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  1. #1
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Success through multiple shots

    I have sometimes heard it said that some famous film photographers only achieve their status by taking many shots and then selecting the best. I don’t believe this, as If this is true, then surely digital photography would have thrown up a plethora of brilliant photographers, which to-date it has not.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  2. #2
    donkee's Avatar
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    Getting out the lawnchair for this one


  3. #3

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    hi clive ...

    someone with talent is able to do as you said ...
    but without talent ...
    there is still the million monkeys though ...

  4. #4
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donkee View Post
    Getting out the lawnchair for this one

    ...some famous film photographers only achieve their status by taking many shots and then selecting the best...
    Make that "many good shots..."

    Now be a good donkee and move over some so I can sit down, too!
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  5. #5
    MattKing's Avatar
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    I think looking at a little tiny TV set on the back of your camera disrupts your flow.

    When I used to shoot things that had a journalistic component I used to like to work up to an approach. By that I mean that I would shoot, adjust my position, shoot again and continue until I felt I had a variety to choose from, and a feeling that at least some of the results would have their own particular strength. Having, in my minds eye, a memory of a progression of results seemed to help.

    In addition, having a variety of choices allowed for the varying needs of editors in respect to placement on a page and cropping.

    Somehow the "screen" in my mind tended to be larger and clearer than the screen on the back of most digital cameras.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  6. #6
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattKing View Post
    I used to like to work up to an approach. By that I mean that I would shoot, adjust my position, shoot again and continue until I felt I had a variety to choose from, and a feeling that at least some of the results would have their own particular strength.
    Matt, I think you have hit the nail on the head here, as adjusting your position is a world away to taking multiples in the same position. Add to this timing for your position of choice and you have some of the key ingredients.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  7. #7
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    I'll bite at this one:

    No photographer has a 100% success rate where every picture is exactly what they want it to be or every picture is a masterpiece - Ansel Adams has between 30-40 shots which I personally think are spectacular and he had about 45,000 negative when he died. If I am really on my game, I hope to get one picture for every 200-300 shots I take, usually 1 per 400-500 shots. This does not mean that the rest are garbage but ones I am looking for are shots to hang on a wall or place in my portfolio.

    It is not that there are no good digital photographers - rather, to be a great photographer takes thousands of pictures to refine your craft. I remember a fellow telling me he took 2000 shots one weekend - however, he simply held down the shutter button and walked around which is not really taking a picture but pushing a shutter. Taking a picture is generally much more complicated than that as you need to have artistic intent from the beginning to the end, not just random button pushing. Digital is a very young medium (~10 years) and the a lot (but not all) of the photographers who use digital and make really good pictures are older film photographers who switched mediums. Show me young photographers who are exclusively digital and have always been digital and usually they are not great photographers - just like young photographers in the 1960's were not great because they have not had the opportunity to develop their craft as they needed.

    The medium one uses (whether digital or analogue) is a choice to express artistic vision and what the artist feels is best for that vision; I use film, not because I believe it is inherently superior, but because it best allows me to express my vision. Photojournalists can and do take some wonderful shots but often it is based on the volume of shots they take (an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters will eventually write Hamlet) - good photojournalists get better photos in fewer shots. Good digital photographers are out there but even my 9-year old, given a digital SLR over a year, will produce at least one great picture based on the sheer volume of shots; good photographers repeatedly take good pictures and do it in less shots than bad photographers.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  8. #8
    Maris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
    I have sometimes heard it said that some famous film photographers only achieve their status by taking many shots and then selecting the best. I don’t believe this, as If this is true, then surely digital photography would have thrown up a plethora of brilliant photographers, which to-date it has not.
    It is true, fortunately or unfortunately. I have personally eye-witnessed this way of working, take thousands of shots and pick the gems off the contact sheets, too often to dismiss it. I have done it myself when photographing out of control situations like street demonstrations.

    The key ingredients are unlimited no-cost film, unlimited and expedited no-cost lab processing, a fast acting camera, a paying audience hungry for "candid" pictures, and most importantly the devouring obsession to keep doing it and doing it. The decisive moment, if there is one, doesn't happen at the camera-work stage but rather when the yellow wax-pencil marks the key frame on the contact sheet.

    A classic example of the genre is, of course, Henri Cartier-Bresson whose savage compulsion to expose film yielded a rare (for the times) bunch of pictures that delighted the public and the editors of the first generation of mass circulation picture magazines. Now digital picture-making can generate avalanches of images attended by no thought, no effort, and no cost and poor Henri would be swamped by today's overwhelming visual clutter. And the mass circulation picture magazines that showcased Henri's obsession are long gone too. Sure, there are brillant digital picture-makers working today but you won't see them in print. They are on your computer monitor if you can find them among the millions clamouring for your attention.
    Photography, the word itself, invented and defined by its author Sir John.F.W.Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society, Somerset House, London. Quote "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..". unquote.

  9. #9
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    I call it bracketing. I've done it for decades and consider it normal practice in conditions that are marginal, doubtful or less than appealing. Others may call it learn-by-rote: nailing the image through relentless repetition. The key to getting the best shot is to edit ruthlessly, being your own cruel judge and executioner. On my lightbox at the moment I have a series of 6 images, brackets +/- 0.6 from standard metering, and cannot settle on just one for printing/matting and framing. Ultimately, it will be a blind selection, the others mothballed, only to be brought out years forward, with me thinking in hindsight, "this would have been better!" In essence, scenes should be photographed as much as possible and select the best scene.
    .::Gary Rowan Higgins

    A comfort zone is a wonderful place. But nothing ever grows there.
    —Anon.






  10. #10
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    I have sometimes heard it said that some famous film photographers only achieve their status by taking many shots and then selecting the best.
    I bracket my shots and choose the best. But I'm still not famous.

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