I think quite the contrary. If you don't understand what you are looking at, you won't get "better," no matter how much instant feedback you get. Those who make snapshots only care about the subject--what is seen, not how it is seen. They won't get "better." Not that it matters--they don't need to--they make photographs that are as good as they need to be.
Most photographers who are more serious won't get better by the instant feedback either, because they don't know how to look at pictures. I saw this a thousand times when I used to teach photography, and Paula and I see it when we conduct our workshops. Generally speaking, people need to be shown how to approach photographs as pictures, not as "pictures of." Once they get it, there is generally no turning back, but it seems not to be instinctive. Suprisingly, very few seem to understand this, or, they understand it, but are unable to do anything about it with their own work. They know they don't have it right, but are not sure what to do about it. The speed of feedback is supremely irrelevant in my opinion.
I think it is all about intent.
Don states that he used a lot of polaroids at one time. I'll bet he did it so he could have an instant critique of his subject matter before he took the "real " shot.
Much the same way that people making movies in Hollywood have video assist on the cameras. They can play back the video and make sure they "got it", lighting, etc before they move on.
Their "intent" is to critique.
Other people use the instant gratification of polaroid and digital for another reason. Instant images. For fun, to share with friends, etc. They don't care much more than if they got a decent image.
Their intent and their "eye" is not tuned into critiquing and perfecting. They only really care about just enjoying the image they got immediately.
I think they are two different mindsets with two different goals in mind.
It is instinctive but we are conditioned by modern life not to trust those instincts, so we learn not to use them when we photograph. The public's de facto canonization of Ansel Adams certainly hasn't helped in this regard either. What your workshop does is unlearn enough of that conditioning to allow the photographer's instinctive inner vision to again become a part of the process. To me this was worth more than the technical part.
Originally Posted by Michael A. Smith
I knew I didn't have it right, but at the end of the workshop I knew exactly what to do about it.
How nice to hear that. Many thanks. The technical part, which is the reason many sign up for our workshops, is the easy part, and really, the least interesting part. It is the other that is important. It's nice to learn that we have succeeded in this way. Again, many thanks.
Michael, I am sure that you probably don't remember but some time ago I addressed something along the lines of the difference between taking photographs of "things" or photographs "which were more then the thing itself"...to which you responded as if you didn't understand my position. I think that you just expressed in your own words what it was that I was saying. Thanks for expressing it in a way that we can both understand.
Originally Posted by Michael A. Smith
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You have piqued my curiosity. I have been talking (and writing) about that for over 30 years. What exactly was your previous post. (Send me a URL if possible.) If I disagreed then I can only imagine that I felt that whatever it was you wrote was not clearly stated.
I can't remember exactly when this occurred. It certainly isn't worthy of my time to go chasing a URL. I am busy, just as you are. The basic premise of my statement at that time had to do with something that I recall as being attributed to EW in which he stated that or was recognized for his ability to create images that were greater then or more then the thing itself. As I recall you indicated that you didn't remember anything of that nature being attributed to Weston and that you felt that my premise was somehow vague.
At any rate, this matter is not that important. I am happy that you did state clearly what it was that I was addressing.
This is at the crux of what Garry Winogrand spoke of when he said he wanted to find out what things looked like when they were photographed.
"the photograph isn't what was photographed. It's something else. It's a new fact."
Funny how those comments stymie so many critics and photographers alike.
This has been interesting. I personally believe that "reinforced successes" are *much* more important in the learning process than (and I realize this is an oversimplification) cataloging mistakes. Consider learning a new route:
To get to point B from here-
First, do not turn right or left at the first intersection. Do not turn right or left at the second intersection. Do not turn left or go straight ahead at the third. At the next traffic light, do not turn right....
That would be an attempt at learning, via remembering mistakes. Far better to remember - or really -integrate - the successes:
At the third intersection, turn right; at the traffic light, turn left...
However that may be - I think "feedback" is definitely a useful tool - but the LCD screen provides feedback from whom? Certainly it is not a previously accomplished photographer, by definition, so where there may useful information, it will not be interpreted as far as content - especially aesthetic content.
Haven't we heard this sales pitch before? - applied to , first, the single-lens reflex: "You see exactly what you get with every lens - so you are "freed" to exercise your wonderful aesthetic talent..." That was applied to automatic exposure: "A perfect exposure every time, without the need to think, so you are fred to exercise ... "; and then to automatic focusing: This camera will select the perfect focus every time, freeing ..." - ad nauseum.
I wonder about the "freedom from thinking" ("worry" in advertising-speak). I don't think the use of an automatic-focusing camera will produce much interest in understanding depth-of-field; I don't think automatic exposure lends itself to a curiosity about high- and low- key effects - no more than the idiotic guide number 1.5 pop-up flash will help in understanding studio lighting ratios.
I think what I'm trying to say in this rant, is that we LEARN by DOING, not by having someone else do FOR us... and, increasing our depth of knowledge, as was necessary without all the wunnerful, wunnerful technical "advances" (??) - Good instructors here are most helpful - is ALWAYS a "Good thing".
Ed Sukach, FFP.
Your mistake, Ed, is in thinking that the location or identity of point B is known beforehand.
Originally Posted by Ed Sukach