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Thread started 23 Feb 2014 (Sunday) 01:22
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Being too technical with your work?

 
AntonLargiader
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Feb 23, 2014 13:34 |  #16

Alveric wrote in post #16711074 (external link)
I think part of the problem is that many people mistake correct exposure with 'good histogram' (whatever that means), or 'the needle is in the centre'.

But for high or low key images, erring on the side of a good 'safe' histogram has to be more recoverable than erring the other way. Just like the WB issue.

The Cruze is well-exposed IMO. The histogram looks good (there is stuff at the high end and nothing lost at the low end) and being an evening image it's expected to be low key.

Take-home for the OP? Let the histogram on the camera help you.


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Feb 23, 2014 13:51 as a reply to  @ post 16711118 |  #17

PhotosGuy wrote in post #16710860 (external link)
I agree. Is this correctly exposed, or "correctly exposed". Doesn't it depend on your vision sometimes modified by what the client wants/needs? Discuss! ; )

http://img.photobucket​.com …011_Chevy-Cruze_2007B.jpg (external link)

I think that is exactly the type of image I had in mind when I was writing earlier.

I would say that it is correctly exposed, versus "correctly exposed:" providing that "correctly exposed" is relying on the histogram, and correctly exposed isn't.

Basically, I think there are times when the histogram needs to be thrown out the window, and I think that image is a great example.


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sjones
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Feb 23, 2014 13:52 |  #18

dannequin wrote in post #16710130 (external link)
I have a thing that I feel I battle with.

It seems that with a lot of my work, I tend to focus on the right F stop, ISO, shutter, white balance -- to the point where I'm too technical that I feel like I don't feel like an artist.

For some people they can set minimal settings and aim their camera and produce amazing results that take little effort (in my opinion) -- I however, tend to over think and tend to obsess if something isn't perfect.

Is there any way to overcome this, or is it something that's tied to being a photographer?

It seems that you are seeking a philosophical shift in approach, and should any desired readjustment even exists, it could take some time for it to manifest.

POTN, in particular, pushes the 'technical', and in some sense, there is comfort in this, as ultimately, it is relatively easy to master; especially with modern cameras being able to do so much of the work.

However, technical perfection has never been a prerequisite for great photography, and excessive reliance on such perfection can lead to sterile, uninspired work. And no, such retentive desire for perfection is not unique to photography, but I would contend that such strive has intensified with the advent of digital, a side effect of pixel peeping.

This does not mean that you must jump from one extreme to the other. That is, I gather you are not, in analogous terms, seeking to randomly splatter pain over the canvas; and in fact, there's no reason why you need to ditch the technical aspect if that matches your style.

Yet, I would assume that as you've become more proficient at the technical, you should have more room to concentrate on the aesthetic. It's simply (although it might not be simple in actual practice) a matter of shifting some of your mental resources to the artistic component.

What do you like to look at? Why?

To note, how one expresses their vision is their choice, and if do in fact want to, again, analogously, want to splatter the paint on the canvas, that's fine...other's seek the more conventional, but in the end, it's about what sincerely motivates you.


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Feb 23, 2014 14:08 |  #19

neacail wrote in post #16711180 (external link)
...Basically, I think there are times when the histogram needs to be thrown out the window, and I think that image is a great example.

Think about a dark blue flower against green grass without any sky in the image. If you push the RAW exposure up to the right & then dial it back to what would be normal in PP, you can make a noticable difference in the quality of the image.
Lotsa' good info in Are you Shooting HAMSTTR? - ETTR - Expose to the right


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neacail
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Feb 23, 2014 14:19 |  #20

PhotosGuy wrote in post #16711225 (external link)
Think about a dark blue flower against green grass without any sky in the image. If you push the RAW exposure up to the right & then dial it back to what would be normal in PP, you can make a noticable difference in the quality of the image.
Lotsa' good info in Are you Shooting HAMSTTR? - ETTR - Expose to the right

That's certainly the case in my experience. But, depending on the final required exposure, and the subject, I don't nessecarily feel the exposure has to go all the way to the right. In the case of a dark blue flower and green grass, it could probably be taken far to the right, providing nothing in the image (dew reflecting the morning sun, etc) would get blown out.


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Feb 23, 2014 14:39 |  #21

kfreels wrote in post #16711065 (external link)
So in other words, you would prefer to be the artist that throws random paints at a canvass and calls it art rather than being the one who has a vision in their head that they want to paint and then takes the time to choose the right brushes, paint colors etc to bring that vision into reality?

I wonder why Jackson Pollock got so famous. Oh, right, his choices about placement of paint weren't random.

The two opposite poles that you propose as analogues of approaches to photography leave out an essential difference between photography and painting: photography starts from what one sees in the real world, not from what one imagines in one's head. Anyway, most kinds of it do. The other kinds are more like painting.


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kfreels
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Feb 23, 2014 15:24 |  #22

OhLook wrote in post #16711311 (external link)
I wonder why Jackson Pollock got so famous. Oh, right, his choices about placement of paint weren't random.

The two opposite poles that you propose as analogues of approaches to photography leave out an essential difference between photography and painting: photography starts from what one sees in the real world, not from what one imagines in one's head. Anyway, most kinds of it do. The other kinds are more like painting.

It wasn't mean tot be an exact comparison. Just making the point that knowledge of the tools and selecting the right elements are an important part of the art, not a separate things. If you can't visualize in your head what you want the shot to look like, then all you're doing is pushing buttons and hoping you like the result. The settings are there to help you get there.


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Alveric
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Feb 23, 2014 15:34 |  #23
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AntonLargiader wrote in post #16711149 (external link)
But for high or low key images, erring on the side of a good 'safe' histogram has to be more recoverable than erring the other way. Just like the WB issue.

The Cruze is well-exposed IMO. The histogram looks good (there is stuff at the high end and nothing lost at the low end) and being an evening image it's expected to be low key.

Take-home for the OP? Let the histogram on the camera help you.

The histogram is useless. It's an aid at best, not a gospel. Black raven on black background? How does the histogram help you there? If you expose for a histogram with an even tonal distribution you're gonna overexpose and render the whole scene as a grey card. Snowy owl in its environment at noon? Again, the pursuit of an even histogram will make you underexpose and end up with a picture that'll look like it was taken at dusk.

What the OP needs to take home is the need to learn to evaluate colours and tones in terms of percentage values of brightness. Choose a key tone and decide what level of brightness you need/want it to be, then meter (spot, usually) for said tone and let the rest of the tones fall where they may.

As a guide: if you're metering off a black surface/subject that you want rendered accurately in terms of brightness (i.e. black), you underexpose by ~2 stops from a reflective meter reading. If you have a white surface/subject, you overexpose by ~2 stops from the reported reflected reading.

Or, make your life easier and stop torturing your mind with technicalities: use an incident light meter.


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AntonLargiader
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Feb 23, 2014 16:03 |  #24

Alveric wrote in post #16711428 (external link)
.. Again, the pursuit of an even histogram ...

I never said anything about pursuing an even histogram. I said a good histogram. The Cruze has a good histogram but it's far from even.


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Feb 23, 2014 16:50 |  #25

kfreels wrote in post #16711401 (external link)
It wasn't mean tot be an exact comparison. . . . If you can't visualize in your head what you want the shot to look like, then all you're doing is pushing buttons and hoping you like the result.

It wasn't stated as an accurate comparison, either, because artists don't just throw paint around and wait for a result they like.

Previsualization can take place long before a shoot ("I want to be at that spot next week when the full moon rises"), 10 minutes before pressing the button, 0.1 second before pressing the button, or not at all (see the Iwo Jima thread nearby).


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Feb 23, 2014 17:02 |  #26

I always get really uncomfortable when people apply the term "artist" to a photographer, just as I do when people apply the term to a performer, a musician. I spend a lot of time with performers, with musicians, with dancers.

The ones who are good - the ones who are really good - work bloody hard. They think about every move, every gesture, every hand placement on a keyboard, fretboard or keys. It's technique, technique, technique.

Art? Art is for the consumer of a product to talk about. Art is a term used by the BS merchant of a salesman that wants to get your money from you.

Technique, craft... that's for the folk who make the "product" - whether that is acting, music, dance, etc. Or, I would contend, photography.

If I may be so arrogant as to make a suggestion to the OP, become so familiar and comfortable with the tools of your trade - exposure, composition, that you can produce a great picture every time. Know what is going to happen if you use particular settings. Understand the technicalities without having to think about it. Then you'll know how and when you can bend the rules.

Try not to think about art. Try to think about being a craftsman, producing top-quality product every time you press the shutter. And if other people want to call it art, that's up to them. You, and all of us who try to MAKE pictures, know that it's skill.

TBH, I value skill rather more highly than "art"


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Feb 23, 2014 17:31 |  #27

alan_potter wrote in post #16711641 (external link)
I always get really uncomfortable when people apply the term "artist" to a photographer, just as I do when people apply the term to a performer, a musician. I spend a lot of time with performers, with musicians, with dancers.

The ones who are good - the ones who are really good - work bloody hard. They think about every move, every gesture, every hand placement on a keyboard, fretboard or keys. It's technique, technique, technique.

Art? Art is for the consumer of a product to talk about. Art is a term used by the BS merchant of a salesman that wants to get your money from you.

Technique, craft... that's for the folk who make the "product" - whether that is acting, music, dance, etc. Or, I would contend, photography.

If I may be so arrogant as to make a suggestion to the OP, become so familiar and comfortable with the tools of your trade - exposure, composition, that you can produce a great picture every time. Know what is going to happen if you use particular settings. Understand the technicalities without having to think about it. Then you'll know how and when you can bend the rules.

Try not to think about art. Try to think about being a craftsman, producing top-quality product every time you press the shutter. And if other people want to call it art, that's up to them. You, and all of us who try to MAKE pictures, know that it's skill.

TBH, I value skill rather more highly than "art"

You contempt for "art" is based solely on your selective definition for it; you deem it in its most derogatory sense, and then use this self-created definition to support an argument that is so limited as to be superfluous.

Matisse produced art, Beethoven produced art, and Henri Cartier-Bresson produced art. There, nothing pretentious or even that much contentious about such statement. No commercial interests, no marketing.

Let's put it this way, art, for the sake of discussion, is generally used to refer to the aesthetic or visually compelling element of the photograph. Perhaps also considered is the gut or emotive quality.

In this sense, composition is, for that matter, far more of an artistic consideration than it is one of technique.

And as for skill and technique. If you are so bent on these being at the epicenter of photography, then I hope you are not using anything automated, because such luxuries undercut true technique and craft, right?

There are lots of technically superb works in this world, many of which are horrifically boring, soulless, or just as pretentious as the most dubious presentations of "art."

And I'll take the Sex Pistols over the skillful Yngwie Malmsteen anyday, because music, literature, photography, sculpture, drawing, and other forms of expression should not be confined to just the technically proficient---we're more than just robots.


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Feb 23, 2014 17:59 |  #28

dannequin wrote in post #16710130 (external link)
I have a thing that I feel I battle with.

It seems that with a lot of my work, I tend to focus on the right F stop, ISO, shutter, white balance -- to the point where I'm too technical that I feel like I don't feel like an artist.

For some people they can set minimal settings and aim their camera and produce amazing results that take little effort (in my opinion) -- I however, tend to over think and tend to obsess if something isn't perfect.

Is there any way to overcome this, or is it something that's tied to being a photographer?

I think you are normal! It is encouraging that you recognize areas where you spend too much of your attention and others that are getting short shrift. Rather than obsess about anything, make a plan and take action to improve on deficient areas of your photography. Everyone has plateaus. The recognition of that is the first step to your next advance.

Work with a mentor, review books of creative images from artistic photographers, learn from a photographer that you admire, enroll in a workshop. You say that some people produce amazing results with little effort. What makes those images amazing in your eyes? When you go to shoot, consciously ask yourself how you can make your images amazing. Or ask yourself, how would an artistic photographer shoot this image? With the internet, there are a variety of ways to be inspired and improve your work.

Phil

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BTW, the previous post mentioned Henri Cartier-Bresson. When I was first exposed to his work, initially, I was unimpressed. There were often technical flaws. It was difficult for me to see what the big deal was all about. Bresson? So what? When I studied further and saw more and more of his work, the light bulb came on. What a genius. He never developed his own images. He wasn't technical. He could 'see' where others could not. There are ten lifetimes of inspiration in the work of this one man.


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Clean ­ Gene
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Feb 24, 2014 04:00 |  #29

DC Fan wrote in post #16710164 (external link)
That's a clear sign that your goal is not the creation of pictures, but the manipulation of gadgets. Making evocative pictures requires empathy with the subject, and not the need to totally control a situation. You can't pump the heart and vision of an artist into a person who wants to be a technician.

There may be no solution.

I wouldn't go that far. Even if you can't pump the heart and vision of an artist into a person who wants to be a technician (and I'm not even sure I can agree with that), you can get someone with the heart and vision of an artist to be more technical. Having vision isn't an excuse for sloppiness, and technical control does in fact have a very big role in artistic expression. Anyone can have some artistic vision, but it sort of doesn't amount to a hill of beans if technical limitations prevent that artist from expressing it in a way that can be understood.

But I do kind of see your point. I think that too many new photographers get caught up in this mode where they try to nail down the technicalities first and then focus on content. I'm not from that school of thought. I think that the technicalities are for the most part pretty easy and will come about through informed practice. I personally think that a better course of action is to idententify what one's personal artistic vision is, and to then refine it (or more appropriately, refine technique simultaneously rather than sequentially).

Being a "technician" sort of IS kind of important. It's just that it's a worthless endeavor if it results in images that just plain aren't interesting. I've seen interesting images that were lavking in technical merit, and I've seen technically flawless images that were boring as hell. In many cases, I'm going with the former. But those interesting images that were lacking in technical merit would often probably be better if the photographer ALSO was technically proficient.




  
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Clean ­ Gene
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Feb 24, 2014 04:21 |  #30

And I also think it's a little bit amusing that this topic quickly turned into a discussion about white balances and exposures and histograms. Lots of comments on that stuff, but very few questions such as "what do you shoot" or "what do you want your art to say?" And I wouldn't expect anything else from a CANON photography forum.

And look...nothing against these forums, I like them. But let's make no mistake that this place is largely tech oriented. There's nothing wrong with that, because being a "technician" absolutely IS important as hell. But to the OP: if you find that your technical concerns are taking priority over your artistic vision, that you're concerned with technical issues at the DETRIMENT of considering what your images actually convey, then I strongly recommend looking elsewhere. There is some art talk here, but this is not an "art forum". If your primary concern is being an "artist" rather than a "technician" (and ideally you should probably try to be both), then I recommend finding a venue to talk about this stuff where the focus is on the actual work rather than on the methods and techniques.




  
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