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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 18 May 2018 (Friday) 10:35
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Share the things that made you a better photographer.

 
AZGeorge
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May 20, 2018 13:08 |  #16

Thanks, PJmak, for kicking off this interesting thread!


George
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Tom ­ Reichner
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May 21, 2018 01:19 |  #17

Naturalist wrote in post #18628723 (external link)
I took up pencil to paper and started sketching the wildlife as a photographed and I was amazed at how much more observant one must be when drawing pencil to paper. I started observing how low the goose actually sat in the water, how far back their feet are to the body, and other details.

Rather than creating images with the camera, I was learning more about the parts that made up the whole animal and, as a result, became more actively observing nature, rather than passively seeing something, creating a few images and moving on. I was learning more about my subjects in greater detail and that has improved my photography today.

.
I haven't sketched the birds and animals that I photograph ..... at least not yet.

However, what has made me a better photographer is that I spend a lot of time with the critters, closely observing everything that they do.

As you say, it is no longer about finding a subject, shooting it for a while, and then moving on. . When I find a bird or animal that I want to photograph, I will spend hours and hours with it, if it sticks around long enough for me to do so. . In doing so, I get to see how the animal interacts with others of its kind, what it eats, how much effort it expends getting food, how often and how long it rests, and how cautious and wary it is. . This helps me to better understand what the animals are really like, and therefore I can create portraits that more accurately reflect their true characteristics and personalities.

All of this time with the animals also gives me ideas for new types of images that illustrate their lifecycle and behavior in ways that I never thought of before.

Often, I'll take a day off of work for wildlife photography. . When I return to work, my co-workers will ask if I got any good photos. . More often than not, I reply, "Oh, no - not yet. . I was just scouting, getting to know the critters and trying to figure out the situation.. I'll need to do that for a week or two before I actually start taking any pictures." . They are always surprised by this - it's like they don't realize just how much time and effort goes into good wildlife photography.


.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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Mathmans
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Post edited 10 months ago by Mathmans.
     
May 21, 2018 04:18 |  #18

Very nice and informative advices. Not that I haven't heard them yet, but it's good thing to hear them again.
Well; I started doing photography with Russian Zorki rangefinder camera (only manual settings without light meter) and B&W Agfa film (100 and 200 ASA). I was also developing negatives and photos by myself. This was long time ago.
Then I forgot about photography. I mean; I had Canon A510 and then Canon SX40 but more for snapshots then anything else.
Five years ago I've bought myself a nice DSLR with couple of lenses. The main goal was to shoot my daughters dance competitions in lousy lit gyms. Canon SX40 was not up to the task.
So that's how photography grabbed me again after all those years. I'm constantly learning and trying to improve.
At the moment I know how to expose properly (or what I think is proper) and I can adjust depth of field. I'm comfortable in full manual mode but I'm still far from finding a good angle or getting a nice framing not to mention to tell a story with my photos.
I still have no idea how my photos should look like; I guess I don't have my style yet. I'm also trying to find the right way to develop my RAW files. I can technically work with software but have no idea how to make my photos not to look like snapshots. I'm still trying to figure this out. They say developing is as important as framing the shot.
But after all; it's just a hobby and I'm not payed for my work. I'll just keep on learning from forums like this one and I'll see, how far can I improve.


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Ah-keong
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Post edited 10 months ago by Ah-keong. (2 edits in all)
     
May 21, 2018 04:36 |  #19

Looking back I would say

I would say the investment in knowledge and books (and manuals) offer the greatest returns.

Books I would recommend

a) Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson
b) Understanding Composition Field Guide by Bryan Peterson
c) Photography 100 Q&A by Zack Arias
d) The Moment It Clicks by Joe McNally
e) 101 Top Digital Photography Tips by Michael Freeman
f) The Photographer's Mind by MF
g) The Photographer's Eye by MF (Still reading)

I also went to learn about flash and lighting
a) Direction and Quality of Light by Neil van Niekerk
b) Speedliter's (Canon) Handbook by Syl Arena
c) Strobist blog

Started learning street photography, bring my camera with me and one lens (Sigma 18-35mm) whenever possible.
Looking at the work of other's, reverse engineering the effort, lighting, composition, how would I do it and bring my perspective and style if I were to shoot it.
How does he/ she does it? and from the shortcomings or shortfall of say your skills-set or gear-set and then improve from there.

My ratio of effort in terms of priority would be
1) Knowledge 40%
2) Lighting 30%
3) Glass 20%
4) Camera body 10%

So if you score well in (1) and (2), you are a better photographer than someone who score well in (3) and (4)
 :p

I used to tell myself:
I have better technology in terms of (3) and (4) than the Masters had. But my shots are :cry:


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MatthewK
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May 21, 2018 06:45 |  #20

No doubt, POTN has been the best thing for my shooting since I picked up photography 10 years ago. There are so many talented, awesome, inspiring, gracious photographers in this community that make learning the craft such a fun, enriching experience.

That being said, the thing that has recently made a marked improvement for not only my photos but also the enjoyment of photography, was to get off of the internet for 2 months and focus on being out and shooting. It's good for the soul, and your mental wellbeing :) I'm hoping to take a similar sabbatical again here soon, it's just hard to get away because I work online each day.


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digital ­ paradise
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May 21, 2018 07:27 |  #21

Learning Ansel's Zone system. Taking lessons in composition (my wife has better eye than I do). Various birding blogs and sites. Forcing myself to learn about flash photography as I decided to take on a wedding. I shot about 4 to 5 a year after but don't anymore. Too stressful as I was not doing it often enough. I found posing people was much harder than the technical side and shooting a wedding you have zero time for anything. I gained a new respect for working pros and chuckle when cheap people say why do they charge so much. All they do is press a button.

Main one was an online daily photo competition called Digital Image Cafe. There were no pop up adds, limited advertising and the 7 category winners were on the front page every morning. It was fun to get up and see if you one it that day. You didn't have to wait a week/month and you didn't have to search all over the site like some are set up these days.

It was a small group. About a 1000 members I think. The competition was very good so you had to work at it. Still life, architecture, animals, B&W, macro/abstract, people, etc so it made me look for these things everyday. Now I mostly focus on wildlife but still post B&W shots. I miss Still Life the most. I just don't look for it anymore and I am losing my eye for it.

Being a judge for a month once a year really showed me what I was up against. I had to judge a different category every day and there were usually about 300 images per category. There were a few other similar sites but they are gone now.


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PJmak
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May 21, 2018 09:30 |  #22

AZGeorge wrote in post #18629079 (external link)
Thanks, PJmak, for kicking off this interesting thread!


Im glad people are contributing :)

I am by no means a pro and a lot of us here are on the same boat but I've advanced a lot since I started up photography as a hobby. Still have ways to go and every day on this site is a learning experience. I dont know how I forgot to mention that :)


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airfrogusmc
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Post edited 10 months ago by airfrogusmc.
     
May 21, 2018 11:59 |  #23

Biggest thing for me was college. Studying photography and art was a life changing experience. I wouldn't be working in the field I am now in without it. I also learned the zone system and learned that in college. I had two semesters of it and yes I did all the tests and shot with a view camera. The school had a densitometer. I still have my notes and film/developer curves from the all the tests.

More important is it is what started to show me who I am as a photographer. The creative environment and the amount of things that i learned about photography and art in just 4 years has not been duplicated the entire rest of the time I have been a photographer and that is over 40 years.




  
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bob_r
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May 21, 2018 13:56 |  #24

I think the main thing that helped me become a better photographer, was learning all the basics. Because I became interested in photography a long time ago (1950's), learning the basics was required since cameras didn't have metering, auto-focus or the ability to change your film's ASA setting in the middle of a roll of film. I also didn't have the option of selecting film with ASA numbers that correspond to the wide range of ISO options that exist in the digital world, even “pushing” the film couldn't get me there.. Most of us bought light meters to help with exposure and it was pretty easy to learn the exposure triangle when using a light meter.

Flash was also something that had to be learned since there was no such thing as “E-TTL”. I had to learn the math to figure out how far to stand from my subjects. I may not have been familiar with the “Inverse – Square Law”, but I still had to have a working knowledge of it. I didn't have the option of selecting my settings, take a few test shots and “chimp” to see how they came out to see if I needed to make adjustments. If I got the math wrong, I wouldn't find out for a few days and then I'd try to recall my settings so I wouldn't make the same mistakes next time. Making mistakes in those days could get expensive since I had to pay for the prints whether they were good or bad.

Learning to develop my own B&W film and print enlargements helped me learn about composition and exposure. Learning to burn and crop while printing helped me learn what I should have done in camera rather than in the dark room. I still try to get everything right in camera since my Photoshop skills leave much to be desired.

I think learning the basics of photography in another era, helped me be a better photographer even when cameras became more sophisticated and when digital replaced film. While I have learned the basics, I hope I'm still learning (even at my age). I still read photography books and visit forums (although I don't participate as much these days) to improve my skills. I think learning photography should be a never ending journey and it's one that I've always enjoyed.


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BigAl007
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May 22, 2018 08:35 |  #25

airfrogusmc wrote in post #18629704 (external link)
Biggest thing for me was college. Studying photography and art was a life changing experience. I wouldn't be working in the field I am now in without it. I also learned the zone system and learned that in college. I had two semesters of it and yes I did all the tests and shot with a view camera. The school had a densitometer. I still have my notes and film/developer curves from the all the tests.

More important is it is what started to show me who I am as a photographer. The creative environment and the amount of things that i learned about photography and art in just 4 years has not been duplicated the entire rest of the time I have been a photographer and that is over 40 years.


In a way I regret not having any formal education in photography. When I was 16 and doing what is effectively the last two years of secondary education, here in the UK we left school at 16 and that last two years was optional, I considered doing a Photography course in addition to the STEM subjects that were my main focus. On speaking to the course instructor though I found out that the focus was mostly technical. The main thing though was that at that time as well as shooting black and white, but only on 35mm, and doing that in the darkroom I was also shooting and processing my own E6 slide film and printing Cibachromes from them. The course was going to be basic black and white work, and wouldn't be covering the Zone system in any detail. The instructor thought that I could probably have taught the course myself, so I didn't enroll on it. Given my focus educationally was aimed at becoming an engineer it seemed a bit pointless as it would serve no real purpose.

Over the years I have looked around and pretty much all of the adult education courses that seem to be offered are more of the how to use your equipment type, with nothing seemingly aimed at looking at things like colour theory and composition, or the artistic appreciation of the works of others, such as the acknowledged greats. I know that there are books, and of course we now have Youtube with lots of video based resources, but I still think that for a substantial part of this the group learning dynamic is also really helpful in building a full understanding of the subject area. Unfortunately though I think the only places this sort of stuff seems to be being taught, at least in the UK, is in undergraduate university courses. So not something readily accessible for most people. Would love to do a propper zone system course, using LF film, but I doubt if that is even available in many undergrad courses at British universities.

What made me a better photographer I think was the fact that when I showed an interest in photography my dad was willing to let me use his SLR, and a friend of his gave me an old Johnsons Wray Gnome enlarger, so that from the start I had to learn both photo taking skills, and also processing skills in the darkroom. I was maybe ten or eleven years old at the time. Because of this I have always known that photography has both sides, and that you can't have one without the other. So as far I am concerned post processing has never been cheating, but rather a necessary step in the process.

Alan


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May 22, 2018 09:22 |  #26

I started shooting in '90 when my Father bought me a used Nikon FM for Christmas. I'd been hanging out with a photographer friend and he got me started with the basics. It wasn't the images that turned out well but the mistakes that taught me what not to do again. I remember buying a Polaroid back for a 35mm body, those tiny images and then moving up to a Mamiya 645Pro. Now, it's instant gratification and tethering to a computer which will make you look good or cause an AD to scratch his/her head. It's the critical comments from knowledgable sources that will make you a better photographer. Don't be afraid to put your images out there and be open to all the comments.


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Astro ­ City ­ Ninja
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May 22, 2018 11:11 |  #27

I'm no pro by any means but I feel like I leveled up when I started doing more of this-


Looking at all corners in the viewfinder before pressing the shutter.

Not being afraid to take the iso higher than 100.

Squeezing the shutter instead of pressing it.

Utilizing a tripod.

Changing and playing with the angles and heights at which I take a photo- working the shoot, instead of expecting magic from the first click.

The rule of thirds :)




  
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Agged
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May 22, 2018 11:12 |  #28

I try not to overthink things. I was given two bits of advice by photographer friends several years ago. They were : 1) Don't go out TO take pictures, just GO out. 2) Make every picture tell a story. I didn't get it at the time, but the light bulb eventually came on and these two principals have guided me ever since.


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airfrogusmc
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May 22, 2018 11:28 |  #29

Agged wrote in post #18630392 (external link)
I try not to overthink things. I was given two bits of advice by photographer friends several years ago. They were : 1) Don't go out TO take pictures, just GO out. 2) Make every picture tell a story. I didn't get it at the time, but the light bulb eventually came on and these two principals have guided me ever since.

I do not believe that single photographs tell stories. I think that is a big misconception. ROTs being the other. I think those things do more to hurt new photographers than help.

Heres a piece by one of the greats about single photographs and those single photographs telling stories. I agree with Winogrand on this.
About 1:25 in though about 2:50
https://www.youtube.co​m/watch?v=Tl4f-QFCUek (external link)




  
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Tom ­ Reichner
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May 22, 2018 11:32 |  #30

airfrogusmc wrote in post #18630398 (external link)
I do not believe that single photographs tell stories. I think that is a big misconception.

.
I completely agree.

Stories are things that are told.

Photographs show things, instead of telling them. . To me it seems weird to try to force a visual art to function the way a verbal art functions.

Our photos should show people things, not tell people things.


.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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