So, I am a new photographer, and I was wondering what you guys do as far as mental prep to get in a state of mind in which you can "see" an opportunity for an exposure that goes beyond just a photo/snapshot. I have had a handful of shots that were pretty good. Dramatic lines, good composition, whatever. A few were by design, but most were lucky. What advice do you folks have regarding getting in tune with my sense of perception so that I can look at a print and say "that is good, and it is exactly what I wanted to happen." I want to look through my viewfinder and see a print. I would be greatful for anything you guys have.
Put your camera down and wander around the area exploring with a viewing card.
Close your eyes and tune into what your other senses are reporting.
Open your eyes briefly, then close them again. Try to remember what you saw. Open them again and see what the most dominant aspect of the scene was. Zero in on that.
Take notes. Written is better. Write down what you are seeing and feeling. Take mental notes if you forget your pencil.
Don't worry about making pictures. Just be there.
With the exception of candid portraits using 35mm or 120 slr where I am looking through the view finder at the subject for the duration of the session I find that I first see the shot I want and then bring the camera to the position where I will capture the image seen. I've used my equiptment enough to have a pretty good idea what lens on what camera is going to fill the frame with the image intended and not have either too much or too little coverage. My mind seems to have latent overlays of differing framelines and when I "see" the shot there is an invisible border around it framing the "meat" of the shot. Using that latent frame I then decide which camera and lens is going to capture what I see without disturbing what my mind has put a "flag" around. None of this was intentional on my part. This effect started happening a few years after I started working in photography. I'm guessing that it comes from having looked at hundreds if not thousands of photographs with the subconscious making notes on what it likes in an image and then projecting that back onto the real world.
Hi there Jason...just by asking these questions of yourself your images will improve
When I first started out, my camera went everywhere with me and I photographed anything that caught my interest. The only way to begin to get a sense of what things will look like when photographed with the equipment and materials you use, is to gain experience over a huge range of subject matter and lighting conditions. After a time you'll begin to anticipate results, which will lead to disappointments, which will lead you to tighten up your craft, which will result in you being able to pre-visualize results...sort of. I say sort of because unless you're in a studio in a totally controllable environment, the real world has many ways of messing with what ends up on your film, independant of any choices made by you! It'll put you in the ballpark though, from where you can try interpretations unvisualized at the time of exposure.
Originally Posted by bikegeek76
Well now, every photographer will have a different answer to that one. Take a look at the work of billschwab in the APUG galleries. He makes incredibly moving images from scenes 99.99% of us would rush past without even noticing. Check out Sportera and alberto_m as well. I bet all three have a different mind set when they work, yet all three see, and are aware of more than 99.99% of people who happened to see the same scene.
Originally Posted by bikegeek76
As far as I go, I tend to try and empty myself of all expectations before I set out. This serves two purposes; 1) It keeps me from being disappointed when fresh snow drops off the trees before noon, or when it rains when I want sun. Nature is more than just pretty scenes. 2) It opens me to become aware of the spirit of a place, and puts me in a position to try and photograph that without my ego messing things up. But that's just me Another photographer could be in the same place and force his/her mood, philosophy, political views, or whatever, and produce strong work.
The neat thing is, that if you keep asking yourself these questions as you gain in experience, you'll find the answers in your images that speak the loudest to you.
I think this is my favourite APUG forum
P.S. The lounge is #1 when drinking wine
Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.
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For PJ/event/street work, I constantly keep asking myself, "Where is the shot? Where is the shot?" and walk around with the viewfinder to my eye until I find it.
For narrative portraiture, I ask what story I want to tell with the picture and make the picture match the story.
It's not zen, but it's the only way I know to do it.
Murray already wrote most of what I'd have to suggest for out-and-about shooting - essentially, be prepared to accept what the environment you're in has to offer. After your mental/expectation slate is clean, get a sense of the overall, the mood that it creates. Then, start narrowing your view in increments, down to the little macro-level things. That way, you can be receptive to images at various levels as you wander through the environment.
There have also been some interesting discussions on "vision" here that might help you with your overall approach. A search of the archives should turn them up.
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM
If you are doing good with what you are doing now, why change it?
Frankly the thing that changes most as you mature as a photographer is the definition of a great photo. At first you are happy if the picture isn't blurry and exposed correctly. As you go on you tend to get pickier and that drives how you actually photograph.
Personlly I am a bit manic when I photograph. I won't see anything for a while and then it kicks in and I can burn up a roll or two.
Originally Posted by bikegeek76
art is about managing compromise
Thinking too much tends to cloud your mind more than it helps. I've gotten great photos with a point and shoot that cost me $2 because I didn't think...I just shot.
Jason, as a newby, you're trying too hard.
Take pictures and lots of them. Get someone you respect to critique your work and discuss what you were trying to achieve.
Look at the work of photographers you admire and you'll learn by osmosis.
When you're out shooting, the "mindset" will set in on its own. You don't need to guide it.
And have fun.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.