Thanks for opening my eyes

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Jeffrey Stetz, Jul 21, 2003.

  1. Just wanted to express some thoughts. This is specifically an
    "equipment" group, but from other posts I see that it's not so strict,
    and you guys/gals are nice. Well, anyways -

    Since I first posted on this board about 3 weeks ago I have become a
    changed person. At the VERY least, when I think back to the time when
    I used to take pictures "just because" - mainly for memory, when out
    with the family, on trips, etc. I realize what a complete idiot I was.

    With an SLR, such a powerful piece of equipment in my hands - I didn't
    ever bother to learn how it works. Always using auto-mode when I got
    the pictures back from the lab I was surprised to see that they didn't
    come out as I'd expected. Taking pictures, I hadn't a single thought
    running through my head in regards to light or dark, small or big,
    what those "numbers" meant in the view finder that appeared for some
    reason, like 5.6 or 250, etc. Now I feel ashamed that I had expected
    results from nothing. Of course I have a lot of nice pictures for
    memories, which is good in itself, but they're just that - memories,
    nothing really interesting.

    Well, after finally opening my eyes and ears to what people write here
    on the board, getting a few books from the library, knowingly trying
    to shoot in the evening and ending up tearing up the pictures from
    disgust (camera shake), I think I'm a changed person. I'm not a better
    photographer (yet), but a changed person :)

    Anyways, after looking through several books this weekend, one of them
    including about 50 projects to do, and seeing all the great
    photographs, something changed in me. I went to a local market with my
    camera. I left feeling dizzy. I didn't take any pictures, not even
    one. Mostly because I was afraid to. But, what I saw made me dizzy -
    all the people that I would just pass by normally now appeared to me
    strange, interesting, surprising, photo subjects. A 90-year old woman
    with the most interesting wrinkles on her face scrupulously picking
    out peaches, or a back shot of a mother walking with her daughter, of
    the exact same shape but as tall as her mother's lower body and
    therefore holding on to her thigh, etc. There's no need to elaborate
    any further as words cannot convey pictures obviously. But, I was
    simply faint from all which ran through my eyes and for the first time
    in my life actually registered with my brain.

    I put in a new roll of film 5 days ago and has made 2 photos. I'm
    stingy, but I think it's also the fact that I see better now, I feel
    that if a forest moves me in real life standing next to it, it doesn't
    at all mean that it will move me when I see it in a photograph, unless
    I find something interesting to show that will touch. I could go on,
    but I think I made my point, which is...

    .... Thanks.
    Jeffrey Stetz, Jul 21, 2003
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  2. Don't take this in a wrong way, but I think you've swung into
    the opposite extreme. What you need to do is to find the right
    position between the two. If the forest impresses you, take
    a picture of it. Forget about others for a while. Concentrate
    on the factors that seem to contribute most to the impression the
    forest makes on you and try to emphasise them in the photograph.

    Experiment. Take a shot with the lens wide open and focus on
    the specific tree (to make it stand out). Take a shot with longer
    than usual exposure (on a tripod), things that move (leaves and
    thinner branches will be blurry. Shoot in B&W and use a green
    filter (the leaves will be lighter, and the branches darker).

    Shoot slides. Ask the lab not to cut the roll. See if they can
    give you a handful of frames for free (they usually will) and do
    mounting yourself, but only mount those frames that you really
    like (and store the rest in a sleeve or just throw it away). The
    main advantage of slides is that there is no interference from
    any other exposure or colour correction.

    Shoot more, not less. Bracket your exposures by applying one-two
    stops over and under. Bracket your exposures by using the same
    exposure value but different aperture+shutter settings. Try to
    keep notes (use a tape recorder if paper and a pen is too much

    Photography is work (no, I don't mean career, I mean 'labour').
    You won't have any results from just walking around and looking
    at things. You have to force yourself to combine shooting with
    thinking and applying what you learn about exposure, composition,

    Good luck!

    Victor Bazarov, Jul 21, 2003
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  3. Jeffrey Stetz

    Jeremy Guest

    x-no-archive: yes

    You have arrived at that eye-opening phase that all of us go through, where
    you suddenly realize that there are all sorts of interesting subjects out
    there. Congratulations.

    I would like to make one suggestion: don't be afraid to use up some film.
    Film is cheap. The next hurdle facing you is to get over the idea that you
    somehow must make every frame count, or it is not worth taking the picture
    at all.

    I would suggest that you try taking an entire roll and bracketing every
    shot. A 24-exposure roll will yield 8 images that should be pretty near
    right on in terms of exposure (we'll set aside composition for now). You
    will begin to see how your meter reads various types of situations. Chances
    are, many of your examples will show that your meter might not have read the
    light as accurately as it might.

    Getting into the habit of bracketing is something it took me years to do,
    and I regret all the missed opportunities (I shoot lots of urban and scenic
    landscapes--my meter tends to overcompensate for bright skies, leaving the
    subject matter too dark). Don't make that same mistake.

    Spend time studying your results. Do you like the composition, or might you
    have gotten a better result by repositioning your camera? Look at the 4
    edges of the photo--are there objects that you might have preferred were not
    there? Perhaps you should have paid more attention to your viewfinder
    before snapping the shutter?

    How about the focal length you selected? Did it introduce perspective
    distortion? (A good practice is to shoot for an entire day with only a
    normal lens. You will be amazed with the optical performance, and you will
    not have to think so much about perspective, leaving you free to focus on
    composition and exposure.)

    What about focus? Try shooting wide-open and then take the same shot
    stopped down to f/8 or f/11. Notice how the wide open shot limits your main
    subject to being sharply focused, while the smaller aperture shot brings
    much more into focus?

    You get the picture. Just go out and shoot. Take good notes about your
    camera settings. Study the results. Try to improve your results on the
    next roll. Don't be afraid to experiment. Just be sure that you keep good
    notes, so you will be able to ascertain later what worked and what didn't.

    You will soon discover that, in addition to all that new subject material
    you've started to see, that you can turn even the most ordinary, mundane
    object into an interesting composition, by controlling perspective,
    composition, focus, and exposure.
    Jeremy, Jul 21, 2003
  4. I've always kinda done the opposite... well, I've always just taken photos
    of sceneries, cars, sports events, stuff around me, etc. I also learnt to
    use one manually and still do (except for metering which I often leave to
    the camera, with a bit of compensation and bracketing here and there).
    Mostly I'm pretty snap-happy, but whenever I go places, I rarely take photos
    of my family or friends. I guess it never really interested me to see a
    whole bunch of pictures with people I know in them. Then, two years ago, my
    mum died. I wondered if I had any photographs of her. I went back over all
    my films from holidays, places I went to with her in the previous three or
    four years - I think I only found two pictures of her out of everything and
    they weren't particularly good.
    We don't need photographs to remember people by, but it kinda helps once in
    a while. Fortunately, my dad had plenty of pictures of her, I just kinda
    regret not having some photographs myself. I'm still pretty rubbish at
    taking photos of people I know, but I try to make the effort to get a couple
    of shots onto a roll of film.
    Well, I guess that was a bit of a semi-pointless rant.. I suppose if there
    is a point I guess it's that there's an awful lot you can do with a camera -
    but don't forget what's important to you!

    Chris Barnard, Jul 21, 2003
  5. Jeffrey Stetz

    Matt Clara Guest

    Don't forget what Ansel Adams once said, "It has taken me a lifetime to know
    when _not_ to take a photo." (That's probably a paraphrase at best.) You
    haven't lived that lifetime yet, so get out there and take photos. Just
    keep all that you've learned in mind as you shoot, and, when you sift
    through your prints, think about what's good and bad in them. Look at lots
    of other photos, too, not just yours. And keep learning. I'm always eager
    to try new situations, just to learn from them.
    Matt Clara, Jul 21, 2003
  6. Jeffrey Stetz

    Hickster0711 Guest

    A very nice post. I've never worried too much about how many or what comes
    next, but at some point, the pictures appear by themselves. Never fails. All I
    have to do is walk far enough. It's not the camera, it's the shoes.
    Bob Hickey
    Hickster0711, Jul 21, 2003
  7. Sounds like you've made the transition from seeing to observing. Now
    place your observations onto film....
    Michael Scarpitti, Jul 21, 2003
  8. Jeffrey Stetz

    Karl Winkler Guest

    long message snipped...

    Jeffrey, great post. Observing as you've been doing now is exactly how
    to figure out what to photograph. And in my opinion, the most
    important part. The relatively easy part is to learn the equipment. I
    say easy because it's more a matter of learning, memorizing,
    practicing, and ultimatly forgetting. Just like learning to drive a
    stick shift or ride a bicycle.

    I have two suggestions:

    1. Practice with your camera, just to become familiar with it, how it
    operates, how to properly set the shutter and aperture based on the
    *result you want*. Just play around with it without film in, even.
    Then, once it starts to feal easier to make technical decisions, start
    shooting some film around the house and yard. Check your results. And
    I would suggest using slide film because there isn't a way to adjust
    for poor negative quality (exposure-wise) in the print.

    2. Once you've done this a bit, then darnit, just go out there and
    start photographing the subjects that interest you. No reason to be
    afraid since you're the only one who will see these images. That is,
    unless you want input or want to show your progress.

    3. (OK I lied, it's three). Don't compare yourself to the masters.
    This is a concept I gleaned from a book called "The Artist's Way".
    This is a good book for getting through creative blocks. And as part
    of this same concept, the book also says "You worry about the
    quantity, and let God worry about the quality". I.e. take pictures and
    don't be too critical of yourself. Do it for fun, learn the craft, and
    take it one step at a time. One day you'll look back and go "wow! I've
    come a long way". And that's what it's about, isn't it?

    Karl Winkler, Jul 22, 2003
  9. Jeffrey Stetz

    mike II Guest

    I've heard tell that Leica leather is pretty good. Others say it's not
    the shoes but how you walk.

    mike II, Jul 22, 2003
  10. Jeffrey Stetz

    DagH Guest

    Eh, is it just me - or are there anyone else experiencing the urge to
    frame everything? I mean, after taking to SLR photography I'm
    constantly putting a 4 x 3 frame on most things I observe. Even
    without the camera in my backpack, I "think" composition when walking
    through a city, looking outside the car window. OK, I know you will
    all tell me to bring my camera along everywhere - but still.

    <Who framed me?>

    DagH, Jul 22, 2003
  11. Jeffrey Stetz

    T P Guest

    Why not learn how to expose correctly, rather than cement your
    ignorance firmly into place by using bracketing?

    It seems you have all the bad habits for all the wrong reasons.

    Try acquiring some *competence* instead.

    (And stop giving your uniquely stupid advice!)
    T P, Jul 22, 2003
  12. Hey, hey, easy there, TP... Putting that floppy end of the film into that
    sprocket thingy is tough... But, I'll get it one of these days and then
    I'll show youse!

    Well anyway, great fun... Jeffry, TP is right, you are in the transition
    phase between a snapper and a photographer... A mental shock... And he is
    right that few of us actually become photographers... I've been trying for 6
    decades... Someday!

    Just a suggestion or two... There are so many images out there that you get
    deluged - somethng like trying to take a shower under Niagra Falls - so I
    propose that you actually set an agenda for each outing... Pick a mini
    theme, any theme - the color red, or the letter A on signs, or people from
    the back side, or mothers and daughters, or interesting signs in windows, or
    dogs with their owners, or hang out near a stop light with a long lens and
    take pictures of the drivers talking, eating, sleeping, whatever...
    By breaking it down into manageable chunks you will weather the shock from
    simply looking so you don't walk into things, to actually seeing...

    You heard about the two blondes who walked into a store?
    You would think that one of them would have seen it...

    Dennis O'Connor, Jul 22, 2003
  13. Jeffrey Stetz

    drsmith Guest

    You mean you don't carry a camera with you everywhere you go?

    Personally, I always have one nearby. You never know what will
    suddenly inspire you. Recently, I was in a 200 year old country
    church helping my relatives move a pipe organ. During a break
    in our work I found myself sitting in one of the pews staring out
    the window at a farmer's field that he had just cut and bailed.
    A minute later I had camera in hand trying to capture that
    'sitting in church, wishing you were outside' moment that we've
    all probably endured at one point or another.

    Of course, I don't always carry a large camera. My smallest
    is a canon elph which is very convenient to take with you just
    about everywhere.

    drsmith, Jul 22, 2003
  14. Jeffrey Stetz

    Jim Waggener Guest

    LOL!! TP has opined again
    Jim Waggener, Jul 22, 2003
  15. Jeffrey Stetz

    Jeremy Guest

    x-no-archive: yes
    You know, I am convinced that this pathetic troll probably has never even
    owned a fine camera. He is all over the newsgroups, insulting people on
    every conceivable subject. He could not possible have time to take photos,
    and the fact the people have repeatedly dared him to show his photographic
    talent--and getting no response from him--only confirms my suspicion that he
    is just a nut, and is probably posting from a sanitarium.

    I don't see any of his articles, as he is a charter member of my killfile.

    His stupid, arrogant, messages are the rantings of a lunatic, not the wisdom
    of anyone that has ever achieved anything in life.

    He is too stupid to realize that so many of us are either laughing at him,
    or thanking God that we aren't like him.
    Jeremy, Jul 22, 2003
  16. Jeffrey Stetz

    Matt Clara Guest

    Tony has a point. I used to bracket like crazy, and the end result with
    print film is a handful of pictures that look exactly the same. Now I only
    bracket when the lighting is extreme: I shoot one exposed for shadows, one
    exposed for highlights, and one in between. And I only do that when I think
    it'll be a keeper. With slide film the lighting doesn't need to be extreme
    to prompt me to bracket; still, there has to be a reason to, I don't just
    bracket every shot.
    Matt Clara, Jul 23, 2003
  17. Jeffrey Stetz

    Jeremy Guest

    x-no-archive: yes
    Sorry, but he has NO point. It would not have mattered WHAT I said to the
    original poster, that fool Poulson would still have attacked me like the mad
    dog that he is.

    Do a Google search on his numerous handles, and you will find that he is all
    over the internet, making comments from the lunatic fringe that is his
    world. That man is quite a comedian. He apparently believes that he is an
    expert, and that he has the right to be obnoxious. In reality, he is just a
    chucklehead, that types vitriolic comments on a keyboard, from his room at
    the looneybin!

    As for my suggestion on bracketing, it was accompanied by the suggestion
    that the poster take good notes on his exposures, so that he could compare
    them against the prints to see if he needed to override his meter in certain
    situations. I did not suggest that he bracket everything for life.

    Bracketing critical shots is good advice, and has been given often by
    acknowledged experts, T.P's comments notwithstanding. Remember, these
    suggestions about bracketing are directed at a newbie, not one as
    knowledgeable as the infamous Troll, T.P. :)

    So, please ask the Trol to get back into his cave, while I chuckle at his
    latest attack. He should schedule himself for a rabies test
    a.s.a.p.--wouldn't want to have him bite someone . . . he's so pitiful that
    he is actually funny. Beats watching television, that much is for sure.
    Jeremy, Jul 23, 2003
  18. Jeffrey Stetz wrote:


    Involvement in photography, as opposed to snapshootery, is a powerfully
    affective experience, and for the very reason you cite. Learn to see in
    new ways and you will see new things, even though there's no change in your
    environment. It's been said that photography, practiced effectively, is
    one of the better preservers of sanity, and even at its most expensive, it
    often beats the cost of psychiatry. In any case, it is one of modern
    culture's time-honored ways of creating a primary context for one's life;
    doing photography is a way of life, a life-style, if you will, that
    connects one firmly with one's environment. And that is a very good thing.

    Having said all that, it can become overwhelming for some people. Entry
    into photographic reality opens many more doors than one can reasonably
    explore, so sometimes a bit of discipline can put a more comfortable order
    in place of this ever-potential chaos. The assigned project is an
    excellent way of going because it necessitates focus. It allows one to
    have reason to pass other options by, even when they seem opportune. You
    can usually investigate "that" later: the same things won't be there, but
    the new things there when you look are very likely to be just as

    Self-assigned projects are often more effective and more problematic at the
    same time. They tend to be more amenable, because one chooses them
    oneself. They are also much more prone to constant redefinition, and that
    isn't good. That doesn't mean they should not be subject to change, but
    any change should be rational; let the subject of the assignment justify
    any changes made, and resist the tendency to reevaluate how "rewarding (at
    that moment)" an assignment might seem to be.

    Assignments don't have to be extensive. In fact, at first, they should be
    as simple as possible, because the beginner is going to be confronted with
    the inevitable large lot of unknowns and unforeseens. The whole idea is
    that, for the beginning photographer, assignments should be opportunities
    to learn from whatever the assignment produces. Assignments will never be
    boring for the newly awakened vision, for new things will always abound.

    Someone said that any artist absolutely requires a frame within which to
    create, and the more rigorous the frame, the greater the potential for
    sublime art. You aren't a master yet, so be easy on yourself (don't get
    too ambitious). An assignment defines what you are going out with your
    cameras to do, what happens when you are out there can only be known in
    retrospect; assignments are like battle plans: expect them to be
    irrelevant upon engagement, but battle plans and assignments at least allow
    one to hit the ground running, and any activity can be modified. No
    activity cannot.

    One more thing about assignments: When you finish, at least you know what
    you set out to accomplish and can fairly judge what you've done. That's
    worth a lot, especially for beginners.

    Just some odd thoughts.....

    Bill Tallman
    William D. Tallman, Jul 23, 2003
  19. Talking about yourself again Jezza ?
    Tony Parkinson, Jul 23, 2003
  20. Jeffrey Stetz

    T P Guest

    Then why have you replied to them in the last couple of days?

    Try the truth, Jeremy. Who knows? You might even like it ...

    T P, Jul 23, 2003
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