/technique, not your art. They will no longer be your audience.

Sharpness, lack of grain, perfect exposure, rule of thirds, blah, blah, blah...

Even in this thread you can see it in Salgado getting picked on for grain and sharpness.

The feedback you get will change markedly when you cross the line and start breaking rules.

Just remember Salgado is a success regardless of what we think of his style or choices.

stradibarrius
07-24-2010, 09:56 AM
It happens, at least for me, all by itself.
Whenever i see things i've done a (short) while ago, i can't help but think " what a load of c*@&".
I'm not sure that is because i do grow, or because i can't master anything yet fail to acknowledge that at the time, when 'in the groove'.
I expect the latter.

I agree with you QG. I think I am getting this the way my mind's eye see them and then when I look at the results I always feel I have come up short...
When I look at a lot of other work, here on this forum, and in other venues I think my stuff is as good as some of what I see but it doesn't have that?????whatever it is that makes it standout from the rest.
Mediocrity is easy to achieve....

stradibarrius
07-24-2010, 10:04 AM
Yes, it is quite a step too.

One of the things that becomes a struggle is that many of the critics around you (mostly other photographers) will be looking at your application of technical skills and rules. Most are studying your craftsmanship/technique, not your art. They will no longer be your audience.

Sharpness, lack of grain, perfect exposure, rule of thirds, blah, blah, blah...

Even in this thread you can see it in Salgado getting picked on for grain and sharpness.

The feedback you get will change markedly when you cross the line and start breaking rules.

Just remember Salgado is a success regardless of what we think of his style or choices.

Excellent point!!! In many of the things we do we compare our results with peers of the same discipline where most everyone is striving for the same "thing"???? When a non-photographer looks at your work and thinks it is wonderful we tend to think "what do they know they don't really understand", but if we are trying to create something that bring enjoyment to those who see it, hear it, taste it, then this can be considered successful.

Q.G.
07-24-2010, 10:23 AM
Mediocrity is easy to achieve....

Indeed it is.
But it's not, i think, that you're results are mediocre. It's more like (a bit 'over-dramatized') you moving on, and not being the person that liked the thing you did yesterday anymore.


For me, it's an eternal "what is it that would justify that this photograph even exists?"
And i apply that to all photographs i see, not only my own.

And believe me, there are very few that i would like to exist, even though i still am not sure why they should.
Sounds harsh (but, i'm sure, also recognizable), but the vast majority of photographs exist despite being extremely boring, ill-conceived bits of nothingness, without even an inkling of hope that there may be some reason why they should exist, lurking in some extremely remote, yet undiscovered place.

Don't get me wrong: i appreciate the honest attempts to do something worthwhile that lay at the root of most. I add to the heap of failed attempts myself (that's basically what i said earlier in this thread). We must keep trying. ;)


Mark, i don't see anyone picking on Salgado for the unsharpness and graininess of his prints. Salgado was put forward as someone making great photos, because (at least that's how i read it) he mastered the craft.
I wouldn't agree with such a suggestion. He doesn't. He makes great photos. Period.
The point that was made (or at least i was trying to bring across) was that you do not need to be the Absolute Master of Craft to change over to the other side, the side where you stop worrying about the "how-to" and just get on with having a go at the "what". The change over from process-geek and equipment-geek to someone actually making photos.