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Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Shutterbug on 03/20/2012 08:01:48 MDT Print View

i used to be a shutterbug - i would take hundreds of photos. now, i don't take any. i was out this past weekend and took a few photos with my iPhone, and only one of them was not done to document something, it was taken specifically as art.

i would love to take more pictures while backpacking but i'm having an internal struggle - as i walk past the entirety of nature, i drink it in, but when i look through my lens, i limit that world to a very small frame. i can't convey the emotion of that moment at that place with a single frame and all emotion is lost with video.

so i'm not sure what to do, do i continue with my iPhone musings and struggle with the lighting and limits of the simple camera or do i invest in a more flexible camera that easily fits into my hipbelt pocket?

all the while my DSLR collects dust.

Peter James
(pbjames) - F

Locale: High Sierra
Re: Shutterbug on 03/20/2012 14:31:04 MDT Print View

If you see shots that you'd like to execute, but which you can't due to technical limitations (lens not wide enough or long enough, can't focus closely enough, pictures blurry due to camera shake, etc), then you need to rethink your equipment, and find what will achieve your goals.

However, if the problem is not technical, and is one of inspiration/creativity/artistic expression, then perhaps it is your approach that you need to rethink. I'm not sure that it is possible to always compress all the emotion of a given place and time into a single photograph. No 2D visual representation of reality could possibly capture it all. Instead, perhaps focus on individual elements of that reality, and trying to represent them in a way that evokes an emotional response. Really think about the scene, place, and your emotions, and try to figure out the WHAT and WHY of how you feel the way you do, then try to compose a picture that expresses it.

I'll add that once you identify what you are trying to express, you might not find the shot that really says what you wish right away, or perhaps even for a long time. But as long as you keep that goal in the back of your mind, hopefully you'll come across just what you're looking for, and be able to execute your vision.

Here's an example. Having spent a considerable amount of time around the Giant Sequoias here in the Western Sierra over the years, I've certainly had the inspiration to make a photograph expressing my appreciation for the massive and gorgeous trees. I tried many times, in many locations, but never could quite come up with something that really said what I wanted. That was until one afternoon, last fall, walking back to my car as the light faded, along the main trail in the Mariposa Grove (probably the most-visited of all Sequoia groves), on my way home from a long, but casual dayhike. I came upon one group of Sequoia that I had passed by many, many times in my life, but on this day, at this time, the light was soft and the trees beckoned. Because I had an excellent camera, which I knew inside and out, along with a sturdy tripod, I was able to set up and execute the shot in the waning moments before the light faded completely (it was much darker to the eye than it appears in this long-exposure):

I had a vision based on a particular inspiration, and I had equipment that allowed me to execute that vision. You need both to be sufficient, or you will produce photos which are boring and uninspired, or technically deficient, or both. Work on the vision first, and only buy more equipment when you know your current gear is limiting you from producing your vision.

Edited by pbjames on 03/20/2012 14:45:17 MDT.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
excellent reply on 03/21/2012 20:21:35 MDT Print View

wow, great comments and what a great example, that photo looks like elephant legs! massive structures indeed.

i have been a student of light for a long time, decades. here is a photo i took of my favorite subject, and i think that is where i am stumbling, exploring new subjects. my muse has been easy to find in exploring railroads.

my efforts at other subjects aren't a fluid and easy to relate. "oh look, i took a snapshot of a mushroom, great" is my typical response to my post backpacking trip images. rarely do i find something that captures the mood, emotion, presence of the subject or day.

this is probably my best trail photo and it was taken with an iPhone. picking up a high quality small digicam has not been a priority, but this image has me searching B&H for a likely purchase.

AT today

Edited by asciibaron on 03/21/2012 20:30:07 MDT.

Peter James
(pbjames) - F

Locale: High Sierra
Re: excellent reply on 03/23/2012 13:44:57 MDT Print View

That's a nice, moody image you've got there. I like the second train shot you linked as well.

Again, I'd rifle through some of your shots, and really analyze them. What do you like/not like? What do you wish you had done differently? What did you wish you could have done, but didn't because of technical limitations?

Before you buy a new camera, I'd strongly suggest against just an average "digicam" point&shoot type, as it will generally offer less improvement than you'd expect compared to your iPhone, unless all you're really after is focal length variety. The micro 4/3d's cameras offer a lot more photographic opportunities with their larger sensor chip, and the potential for interchangeable lenses, at a very modest weight penalty (compared to a DSLR). You can find some really great deals on slightly older models through Cameta, among other dealers. I'd strongly suggest this, as even an "advanced" P&S type camera will quickly show its' limitations if you are putting serious though and effort into your photography.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: excellent reply on 03/23/2012 15:15:10 MDT Print View

"Again, I'd rifle through some of your shots, and really analyze them. What do you like/not like? What do you wish you had done differently?"

You, the photographer, can do this to see if you were producing the photo that you were trying for. Another idea is to show your photos to some trusted friend. Just ask them what they see in the photos, or what they like or dislike. Often that non-photographer will find features that the photographer didn't even see.

Photographers tend to put an amount of value on their photo depending on how much trouble they went through to get the shot. However, that does not necessarily come out when viewed by the non-photographer. More value should be placed by the non-photographer/viewer for what seems compelling.


Martin Van Laarhoven

Locale: NorthEast
me too on 03/30/2012 20:55:17 MDT Print View

I'm glad I stumbled upon this thread. I hear every word you say Steven; just can't capture what I see (feel). I've become a point and shoot guy and I hate that. Peter, I too appreciate your thought provoking comments. I guess I need to stop and think and analyze what I'm feeling/seeing. This won't be easy on trips where miles must be covered but I'm sure I can squeeze in some time to see what I feel. Next tiem out I'm bringing a little inspiration with me.