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  1. #11
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Leake View Post
    Some people are fascinated with the craft of photography, some are fascinated with artistic expression. Often these overlap.
    I can understand this. Maybe as persons and photographers we feel like we have a 'complete setup' for different reasons.
    "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

  2. #12
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by georg16nik View Post
    Back in the days, they used slow films, so it might not be only the fall-off imperfections ...
    The book Hollywood Portraits by Roger Hicks and Christopher Nisperos is quite interesting http://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Port.../dp/0817440208
    I use slow films a lot and do it handheld, so there are times when You are shooting 1 stop from wide open or just wide open.
    Don't care much if there is out of focus or any focus, as long as there is an image, a moment or just a shot
    Undoubtedly the very large apertures were because of the slow mediums they used. But still, the goal was to eliminate imperfection, and today that has been turned upside down somewhat, for better or worse.
    "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

  3. #13
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blansky View Post
    I think a lot of photographers obsess over silly stuff when they should be more concerned with impactful photographs.

    That said, the bokeh on some of those old lenses was pretty cool.

    I haven't tried this in a while but did you know that if you paste little stars in your lens or any shapes for that matter, your bokeh will then be that shape.
    I confess that sometimes I do run across a picture that looks pretty cool and the lens adds something, I agree.
    "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

  4. #14
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkosaric View Post
    I think I know what you mean. I try to make my photos better by making more complex composition, looking the right moment, and so on - but often I go in this "trap" of effects: making nice shallow bokeh, or swirly bokeh, or using old strange lenses, some other effect - just to get pleasing result in more easy way.
    Often I walk and I search, and search and I don't find moments or composition that I have in my head - and I go for this cheaper results. Later I see that I was weak, and actually I don't need any other lens than 50mm f2 that I use on f8 in 90% of time anyhow.
    I don't think that it makes you weak, necessarily. It's just interesting how folks choose their equipment, and for what reason.
    "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

  5. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    I will say something that might not sit well with everybody.

    Do you think that people obsess over lens signatures and bokeh mostly because their photography in general is lacking? Basically substituting technique or lens artifacts for content.

    For example, look at how a lot of over 100 year old portrait lenses are used with wet plate and large format. If you look at many old portraits, the sitter is always centered, and the background is out of focus so that the fall-off imperfections of the lens aren't apparent (or minimized) in the photograph. They tried to work around the shortcomings of the lens. But today all that funky stuff at the edge of the lens' image circle is embraced as 'cool' and 'interesting'... Why? Does it really make the photograph better?

    I think about this a lot. Please note that I don't consider my own work superior to others in any way, it's just a question that I'm interested in. And I do realize it's mostly a free world, and people are free to do whatever they feel like, and the best part of photography is to have fun! So if it's fun to use these old lenses, or being fascinated with their qualities then I'm absolutely not calling it wrong or anything like that. It's all good to me. But when I look at photographs I really don't care much about those things. I have a couple of lenses that I know well, use often, and don't really wonder much what's on the other side of the fence.
    In many but not all cases, I believe that is correct.

  6. #16

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    Agree 100%, probably why I change cameras so much. I find that when you look at the work produced by the real gear hounds, it's pretty bad. The great stuff tends to come from the ones who just get a camera and use it. Not always the case of course, but I find myself wanting to change cameras, and I know for sure it's because I'm not happy with my photography and the camera is not the real issue.

  7. #17
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik Petersson View Post
    Hi Thomas,

    two thoughts. I think that there might be a group that is more interested in camera equipment than in artistic expression. Most of them compare megapixels today, but some are probably active in large format.

    Also, when those pictures were made, photography was a newer medium still struggling with many shortcomings. Today photography is older and more areas have been explored, for example such experimentation. See for example Jacob Felländer's photos www.jacobfellander.com. He makes abstract cityscapes with a modified Holga, using the flaws to great effect.

    (You have a very Swedish name, by the way. Is this common in Minnesota?)
    I see nothing wrong with experimentation, having fun, and picking tools according to a certain aesthetic. My question, though, asks whether some folks are more interested in lens signatures, bokeh, fall-off in sharpness and coverage to make their pictures look more impressive as a substitute for substance.

    I am 100% Swedish, moved to Minnesota 11 years ago from Helsingborg, Sweden, and find that nobody else spells the Bertilsson name the same way I do in this part of the world... Hej hoppsan, Erik. Trevligt att se mer svenskar i forumet.
    "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

  8. #18
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    But isn't 'finding your own voice' what we're pursuing anyway, in spite of the challenge, or maybe even because of the challenge? We all see the world differently, and find different aspects of it fascinating. Finding our own voice must be to show it the way we wish for it to be seen... regardless of equipment.

    The equipment I use is based on how nice it is to use, how natural it feels in my hands. Everything else is a 'side effect' of that, and the lenses are what they are because I happen to own them and they fit the camera, and they work reliably. Except for the plastic piece of $hit that I liked to use so much way back when...
    Yes, indeed, Thomas, but there have been times when I've relied a little too much on the gear to make the picture interesting without success, and in the end, it's when the gear feels second nature to me that the particularities of a lens or camera start to feel more like my own, and not something I've seen others make with the same set of gear, if that makes any sense. Like you, I embrace various cameras and lenses for similar reasons, they feel natural to how I see and think, but sometimes I'll turn to something a little different or new to me (I bought and 810 recently) and I find it takes some sustained practice with it (my first attempts with the 810 are mediocre at best)to allow my own particular vision to finally come through. Even with the Holga, I finally feel that I've been making pictures that look more like me, but it took awhile... I don't want to just rely on the particular vignetting or something, and hope the pictures I make will be interesting.

    So to answer the initial question, yes I certainly have used gear as a substitute for substance, but with a longer view to maybe seeing if it will work for me.

    Interesting thread, Thomas, thanks.
    Last edited by SuzanneR; 09-06-2012 at 11:13 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: A bit more info

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by SuzanneR View Post

    Of course, one could ask the same of more traditional gear and lenses... there can be a "sameness" to the look of certain types of cameras and lenses, but finding your own voice in it can be a real challenge.
    The voice you speak of is provided by the content of the photograph, the "sameness" of the gear can be regarded as a neutral background against which the voice can be more clearly heard. An audio engineer would call the 'sameness' a "very low noise floor".

  10. #20

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    I tend to use old cameras, anything from the 1930's to early sixties, and I also shoot a lot of low light subjects, and as far as possible I avoid flash, so my exposures can very often be as low as 1/5 at 4 or 5.6, I focus as carefully as I can, but I get out of focus areas in my photos,but I work around the problems, as long as the main subject is reasonably sharp I don't worry, the main thing for me is the finished print, and I work around the shortcomings of these old lenses, I love the equipment I use, I get results I love, and other people seem to like them, and that is all that matters to me,

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