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  1. #31
    Wigwam Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm
    Oh, come on, Wiggy.
    OK, where are we going?

    Years ago one of my girlfriends somehow acquired a meterless Nikon F and a normal lens and went out to take creative photographs. I asked her how she planned to get along without an exposure meter. Instead of telling me that with negative films "sunny 16" is good enough, she told me that she'd set the controls creatively. So she did, and she got a lot of unprintable negatives. Since then she's taken the trouble to learn the craft and now she's a pretty good photographer.
    Seems reasonable. I would never suggest otherwise. Had she taken an auto-everything point-n-shoot, she would have gotten a lot of printable negatives. Not sure what your point is, except that either the camera or the photographer has to at least make an attempt to set exposure correctly.

    Point is, there's art and there's craft. Without mastery of craft, art, whatever that means, is produced by lucky and unrepeatable accident. Aleatory art is just another sick joke.
    Not true at all, in my opinion.

    First, there have been many fine works of art created by those who were not and never became masters of their respective crafts. From paintings to photographs to theater to cinema to poems to novels to sculpture to music (perhaps especially music, eh?), we fill our museums, art galleries, homes, and iPods with the work of less-than-expert artists. Mastery is a fine thing. Many wonderful homes are built by journeymen, even some few built by enthusiastic amateurs.

    Second, you paint this picture as if it were black and white. Either one is master of one's craft, or one is just lucky to get a good photograph. I reject that notion entirely.

    Third, even if it were true - art is what the viewer perceives it as. If they like and appreciate it, it is what they perceive. How it was made, the 'luck' involved, has to do with reproducibility, perhaps - but it does not change what the work is. My opinion.

    In addition, not all students of photography have art on their empty little minds. Some of them hope to earn their livings as commercial photographers. They'll starve if they can't produce what's required when its needed. In short, they need to master the craft.
    I would not argue that a student should not learn how the tools work. I would argue against excluding entry-level students unless they have a classic mechanical manual-only camera. I would argue against the notion that a person cannot work as a commercial photographer without being master of his or her tools. I know too many people working in the field who use a dSLR and never change any settings from 'auto'. We might argue that they could do better work if they knew more, but their paychecks seem to argue that absolute mastery is not required.

    How people come to realize that they have to master the craft is an interesting question. But that serious photographers, be they artists or slaves to commerce, can't avoid it.
    I cannot help but to disagree with that entire premise, as well as your conclusion. It would be wonderful if we were all masters of our tools. We are not all such, and somehow we get by.

    In any case, I would not dissuade a student from pursuing all the knowledge of this craft that they could get. I object only to the notion that one cannot begin to learn until one has mastered what we have decided to call 'the basics' of manual focus and manually-set exposure.

    I'm [COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]color blind[/COLOR], and yet I work part-time as a wedding and event photographer, in addition to trying to create art. I cannot master certain tools that involve color. How now? Can I therefore not become a master craftsman, and therefore, never hope to be a true photographer?
    Best,

    Wiggy

    Note to Self: Tse-Tse Fly - No Antidote

  2. #32
    Wigwam Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smileyguy
    Wiggy, context. He's not teaching in your "middle of nowhere", he's teaching in Guelph. There ARE camera stores nearby that carry that stuff. That's why I say it's not an unreasonable requirement. He's not teaching EVERY course across North America, he's teaching HIS course at U of G.
    OK, if you say that there are camera stores that sell used mechanical cameras in or near Guelph, I'll have to believe you - never been there. Fair enough.

    We're all saying the same thing. Fundamentals are good. Enjoying photography is good. Teaching is good. Taking pictures is good. Pressing buttons and experimenting is good. Playing is good. Learning is good. Film is good. Digital is good. Artistic is good. Craft is good. Mastery is good. Luck is good. Basics is good. Advanced knowledge is good. It's all good.
    Good?
    Actually, what I read was that 'we' meaning everyone but me are indeed saying the same thing, which is 'learn it the way I did, kid, or don't bother.' If I were a kid, I'd tell the teacher to get stuffed and learn what I needed on my own, or I'd join a Flickr group, get together, and make art without the approval of the fossils with the K1000's (and don't forget, I'm a fossil with a K1000 saying this). We could have been inclusive. Instead, we insist that the world keep spinning the way it did when we were tykes and dinosaurs roamed the earth, and guess what? We cut our own throats. We become increasingly irrelevant.

    Yes, all those things are good. To make learning the ins and outs of an archaic mechanical camera a prerequisite to teaching photography is to turn one's back on the would-be artists who choose not to play with grandpa's toys in a beginning class. It is a shame.

    But then, I have noted with surprise over the years that many photographers I have met will go out of their way to exclude as many as possible from the rung on the ladder that they currently occupy.
    Best,

    Wiggy

    Note to Self: Tse-Tse Fly - No Antidote

  3. #33
    DBP
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wigwam Jones
    Imagine this - a newbie hoves into view on APUG and innocently asks what the best way would be to process their own B&W negatives. After the eleventy-dozenth contradictory opinion, they throw their hands up and go back to C-41 chromogenic at the local high street shop. However, if given a basic set of tools, some D-76, fixer, and a scanner, and they discover the joys of fingertips that smell like fixer. Too much, too soon, and you lose them.
    Actually, there was thread like that recently. I was pleasantly surprised at how few posters went down the road of zone system, or pyro, or similar topics. The suggestions quickly converged on using one or two films (FP4+/HP5 or Plus-X/Tri-x) and one developer (either ID-11/D-76 or Rodinal). A number of people made the point that the new photog should keep it simple.

    I agree wholeheartedly that one need not take a course to learn photography. I have long been concerned about the conversion of universities into trade schools. The notion that a diploma hanging on the wall makes you an artist or a writer is silly. And by insisting on credentials, the economy raises barriers to entry into a field and reinforces existing economic disparities from one generation to the next. So I would never argue that one needs to take a class to become a photographer. I do find more and more people asking me how I learned various techniques and skills, and being shocked when I say I did some reading, then noodled around a bit, and talked to people.

    One more thought - I've been to Wilson - you are right, it is not the middle of nowhere, more like a suburb.

  4. #34

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    DBP, I agree with you that a course isn't needed. But doing the little set of exercises laid out in the booklet that Nikon used to pack with their SLRs is very helpful. They go through the camera's controls -- shutter speed, aperture, focus. Doing them all helps the beginner internalize what to do to get the desired combination of good exposure, sharpness or blur, ...

    Wiggy, doing this doesn't take a mechanical camera, it takes a camera that will give its user full control and a meter -- in the camera or not, where it is makes no difference -- that tells the user whether it thinks a shot will be properly exposed and if not, how far off and in which direction. Aleatory focus, composition, and exposure is a crock. And that, Wiggy, is what you come across as advocating.

  5. #35
    DBP
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    Dan,

    Absolutely agree. The one course I did take, thirty years and two thirds of my life ago, they actually started us by having us shoot one sheet in a Graphic, just so we could see what it was like. I just have a pet peeve about the notion that a piece of paper indicates expertise, partly from having had to remediate English and Algebra deficiencies of honors graduates with degrees in 'practical' fields like Business or Communications. Keeps reminding me of the scene in the Wizard of Oz where the wizard explains to Scarecrow that he doesn't need a brain, just a diploma.

  6. #36
    Wigwam Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm
    DBP, I agree with you that a course isn't needed. But doing the little set of exercises laid out in the booklet that Nikon used to pack with their SLRs is very helpful. They go through the camera's controls -- shutter speed, aperture, focus. Doing them all helps the beginner internalize what to do to get the desired combination of good exposure, sharpness or blur, ...

    Wiggy, doing this doesn't take a mechanical camera, it takes a camera that will give its user full control and a meter -- in the camera or not, where it is makes no difference -- that tells the user whether it thinks a shot will be properly exposed and if not, how far off and in which direction. Aleatory focus, composition, and exposure is a crock. And that, Wiggy, is what you come across as advocating.
    Dan, I didn't say that - I'm going to guess you know that. Let's use the word 'luck' instead of 'aleatory' shall we? We both know big words, and aleatory means luck. You're talking about 'lucky shots' and you say they are "a crock." Well, that's your opinion. I do not advocate a career that depends upon luck rather than skill - but I do not deny that such photographs can be works of art as well as the pre-planned sort.

    You said:

    Well, is there a better way of learning the photographic process and how to think like a photographer than using fully a fully manual camera and b/w film? How else can one learn what the camera's controls do?
    You then said:

    Years ago one of my girlfriends somehow acquired a meterless Nikon F and a normal lens and went out to take creative photographs. I asked her how she planned to get along without an exposure meter. Instead of telling me that with negative films "sunny 16" is good enough, she told me that she'd set the controls creatively. So she did, and she got a lot of unprintable negatives. Since then she's taken the trouble to learn the craft and now she's a pretty good photographer.
    Dan, you can't change directions now and claim I've been making statements I haven't made. I was born at night - but not last night. You can win an argument with me by proving your point - but not by claiming I said things I didn't.
    Best,

    Wiggy

    Note to Self: Tse-Tse Fly - No Antidote

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