What is the main factor for great looking photos

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Brian, Jul 27, 2003.

  1. Brian

    Brian Guest

    Those photos you see in photography magazines look great.
    My question is what is the main factor that makes photos look great?
    is it
    the type of film used?
    the type of paper the film is printed on?
    the quality of the camera lens?
    the exposure when creating the prints?

    Regards Brian
    Brian, Jul 27, 2003
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  2. The photographer.

    Yes, a twitty response, but Ansel Adams created exquisite images with the
    Polaroid SX-70.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Jul 27, 2003
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  3. Brian

    Alan Browne Guest

    None of the above. Okay, good film and good lenses certainly help.

    But neither contribute as much as the ability of the photog to see the
    moment, compose and shoot the exposure/focus. The B&W work is usually
    scanned from the photographic paper ... darkroom skills are part of the
    chain, in that case (exposure/contrast).

    It is almost never the "things" and it is always the abilities of the
    photog to master the things that make the great images.

    Photogs need to understand their equipment and shoot within the
    limitations of the equipment and media. This is why a good photographer
    can make great photos with a dipsosable P&S camera where a schmo (uncle
    Bob) only attains snapshot mediocrity with a $3,000 kit.

    Good photogs of course need a wider technical range of capabilites to do
    more, and that is where all of the top equipment comes from.

    Alan Browne, Jul 27, 2003
  4. Simple, short answer, the photographer. All the of others are variables
    that can affect the quality of a photograph to varying degrees.
    The glass you use will affect the quality of a photograph more than anything
    else, the film you use and the paper it is printed on can change depending
    on what you want to achieve. The exposure of the print can really screw up
    a print, but that goes into the realm of operator error.
    Skip Middleton, Jul 27, 2003
  5. As everyone else has said. The one real factor is the photographer. A
    good photographer can make a great image using a cheap digital, a pin hole
    camera or the best film and equipment around.

    One mistake we often make is to notice that great photographs are
    generally made on good film with top equipment. However some of the very
    worse photographs are made with the exact same film and equipment. The top
    photographers generally use the best, but it is skill and talent that makes
    the difference.
    Joseph Meehan, Jul 27, 2003
  6. Well, I like being contrary. As others seem to take the "photographer
    makes photos great" angle (after all, it makes us feel special to think
    that) i'll go out on a limb and say that Lighting is the most important
    element that seperates the boring from the great.
    While having the other elements matters a lot, a good photographer with
    good equipment and a great subject and bad lighting will produce a decidedly
    poor picture.
    Martin Francis, Jul 27, 2003
  7. Brian

    stan Guest

    This is what makes a great photographer great. You can't buy light. Outside of
    strobes of course. All of the other variables people worry about- lens, camera,
    film etc. are items anyone with deep pockets can buy. But a great photographer
    recognizes great light and uses it to their advantage. (It is good to be
    contrary Martin!) Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Minolta and all the rest have done a
    great job of marketing the concept that the best and most expensive will get the
    job done. And it won't. When the only think holding you back is lens flare,
    grainly, muddy print colours or shutter speed THEN the big ticket items become
    important. Until then imagination, spirit and vision are the only factors that
    count. But if I had to choose from the original list I would have to go with
    "film" and processing as the most important elements for great photography.
    Visual Arts Photography
    stan, Jul 27, 2003
  8. You need to distinguish between necessary and sufficient conditions.
    The best photos are made with the best materials and equipment, but
    having the best materials and equipment does not suffice for great
    Michael Scarpitti, Jul 27, 2003
  9. Brian

    Alan Browne Guest

    Lighting is part of being a photographer whether it is the light that is
    available or the light that you create.

    Alan Browne, Jul 27, 2003
  10. Brian

    Mxsmanic Guest

    By great, do you mean generally pleasing, or are you talking
    specifically about technical image quality? Sounds like you mean the
    latter, but I'm not sure.
    Not usually, although professionals avoid really cheap films and off
    brands. Slide film is still quite popular with pros.
    In most cases, the photo has never been printed on paper. It is scanned
    directly from film, and the resulting image file is massaged and
    inserted electronically directly into the page-layout program used to
    compose the magazine. From that file, the printing plates are produced,
    and the magazine is printed from the plates. So photographic prints
    never enter the picture.

    Sometimes, if the magazine is printing images sent in by readers, they
    will be scans of paper prints, if the readers submitted the photos on
    The lens is a huge factor in image quality, more important than just
    about anything else. A distinguishing feature of professional
    photography is that pros spend a great deal of money on the best lenses
    they can get. The image results show this.
    Prints are not usually created, as I've mentioned above. Exposure
    usually isn't an issue for the film, either, since even the cheapest
    camera can expose film pretty accurately.
    Mxsmanic, Jul 27, 2003
  11. Yeah, but who determines the lighting? The photographer...
    Skip Middleton, Jul 28, 2003
  12. Mxsmanic, remember, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Walker
    Evans, et al didn't have access to scanners. Their images were printed, so
    "what paper was used?" is a valid question. Those book images were produced
    from scans of their prints, not negatives, in nearly every case...
    Skip Middleton, Jul 28, 2003
  13. Brian

    Mxsmanic Guest

    Most magazines are printing images from modern photographers, though,
    and these are usually scanned from film if they are from pros or some
    amateurs. Usually, only amateurs still send in prints, except for a
    handful of pros who like to play around with wet darkroom printing as
    part of their art.
    Mxsmanic, Jul 28, 2003
  14. Brian

    Brian Guest

    I agree that lighting can play an important part in a photo.
    The problem is when you get the photo processed the print is often at
    the wrong exposure. If the photo is meant to be dark then the photo
    labs print it lighter as I think they give an average exposure for the
    whole print when creating the prints.
    I photoed a tree against bright light so the light was befind the
    leaves of the tree, giving the leaves a green glow. When I received
    the processed photo the tree was grey and not black due to the extra
    exposure the printing lab had done.

    Regards Brian
    Brian, Jul 28, 2003
  15. Brian

    auspics Guest

    Other poster seem to think it's the photographer. I think this a
    self-centric answer, each believing they are a good photographer and
    therefore claiming the photographer is the essential ingredient. NOT SO!

    Good photography can be learnt, therefore the photographer has no special
    ability other than knowledge which we can all gain. Understand the rule of
    thirds. Study the techniques real masters pioneered. Learn the subtleties of
    light and shade. Understand the limitations of the medium you use and you
    too can become a really good photographer.

    Understand also that photographers do not (usually) have the gift of
    artistry a true artist is born with. Therefore photographers can seldom
    'see' what a true artist can reproduce from memory. Having said that... I
    would like to say:

    I once thought I was a good photographer. I was once almost convinced I had
    an ability to 'see' a picture in every subject... Until one day I met a man
    who really could 'see' a picture in every subject. He didn't need a camera,
    he produced the picture with some burnt wood and woven cotton.

    This man was a true artist. His work lives on without the concerns of
    chemical degradation, how long the magnetic media will last. It's hanging in
    some of Melbourne's (Australia) finest galleries, small paintings he did by
    the dozen now sell for tens of thousands of dollars. Oddly enough he admired
    some of my crude attempts at reproducing what nature created too... His name
    was Neil Douglas.

    Whenever you start to thing you are a good photographer, take the time to
    stroll through a public gallery and see what a 'real' picture maker did...
    Long before cameras were invented!

    auspics, Jul 28, 2003
  16. Brian

    Mxsmanic Guest

    Cheap lenses don't do softness in the same way. They may include a lot
    of distortion and chromatic aberration, which you don't want.

    Overall, though, it's better to shoot with the best lenses you can. You
    can always soften things in Photoshop, if you really want to throw away
    detail and sharpness.

    One way to do this is to isolate all the brighter portions of the image
    in a separate later, blur it slightly, then screen it back over the
    original, and erase the areas around critical areas like the eyes and
    mouth. Magazines like Playboy and Penthouse have been doing this for
    Mxsmanic, Jul 28, 2003
  17. Brian

    Mxsmanic Guest

    I've never heard of him. I prefer photos made in the conventional way,
    rather than images made with burnt wood and woven cotton, but that is a
    matter of opinion.

    Being a good photographer is a function of natural talent beyond a
    certain point. Photography can be both art and science; the scientific
    part can be learned, the artistic part cannot. Similarly, painting is
    both an art and a science, and you can learn the technical part easily
    enough, but beyond that you'll need talent to accomplish anything more.
    Photographers make "real" pictures, too.
    Mxsmanic, Jul 28, 2003
  18. Brian

    T P Guest

    Last time I determined that the sun should move over a bit to the
    left, it disobeyed me and went to the right, and very slowly too!

    What should I have done? Please help me!

    T P, Jul 28, 2003
  19. Brian

    T P Guest

    When you shoot with the best equipment, you no longer have any excuse!

    T P, Jul 28, 2003
  20. <rude_aside>
    Are you sure it was the lab and not the matrix (or whatever) meter in the
    camera that messed up? Backlighting is the classic hard case for in-camera
    metering. (Apologies if you spot metered and exposed the glowing leaves
    where you wanted them<g>. You'll have to ask T. P. how to meter that case
    with an incident meter.)

    The solution is to do your own printing. I find that that's 90% of the
    fun/excitement/interest in photography. Definitely worth the effort. Either
    scanner and inkjet or real darkroom.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Jul 28, 2003
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