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  1. #1
    News & Rum-or-ator opus's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Story vs. Place vs. ???

    OK, I'm something of a writer, or at least I'm trying to be except to be a writer you have to actually write, ha ha. Anyway, some of the topics of some of the seminars I've attended seem to fit right in with photography, and I want to discuss them at their very most basic level.

    1) I went to a screenwriter's seminar focused on the concept of STORY. I learned there that "STORY" is not "an account of what I did today", nor is it a "description". At its most basic level, "STORY" involves a goal vs. obstacles. Now I realize that I've greatly simplified a concept that fills volumes, but to me if I transfer that definition to photography, a photo that tells a STORY would imply some sort of conflict: a dying little girl with a vulture watching her (life vs. death); a family running from a burning building (safety vs. danger); a sweating athlete in a marathon (success vs. hardship). It doesn't have to be such an extreme example, it can be [anything] vs. [its opposite].

    2) I went to a travel writing/photography seminar which focused on a sense of PLACE. That one is harder to define because all I really had to go by were examples. But I think some examples of PLACE would be a photo of a boat in a canal in Venice, or a swimsuit-clad woman relaxing on a beach in the carribbean, or some other easily identifiable feature. Something that says, "this is one particular spot on earth that obviously can't be anywhere else." A tree could be anywhere. A tree in a city narrows it down, and a tree in a city next to the Chrysler building can only be one place: NY.

    There are more concepts that a photo can illustrate, and I would like you to supply what you think these concepts are. For instance, if a photo doesn't tell a story, and doesn't show a sense of place, what does it show that makes me want to look at it? My photo of my piano, for instance. What does it illustrate?

    Let's discuss these concepts at their most basic level, assuming that one photo can illustrate only one concept. While they can and do mix (i.e. a sense of story along with a sense of place), it would just complicate understanding at this point. In other words, I want this to be almost a scientific study. Let's break it down into its parts.

    Because I think understanding all the concepts possible will greatly improve my photography, and I hope it benefits you too.
    Last edited by opus; 09-09-2004 at 04:14 PM.
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  2. #2
    News & Rum-or-ator opus's Avatar
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    I'll start.

    I think a photo can illustrate a sense of LIGHT.
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  3. #3
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    Interesting Topic Kelly and you have put much thought into the processes as well, will be interesting to see what others think along these lines.

    To me a Photo can demonstrate/illustrate a sense of WORTH about something/someone/place etc as well. It can also demonstrate a sense of DEPTH too.

  4. #4
    News & Rum-or-ator opus's Avatar
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    Peter, I'd be interested to hear an example of each. What might the photo be of?


    I was thinking about my examples of STORY, and I think I got it wrong. A photo can illustrate a sense of CONFLICT without being STORY.

    STORY = Goal vs. Obstacle
    CONFLICT = Something vs. Its Opposite


    An example of CONFLICT might be a person wearing a republican hat at the Democratic Convention.
    Last edited by opus; 09-09-2004 at 04:39 PM. Reason: removed a controversial reference
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  5. #5
    don't tase me, bro! Asylum Steve's Avatar
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    If you mean the Great Themes, well that's easy...

    Interesting topic, Kelly. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "concepts", seeing how there are an infinite number of possible concepts for a photograph. If you expect to try to list them all, then I think we'd be here until next year...

    Now if you mean the basic artistic ideas, or "Great Themes" of photography, many have said they can be grouped into four (or six depending on your view) general categories:

    The Human Condition, Still Life, Portraits, and Nature.

    Some add The Nude and War , but I think you can make a case that those two are included in the first group.

    Now I realize that these are VERY general and broad themes, which can then be broken down into many sub themes, but the point is almost any photograph taken can be loosely put into one of these areas.

    Again, I don't know how much this pertains to your first post, but I think at least it adds to the discussion...

    BTW, if you are indeed looking for additional concepts for photography, some of my favorites are beauty, eroticism, pattern, color, and human emotion...
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  6. #6
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    Kelly, as Sense of Worth Photo, can be demonstrated in photos like Charles Hess has taken of People down on their Luck (commenly referred to as BUM's here in Australia we used to call them PF's which stands for Piss Farts a colloquial term here). He posted a very dramatic one a while ago, that was very emotive and I think demonstrated that persons perceived Sense of Worth.

    These photos can also demonstrate the Depth as well, Depth of Despair, Depth one has sunken to etc.

    But I think Steve has probably hit the nail on the head with his answer as well.

  7. #7
    misanthrope
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    My goal is to be a writer one day also. But now that photography has become such a huge part of my life, I'm seriously thinking about going in that direction. I'm looking into journalism, so I'd be writing facts about events, not making anything up (unless I get a job with the NY Times ).
    But a journalist must be able to recognize the elements of a story and how they relate to the reader, and then use the correct language to make the story clear to the reader.
    Photos make it so much easier to tell a story, since we don't need a good command of language, or to even have any verbal skills at all. The story is right there, and all we have to do is get the composition right to tell the story in the way we want.
    It really does depend on the subject. A shot of a waterfall in the wilderness (one I will probably have in a week or two) may not have a real story to tell. There's no obvious conflict, and conflict, I think, is what makes the story. Introduce a person standing under that spillway, and you've got conflict: man vs. nature. An image of a normal-looking person standing in front of a plain white wall has no real story. It's boring to look at. But get a shot of the same guy getting smacked in the face with a 2X4 and you've got some real conflict! Man vs. man...
    I suppose what I'm getting at is that photos should, by nature, tell a story. It has to do with the conflict that is happening. Or better yet, the contrast between certain elements, like a bull in a china shop or a lone candle in a darkened room. My recently posted shot of a dragonfly didn't tell a story, but the featured image of two hikers silhouetted on a hillside really told a story.
    Place is merely the setting for the story. You can't have a story happen nowhere. It has to happen somewhere.
    I'm starting to ramble here, so I'll stop for now. My $0.02....
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  8. #8
    ...just believe natatbeach's Avatar
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    I guess to me it depends on the individual

    to me and the "things" i photograph are people and places and situations that illicited(sp?) a certain feeling or emotion in me and I deem it successful or unsuccesful if I can convey that in an image. I guess the only problem I see with trying to compartmentalize something as subjective as art (in this case photography) and make it "scientific" is that it rules out the emotion(variable) of the situation and the perspective(again a variable) and in order for it to be fact based . I guess what I'm trying to say is that although I think incorporating photography and principles of journailsm might be good in helpig you to see things as a whole unit(the tree the building the park)...I think it will in some ways hinder the bigger picture (the feeling of meekness...a tiny tree a living thing in the midst of all the concrete... and how sad that image is---to probably only me)

    here's two examples(if I'm not makiing sense at the ebnd of all of this slap me and call me susan)...

    the first photo
    STORY-guy with girl---looking at other girl satisfaction vs. longing(or dissatisfaction)
    PLACE- obviously city because of the masses of people and the travel bus and all the concrete

    to me: I put myself in the other girl's shoes (cuz I've dated jerk's that had wandering eyes) and I know it always made me feel inadequate...and I took the picture because I connected with the emotion of the moment.what would happen if she saw him? what would she feel if she did? what is going thru his mind? what relationship do they have?

    the next one
    Story--isolation vs. belonging
    place---park(statue is probably commisioned and the only one so it puts us in Boston or at limits it down to the few places this staue could be found...)
    to me: I thought it was so sad this man who appeared in pretty rough shape would choose this particular bench to sleep on...which made me think of my children and reading to them before bed time. It struck me as if the statue was reading to the man. and it made me wonder about hi sfamily and his life and what had brought him to this moment in time...

    Bottom line I think journalism although it can be "emotional" in nature is too fact based to necessarily connect on the same level as a photograph...I guess that's why they say a picture is worth a thousand words... my two long winded cents...hope this did more than just confuse the Hades out of you and me ;)
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  9. #9
    News & Rum-or-ator opus's Avatar
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    Thanks for your responses so far! Great points!

    - Steve, thanks for posting the Great Themes. I'm not sure I ever heard of them. I guess I've never been in the same place and time that they were discussed until now. They help me a lot.

    But no, that's not exactly what I'm talking about. I mean, "Nature" is a theme, but a photo could either be effective or ineffective, and still be a picture of nature. So I think it has to be different than that.

    The concepts you listed at the end are precisely what I'm looking for. "Patterns", "eroticism", "color", etc... these are things I can keep in mind when I critique a photo. Not every photo tells a story, so I have to look for what it's trying to convey. It's trying to convey PATTERN. Yes, I think it succeeded. And so on. And, these are things I can look for when I shoot.

    -Peter, outstanding observations. I really get what you're saying. I love the examples you used, I can see them in my mind's eye now.

    -Outdoorsman, you've got the gist of what I was saying. But now, after thinking this topic over and deciding to start it, I wondered if I wasn't limiting my appreciation of photos too much by always looking for a story. Yes, a man against a wall is boring. But if the lighting is perfect on him, then I can appreciate how the light plays across his features. Same with your dragonfly. Perhaps you were going for COLOR. Wow, notice how the colors irradiate from the shot. Cool!

    I started this thread so that I would broaden my appreciation of everybody's photos and be able to comment more intelligently.

    -Nat, I'm really not talking about photojournalism. I'm trying to look at ALL photos and see them for what their intention is.

    That reminds me, when I was at the travel conference, Robert Holmes gave one of the opening day sessions and showed his work to all attendees, both writers and photographers. After his presentation he opened it up to questions, so I raised my hand and asked, "What is the difference between a snapshot and a photograph?" He had a difficult time answering, until one of the attendees shouted out "INTENTION!" "YES, that's good!" he said. He talked a bit about it, then went on to more questions, and when he finished his session his final sentence was something like, "Go out and produce your work with INTENTION!" (can't remember the exact quote, sorry!) But I didn't really understand what he meant. Until now. Until this thread.

    The shots you posted are excellent, Nat, and probably my favorite of all you've posted so far, because of their powerful story. But I don't want to limit myself to looking only for story, or conflict. I want to appreciate all the other INTENTIONS out there, so that's why I'm looking for ideas. After looking at thousands of very good photos (from all sources), it can get confusing to know what exactly you're seeing and why it works or even if it doesn't work. That's why I wanted to break it down into concepts, words, that I can remember when a photo's intention is not story.

    Does this make sense? Or am I asking for the impossible? It might seem I'm going at this backwards, because when I first look at a photo, my emotional response should tell me what the intention is, right? And my emotional response should also tell me if it works or not. So maybe this is a fruitless search for meaningless words. But somehow I think it will help. I think it will help me when I take a photograph to be able to stop and ask myself, "what is my intention here?" and then have a mental list of words to shuffle through, and then I can make a better judgement on how to capture the image to convey it.

    Carry on the discussion!
    Last edited by opus; 09-10-2004 at 12:52 AM. Reason: changed "Landscape" to "Nature"
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  10. #10
    misanthrope
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    I've heard some people on this site say "just take the shot!" when people start to over-analyze a scene. We tend to get hung up on things like intention and composition and equipment and can so very easily lose track of what our primary intention is: to make images that look like we visualize them in our mind's eye.
    I try very hard to have an intention when I begin to compose a shot. If I remember to, I ask myself, "What is this image for? Why am I shooting it?" If I can't come up with an answer, then I just make the image look as pleasing to me as I can. If I actually have a purpose, then great, I have a guide peg of some sort to keep me on track. I needed a postcard shot of my town recently so naturally I went on a hill overlooking the town and got a nice scenic vista. This told the story of how pretty the town is on a summer morning, which will be great for a visitor to take home. Then I took the shots I personally wanted, which included more foreground interest, with some young firs and irises occupying much more of the frame than the town did in the other shots. These "personal" images meant more to me since they showed me things only a local like myself could truly grasp- the traditional signs of summer/late spring that have an emotional significance that can't be easily described. It has to be seen and experienced by living here.
    This thread could ealiy slip into a discussion on aesthetics- the things we value and why and how much we value them.
    I'm still a bit fresh off my college english classes, so I have a pretty good idea about plot and story and such. All the elements of literary storytelling can be found in an image. You just have to look for them. You're right- even a plain person with a plain background has a story to tell- it's in the eyes, the face, the posture, the clothing, the expression, the colors. Those things you have to look a little closer for, and most people who aren't into art or photography tend to not bother when they see a "boring" image like that. Which is why I always consider my audience when composing. I tend to shoot with the non-artist, non-photographer in mind. I want the ordinary person to look at my images and be moved, even if in a small way.
    I would reccomend taking some graphic design classes or some art classes. You will learn better why certain compositions create an emotional response- and also keep the pics in magazines or newspapers or the internet that you like and try to copy them yourself. You will learn volumes! I used to hate the photog for the local paper because he had a very unpleasant demeanor- a real ass. But looking at his work daily taught me quite a bit about composition. Now my "grabbed" snapshots are better than any of my friends' as a result. Thanks Steve!
    I'm no expert, so don't take what I say to be gospel. But when you're not trying to tell a story, try to show the scene in a way no one would ever think to look at it. You never know, you just might come up with something you never intended in the first place! ;)
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  11. #11
    News & Rum-or-ator opus's Avatar
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    Outdoorsman, of course you are 100% right. I just want to make one different point.

    About me: I had a fairly strong art background when I was younger, then got a degree in graphic communication, and worked in a place where I was immersed in other people's great graphic design all day long. I'm naturally artistic and I have a good eye. I have a pretty good instinct and usually follow it and get some really good shots. But I've got a lot of "not good enough" shots among them, and sometimes I think it's because I am "sloppy" about the way I approach a picture, and the reason I'm "sloppy" is because I'm following a vague emotional response and I don't have it focused in my mind. "This scene appeals to me somehow so I'll shoot it in various ways and later on I'll look to see if I got a great one in there."

    It's got to a be a li i i i i i itle bit more scientific than that. There's got to be some minutiae of thought and planning behind it. And if I have identified ahead of time (even a split-second ahead of time) what my Intention might be, I'll approach the scene with a goal. You said you do that, too, so I think we're on the same page.

    Even if I were to try to copy what I like, without analyzing why it works I might not understand the intention of the shot. I could look at a picture and say, "he took a picture of a tree, so I'll take a picture of a tree." But if I haven't analyzed why his shot works, then my shot might frustrate me. Just like you did, you analyzed Steve's composition until you started naturally seeing it better.

    I'm not trying to make this a cold, analytical process devoid of emotion, although I do tend to overanalyze things. But I know that what I'm asking for works, because I've used my process already. I've kept in mind the concept of Story and looked for it while I'm shooting. Currently I'm working on the concept of Light, and now I'm aware of it everywhere, even without a camera in my hand. If while I'm out there I see something displaying Conflict, I won't just jump in there and react emotionally to it, I'll realize what I'm seeing and compose to most dramatically demonstrate what I'm seeing.

    I agree there's always room for experimentation. I do a lot of that. "I wonder what this would look like if I shot from underneath?" But if what drew me to the scene in the first place was Color, then I'll make sure to expose it and frame it in a way that highlights Color.

    A person can experiment with many Intentions in one session. Let's say you're at the Grand Canyon. Here might be your experimentation: "I'll shoot this to highlight Color, then I'll shoot it to highlight Pattern, then I'll try for Depth, then Light, then Contrast." Of course, it would be nice to get it all in one shot. But even if you don't, you'd end up with a lot of keepers, I would think.

    Truly off-the-cuff experiments are fun to try, but in my experience rarely turn out well without a thought ahead of time of what I might be trying to get. For instance, when I was in California this summer, I liked this one bridge. I shot it from various angles, but never captured what I liked about the bridge. Now that I think back on it, I like the Shape of it and I liked the Light on it. I never tried a shot with those goals in mind. I just "shot".

    Oh, and one shot can contain lots of Intentions. When they do I think it makes the shot even more powerful. If you can combine in one shot Light and Color and Conflict and Worth and Beauty and Story, for instance, I think you'd have a prize-winning picture.
    Last edited by opus; 09-10-2004 at 12:43 AM.
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  12. #12
    ...just believe natatbeach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kellybean
    Truly off-the-cuff experiments are fun to try, but in my experience rarely turn out well without a thought ahead of time of what I might be trying to get. For instance, when I was in California this summer, I liked this one bridge. I shot it from various angles, but never captured what I liked about the bridge. Now that I think back on it, I like the Shape of it and I liked the Light on it. I never tried a shot with those goals in mind. I just "shot".
    I would think you just answered your question or at least set up some guidelines...
    -- determine what is is about the scene you like or draws you to it(the light and shape of the bridge)
    --- try different approaches(angles, exposure,etc)
    -- stope analyzing the situationand figuring HOW, tie in to the emotion of the place your at
    --then incorporate those into it and just take the picture....

    I'm really trying to get what your aiming for but I think having the artistic brain and mind and background...you may be in for that road called "artistic angst" where regardless of the rationale or the formulas...you will probably always be one step back from being totally satisfied.

    there's another thread on here about"best photos" I really don't hink I will ever take a "best" photo...until now the two I posted are the ones I can find the least amount of stuff wrong and have reediming qualities I feel good about showing...ya know what i mean.

    I'll keep reading to see if you get the answers you seek.
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    I wasn't trying to change society, or to be ahead of my time.
    I didn't think of myself as liberated, and I don't believe that I did anything important.
    I was just myself. I didn't know any other way to be, or any other way to live."
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  13. #13
    misanthrope
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    I'm sorry if I condescended to you- it weemed like you were looking for advice on composition. But with such a strong background in composition, you already know that stuff.
    We all see separate elements like color, light, shape, pattern, space, etc. And of coruse, I think it is often our goal to try and combine as many elements as possible within th farme. But getting good with only one element in the frame is so much better for learning. I just organized my slides (I won't even bother with the neg film) and I found about 200 shots of only sunsets. And is there a single sunset pic I'm truly happy with? Not really. There's some that are pretty good, and I know why they are good, but they still aren't what I have visualized in my mind.
    I think you're trying to find the difference between a good photographer and a great one, and the only advice I've ever found on that subject is: experience.
    So get out and shoot, shoot, shoot. You may have heard the advice for writers that I have heard a million times: write every day, no matter what it is. Just get a few words or even a graph or a whole page, but at least do it every day. I approach photography with the same work ethic. I try to shoot at least one pic a day. If I end up taking more, then great. I am a lot better at waterfalls because I shot the hell out of every one I could find. Now I know how to make a pleasing image of a waterfall. The payoff came when I posted a shot here a while ago and someone said it was the best waterfall pic he'd ever seen. I felt vindicated. And now that I've acheived some success in the subject, I feel even freer to explore it without stressing over whether I'm doing it right. I know that if I ever need to take a shot of a waterfall, it will be nothing but fun. Not to say I'm not still learning, however.
    Is this making any sense?
    I suppose it always comes back to the basic advice of photography: use the tools you have to make the images you want. Compositional rules are good tools, but the great thing about photography is that if standard compositional rules (thirds, golden triangle, etc) don't work for a scene, you can make up your own rules, your own tools, to make the image you like. It's totally subjective and therefore is art. I like high saturation in my film and fine grain. A friend of mine likes to underexpose by 1/3 to 1/2 stop all the time. Some people like tons of DOF, others like interpretive, blurred motion.
    As that same underexpoure-loving friend said, "Everything out there to be photographed has been photographed. You have to have a unique vision, and develop a technique to express that."

    And may I add, this had been the best discussion post here yet. Thanks for starting it!
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  14. #14
    News & Rum-or-ator opus's Avatar
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    Outdoorsman, yes! Wonderful comments! I wasn't really looking for the thread to go in this direction, but it's both interesting and helpful. Many points have been made that are good to review. I hope people post more thoughts along these lines.

    To get back to what I originally wanted, though, could people still list *some* words that describe what a photo can show? Steve pointed out that we could be here with this all year and he's right, but I'd still like to see a few more.
    Last edited by opus; 09-10-2004 at 10:14 AM.
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  15. #15
    Member Iguanamom's Avatar
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    This is an excellent and thought provoking subject.

    Every once in a while, I have to re-ground myself when Iím taking photos. Too often I take them simply because I am there. I climb to the top of a mountain and the view is lousy but I snap away because it seems like the thing to do, and I lugged all my gear up. Those photos are always a disappointing waste of film (yeah Iím one of those).

    When I am a more careful photographer, possibly a more thoughtful one, I take my time and not only compose, but line up my intentions about what I want out of the potential photo. Under those circumstances I often take my eye out of the viewfinder and decide that the shot just isnít coming together with regard to my intention and I donít waste my film. When I am selective like this, I am nearly always pleased with the results.

    Like you said Kelly, sometimes we need to take a moment and find out just what it is that draws us to a particular scene. What about it do we want to remember? What aspects can be captured and put us back into that moment when we view it later? What will make others find it interesting even though they have never been that exact site? Can any of my emotions on viewing it be captured and reproduced? I need to think of these things more clearly when I am shooting. I think itís right on about the difference between a snapshot and a photograph Ė intention and planning.

    Back 100 years ago when I took a photography class, someone said that a good exercise is to walk around your subject as much as you can. Get different perspectives, angles, foregrounds, backgrounds Ė explore it all and then decide what is the best. Give the photo time to compose itself in your mind and give yourself plenty of options. More stuff I have to be better at when I go a-shooting.

    And as I am leaving for Utah a week from tomorrow, this is a very well-timed thread Ė donít want to waste any of my Kodachrome 64

  16. #16
    News & Rum-or-ator opus's Avatar
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    Don't forget, Iguanamom, that one valid reason for a photograph is to remember that you were there. Take the one shot everyone else takes "just because". But then if you're trying to take home keepers, then start thinking about the reasons you like what you see.
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  17. #17
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    If you're going to shoot, shoot. Don't talk

    I tried theorising for a while ages ago. It didn't help. When I tried to construct my images intelligenly then they came out dull and boring. This is tough for someone who works in computers where Method and Organisation is usually the key to Success.

    I realised that when I do a photo - it just has to look right. Afterwards you can explain why it looks right, but at the time, there's some other mechanism at work. The more pictures you do, the better you get. The more time you have to get the image right, the better the result.

    I think that Outdoorsman is saying the same sort of thing, in other words.

    Charles

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    The problem I see so far from the comments of others, is we all have different sides of our brain when it comes to Art. Some use their right side and some use their left side. The artists here all use the same side and will always do so, hence why they are artists. I think it is much harder for those, like myself that use the other side of our brains, we tend to think less about our shots.

    I think this is what Kelly is doing, using her artists side, which, believe me, is a much better side to use when it comes to composition/art than the side I use. It is much harder for me to visual concepts and outcomes than it is for someone like Kelly. I would put Steve in the same category as well as Hodgy, Charles Hess as well.

    The difference between my photography and theirs, I have to work at it a lot harder and longer than they do.

  19. #19
    News & Rum-or-ator opus's Avatar
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    Peter, in tests I've done it seems my left side and my right side of my brain work almost equally. Which means, I'm not wildly left- or wildly right-brain-sided. Which means that some artists are SO intuitive that they just *know* what they're doing without thinking. I need to combine analysis with creativity in order to take my creativity farther.

    Plus, lately I've got "brain fog" (a symptom of a medical condition I'm currently in treatment for), so my left side of my brain needs a little analytical kick-start sometimes. That's why I asked for a list of Words.
    Drink Coffee. Do stupid things faster with more energy.


  20. #20
    News & Rum-or-ator opus's Avatar
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    OK, I found an example to try to illustrate what I'm saying.

    Last night I went to a High School football game, without my camera. (My son didn't want me to embarrass him by "taking pictures of people I don't know".) I got there at halftime.

    As I was walking up to the gate, the first thing I saw was a circle of umpires standing in a circle behind the concession stand. I thought it was a picture moment and kicked myself for not having my camera.

    But if I HAD had my camera, how might it have gone? Probably like this: "Hey! That's a picture! I've got to get a shot of that!" And I would have raised my camera to my eye, thought about the placement of the umpires within the frame, thought about where I should place the roof of the back of the concession stand within the frame, looked at my borders and shot. And I would have had a picture of umpires.

    But now let's pause to think a moment and do it differently.

    I walk up to the game and see the umpires. I think, "Hey, that's a picture! I've got to get a shot of that!"

    Then I would have asked myself WHY I like the shot. "Well, I think it's the patterns of the uniforms all standing together." (Mental thought: "hmmm, possible, but not strong.") What else is it? I know! They're DISPLACED! They're not where they should be, THAT'S why it's funny.

    So then I would have stepped backwards, gone out into the road, and framed the faraway bleachers and part of the field in the shot, with the umpires standing around outside the back of the concession stand.

    Don't you think that would be a stronger picture? And all because of a moment of thought and a concept behind it.
    Drink Coffee. Do stupid things faster with more energy.


  21. #21
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Words

    Quote Originally Posted by kellybean
    Peter, in tests I've done it seems my left side and my right side of my brain work almost equally. Which means, I'm not wildly left- or wildly right-brain-sided. Which means that some artists are SO intuitive that they just *know* what they're doing without thinking. I need to combine analysis with creativity in order to take my creativity farther.

    Plus, lately I've got "brain fog" (a symptom of a medical condition I'm currently in treatment for), so my left side of my brain needs a little analytical kick-start sometimes. That's why I asked for a list of Words.
    Here are some words I find useful. First of all my main Themes which help me to get my mind straight on what I'm trying to achieve before setting out:

    - Travels: Simply a record of places I've been. If I'm lucky then I also get to tell the story of the trip, who I met, etc.

    - People: My friends and how I see them. Portraits, in other words

    - Family: Anything concerning my family. This is very personal and I keep it apart from the rest.

    - Parties: Any sort of private get-together

    - Events: Any reasonably public event like the Tour de France, Gay Pride.. I do a lot of this. I like going out and seeing people.

    - Semi-pro: Anything I do for other people where there's no personal involvement, its just a piece of work to carry out

    And now just two words that I find helpful when I'm doing pictures:

    - Subversive: I like to have some element that jars the harmony of the image. I don't like it to be too pretty. I like having things moving in and out of the frame, for example.
    - Action: Call this the Decisive Moment if you like, but I usually try to ensure that there is something going on in the image, and that I choose the right moment to do the shot. Typically this is a human figure doing something that is understandable to the viewer.

    Hope that helps
    Charles

  22. #22
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    Kelly,

    Probably would have been, but by the time you did all that, they would have moved on and gotten on with the game.

    I think most "Great Shots" (and that is a subjective thing), are more taken reactionarily than with as much thought as what you are saying in your recent post above, and I think that is the point of what others may be saying as well.

    It is a good thing to go through this process, but don't get clouded by the process and then realise the moment has moved on.

    The difference between snap shots and well done shots and great shots, is instinct, the moment, luck and subject at the time (my opinion).

    Sometimes I think over analysis is a bad thing.

  23. #23
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Your photo in my words

    Quote Originally Posted by kellybean
    OK, I found an example to try to illustrate what I'm saying.

    Last night I went to a High School football game, without my camera. (My son didn't want me to embarrass him by "taking pictures of people I don't know".) I got there at halftime.

    As I was walking up to the gate, the first thing I saw was a circle of umpires standing in a circle behind the concession stand. I thought it was a picture moment and kicked myself for not having my camera.

    But if I HAD had my camera, how might it have gone? Probably like this: "Hey! That's a picture! I've got to get a shot of that!" And I would have raised my camera to my eye, thought about the placement of the umpires within the frame, thought about where I should place the roof of the back of the concession stand within the frame, looked at my borders and shot. And I would have had a picture of umpires.

    But now let's pause to think a moment and do it differently.

    I walk up to the game and see the umpires. I think, "Hey, that's a picture! I've got to get a shot of that!"

    Then I would have asked myself WHY I like the shot. "Well, I think it's the patterns of the uniforms all standing together." (Mental thought: "hmmm, possible, but not strong.") What else is it? I know! They're DISPLACED! They're not where they should be, THAT'S why it's funny.

    So then I would have stepped backwards, gone out into the road, and framed the faraway bleachers and part of the field in the shot, with the umpires standing around outside the back of the concession stand.

    Don't you think that would be a stronger picture? And all because of a moment of thought and a concept behind it.
    If you're going to an Events you're going to do photos of people that you don't know. The difference between you and me is that I look like a Photo-Reporter whereas in your son's eyes you're Mom. He doesn't expect you to do other things. He'll get used to it.

    In your image you're being a bit Subversive because what's interesting is that the people are out-of-place - the detail that jars. When you compose it you have to include all the elements that indicate that they're out of place so moving to a spot where you've got everything you need all nicely lined up is a good idea. Then for the Action you might add a bit of tension like choosing a moment where the umpires are having a disagreement and waving their arms in different directions.

    Yes, it was worthwhile taking the time to understand why you found the image interesting and using your imagination to make a tiny story out of it.

    Charles

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    Interesting views
    Last edited by Elysian; 09-12-2004 at 07:34 AM.

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