The point of one camera, one lens, one film (and one developer) is to eliminate as many variables as possible so the beginner can concentrate on the work at hand, learning to make pictures with a camera whether that camera is an 8x10 Deardorff or a Kodak 35.
When you are utterly familiar with the equipment and can use it intuitively (as Thomas pointed out) to get exactly the technical performance you need, then and only then can you begin to learn to "see". A Maslow's hierarchy of learning, if you will.
Emil I have to disagree seeing comes first everything else second pure seeing with our eyes and mind without camera is the ultimate reduction, cameras and lenses are already an additional tool that hinders the visual development.
I profoundly disagree with you. The actual trick is to learn how to become a better photographer. If your mind is occupied with things like what film to use, what lens to use, or anything of that nature, it means you have less brain capacity left to focus on the actual photograph.
Originally Posted by MDR
What is it, in terms of 'seeing', that you think is made better by adding more equipment to the camera bag?
By removing all of these obstacles, and using as little equipment and material as possible, has two benefits:
1. You become so intimately familiar with the equipment that you don't even have to think about it. Your reaction to the subject matter in front of you is instinctive, because you can feel, like a domino chain reaction of a split second, what needs to happen. That takes into account all sorts of lighting scenarios, compositional elements, how to treat light and so on, because you are so familiar with your materials that you know these things like the back of your hand.
2. As a result of being so familiar with your materials and what happens to them at the time of processing and printing, you actually get more performance out of them. You have to use your materials a lot, break rules with them, and go way beyond their limitations in order to know everything there is to know about them. That takes time. Lots of time. Years even.
If you're not able to see the advantages of doing this, then you could probably benefit from trying it yourself. I've done it for six months and found it tremendously rewarding. I plan on doing it again to see if I can learn more.
"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
You may be right but for most people and especially beginners, they need the crutch of a frame, to develop the ability to see. Some sort of parameters or framework to learn how to collect in the shot, and extract it from the entire panorama that their eyes see.
Originally Posted by MDR
In fact if you walked outside right now, and formed a frame with your fingers, no matter how proficient you are at photography and move that around, you would find an interesting shot that you probably wouldn't otherwise have noticed.
Then after a lot of that exercise, a person can then walk outside perhaps and see those things without the frame.
In the blog a lot of people may think that they should automatically use a 35-50mm ( in 35mm format) but sometimes a longer lens can even be more interesting since our eyes see in something like 35-50mm. And a longer lens makes us see in a different manner.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
I recall once having my 50mm and 135mm for my Praktica LTL both in for service for 6 or 8 weeks, leaving me with a 28mm and a 200mm. Since I shot almost exclusively on Plus X, souped in D76, and printed on Ilford fiber paper I sort of did the experiment for a month or two. I was surprised and pleased with the some what higher percentage of "keepers" than when I had the full complement of glass.
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Seeing may come first, but if you're still thinking about whether or not the camera/film/lens combination is going to work the way you want, you won't be thinking about the picture you want to make.
Originally Posted by MDR
I would go even further and suggest a good learning tool is something like a Zen pinhole camera. This allows only one shot and no viewfinder.
“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”
Well, yes, but with reservations. There are challenges and then there are challenges, as it were; trying to use a completely wrong tool for the job, like shooting sports with a wide lens on a large format camera, is probably too much of a "challenge" to be a useful experience.
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
Also, what's reasonable to take on will be different for someone who's strictly trying to develop their skills than for someone who wants to optimize the end product. I'd hate to feel that I *had* to decide to miss a shot because I'd sworn off that tool for the year.
Agreed, and it's hard to say in advance what challenges can be compensated for, really. Sometimes a seemingly inappropriate tool works better than expected, and you wouldn't learn that if you reflexively went for the obviously appropriate one instead. Tradeoffs, tradeoffs.
I think it's important to make a distinction here that it's about fundamental qualities of seeing and feeling your way to the end result, and for this exercise you'd have to learn how to expand your capabilities to compensate for some of the challenges.
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_
There is little more liberating than walking around with a meterless camera, one whose aperture and shutter speeds I have overwritten with EV values. I simply decide what 'number' the scene calls for and choose (based upon depth of field needed) the proper combination that I must set. I also like to judge distance and, although I love the metric system, I cannot leave my 'feet' behind; they are so ingrained into my mind.
In fact I think that forcing oneself to come to grips with light values is one of the better things one can do to round out the obvious need for believable composition. (Yes, Blansky, holding your fingers a certain way to frame scenes creates more opportunities than one could imagine). And too much information can stunt one's intellectual growth (as GRHazelton found out that more and better results came with having only the 28 and 200).
I would like to read a legitimate essay about how artists of time past dealt with an inability to buy proper artist's materials and still managed to trump the odds. In photography, likewise, I derive comfort from less bells and whistles. And, please do not avoid or try to deny that different exposures present different perceptions of the scene at hand. Sometimes shadow detail becomes mandatory. Sometimes NO shadow detail presents MORE of a photograph.
In summation, don't go by formulas. Go by the acclimation of perception through intelligent trial and error. - David Lyga
Last edited by David Lyga; 12-19-2013 at 04:25 PM. Click to view previous post history.
"acclimation of perception through intelligent trial and error" I like that. "a good learning tool is something like a Zen pinhole camera" I like this idea as well no viewfinder is a liberating experience and one really has to learn to visualize in ones mind. I think it's interesting to note that some of the better photographers came from some other artform. HCB and Man Ray for instance started out as painter so were visually schooled before they started out as photographers. They learned to see before they turned their talent to photography.