I don't take that many photos aswell, usually 1-2 of a subject/scene before I move on. Until you get more comfortable with knowing when you got the shot, just carry an extra roll or two and shoot more. Try carrying two bodies, one with low speed and one with high speed film to help you take advantage of situations you are around since you shoot your rolls at a slower pace.
Set a goal, or checklist of things you want to capture that day and try hitting it when you go out. but the most important thing is to just have fun with it, do not be disappointed with outcomes from your first few rolls, it is ultimately a tool for learning and no one gets a full roll of keepers.
When some one is unhappy with their photographs it may be a problem with composition. There is a set of rules that artists have developed over the centuries. The one rule of composition most often quoted is the Rule of Thirds, but there are others that are very useful.
Another concept that is helpful is to reduce an image to its essentials. Anyone can take a picture of a horse but it is important to represent the essential horse. Such a photograph should convey the idea of what it means to BE a horse. What a horse feels, how he reacts to his surroundings, etc. I use a horse as an example but I think that everyone will grasp the concept.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I never have more than two cameras ready to go at a time. I don't want too much film sitting around. Sitting in the darkroom waiting for processing is OK, but sitting in the camera unused isn't what it's for. If you have lots of film to use, that's helpful too. I've got half a freezer full. I don't mind pulling out a pro-pack and breaking into it. I stocked up incase the kodak bankruptcy went bad for us. If I only had a couple rolls, I'd be hesitant to use it as well.
I mostly use one film too; tmax 400, as it's fine enough grain to be a replacement for slower film in normal conditions, and sensitive enough for lower light conditions. Sticking with one film will help you get the look you want as you learn how it handles scenes and colors. Other people might be fine with a traditionally grained 400 film; plenty of choices, but you should settle on a choice at some point if you want more quality shots per roll.
I'd support the suggestions to shoot at least a roll per event / outing. I shot 1 roll of 120 during a 1/3 mile walk the other day... I expect at least two quality photos worth printing per roll. Sometimes I have 5-6, sometimes 1.
Blasphemous suggestion; shoot digital for a little while to get over the hesitation to press the shutter. You can get lots of nicely made expiremental photos of excellent composition, but lacking the style/aesthetic/range of analog. Still a good learning experience. When I use digital, I shoot more than analog, but less than the people brought up on digital who will spend the whole night "editing" because they shot too much.
It is very good advice. If you look at most photographers who get recognized, it's because they have a clear vision of what they are trying to accomplish, and then go accomplish it. Just taking 'nice pictures' might satisfy your own tastes, but if you'd like to challenge yourself and really accomplish something that tells a story, it's great to work with a theme.
Originally Posted by jakeblues
It takes real discipline to do this, but in a way it rewards you too, because when you shoot with a theme in mind, you eliminate a lot of noise, such as trying to capture everything that looks cool. You also will see the world you're photographing in a different way, interpreted through the theme you have in mind. This makes your effort more focused.
But still, it's probably false expectation to hope for a perfect roll of film. In my years as a photographer I feel that a 'hit rate' of 10-20% on each roll of film is pretty good success, and fairly normal.
Finally, it's good to practice; practice makes perfect. There's nothing wrong with being selective in what you shoot; in fact I think it's sometimes good to be contemplative. But at the same time lots of good photographs are happenstance, magical moments that float by, never to reappear or to be recreated. You don't have time to be contemplative in those moments, but you have to be prepared to react and do something worthwhile with it. So it also makes sense to work with your emotions, inclinations, and trying to recognize those special moments, while doing something worthwhile with them, and that will likely require a bit more than two rolls a month, possibly more like two rolls per hour or more...
Good luck in your endeavor! Have fun, focus your efforts, and don't be afraid to explore the lessons learned with the frames that did not turn out great.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
I feel your pain, esp. the cost of color film/processing. BUT:
"If I knew how to take a good photograph, I'd do it every time" - Robert Doisneau
Ansel Adams was said to have been happy if he had 12 or 1 (?) good photo a year (something like that). Although he was a large format dude, Doisneau I believe was a 35mm shooter.
I think your expectations may be too high! A single roll of film "dense w/ good photos" happens to me about . . . once. Period. Ever. And there were a lot of "good" ones on that roll bcs. most of them were my kids . . . so "good" only subjectively. And I'm no Doisneau. If I get one image per 36 shots I'm REAL happy.
Lower your expectations a bit and burn that film, man. It's the only way to learn.
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I think that bearing it in mind has a negative effect on a photographer. By trying to get the perfection thru every single shot of a film roll you eliminate yourself very badly.
The real desire that I think might be getting in the way is the desire to create a "magic" roll of film where every shot is great.
I don't carry a goal either, as suggested by thomas bertilsson, although such a goal isn't bad at all.
Personnally, if I have a priority, it is to find something representative of an area. Whether i decide to explore one town district, one little town or a park, I make up my mind as to find something symbolic of this area. Nothing more, nothing less.
Concerning the shot frequency, I don't limit myself with a certain number of shots. I shoot whenever I feel it is worth it, whatever amount of shots it might require. While being a teen and being broke most of the time, I had an almost obsession as to limit my shots. But now, I have a decent job and enough spare time to enjoy myself with films. So I don't limit myself in any ways.
Keep shooting with joy, merriness and happiness. That's all what mattters.
Making hopefully great photos is the goal. Having them in the same roll is unimportant a goal and will work against the abovementioned goal.
As far as residual frames in a roll are concerned, you could choose a "residual theme" which you use to end all "tails". This should be something different from what you do normally.
Let's say you normally do street photography. Your "residual theme" might be "landscape in my city park". Every time you have a roll to complete, you go to the same park. You will explore it photographically "endlessly", in all seasons, with all films, with all cameras, and shoot there all your tails. You will have to look at it differently each time, you will have to train your photographic eyes to find different interesting compositions from the same familiar subject matter.
That also could be an exercise in using different focal length to the same subject, etc.
It goes without saying that if your normal subject is let's say landscape, your "residual theme" might be "people working in my district" or whatever.
You will end up with a series of your residual theme shot in different films, with different cameras, focal lengths, light conditions, seasons etc. and I think it is a very good exercise in seeing things "photographically".
I found this well stated and really helpful.
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
This is something I'm a bit more hesitant about. We obviously get better at something when we practice, but get better at what exactly? I might say that "practice makes us comfortable with things". In my case, practice has made me comfortable taking aesthetically pleasing photos that don't mean a whole lot to me or anyone else (you can look at my flickr to see what I mean). I don't know if everyone would agree with this, but I feel that sometimes we need to get shocked out of our comfort zone, and only then does practice comes back into play to make the new artistic territory comfortable. I guess I do agree, just with an asterisk and a footnote.
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
That said, thanks a lot for your response.
Due to family, financial, and more recent health issues I've been in a 30+ year ditch. Basically gave it and everything else up that long ago. Now I can't dig myself out of that ditch. But I can't make myself enjoy anything anymore no matter how much I once loved it. I'm trying though. I'll try and kick your attitude into gear if you'll do the same for me.
Originally Posted by jakeblues
what do we get better at when we practice ?
we get better at a lot of things ...
one thing i know i have gotten better at through exposing a fair amount of film is how to use my camera/s.
this may sound kind of strange, but every camera works differently.
sure they have shutters, and buttons, and lenses that might or might not have the ability
to stop down, but they all see the world in a different way, and getting used to THAT is the hardest thing of all.
i am not one to care about aesthetically pleasingly photos, to be honest i am not a fan of pretty as a post card photos,
knowing how a camera and lens and shutter works in a variety of situations can only be done through making a lot of exposures .. "practicing" ...
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