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09-21-2014, 10:24 AM   #1
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Calling yer Shots

I was cleaning out some drawers the other day and I found all these reloadable 35mm canisters in the bottom drawer of one of my cabinets. Each container had one such film canister and most still had Plus X in them from about 18 years ago. That reminded me of a game three and sometime four of us used to play. I would load a canister with six frames of Plus X film. We would set out for a destination. Each photographer would be given one such canister. Before taking the shot, you had to “call your shot”, just like in shooting billiards. You had to state what you were shooting, your camera settings, which we called the combination, and what you were trying to achieve. Blurred background, back lite, shadow composition, level of anticipated contrast etc. This would be written down along with the camera settings. Each photographer got one “mulligan” a term we stole from golf. They could develop the film themselves but usually I would collect the canisters and develop them all together. The photographers would then use my dark room to make their prints on the paper of their choice, or they would tell me what contrast paper to use and I would print them and then we would see who got the closest to the shot they had called. From that game we all learned a bit more about the equipment we were using. Years later when digital became popular this concept flew in the face of those who used what I call the "machine gun" approach to photography. Taking dozens of shots in the hopes of getting one or maybe two good ones. As I look at the photo’s from my last shoot I realize I may have relaxed my skills somewhat as I took four shots at different settings where one should have sufficed. Maybe it’s time to again start calling my shots.

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09-22-2014, 09:47 AM   #2
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The use of "called shots" methods with film had huge payoffs. The benefit of digital is that there is very little cost to being less worried about individual shots that you take for "insurance". Giving yourself an opportunity to learn why the settings you know are best are really correct by shooting a few feelers around the original intent lets you grow your techniques if you were wrong and improve your certainty if you were right. I'm not one to shoot a hundred shots where 1 or 2 might do - so I sympathize, but for personal assignments I will stick to subject, lens, exposure style, etc.

I do think the method you had would make for a great contest however.

Shoot a landscape using a lens set to between 18- 35mm focal length at 4 stops closed from wide open with whatever lens you want... as an example.
10-23-2014, 11:39 AM   #3
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Six frame cassettes? Sounds familiar. Diafine was another expedient then too when quick results were the priority. And I suppose you found the bulk film reloader with those cassettes as well?

Film certainly focuses one's attention on the task at hand.

I've certainly considered how my photography would have progressed/improved/evolved over half a century if I'd had the means to economically shoot, experiment and instantly review the results of the learning curve in the early years.

Perhaps the digital era plays to a theory of "tachytelic anagenesis" in photography, if I may stretch a definition - a theory whereby some discrete factor(s) contributes to an extraordinarily rapid change in evolution.
10-23-2014, 04:22 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by pacerr Quote
Six frame cassettes? Sounds familiar. Diafine was another expedient then too when quick results were the priority. And I suppose you found the bulk film reloader with those cassettes as well?

Film certainly focuses one's attention on the task at hand.

I've certainly considered how my photography would have progressed/improved/evolved over half a century if I'd had the means to economically shoot, experiment and instantly review the results of the learning curve in the early years.

Perhaps the digital era plays to a theory of "tachytelic anagenesis" in photography, if I may stretch a definition - a theory whereby some discrete factor(s) contributes to an extraordinarily rapid change in evolution.
No, the bulk loaders were not with the cassettes however there are three of them and they are in a box along with the developing canisters and assorted developing related paraphernalia. There are two 100 ft rolls of Plus X 35mm film along with about 20 rolls of slide film still in my freezer. Once I get everything collected it will be put up for sale. Some local college students might find it of some use.

In his teachings, as well as his three volume set, The Camera, The Negative, The Print, Ansel Adams always stressed that a photographer should be skilled in the craft of taking pictures. He professed that to be a successful photographer you should be able to see/envision the shot before you take it. Then the process of employing your skills of craft in using your photo equipment would produce the image you had envisioned. Today with the digital format it seems that the focus has gotten away from the craft and instead concentrates on capturing information related to the subject, hence the popularity of shooting RAW, then using manipulative software to produce a useable image. Some photographers are quite creative in their interpretation of the subject matter which results in some highly processed images. Some folks just employ the machine gun method where they take a lot of photo’s hoping to get one or two good ones.

As far as instant review. Years ago I used a 4x5 view camera to take shots of an industrial model we were building for the nuclear industry to coincide with the actual construction of the facility. I first took the shot with a Polaroid back, reviewed the Polaroid film, then once I was sure of my settings and that the photo was properly composed I dropped a slide and took two images on film. At that time I did not have the luxury of stopping work on the model and waiting for the processed film to make sure I had the shot. That was about as instant as it got in the late 1970’s.

My first use of digital was 1991 and again it was business related. The camera was one of the first digital camera's sold by Central Camera in Chicago. Back then the camera did not have a rear screen to review the image but we could download them into a laptop and see if we had gotten the shot before we left the job site. We later converted those files to TIFF format and imported them into our CAD program and we drew on them. We called this Photo Drafting. Today, though I work in digital, I still try to envision the shot before tripping the shutter. That does not always work but at least I make the effort.

10-23-2014, 08:49 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by CWRailman Quote
. . . you should be able to see/envision the shot before you take it. Then the process of employing your skills of craft in using your photo equipment would produce the image you had envisioned. Today with the digital format it seems that the focus has gotten away from the craft and instead concentrates on capturing information related to the subject, hence the popularity of shooting RAW, then using manipulative software to produce a useable image.
To no small extent, constructive methods are derived from, and determined by, the technology available. I've always felt that while the intent of the image should be captured in-camera, the final expression of that intent was to be achieved in the darkroom. Even something as simple as choosing the optimum cropped composition from a square 6x6 cm negative.

The simple fact that today we shoot with a sensor (a negative) that allows more freedom in how it's "developed" and "printed" after the shot naturally leads to employing post processing tools that weren't available in the wet darkroom.

I've even known some to denigrate the use of a 'Polaroid-preview' as a corruption of the 'pure' photographic process. Heaven forbid someone should take advantage of a digital histogram preview.

Not to argue here, but just adding some random thoughts:

Have I abandoned the discipline of pre-defining an image because I substitute infinitely variable, digital filters for discrete glass filters so as to selectively control hue, gradient and density? Or have I wisely deferred the selection of the best filtration to a more efficient phase of producing the final image.

I can't help but imagine, for instance, that post processing HDR techniques are a direct substitute for an artist's inclination to express light and DR as it was envisioned rather than as it actually existed at some single instant in time. The same for stacking exposures or focus to achieve intent.

Should we applaud the old Masters who made many preliminary sketches before laying paint on canvas and who 'edited' their work during and after the original brush strokes but disrespect someone that selects the best of a dozen images and refines it in PP?

Adams himself was known to extensively work and re-work some negatives over months and years trying to achieve the image he envisioned. And who's to say he didn't attempt to improve on that original shot as time and new processing materials and skills allowed. Surely he would have embraced modern digital imaging tools as great improvements over the costly and time-consuming wet darkroom processes.

One day we may find it useful, if not actually necessary, to invent a new word for producing enhanced digital imagery simply to avoid the arguments about what's REAL photography.
10-24-2014, 02:06 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by pacerr Quote
To no small extent, constructive methods are derived from, and determined by, the technology available. I've always felt that while the intent of the image should be captured in-camera, the final expression of that intent was to be achieved in the darkroom. Even something as simple as choosing the optimum cropped composition from a square 6x6 cm negative.

The simple fact that today we shoot with a sensor (a negative) that allows more freedom in how it's "developed" and "printed" after the shot naturally leads to employing post processing tools that weren't available in the wet darkroom.

I've even known some to denigrate the use of a 'Polaroid-preview' as a corruption of the 'pure' photographic process. Heaven forbid someone should take advantage of a digital histogram preview.

Not to argue here, but just adding some random thoughts:

Have I abandoned the discipline of pre-defining an image because I substitute infinitely variable, digital filters for discrete glass filters so as to selectively control hue, gradient and density? Or have I wisely deferred the selection of the best filtration to a more efficient phase of producing the final image.

I can't help but imagine, for instance, that post processing HDR techniques are a direct substitute for an artist's inclination to express light and DR as it was envisioned rather than as it actually existed at some single instant in time. The same for stacking exposures or focus to achieve intent.

Should we applaud the old Masters who made many preliminary sketches before laying paint on canvas and who 'edited' their work during and after the original brush strokes but disrespect someone that selects the best of a dozen images and refines it in PP?

Adams himself was known to extensively work and re-work some negatives over months and years trying to achieve the image he envisioned. And who's to say he didn't attempt to improve on that original shot as time and new processing materials and skills allowed. Surely he would have embraced modern digital imaging tools as great improvements over the costly and time-consuming wet darkroom processes.

One day we may find it useful, if not actually necessary, to invent a new word for producing enhanced digital imagery simply to avoid the arguments about what's REAL photography.
Amen, it doesn't matter one iota how the image was achieved, the only thing that matters is the final image.
11-25-2015, 10:11 AM   #7
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Along the lines of my original post Valerie talks about seeing the image rather than taking the lucky shot, as she puts it, similar to what I was alluding to with my "Machine gun" concept that seems to be so prevalent in photography today.
11-25-2015, 04:07 PM   #8
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Many photos can be planned and executed. Some can only be captured by serendipity. Some can be caught with a precise shot timed just right, but a high frame rate improves keepers. I shoot high powered rockets ( in both senses of the word ) and even with a high frame rate luck needs to be on your side to capture lift off. Some rockets exceed 100g's. Blink and it is gone.

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