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Thread: Natural Vision

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    Silverpixels5's Avatar
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    The current issue of Lens Work had a pretty good article about a photographer's natural vision. The editor discussed how a photographer can take a variety of photographs well, but they always excell in one particular area over the rest, beit landscapes, portraits, close-up, etc. It caused me to look back the photos I've been taking the past few years and saw that I basically take 2 kinds of pictures: portraits and objects within a certain distace from the camera. While the portraits I take are nice, I find that the pictures of inanimate objects (usually outdoors) are exceedingly better. These are usually things that are about one to maybe 30 feet from the camera. Also my black and white photos always seem much better than my color ones...as a matter of fact I'd be hard pressed to find a color photo of mine that I like much at all.

    So I was wondering if any of you have a certain niche of photography that you fit in. This can be a format, style, or even a particular printing process. I look forward to everyone's responses!

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    I strongly believe in concentrating on one (or two) areas in photography that you happen to be good at, in stead of trying to achieve a moderate level in all other areas. My favourite (and it happens to be my best area) is landscape photography. What I often notice in Holland is that landscape photographers often combine that passion with potraiture, probably to earn some money. I am not sure why this works, but it does seem to.

    As far as colour versus B/W is concerned, I have the same "problem". My B/W is much better than my colour. I guess for me this is because with mono you can be really creative in the darkroom, whereas with colour this is more restricted (unless you go digital........oops this is a swearword here, isn't it...sorry!).

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    Les McLean's Avatar
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    So I was wondering if any of you have a certain niche of photography that you fit in. This can be a format, style, or even a particular printing process. I look forward to everyone's responses!
    Whilst I agree that we all tend to concentrate on subject matter that we like or think produces our best work I think it's essential that we look to develop our seeing and ultimately our style. It is so easy to carry on making photographs in a particular vein and not see that we are only producing more of the same and our style is really in part a formula. I can never agree that a certain way of printing is style, again it falls into the category of formula, anyone can print dark and satanic or light and airy fairy.

    Yars ago I made only landscape photographs and hated photographing people and photography got boring. I decided to take a radical change of direction and started carrying a 35mm camera at all times and disciplined myself to use only one lens and expose one roll of black and white film each week and photograph anything that caught my eye, no matter how wacky although I avoided landscapes. I photographed people, light that appealed to me, signs and notices with text that I thought humourous or otherwise, in fact I just snapped away until the film was done.At the end of the week I processed the film, contacted printed it and chose the image that I though was the best and filed it in a loose leaf folder. This became my visual journal. I did not look at the prints once they were filed until about 6 months later and spent a couple of hours going through them. I was amazed firstly at what I had photographed and secondly that I saw similarities in images that were totally diverse in content. As I carried on doing my visual journal over the months and years I did develop a style that was not a formula, it was a way of seeing no matter what the subject matter was that I photographed. I carried on with the journal for quite a long time looking at it every few months and the gave it a rest. When I feel that my photography is going stale I start with my journal again, so far it has not failed me.

    I'm convinced that the journal has had a huge influence on my photography and willingness to make photographs of subjects that I'm not really comfortable with.

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    lee
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    I tend to think that Les is on to something. Expanding one's ability to see takes a lot of work. One's vision (photographically) can be very limiting. I am trying to learn to be a landscape guy but I don't see the grand vista yet or at least readily. I like to think my images are more intimate. Maybe I am fooling myself. But we (I) should work hard to over come those limitations.

    lee\c

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    Now I do agree that one should not limit themselves at all. After all, while I may not be the best at photographing people, it's what I like to photograph the most. Variety keeps things fresh, and one shouldn't solely focus on the one area they are really well at. Although, I do think that they should find out what area that is and devote a good amount of time at making the best of it.

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    That is almost exactly what I have benn doing for several years Les. I began to always take a 35mm to use as a notebook for looking at light, texture, perpective etc. Sometimes I would see a subject that I felt was better suited for LF and would use several lenses and perspectives with 35mm and return later with the LF. I did the same thing, contact printing and then printing the two or three best of a roll. Eventually I found the more intriguing images on the 35mm film. So that exercise has taught me what I am attracted to visually and have the best relationship with. It is an on going process and will continue as long as I can hold a camera. But it has helped my LF work a great deal by honing in on subjects I wanted to photograph and not subjects I thought I am supposed to photograph.


    I like to work with all kinds of subject matter, but I would say the least interesting is the grand landscape in the Ansel Adams tradition. I Love the work of others but I never seem to get an image that has any real excitement. I love found still lifes and abstraction, and the more intimate landscape of urban and rural interface. And at one time i didn't enjoy portraiture but find with LF and trusting my judgement for lighting and pose I am more successful.

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    Ole
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    Doing something completely different once in a while is a good idea, IMHO.

    I used to have "detailmania" - wanting every detail there, everything pin sharp, etc... The problem was I was shooting 35mm! I then went out and bought an old Polaroid somethingorother, and used it exclusively for image transfer until I had learned to make unsharp images.

    So now I use LF...
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

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    I used to have "detailmania" - wanting every detail there, everything pin sharp, etc...
    I used to be like that, but then I saw that I probably would never be satisfied, so i went out of bought some 35mm T-Max P3200, pushed it to 6400 and shot a bunch of things at night. I did this for about a month...purposely shooting things both in and out of focus. In the end I really liked the look of a lot of the prints, and when I went back to shooting medium and slow films on MF the grain seemed to have disappeared...

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    I think I am in the minority here. I started out shooting portraits, and family photos. I did it part time for several years. I was never happy. No matter how hard I tried to make "masterpieces", It always came down to the fact that I genuinely hated what I was doing. I finally wised up and decided that I would earn my living soley from staring at a computer screen for 10 hours a day, and satify my creative bug by sahooting photos for myself. This turned into taking black and white scenics pretty much exclusivly. I still shoot a little color film. Probably about 10 rolls a year now. Am I limiting myself by not shooting street photography? I don't think so, narrowing my focus to scenics and nature has forced me to take the best photos that I am able to. I'm not good at street, have no interest in bird photography, and while I got pretty good at portraiture, it bores me to death. Ok, enough rambling from me, its dinner time
    hi!

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