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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 29 Jan 2014 (Wednesday) 13:09
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I am a beginner, and I am stuck!

 
Sibil
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Jan 30, 2014 19:51 |  #31

BrickR wrote in post #16650025 (external link)
Put the camera in Manual mode and shoot something every single day. It forces you to use the camera and play with the settings, every single day. Changing settings will become 2nd nature, as well as understanding how changing one setting means you have to compensate with another setting change.

Experience is the greatest teacher, and 365 days of experience will accelerate your learning curve MUCH faster than trying to figure it out shooting once or twice a week.

Thank you for explaining what 365 is. So if one understands camera settings, exposure triangle, DOF, etc, where does one go from there? That is, composition, creative lighting, post processing, etc




  
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BrickR
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Jan 30, 2014 22:04 |  #32

Sibil wrote in post #16651301 (external link)
Thank you for explaining what 365 is. So if one understands camera settings, exposure triangle, DOF, etc, where does one go from there? That is, composition, creative lighting, post processing, etc

You've got it my friend :)


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Sibil
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Jan 31, 2014 07:26 |  #33

BrickR wrote in post #16651596 (external link)
You've got it my friend :)

And that's where the wheel start spinning :cry:




  
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gonzogolf
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Jan 31, 2014 09:23 |  #34

Sibil wrote in post #16651301 (external link)
Thank you for explaining what 365 is. So if one understands camera settings, exposure triangle, DOF, etc, where does one go from there? That is, composition, creative lighting, post processing, etc

Keep in mind that post processing should be the very last thing you perfect. Too many new folks read of the miracles of photoshop and think they can use post processing to make dull shots interesting. There are so many threads in the post processing forum here where people ask "how do I make my images look like this" and then point to a sample. Over half the time the image in question is simply well lit, and properly exposed. So learn composition and lighting first, then move on to post magic.




  
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Clean ­ Gene
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Feb 01, 2014 02:03 |  #35

YEGenesis wrote in post #16647481 (external link)
Now before people suggest reading and reading threads that are sticky'd all around the internet, I just want to say that I try to read anything and everything that comes to my attention, I really do! I just have a hard time wrapping my head around the concepts without going out there and just shooting, and then having imagines come out not what I want to (and I know it is definitely from my lack of skills for sure)

Any ways, here is my situation, I am hoping to receive some further guidance beyond articles of words. I bought my first DSLR ever back in May: the Canon T3i with the kit lens. Before that I spent another year thinking about whether I should actually go and buy the DSLR, which one to get, etc. and decided to go for it. Now, I know to live outside the box when it comes to anything that requires creativity, but sometimes I take a shot that I am satisfied with, I feel like they are not something I would want to show to anyone because it's "not good" to them. Then I stumbled upon POTN, and learned even more things, like shooting to the right (which after reading the two threads, I still am not able to grasp the concept of), and further read up on how Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO all work together. I haven't progressed much since then, nor do I know how to progress.

I am a very systematic person, I would prefer to have a foundation and move on to bigger and more complicated things afterwards. I started out saving pictures to JPEG, until someone told me (and showed me) how shooting RAW is so much more beneficial if you plan on doing some post process work.

I apologize if this became some what of a ramble, but locally I have no means of getting much guidance (none of my friends are into photography). I don't know what "practice taking pictures" mean, because I usually only pick up my camera when I have a shot in mind. Even if there are technical flaws in my pictures (For example, I have a scenery shot I really like, but it was really foggy so half the sky above the objects blurred), I wouldn't know how to fix it. I would love to know if anyone has kind of a schedule as to what to learn and when to move forward. For a beginner, sometimes it's difficult to grasp any concepts without being overwhelmed because it doesn't always sound like plane English; it's kind of like Greek a times with all the jargon.

If anyone is interested, here are the two shots (so far) that I felt was upload-worthy. Very little post processing work has been done to them, just changed the balance here and there with colors and what not. I learned Photoshop from when I was very into graphics and web design, so those are the only skills I apply to editing photos.

www.flickr.com/photos/​106932115@N04 (external link)

I don't have any definitive answers for you, I'm just gonna give my thoughts on a few things I've found to be true for me...

1) "I don't know what "practice taking pictures" mean, because I usually only pick up my camera when I have a shot in mind."

Now, you may work entirely differently than me, but I have (and often still do) have the exact same attitude, and it has been a problem for me. Going through my work, I've found that many of my photos are ones that I had no idea what the hell I was doing at the time of the shoot. Well, maybe "no idea" is a bit of an exaggeration. Usually it was just a poorly formed idea, and then it didn't become better formed until after I started shooting.

Or hell...sometimes I really DID go out shooting with literally NO IDEA. That's fine, because ideas would then happen either during shooting, during setting up the shoot, or after the shoot when I had images to draw ideas from.

The point being...those images wouldn't have happened if I had used "but I don't have any ideas" as an excuse to not make images. Inspiration happens when you're WORKING. The hardest part is usually getting started. You can hear any procrastinator tell you this. Someone puts off his school essay because "it's hard and I don't know what to do." But then he's wasted 2 months and still has no ideas, but the deadline is in a week. At that point, when he FINALLY gets started, it's easy. He cranks that $hit out, no problem. Except for the problem that it probably would have been better if he had more time to develop it. But the point is that once he gets started, the rest is kind of a piece of cake.

And don't get me wrong. I'm not saying shoot all the time. Inspiration comes from all over the place. Read the newspapers, watch some movies, go to the opera, listen to some of your favorite music, do some internet research. Yeah, that stuff is valuable, as long as you treat it like WORK and manage to draw from it. But as a photographer, your ultimate work is in the PHOTOGRAPH. So no matter how much research or studying or planning you do, there's gonna come a point where you need to just MAKE PHOTOGRAPHS (even if you have no ideas and don't know what you're doing). Yeah, the photos will probably be crap. That' good. You'll see why they were crap, and seeing why they didn't work will give you ideas for what to do next time. Research is good, planning is good, but that can't be an excuse for not making images. You've gotta see your images, because otherwise you have no idea how all that research and planning and formulation of ideas relates to the final product.


2) After looking at your flickr photos, I see some potential here. It's only 3 photos so it isn't much to go on, but I see you like dramatic imagery. That first photo has a cool red/green contrast in the light and the scarf, and the vantage point makes the reindeer really big and conveys importance. Second image has that hard single light that tend to result in really contrasty images. Many of my images lean that way too, which is neither here nor there, I'm just saying to recognize where you're going and then adap accordingly. Third image is also contrasty in tonal values, but also contrasty with respect to color. That blue and yellow really pops, and the clarity of the foreground provides thematic contrast when seen against the hazy background. This isn't a critique so I'm not saying how good or bad these images are. I'm just saying that I'm noticing things about them right now, and I'm not even privy to why they were made or what you like about them. But the first step was SEEING THE IMAGES. Then I started noticing what worked, what didn't, and how they were similar or different. But you've ultimately gotta make images. Human beings are a polar species, we see in terms of black and white, good or bad. It's hard for us to say anything about our work unless we have a point of comparison, and we can't have a point of comparison without doing more work.

So, seriously...my recommendation to you is to just make more images. I know you're insecure. I get it. So am I. I'd suspect that so is anyone who isn't way too cocky for their own good. Even if you have no idea what you're doing, just make images. Then do the work, go back and analyze what is working and what isn't. Reflect on why you like or dislike the image. Notice trends in your work. Releasing the shutter is just reaction. All of the thought happens before and afterwards, and half of that stuff automatically gets elimanted when there is no picture. Think about you and your work AFTERWARDS, but you can't even do that when there's no work being made.

3) I agree that GOOD feedback is absolutely critical, and I don't have much advice here. Personally I'm still doing photography in college, so I get feedback from professors and other students. And that is IMMENSELY valuable to me. that also makes it really EASY for me. Because otherwise I'm in the same boat as you. My friends and colleagues don't get much into art or photography. Whether they liked or hated my work, I wouldn't trust their views either way. But like you said, a support group is very valuable. And by that, I mean...a group of people who know what they're talking about reasonably well, and are willing to offer honest and genuine feedback. I think that internet communities can help in this regard, it's probably "better than nothing". Just learn to distinguish good feedback from bad feedback, learn who to pay attention to and who to ignore or disregard.




  
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SkipD
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Feb 01, 2014 05:00 |  #36

Melissa, there are two basic approaches to learning about photography that one typically sees in a forum like this. This thread has both. The one that I feel is counter-productive to a person who wants to really learn about photography is "shoot lots and lots of pictures". That, in itself, cannot do much for learning the basics.

There are several areas of basic learning that are important for a budding photographer who wants to understand the craft. A photography student should strive for a good understanding of:

  • Exposure control, metering techniques, etc.
  • Composition techniques (along with developing an "eye" for composition and an individual style)
  • Lighting techniques - both with natural light and artificial light
  • Post-processing techniques

Having started in photography with film cameras and ZERO automation, I found that learning the basics of exposure control with a totally manual camera and a handheld light meter was truly simple. It is my firm opinion that a budding photographer should not try to learn the basics with camera automation making the choices.
  • Pick a particular subject to learn with for a while.
  • Work with the camera in full manual mode.
  • Make and apply exposure setting decisions. Document your decisions.
  • Make and apply composition decisions. Document your decisions
  • Study the resulting images made with those decisions.
  • Experiment and learn how to make better exposure and composition decisions to improve the images.

The bottom line is learning how various choices such as exposure settings (ISO, shutter speed, aperture), camera positioning (affecting perspective and composition), lighting, equipment choices, post processing, etc., all affect the images that one makes.

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OhLook
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Feb 01, 2014 11:32 |  #37

YEGenesis wrote in post #16647481 (external link)
I know to live outside the box when it comes to anything that requires creativity

BUT, in the same post:

I am a very systematic person, I would prefer to have a foundation and move on to bigger and more complicated things afterwards.

Melissa, these two statements leave me unsure whether you want help on the techie side of photography or on the artsy side, or perhaps both. Replies have come from techie people and artsy people, and these two camps give opposite and contradictory advice.

If I'd had to do what the techie types say and master full Manual before doing anything else, it would have killed my enthusiasm. They say learn the exposure triangle, experiment with settings, keep a record of what you did. I used film years ago, when that was all there was; I had a Minolta. I don't remember having any trouble with exposure. (I remember having plenty of trouble loading the film.) Theoretically, the camera was entirely manual, and the exposure triangle existed then, too, but what isn't being said is that you didn't set ISO before each shot. The ISO was given by the film. You used the same ISO (it was called ASA) until that roll of film was full. You didn't have to juggle three settings. You didn't have to worry about white balance. In other words, manual wasn't so manual as all that. It's harder now, except that you can see your results without waiting for the film to be developed and printed or converted to slides.

Now, I don't have a DSLR, I have a bridge camera (high-end P&S), and I suppose that this fact will enable the engineer-photographers to discount what I say. Artsy, techie, never the twain shall meet. I still believe, however, that one learns from taking thousands of shots and looking at them with a view to how to improve.


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Clean ­ Gene
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Feb 02, 2014 00:55 |  #38

SkipD wrote in post #16654678 (external link)
Melissa, there are two basic approaches to learning about photography that one typically sees in a forum like this. This thread has both. The one that I feel is counter-productive to a person who wants to really learn about photography is "shoot lots and lots of pictures". That, in itself, cannot do much for learning the basics.

There are several areas of basic learning that are important for a budding photographer who wants to understand the craft. A photography student should strive for a good understanding of:
  • Exposure control, metering techniques, etc.
  • Composition techniques (along with developing an "eye" for composition and an individual style)
  • Lighting techniques - both with natural light and artificial light
  • Post-processing techniques

Having started in photography with film cameras and ZERO automation, I found that learning the basics of exposure control with a totally manual camera and a handheld light meter was truly simple. It is my firm opinion that a budding photographer should not try to learn the basics with camera automation making the choices.
  • Pick a particular subject to learn with for a while.
  • Work with the camera in full manual mode.
  • Make and apply exposure setting decisions. Document your decisions.
  • Make and apply composition decisions. Document your decisions
  • Study the resulting images made with those decisions.
  • Experiment and learn how to make better exposure and composition decisions to improve the images.

The bottom line is learning how various choices such as exposure settings (ISO, shutter speed, aperture), camera positioning (affecting perspective and composition), lighting, equipment choices, post processing, etc., all affect the images that one makes.

I agree with shooting in manual mode. Automatic modes are great for people who know when to use them effectively, but beginners generally don't have that experience. That's why manual is good, it makes them do the work, it makes them make the decisions. Sure, they'll make a lot of mistakes, but then they'll learn from them.

I'm just curious what your aversion is to "shoot lots of pictures". You say that it cannot help with the basics, but isn't that really counter-intuitive? You haven't really stated WHY that won't help people to learn the basics.

I disagree. Shooting lots of pictures is "practice". And people tend to get better with practice. Hell, even if we're only talking about basic stuff like learning exposure, then shooting manual doesn't help a lot unless you've got the practice to back it up. Hell...you're not gonna get it down after the first shot that you make on manual mode. You won't get a grasp of it after ten shots or a hundred shots or a thousand shots. But the more that you shoot, the better that you're gonna get at it. I think that's even more important for beginners. Once you know what you're doing, you can take a month off of shooting and then jump right back into it. At that point, you know what you're doing, you won't just suddenly forget all of it, so you can probably afford to shoot less often. Those guys ALREADY practiced it enough to get good, while beginners haven't. It's second nature to some guys, they can do it with minimal thought, because they had a LOT of practice. The beginners didn't have that practice, so that's what they need to be working on.

Don't get me wrong...I'm not saying that they need to shoot blindly or stupidly. They need to think about what they're doing, they need to evaluate their work, they need to get feedback from respected outsiders, and they need to be doing outside research. The shooting should obviously be informed and well thought out shooting, but I think that for beginners especially, it's critical to get out and shoot a LOT. Not having ideas or not knowing what they're doing isn't an excuse. Hell...a lot of my best work was made when I didn't know what I was doing, I was only able to figure out what I was doing later because I was actually working. Ideas get formed through work, ideas get refined through work. Things that start in a person's head one way turn into something completely different once they get out and start shooting. A total lack of ideas turns into ideas once one starts working and then thinks about the images.

I just sort of see photographs as like, mostly rough drafts. It's like writing an essay at the last minute because you don't have any ideas. Well, too bad, because the deadline is coming up so you'd better write SOMETHING. You start writing, not knowing what the hell you're writing. But then you look over what you wrote and instantly get an idea that you spent the last two months trying to pull out of the ether to no avail. But that's just me. I'm of the opinion that you can't just keep living in your head, you've gotta go out there and just start working. This is even MORE true for beginners, since they haven't gotten the practice yet.

And just a thought about 365 projects. I think it's a nice idea, but too often I see these degrade into total crap just because the person is making garbage to fulfill the obligation. I'm less a fan of "a picture a day", and more a fan of "one GOOD picture every week." How many pictures do you have to take to get one GOOD picture every week? I don't know. I guess the minimum is one, and the maximum could be like, 500. But you've gotta actually be thinking that it's GOOD and not just BSing. One good picture a week, then shoot however much you need to shoot to make that happen.




  
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SkipD
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Feb 02, 2014 07:09 |  #39

Clean Gene wrote in post #16657010 (external link)
I'm just curious what your aversion is to "shoot lots of pictures". You say that it cannot help with the basics, but isn't that really counter-intuitive? You haven't really stated WHY that won't help people to learn the basics.

The key to my statement is the fact that some folks recommend simply shooting lots of pictures as a way to learn. Regarding that, I stated that "That, IN ITSELF, cannot do much for the learning process". Simply doing something over and over again does not necessarily make the results better. In order to learn about how to do anything well, one must be cognizant of what he/she is doing and how his/her actions (or lack thereof) affect the outcome of whatever is being done. Then, changes in the process need to be thought about and applied followed by further analysis to determine if the results are improved by the changes in the process.


Skip Douglas
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DigitalDon
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Feb 02, 2014 10:26 as a reply to  @ SkipD's post |  #40

This is only A thru F, want G thru Z look here http://en.wikipedia.or​g …reviations_in_p​hotography (external link)
AE, AE-L or AEL, AF, AF-L or AFL, APEX, APS-C, ASA, Av, AWB, CA, CCD, CL,CIF, CMOS, CMYK, CP, CPL, or CPoL, CSC, DCF, DIN, DOF or DoF, DPI, DR, DSLR, ED, EFC, EFCS or EFSC, EV, EVF, Exif, FF, FP, FP,AFPS
Now I'am sure the pros knows what every one of them mean but take somebody new to photography and it will make their heads spin (know it makes mine spin) a new guy reads all the threads trying to grasp something about photography only to have to try to figure out what looks like a chemistry chart. I have had links recommended to me only to confuse me even more, take a link for a lens and now it looks like Mensa math class.

I guess it is right, take tons of pictures, decipher the code above and keep repeating, this is what I did and finally have about 80% of the cameras features figured out, the exposure triangle maybe 25% figured out, correct me if I am wrong, sunny out doors ISO 100, indoors ISO 800 or more, Shutter Speed faster to stop motion, slower to capture motion blur, f 1.8 be close to the subject or their nose will only be in the DOF (sorry Depth of Field), f 8 to make sure your subject is in full DOF at ten feet away, f 22 to add even more DOF, after trying to decipher all the code I downloaded apps to play with over and over to get a visual of what all the SS's,ISO's and F/stops had in common, it makes a little more sense seeing them interact with each other. Before I bought a flash/light meter (have only used it indoor so far) most every picture I loaded in Lightroom4 was on the dark side, now with the meter, pictures in LR4 are a lot more balanced out, Got me to thinking, I should have got a meter sooner so it could figure out all the abbreviated code talk for me.

Let's say 3 or 4 years later with more practice I am able to hang in there with the pros , I'm sure if I decide to help somebody that is new, I will have forgotten the learning process because the memory bank of the mind doesn't need this info anymore and it deletes it, which would leave me thinking that the new guy knows the abbreviated words, etc. and history would repeat it's self for a new guy starting photography.



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Feb 02, 2014 11:43 |  #41

SkipD wrote in post #16657336 (external link)
The key to my statement is the fact that some folks recommend simply shooting lots of pictures as a way to learn.

Where did anyone recommend simply shooting lots of pictures?

Simply doing something over and over again does not necessarily make the results better.

I have to object. Many of us are old enough to remember when handwriting was thought important and penmanship was a school subject. First lesson, kids produced crude, slowly drawn copies of the models for letters. Then: practice, practice. Tenth lesson, our writing looked a little better. More practice. Twentieth lesson, more improvement. After enough practice, writing smoothly became second nature.

Handwriting requires muscle memory and eye/hand coordination. Repeating the activity develops a motor habit, which means it changes your brain. Practice is essential for the same reason in playing piano, shooting baskets, and any number of skills. But, someone will say, these are physical activities, and photography is mostly mental. No, in photography as well, you need to use your body in ways where practice helps. Hands-on experience familiarizes you with a camera (where is that menu again?). Enough of it, and you learn to press the button at the right time in a moving subject's action.

As an example of the value of repetitive practice in developing mental skills, memorization obviously involves doing something over and over again. Mental skills in photography--there are so many that a couple of examples will have to do. Going out and shooting often will refine your ability to spot a situation with visual potential. Taking many shots in a range of lighting conditions will educate you about how to identify favorable light, cope with poor light, and take advantage of weird light.

Advice seems to divide into two kinds: the top-down approach (learn the theory first and then apply it) and the bottom-up approach (shoot a lot and consult the theory if necessary). Why such polarization? Does it come only from posters' personalities and their various learning styles?


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Feb 02, 2014 12:03 |  #42

YEGenesis wrote in post #16650855 (external link)
I picked up the Exposure book (yet to read)

This is a good book. For me it wasn't something I could just read cover to cover. I suggest only reading one chapter at a time, then go shoot and see for yourself what he is talking about. Its a lot to take in all at once. If you keep trying, you will never stop learning.




  
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architect.delhi
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Feb 04, 2014 04:16 as a reply to  @ Fred Meebley's post |  #43

I am a beginner too, and it has been a long and frustrating 8-10 years from where I started with a P&S. but I find that my photography improved from where I started, particularly in the last 3 years, because of:

1. Keeping my camera with me and using it to shoot whenever something caught my eye.

2. All the basic training in Art and Aesthetics that I was given during my 5 years at architecture school.

3. Looking, just looking, at things. Keep it visual. Don't try to think about what you see, just let your eye do the analysis. It sounds difficult to understand, but sometimes, I find that taking a walk without thinking of anything but only SEEING helps. It doesn't matter if what you see is a photo op or not. Your eye will see and register and ask you to come back to it, sometime, if you know what I mean.

I know that no. 2 may not applicable to you, but there are basic courses in Art, there are Museum and Art Galleries (study paintings for 2-dimensional representation for 3-dimensional objects as well as composition and study sculpture to understand light and texture).

Besides, you already have a whole lot of sound advice from people.


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DigitalDon
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Feb 04, 2014 09:30 |  #44

architect.delhi wrote in post #16662154 (external link)
I am a beginner too, and it has been a long and frustrating 8-10 years from where I started with a P&S. but I find that my photography improved from where I started, particularly in the last 3 years, because of:

1. Keeping my camera with me and using it to shoot whenever something caught my eye.

2. All the basic training in Art and Aesthetics that I was given during my 5 years at architecture school.

3. Looking, just looking, at things. Keep it visual. Don't try to think about what you see, just let your eye do the analysis. It sounds difficult to understand, but sometimes, I find that taking a walk without thinking of anything but only SEEING helps. It doesn't matter if what you see is a photo op or not. Your eye will see and register and ask you to come back to it, sometime, if you know what I mean.

I know that no. 2 may not applicable to you, but there are basic courses in Art, there are Museum and Art Galleries (study paintings for 2-dimensional representation for 3-dimensional objects as well as composition and study sculpture to understand light and texture).

Besides, you already have a whole lot of sound advice from people.

Thanks for the post architect.delhi

I had a waking moment yesterday that I will never forget, All day yesterday I read about perspective, looked at pictures, and a few videos, I guess I did it so much that when I was watching one of those murder shows on the ID channel, All of the perspective, leading lines, vanishing points, thirds, etc. stood out like a sore thumb. On tv things move along so fast that it hard to see leading lines, vanishing points,thirds, etc. but watching the mudrer shows while they are talking they will show about 5 seconds of video of the court house, the streets of the small town etc. and with the pause button I can look at them as long as I like. So now I am going to pay more attention to the shows that has to be re-enacted to tell a story.



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Feb 04, 2014 13:08 |  #45

DigitalDon wrote in post #16662579 (external link)
Thanks for the post architect.delhi......

My pleasure!

DigitalDon wrote in post #16662579 (external link)
I guess I did it so much that when I was watching one of those murder shows on the ID channel, All of the perspective, leading lines, vanishing points, thirds, etc. stood out like a sore thumb. On tv things move along so fast that it hard to see leading lines, vanishing points,thirds, etc. but watching the mudrer shows while they are talking they will show about 5 seconds of video of the court house, the streets of the small town etc. .

I didn't want to bring this up in this thread, but besides still photography, I find myself inspired when I see movies with great cinematography. There are masters in cinema from all over the world who create absolute poetry with the cine camera, especially in the era of the black-and-white.


https://www.flickr.com​/photos/siddharthamish​ra/ (external link)

  
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