75% waste is not bad at all, but I didn't want to use a higher percentage because that might indicate someone was a really bad photographer...;-)
I remember running across a journal I keep in my first year in Art School. 20 years later, the good ideas were for the most part still "interesting" and the bad still bad...but only now more nostolgic...
What an excellent post!
I have to disagree with the idea that wasting film in a hurry can be analogous to the artist's sketchbook. A sketch is an exercise in learning to see. The artist forces himself to work through the shapes, perspective and lighting and so learns to see the subject. Be it 5 min or an hour, time is invested and a final product in pencil or charcoal is produced demonstrating the challenge faced whether successful or failed.
Not so with blowing through 36 exp in 15 min. Here, instead of learning to see, the photographer is learning how not to have to see because surely something good will come from the roll. It's sort of like using a sawed-off shotgun for target practice. Surely one pellet will hit the bullseye but what is learned? What challenge is truely faced?
I find that if I invest the same in making an exposure that I do in making a sketch I get a negative worthy of printing. So I would say that my good negatives (as apposed to MY crappy ones) are my sketchbook.
Thank you Mr Wilson.
"If I only had a brain"-Some badly dressed guy made of straw in some movie I think I saw
?What if Jackson gave in to what was modern technology of his day (cellulose nitrate roll film was invented in 1881)? What would we think of him today if he went back with his new Brownie camera, dashed from viewpoint to viewpoint snapping off as many shots as he could, not hardly pausing to even look at where he's pointing the camera??
Certainly, lets ask what if? . This seems to be an assumption that Jackson was a careless shooter that was forcibly slowed down by his equipment, turning him into a good shooter ???? Do you have some evidence that his was his nature? How did you arrive at this conclusion?
Certainly, we are all limited by the equipment we shoot. Does anybody know how many times Jackson saw THE image while scouting, but had to settle for a lesser image because of the time it took to get his equipment on location and to get it set up? Maybe his images WOULD be much superior to the work he actually produced if he had had a Brownie instead of the monster view.
One would not argue that the latest technology in miniature cameras lends itself to a style of shooting as much as a 20X24 does the same. Surely most of us would agree that one could shoot a 35mm auto everything digital camera as selectively as an 11X14 view, if one wanted to. However, the miniature camera lends itself to changing lenses and perspectives quickly; possibly obtaining many views of the same subject in the same length of time it takes to shoot one sheet.
That being said, what this (well written) article really boils down to is an indictment of all the careless shooters?.......
?There are literally dozens of similar questions that should be asked by the photographer for every scene before the camera is even out of the bag. Will someone with a digital or automatic camera ask them? Not likely. Instead they'll bang off a few shots and see what it looks like then they get the prints back.?
Once again, this is an assumption, and a pretty far reaching one too. Why shouldn?t they ask these questions? If they are dedicated to producing powerful images, they will. The assumption by the author is of course that the 35mm auto everything guys are careless shooters.
From my point of view, a careless shooter will be so until he decides to be otherwise. The equipment used is irrelevant.
and although I cannot speak for other members of this forum, I would venture to guess that most of them would agree with your statements as well.
Photography is certainly intertwined with technology, there is no getting around that fact, but creating powerful or moving images is a question of attitude and not of equipment.
I think the last three posts all make good points, and have fairly pointed out weaknesses in my arguments presented above.
In writing the essay, I had to find some balance between the purely technical arguments against photographers using equipment in a way that foils their efforts (much film, little vision) and the more motivational effort to get young photographers to slow down and start using photography to create an image, not just capture one.
gwrhino (do you capitalize a small cap name at the beginning of a sentence?) made a good argument against some of the assumptions I made. But he misread my assumptions just a bit. I assumed there are some photographers out there who, in reading my essay, will recognize themselves in the fast-shooting 'they'. I didn't mean to say that good photos are impossible with a 35mm camera (an argument fully bolstered with the reference to H.C.B. and I'll add Galen Rowell for the landscape crowd). Admittedly I have on occasion used my 4x5 in that fast-shooting mode (albeit at 6 frames per minute, not per second) in an equally hasty and non-visionary manner.
And I realize my asking an if about Jackson was fatuous, as is asking every question that has no answer. I asked it for purely rhetorical reasons, to draw out the contrast between Jackson's method and our own.
Mr. Levitt and jgef both make good statements about and arguments for the artistic approach to the problem, and again I claim the essayists prerogative to depart from rigorous fact and philosophy to make a point. With sufficient vision a good photographer should, with single frames of super-8 movie film, produce masterpieces.
Frankly I missed it. I don't have any artistic training, and I'm largely ignorant of the philosophy of art (an incomplete undergraduate minor in humanities is as close as I've gotten, and I've forgotten much of that in the 20 years that have elapsed). I'm a Ph.D. chemist, and a color darkroom junkie, so I approach photography wholly from the technical side.
"People complain most about their own worst faults" is an old adage, but it's one demonstrated above. In reality the careless they in my essay is me. I'd like to think it's the me of two years ago, but old habits die hard, and I still find myself wanting to shoot fast. And every time I've given in to the temptation I've wasted film.
Thank you for your compliments, and for your well-spoken disagreements.
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</span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (b.e.wilson @ Sep 20 2002, 05:24 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>...but old habits die hard, and I still find myself wanting to shoot fast. And every time I've given in to the temptation I've wasted film.
I can surely associate with this last comment. After years of shooting fashion and commercial work in general, where "time is money" I too must fight the urge sometimes to shoot fast.
I've found a way of slowing myself down. I leave the camera in the car and walk through the region where I'd like to shoot. I try and take it all in, without the pressure of setting up quickly in order to "catch the light" or a certain cloud formation. Sure, I've missed quite a few shots working like this. But then again, I've missed a whole lot of shots just driving down the road without a camera in my hip pocket.
After feeling out the region, I get the camera and already have a couple of shots in mind, so I don't feel pressured to "find something to shoot". This technique would obviously not work with a smaller format, because leaving it in the car would border on the rediculous. :-)
Some thoughful philosophy here, but I'm not clear on what the point actually is. The discussion seems to want to distinguish between "taking" a photograph and "making" a photograph, as if there is more inherent value in one over the other. Well, of course, that's going to depend on what the point of the photo was in the first place. A photo is the cliche'd "frozen moment in time" regardless of how artfully it is created; whether it has visual (or artistic, or temporal or [insert favorite adjective here] ) merit moves the discussion into an entirely different realm. I'm not sure that the "dilution of effort" concept has any particular validity. Technology provides alternatives which we can all work to master, or not, to achieve our particular vision (if we have one- not having a particular vision is its own "particular vision"). Rapid fire with my myriad of 35mm cameras at a subject of interest consumes film. Because of this, serendipity plays a large role, and I'm "taking" a picture, not "making" one. Setting up the 4x5 or the 8x10 and working to "make" a picture consumes time, not film. Lots of time, something that is more valuable to me than film. This is really about an allocation of resources. The slew of rapid fire shots I've made have to be dissected looking for "merit", then usually, a selected photo needs more post processing to be the image I want it to be. Hopefully, if I have any skill at all as a photographer, the photo I've "made" with the large format will need much less work after the fact. If it doesn't, the shot reasonably can be seen as a failure.
Given that most images generally regarded as having merit have had a more or less significant degree of post processing, the nature of acquisition of the image may in fact have no real relevance to the concept of dilution of effort. In fact, given that there is no known standard benchmark for the effort required to produce a photo of merit, I would submit that there is no such thing as dilution of effort.
There is a pragmatic side to the technology of dilution - it has provided manufacturers with the cash and incentive to do the R & D that has benefitted us all in better films, darkrooms, chemistry and hardware.
Thanks for your comments, jdf. I realize now that I also make the distinction between artists and craftsmen, though I've never spoken it. I know and admire several photographic artists that abuse every rule of traditional landscape-style photography (poor or discordant focus and composition, cross processing, color negative push, bizzare post processing) and still turn out very good, interesting, and sometimes puzzling work. My essay was written from the craftsmen's point of view, dealing with the act of creating great landscape photographs, not new or unique ones.
In other words, my essay is written for and about photographers who do not dress in black.
You sure got us thinking.
If I look back to much of my 'early work', I see a lot of bad stuff. And shot way to much of totally uninteresting subjects.
But that is what I see now and I guess I needed to go through the stage of 'frame wasting'. When on a photographic trip I still shoot a lot of frames, but now I can see better than in the beginning (and in a few years I'll shake my head about my 2002 work).
The saddest truth is that most people shoot a lot without real critical editing and making new goals. One needs the drive to do better. Be it by shooting lots of frames or just one every day.
If you look at the youthful work of Dali and Picasso you will find that they were both very skilled at classical painting.
Originally Posted by jdef