devil's advocate

Discussion in 'Photography' started by tony, Aug 17, 2003.

  1. tony

    tony Guest

    allow me for a minute to play devil's advocate here...

    lets say that someone's got an artists' eye, can see a good
    photo before taking it, is patient or adventurous.. ie has all
    the prerequisites of a "good photographer"..

    ... at this point.. is photography all MECHANICAL?
    it is just about "the proper exposure"? for a given shot,
    will there be only one good shutter/aperature setting?

    "artists cameras" always tend to be the mechanical boxes
    with two possible controls: shutter and aperature.
    (lets assume proper focus for the moment) ...

    does it really just come down to those two numbers,
    and maybe some good glass in front of the camera?

    couldnt i just shoot an entire roll of film at all the possible
    settings/combinations and guarantee that ONE of them will
    be THE perfect shot?

    and if it is all mechanical... ie.. just turning knobs and pushing
    buttons, isnt it arguable that, one day, a camera could be programmed
    with an infallable meter, a razor sharp focusing system, hair
    splitting shutter and aperature settings.. and always take the
    perfect photo?

    thoughts?
    -tony
     
    tony, Aug 17, 2003
    #1
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  2. tony

    Steven Blake Guest

    Interesting points but our world is constantly in motion. Is it "possible"
    to stumble upon the correct combination of circumstances and take a really
    great photograph? I suppose so. Is it likely that you can blunder into
    those circumstances over and over again? Unlikely.

    I recommend that you familiarize yourself with Henri Cartier Bresson's
    concept of "the Decisive Moment"

    http://www.geocities.com/paris/boutique/2241/

    Enjoy your journey.

    SB
     
    Steven Blake, Aug 17, 2003
    #2
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  3. tony

    Just Me Guest

    The start of a dumb ass thread much like the monkey who writes a novel using an
    old typewriter.
     
    Just Me, Aug 17, 2003
    #3
  4. tony

    tony Guest

    i didnt mean to suggest the idea of
    random shooting and the probability
    of getting 'the great shot'.

    if 80% is artistic vision
    and 20% is fiddling with camera settings,
    then that 20% is purely mechanical / academic.
    ie, *anyone* could be holding the camera.

    most of the discussions i find relating to
    photography (be it here, books, magazines, courses, etc)
    lie within this mechanical 20%:

    portrait? go for shallow DOF, f/2, then just spin
    the knobs until the lines meet up. there, perfect picture.

    slide film at 22degC? process for 3.0026 minutes
    and perfect negative.

    rarely do i see questions regarding techniques of composition,
    color, light, etc

    so, essentially, once your meter knows that snow is
    white, and the sun is bright, and your cat is backlit, photography
    is *you* seeing something interesting, pointing your camera,
    and pushing a button.

    put a $5,000 camera in the hands of a beginner
    and compare those to the point and shoot disposables of a pro.

    then again, i could be mistaken.

    -tony
     
    tony, Aug 17, 2003
    #4
  5. tony

    Gavyn Guest

    : allow me for a minute to play devil's advocate here...
    :
    : lets say that someone's got an artists' eye, can see a good
    : photo before taking it, is patient or adventurous.. ie has all
    : the prerequisites of a "good photographer"..
    :
    : .. at this point.. is photography all MECHANICAL?
    : it is just about "the proper exposure"? for a given shot,
    : will there be only one good shutter/aperature setting?
    :
    : "artists cameras" always tend to be the mechanical boxes
    : with two possible controls: shutter and aperature.
    : (lets assume proper focus for the moment) ...
    :
    : does it really just come down to those two numbers,
    : and maybe some good glass in front of the camera?
    :
    : couldnt i just shoot an entire roll of film at all the possible
    : settings/combinations and guarantee that ONE of them will
    : be THE perfect shot?
    :
    : and if it is all mechanical... ie.. just turning knobs and pushing
    : buttons, isnt it arguable that, one day, a camera could be programmed
    : with an infallable meter, a razor sharp focusing system, hair
    : splitting shutter and aperature settings.. and always take the
    : perfect photo?
    :
    : thoughts?
    : -tony
    :
    :

    I saw someone on a newsgroup (I'm not sure which one) say that all of the
    fancy schmancy stuff is only as good as the person using it, because Ansel
    Adams would kick all of our butts with a cheap disposable.

    I couldn't agree more. Having a camera that you're comfortable with and
    know how to work well is really what's important in the long run. Great
    photographs don't happen because of a piece of equipment. The equipment is
    only a tool. It's the use of that tool that matters to get what you are
    seeing.

    A high-priced camera does no good in the hands of someone who is simply
    snapping away at everything under the sun. A cheap camera can do a world of
    good (and win awards) in the hands of someone who knows that photography is
    an art, and that the eye of the photographer as well as his/her timing,
    positioning, etc. is what makes a photograph a great one.

    Cameras don't take great pictures. Photographers take great pictures.

    ~G~
     
    Gavyn, Aug 17, 2003
    #5
  6. tony

    John O. Guest

    When I see numbers like this, I assume they are made up. How can you
    quantify an artistic process? If you were even going to try, how could
    you possibly be consistent? Do you think inspiration will always fall
    within some random 80%. People who use statistics are generally trying
    to hide something.
     
    John O., Aug 17, 2003
    #6
  7. tony

    Gavyn Guest

    : I can only agree to an extent...
    :
    : The problem with "the person takes the pictures, not the camera"
    philosophy
    : is this.
    :
    : Here's a picture I took:
    : http://pariht.freeyellow.com/Oksana04.jpg
    :
    : Oksana was about 20ft in the air hanging from the cloth. The only lights
    : were stage lights below (she was out of their range) & a spot from the
    rear.
    : I was using a SLR w/ 200mm f/2.8 lens & this is the full frame image. I
    used
    : Fuji Press 1600 & the shot is handheld...
    :
    : Do you think I could have got the same "good" image from a Kodak MAX (w/
    : built-in flash) disposable camera ???
    :
    : At this particular event, I had 3 throwaways out of 10 rolls of 36 (360
    : shots) Could you say the same if you used a P&S camera ???
    :
    : Here's another shot:
    : http://pariht.freeyellow.com/1st-fight03.jpg
    :
    : I took this from the stands with a SLR w/ 400mm f/4.5 lens & Fuji Press
    400
    : (handheld)
    :
    :
    : Another:
    : http://pariht.freeyellow.com/tl0002.jpg
    :
    : Here's Tara Lipinski doing some fast/fancy footwork. This shot was taken
    : with a 400mm lens & Fuji Press1600 film.
    :
    :
    : These next 2 shots from the same show, shows Lucinda Ruh spinning (400mm
    : lens ~ 1600 film)
    : http://pariht.freeyellow.com/l01.jpg
    : http://pariht.freeyellow.com/l02.jpg
    :
    : She has been clocked spinning at 290 RPM...
    :
    : I find it inconceivable that someone would think that Ansel Adams would
    get
    : as great a print from a 35mm P&S that he did from a 8x10 camera (w/
    : tilt/shift, etc...)... Truth be told, if he did, we wouldn't have any
    poster
    : sized prints of his to hang on the wall. Even in the last 15 years or so
    : film grain has been reduced tremendously (too bad Ansel wasn't around to
    use
    : it) & it's still not easy to get a quality 24x36 (inch) print from 35mm
    : film.
    :
    : Factors involved are:
    :
    : 1. film resolution & grain structure
    : 2. lens resolution & distortion factors
    : 3. exposure
    : 4. focus
    : 5. camera steadiness (tri-pod)
    :
    : If you don't have the best quality film, lens, exposure, focus & sturdy
    : tri-pod, there's no way to get an optimal print at 24x36 (with 35mm
    film)...
    :
    :
    : Try it with a P&S...
    :
    : I think that it's nonsense...
    :
    : Paul
    : //////////////////////
    :
    :
    :
    : : >
    : <<snip>>
    : >Cameras don't take great pictures. Photographers take great pictures.
    : >
    : > ~G~
    : >
    : >
    :
    :
    : ---
    : Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
    : Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com).
    : Version: 6.0.509 / Virus Database: 306 - Release Date: 8/12/2003
    :
    :

    You misunderstand what I'm saying (or maybe I was a bit more slanted than I
    thought I was). You *do* need to use the right equipment for the right
    situation, but the best equipment in the world will do no good in the hands
    of someone who just doesn't have an "eye" for taking good photographs. You
    know, *the* moment that is right to snap, the angle, etc etc .... yes a
    camera will handle the mechanical aspects of the photo, but the photo is
    only as good as it's been set up to be by the person behind the camera.

    Someone else with the exact same equipment as you in the exact same
    situation may well have gotten a rotten photograph (yours are REALLY good by
    the way).

    I guess what I'm really trying to say is that too much emphasis is placed
    on, "oh you must have this or that or the other" when other things will do
    just fine if the photographer knows what he/she is doing. Yes, correct
    equipment is necessary, but it can be overdone. And sometimes, too much
    "stuff" can produce bad photos just as well as good photos.

    In the end (with the right equipment, sufficiently enough anyway), the
    photographer is what matters. The rest is just a tool.

    I should be more clear and respond when I'm not so emotionally charged.

    ~G~
     
    Gavyn, Aug 18, 2003
    #7
  8. tony

    Gavyn Guest

    :
    : > if 80% is artistic vision
    : > and 20% is fiddling with camera settings,
    : > then that 20% is purely mechanical / academic.
    : > ie, *anyone* could be holding the camera.
    : >
    :
    : When I see numbers like this, I assume they are made up. How can you
    : quantify an artistic process? If you were even going to try, how could
    : you possibly be consistent? Do you think inspiration will always fall
    : within some random 80%. People who use statistics are generally trying
    : to hide something.
    :
    :
    : --
    : John O.
    : There is no slack in light attack.

    I think he was just trying to set up an example, not saying that he really
    believes those percentages apply.

    ~G~
     
    Gavyn, Aug 18, 2003
    #8
  9. All the pictures show you are a master of the craft, that said, I think you
    prove the point you argue against. First I don't recall it ever being a
    prerequisite that all shots ultimately be poster sized quality, the majority
    will never be printed to such size. That said, while true you could not most
    likely get similar prints to your samples with a P&S; undoubtedly something
    good and lovely could have been gotten nonetheless, in the hands of someone
    who knew how to take best advantage of the situation and the limititations
    of the camera. It was not I believe your equipment that got those shots. It
    was you, knowing what was needed to get the kind of shots you wanted. The
    camera and film will always give you what you want up to the limits of the
    combination. It is up to you and your mastery of the medium to visualise
    what you want, and understand what will get it. Or, knowing what you have
    and what it can do, and using it to best possible effect. I maintain that
    it's true. It is the photographer.....not the camera.
     
    John Garrison, Aug 18, 2003
    #9
  10. tony

    Üter Guest

    if 80% is artistic vision
    I'd say that maybe *anyone* could be holding the camera, but just *anyone*
    doesn't wake up at 3:00 AM to travel to a special destination to get the
    perfect sunrise shot. Nor does *anyone* think to have his kit with him 100%
    of the time for that just-in-case, once-in-a-lifetime shot. And not just
    *anyone* can tweak the 20% mechanical in a special way to express his
    artistic vision. A camera can't be made that knows you want to take a long
    exposure for artistic effect if its trying to get the "perfect" exposure.
    The question is, just WHAT are you trying to expose?
     
    Üter, Aug 18, 2003
    #10
  11. tony

    J C Guest

    I'm not sure thats *always* true. I've seen a lot of web pages that
    look like the photographer has spend a fortune on film, but filled
    with images I would never bother to print.

    No matter how much work some people put into it, they still can't
    produce a piece of art.

    Therefore, I can be surmised that some people have an innate ability
    to see with an artist's eye. The majority do not, no matter how much
    time, effort, and money they spend.

    There's probably some branch of brain research involved in studying
    this phenomenon.


    -- JC
     
    J C, Aug 18, 2003
    #11
  12. Hmm, yes, makes sense, and further...not only what are you trying to expose,
    how do you interpret it? Therein lies the art, I feel.
     
    John Garrison, Aug 19, 2003
    #12

  13. I have fallen into that trap, and bought some fancy stuff on account. But
    alas, some of my work was praised by folks not knowing it was taken with a
    worn out Kodak Reflex TLR with a slow sometimes recalcitrant shutter, and an
    imprecise focus match between view and take lenses. So when I'm inclined to
    bring out the fancy gear, I do with a grain of salt, and try to remember my
    feelings on composition and such.
     
    John Garrison, Aug 19, 2003
    #13
  14. tony

    Paul Brecht Guest

    Hi Gavyn,

    I understood what you were saying & agreed with what I snipped out...

    I just think that the old adage "it's the person, not the equipment" is
    somewhat misleading. Granted, I went overboard on emphasizing my point, but
    I did want to make it clear that there's a combination of photographer &
    equipment that makes the image...

    I am also a musician & know that if you give a man a Les Paul, he doesn't
    become David Gilmore, Jimmy Page or Eric Clapton... (give him a 335 & he
    won't become BB King either) I guess it can be a matter of semantics, but
    truth be told, they wouldn't be famous guitar players if there weren't any
    guitars to be played. If you notice though, most players on that level have
    thousands invested in their equipment....

    Now, back to photography: Most "masters" (& pros) also have invested
    thousands in their equipment. Ansel Adams bought top-notch 8x10 cameras/lens
    systems the finest film & sturdiest pod he could get his hands on & spent
    countless hours (& money) in the darkroom perfecting each & every
    masterpiece...

    I think someone rightly said in a post recently "when you become limited by
    your equipment, it's time to upgrade" - or something to that extent...

    So anyway, my philosophy is only an opinion (mine, of course) but I do feel
    that it's a combination of person & gear that makes it happen. As a matter
    of fact, I was reading a shootout (test) of 4 - 300mm f/2.8 lenses. One of
    them excelled because it was capable of getting 4 x's more shots than the
    other 3. This was because it had an ultrasonic motor that tracked with the
    subjects (xtreme sports) where the other 3 missed shots due to tracking
    errors...

    BTW: thanks for the comments on my pics...

    Paul
    /////////////////
     
    Paul Brecht, Aug 19, 2003
    #14
  15. tony

    Paul Brecht Guest

    Thanks John...

    The only reason I brought up the poster size, etc.. is because someone
    brought up the myth that if Ansel Adams had a polaroid he would create the
    same masters as he did with his 8x10...

    See my response to Gavyn...

    Paul
    //////////////////
     
    Paul Brecht, Aug 19, 2003
    #15
  16. tony

    Paul Brecht Guest

    Carole,

    No, I don't have press credentials. I couldn't have got those shots without
    my gear. I really wasn't that close to the action for Tara or Lucinda...

    I actually lucked out because the arena (Arrowhead Pond) said no
    "professional" cameras or lenses allowed. I simply walked right in with my
    gear & no problems - well.... the ticket person & guard gave me dirty looks,
    but they didn't say anything... :eek:)...

    Paul
    ///////////////
     
    Paul Brecht, Aug 19, 2003
    #16
  17. I saw it....I dig too.....still Ansel did take a few polaroid shots. And
    they are better than my best. I want it that way too. If I outdo someone, I
    have to live up to it!
     
    John Garrison, Aug 19, 2003
    #17
  18. tony

    Üter Guest

    Hmm, yes, makes sense, and further...not only what are you trying to
    expose,
    Yes, I agree. :)
     
    Üter, Aug 19, 2003
    #18
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