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  1. #31
    Heinz's Avatar
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    I narrow this down to still life like pictures of small objects - where a arrangement is not too diffcult (of course also for other subjects the framing is a form of arrangement and I also would think putting away some irritating trash is some but a mild arrangement).

    Then I see three different cases in my images:

    In some images I simply document found objects, with no special framing, e.g.:

    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showima...mageuser=33326
    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showima...mageuser=33326
    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showima...mageuser=33326

    In other images my framing is a major manipulation, e.g.:

    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showima...mageuser=33326
    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showima...mageuser=33326
    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showima...mageuser=33326

    And in a few cases (mostly if I try to illustrate some topic) I do arrange the objects, e.g.:

    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showima...mageuser=33326
    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showima...mageuser=33326

    And if I now think about it, the images of the second category are often the strongest ones, while the ones in the first category (only documenting) and the ones in the third category (arranged setup) are often weaker - an inspiring question is discussed in this thread!

  2. #32
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
    How do you feel about arranged images, as I always think they look contrived? Even when doing a still life shot, I like to throw the subject in front of the camera. Arrangement seems to destroy spontaneity and the moment.
    A lot of my landscape photographs are very long exposures, from 2 seconds to 2 hours depending on what I'm doing. It's hard to be spontaneous with this type of subject matter.

    Other times, when shooting hand held, I love those moments of fun spontaneity, though. It depends on the subject matter, and most of all what the purpose of the photograph is. If you're a portraitist providing commissioned portraits it's almost impossible to not set things up.
    "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. #33
    cliveh's Avatar
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    My original question was aimed more at the arrangement of the subject, rather than the operation and framing of the camera. I would imagine that some of the best portraits are not arranged, but more a question of timing during the interaction between the photographer and the model. Also how do you arrange objects for a still life shot that don’t make it look contrived? I once attended a lecture where a landscape photographer described how he might photograph a desert, but put a skull in the foreground to enhance the image. It is this sort of contrivance I am questioning. Also I would add, not dismissing it, as I know practically all advertising photography is arranged. But is that getting the best out of the image?

    “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

  4. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
    ... Also I would add, not dismissing it, as I know practically all advertising photography is arranged. But is that getting the best out of the image?
    Well you don't really expect BMW or Rolex to sell their products with candid images of people walking down streets or driving cars and stoping at red lights? In marketing, obviously, the more arranged the better. But you already knew that so I'm not sure I understand your question.

  5. #35
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NB23 View Post
    Well you don't really expect BMW or Rolex to sell their products with candid images of people walking down streets or driving cars and stoping at red lights? In marketing, obviously, the more arranged the better. But you already knew that so I'm not sure I understand your question.
    I am questioning if that is the best method. Why not employ candid pictures of BMW drivers enjoying their cars? Do you get my drift?

    “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

  6. #36
    omaha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
    My original question was aimed more at the arrangement of the subject, rather than the operation and framing of the camera. I would imagine that some of the best portraits are not arranged, but more a question of timing during the interaction between the photographer and the model. Also how do you arrange objects for a still life shot that don’t make it look contrived? I once attended a lecture where a landscape photographer described how he might photograph a desert, but put a skull in the foreground to enhance the image. It is this sort of contrivance I am questioning. Also I would add, not dismissing it, as I know practically all advertising photography is arranged. But is that getting the best out of the image?
    The skull in the desert thing turns me off too...unless the objective was to take a picture of the skull, and the desert was just the backdrop. Otherwise, dropping the skull onto the scene just to create "interest"...well, I can see how that evokes a negative response.

    (As a total aside, that bring to mind one of my favorite peeves: The shot of the rusty old pickup truck out in the desert. I suppose it was cool the first few hundred thousand times it was done, but anymore? No thanks. Get a new idea.)

    Regarding portraits (which is pretty much all I like to do), my take goes like this: I want every single detail to be carefully arranged. Background, props, lighting, posing, etc. But having "contrived" all that, the "magic", if you manage to hit it, is entirely about capturing the right expression. Expression is everything. No amount of contrivance can salvage a portrait with a bad expression.

    Expression its self is a combination of further contrivance (ie, coaching the subject), posing, and interaction between the photographer and the subject. If there is spontaneity, it is found there.

    One funny thing I'll observe, most people look, to other people, their absolute best when they are laughing. Its hard to look at a photo of someone laughing and not have an immediate attraction to them. But clients by and large HATE "laughing shots". I've always found that ironic. The photo of you that appeals most to other people often is the one you can't stand.
    I shoot digital when I have to (most of those shots end up here) and film (occasionally one of those shots ends up here) when I want to.

  7. #37
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
    My original question was aimed more at the arrangement of the subject, rather than the operation and framing of the camera. I would imagine that some of the best portraits are not arranged, but more a question of timing during the interaction between the photographer and the model. Also how do you arrange objects for a still life shot that don’t make it look contrived? I once attended a lecture where a landscape photographer described how he might photograph a desert, but put a skull in the foreground to enhance the image. It is this sort of contrivance I am questioning. Also I would add, not dismissing it, as I know practically all advertising photography is arranged. But is that getting the best out of the image?
    That's what I was thinking. In my case, my talent "lies elsewhere" and that is why my arrangements feel contrived.

    I think "Irving Penn" and I get. Well I get Bill Burk but it's just NOT at the level of beauty that I get when I take what I find beautiful in front of me.

    I'll post a favorite "La Bufadora Still Life" when I get a chance. Shot in Mexico below Ensendada at the famous blow-hole with water shooting up...

    I'm impressed that I caught the spray... as if it were an inverse shadow of the still-life I'd arranged.... But MY arrangement itself is stilted.

  8. #38
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    Sort of like mise en scene. I think its rather subjective, because the placement (or the non-placement) of a certain item has meaning. In my approach I like not to mess with nature, hence when I do landscapes, natural subjects, etc.; I don't manipulate the environment but rather try use it. In short, I personally wouldn't agree with the chap who used the skull in the desert. On the other hand, in the studio or on a 'closed set,' I carefully arrange the subject(s) that are in the frame.
    "The real work was thinking, just thinking." - Charles Chaplin

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