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09-17-2014, 09:34 PM   #16
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I'd become interested in photography at an early age; saving up my allowance and purchasing a Mamiya 1000DTL. Oh, how I wish I had that one back! (I think I'm good; I have three counting the one I just got back from repair, a black DTL1000 with a fritzy meter and my camera guy thought I was nuts getting it CLA'd for far more than I paid for it) My next camera was a Canon A-1 only because the PX in Nuernberg West Germany didn't sell Pentax. It took me almost 40 years to get my first Pentax! I'm not a technical person by trade but I tend to get caught up in the technical in that using the camera is almost as much fun as taking good photos. Needless to say I have WAY more than I need but....what's need got to do with anything?

I too have found myself progressing from level one to six and while I recognize no professional need fear my abilities I have fun with it. The photos I take please me and that's enough!

09-18-2014, 07:00 AM - 1 Like   #17
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It's interesting how some folks define their personal "evolution" as a photographer in terms of equipment. I'd suggest an exercise in not doing that for a month and see what happens. Your gear, including brand and technical capabilities, have little to do with photography and even less to do with your self-identity.

A friend of mine is a highly skilled fine woodworker. His stuff ends up in art galleries. In addition to functional things like tables, he also restores dashboards and trim in classic and antique European sports cars, so visiting his amazing shop is like stepping onto a movie set. We've been banging our heads together trying to come up with some way to collaborate on a fine art show. During this process I essentially posed the same question as this thread has but substituted fine woodworker or artist instead of "photographer." His answers weren't about his saws, routers, and dust removal system but rather how he overcame challenges of the environment presented by clients (and the clients themselves, but ugggghhh), or the process of extracting a core amount of spectacular lumber from a special tree, or a special finish he developed that imparted a particular look (sounds like post processing to me). My point is that he is focused on the context of the problem to solve and the actual content of the solution.

That seems like a creatively more sustainable approach to me.

M
09-18-2014, 07:55 AM   #18
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1. Camera, yeah! The REAL camera! Ok, here is the manual.. hm, too much to read, but I here is auto. Click-click- cool! Kitty-kitty, come here... Darling, one more shot, you love me, right? I need practice.

2. That stupid flash pops up all the time, hate it. Manual? Oh, yes. All real photographers shoot in manual. Let's see. What the heck is metering...

3. Lightroom is on sale! I need it. What is all that crap for?! DPP is easy.

4. Crap, crap, crap... All my shots are crap! I will never get any better.

5. Read the manual, idiot, read it, read...

6. OMG, I can put old lenses on camera! Helios, I miss Helios! But wait, to spoil my precious brand new Canon with adapter? No way, I need another camera. Hello, Pentax forums

7. Here we are again- another manual. In Polish. No prob, English version in online. What are all those spots on pictures? Dirty sensor? Where is sensor?

8. Crap, crap.... oh, this one is not that bad.

9. Finally! I started enjoying taking a bit control over the camera. But the more I learn- the less I know. Whatever. It supposed to be a fun, remember? Go and have fun.
09-18-2014, 08:34 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
It's interesting how some folks define their personal "evolution" as a photographer in terms of equipment. I'd suggest an exercise in not doing that for a month and see what happens. Your gear, including brand and technical capabilities, have little to do with photography and even less to do with your self-identity.
I also found that interesting. I guess I expected people to discuss how they grew as artists and how their thought processes developed as such. But hey, everyone takes pictures for different reasons. I just want to keep growing and challenging myself to get better.

09-18-2014, 09:11 AM   #20
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I think my evolution has been a roller coaster. Granted, my first camera was a 126 point and shoot when I was 7(?). I took pictures of stuffed animals and card houses and cities I built out of legos. But I posed some of my stuffed animals!

When I was around 11, I purchased a K1000 with paper route money. I had 3 lenses, the k50 f2 it came with, a 28mm and some form of inexpensive telephoto zoom. I bought iso 400 film and pushed it to iso 800. I shot everything at f2.8 (or f6.3 probably in case of the tele zoom). I learned how to use the shutter speed and aperture to get the needle as close to the middle of the exposure box as possible. I shot some slides too and remember reading about over exposing for negatives and underexposing for slides (or vice versa?), so I experimented with that. However, that was about as techie as I got because I was using a manual camera and manual lenses on a starving artist budget (I was a radio personality for several years after getting a broadcast journalism degree).

I think I've always been more concerned with subject and creating "Wow" photos, then what equipment I used until I settled into my latest career track and started having more disposable income. In 2004 I tried converting a lot of my negatives to digital, and started my first website presence. I actually sold a dozen images over the next couple years so that was enough to convince myself I needed to "up my game" and buy a DSLR.

My first DSLR camera kit was a K10, a Sigma 17-70, DA 50-200 and Sigma 10-20. Suddenly I was obsessed with DOF and FOV and "exposing to the right" and diffraction and MTF Charts. I was inundated with post processing techniques. I think for a couple years I lost sight of creating an image and my photography suffered. I also started submitting my photos for review/publication and was rejected right and left. Critiques were brutal, I mean downright time to consider any other hobby brutal and I considered giving up photography. I was no longer happy with taking photos for me, I wanted external validation as an artist.

In the last couple years, I have again started taking pictures for me, to some degree, but I still struggle daily with the need for external validation (ie sales), because I want to be more than just another person with a digital camera who is hawking their stuff on the internet just because they can. I suck at marketing myself, so I'll probably be limited to the 5-10 "accidental" sales a year. Do I look at the photos of my idols and wish I could be like them? Yes, but I also realize I can't or don't have the desire to hike 50 miles one way to sleep in a tent in freezing rain for 3 days to wait for that 5 minutes of sunbreak to get that 1 image. I don't have the freedom to return to one spot for 8 straight years at 505p on June 19th to take 10000 images to get that 1 image.

So I do the best I can given the limitations of my life (ie no one is paying me to take pics), but I still try to capture those "Wow" moments. I've overcome the learning curve of all the moving dials and menu options, so it's back to see a pic, take a pic because I instinctively know what I want to shoot at. I prefer zooms because I can experiment with composition a lot easier while I'm "In the moment", looking through my viewfinder, but that's part of "my style".

That's where I'm at now as a photographer. After 35 years, I believe I HAVE a "style". I know what I want a photo to look like after all the PP BEFORE I even click the shutter. In the last year or so, photography has become fun again as I learn to accept my limitations. Do I still download all my photos from a weekend trip and think, "God, I suck" and have the urge to delete the entire memory card? Yes. But I also chuckle when I look at some of the photos I took in 2006 or even 2010 and think "God, I really DID suck, how did I manage to sell anything?"

My evolution as a photographer is that I have gone from thinking "I want to be a great photographer" to "I have come to accept I'll never be as good as I want to be, but hopefully everyday I get a little better." And every once in a while "A blind squirrel finds a nut" and I DO capture that "Wow" photo...lol

Last edited by nomadkng; 09-18-2014 at 09:19 AM.
09-18-2014, 09:37 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by nomadkng Quote
Do I still download all my photos from a weekend trip and think, "God, I suck" and have the urge to delete the entire memory card? Yes. But I also chuckle when I look at some of the photos I took in 2006 or even 2010 and think "God, I really DID suck, how did I manage to sell anything?"

My evolution as a photographer is that I have gone from thinking "I want to be a great photographer" to "I have come to accept I'll never be as good as I want to be, but hopefully everyday I get a little better." And every once in a while "A blind squirrel finds a nut" and I DO capture that "Wow" photo...lol
I think you are being a bit hard on yourself. You have some really nice landscape shots on your website.

However, I know the feeling of browsing through RAW files and wondering, "why didn't I do this or that better?"

I think my biggest motivator right now is to TRY and be more unique and creative with my photography even though I am such a concrete thinker by nature. Gives me something to strive for. I find it very rewarding when I do see myself being more creative and taking a shot that most people wouldn't see.
09-18-2014, 10:14 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by vagabond79 Quote
Very interesting. I'm curious, what sorts of topics have you covered in your formal photography education?

I have also been studying images a lot on flickr and other sites recently. It's fun to look up certain types of images (e.g. airplanes) and try to figure out what is so neat about them; what makes them special.


Well, my formal formal studies were in Photojournalism as my tutor does that for a living, Studio Lighting and Flash Photography, Portraiture, Product Photography, Colour Theory, Street Photography and we studied well known photographers from different fields depending on our week-to-week work.

Here's one of my early Product photography shots .........



This is something that I would never have attempted previously. Although I have been a photographer for 25 years (starting with 35mm of course) the formal training gave me a lot of skill that I may not have picked up otherwise.
09-18-2014, 12:20 PM   #23
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Interesting thread. I don't think I can rate myself any higher than a 1 or a 2, but I'd like to grow out of that.

QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
It's interesting how some folks define their personal "evolution" as a photographer in terms of equipment
I know what you mean. I think to some degree we have to get familiar with our equipment enough to do what we set out to do, but then shift focus on the task, and how to use light, imagination, color, composition, etc. I'd like to learn more about that.

09-18-2014, 05:13 PM   #24
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Hmmmmm

QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
It's interesting how some folks define their personal "evolution" as a photographer in terms of equipment. I'd suggest an exercise in not doing that for a month and see what happens. Your gear, including brand and technical capabilities, have little to do with photography and even less to do with your self-identity.

A friend of mine is a highly skilled fine woodworker. His stuff ends up in art galleries. In addition to functional things like tables, he also restores dashboards and trim in classic and antique European sports cars, so visiting his amazing shop is like stepping onto a movie set. We've been banging our heads together trying to come up with some way to collaborate on a fine art show. During this process I essentially posed the same question as this thread has but substituted fine woodworker or artist instead of "photographer." His answers weren't about his saws, routers, and dust removal system but rather how he overcame challenges of the environment presented by clients (and the clients themselves, but ugggghhh), or the process of extracting a core amount of spectacular lumber from a special tree, or a special finish he developed that imparted a particular look (sounds like post processing to me). My point is that he is focused on the context of the problem to solve and the actual content of the solution.

That seems like a creatively more sustainable approach to me.

M
Hmmm interesting .. I find myself in this category as that is how it went :

I started at the bottom ( Cheap ) so rather than investing in top of the line , I went as low as I could ..
I pushed and pushed that cheap gear as far as I could , when I stopped making meaningful gains I used better gear .. That I could push to the next level ( Next skill level ) , and when I stopped making gains I moved to better gear again .
Every now and again I would re-visit the gear I started with to see if I could push it a little further than before ( Take better pictures ) ..

For me , the evolution of skill is marked by the equipment I used .. I started at the bottom and worked my way up .. I still don't think I am anywhere near the top of the equipment ladder , maybe some where in the middle .. Obviously the easy way is to buy the best you can afford , then build your skills to where you can utilize the equipment ... But I chose the hard way , to learn more than just taking a photo , also how equipment factors into the equation . This is obviously a step many people would chose to avoid , but I had some 20 years of Pentax equipment to catch up on , so there is that killing two birds with one stone thing ...

Now I have practical experience with Pentax Bodies from the istD to the K50 ( A few small gaps - K/mrx series ) as well quite a few lenses ... Which on occasion my give me the right to voice an opinion based on actual use .
And lets not forget , some people are equipment people , simply by their DNA sequence , its not their fault . They enjoy photography and love the equipment , while others love photography and enjoy the equipment ...

Potato / Potato ...
09-27-2014, 11:19 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
It's interesting how some folks define their personal "evolution" as a photographer in terms of equipment. I'd suggest an exercise in not doing that for a month and see what happens. Your gear, including brand and technical capabilities, have little to do with photography and even less to do with your self-identity.
To an extent, but obviously, there are things you just cannot do with basic gear. Want to do cool perspective shots and play with bokeh? The kit lens just won't do that no matter how hard you try. 35mm at f/4 just won't cut it.

I'd say that evolution as a photographer does mirror your evolution of gear but not in the way you might think (at least if it's done right). The bad way is to think, "Oh, this lens will make me a better/more serious photographer." The good way is to think, "I want to do X. To do that, I need Y." The ability to identify the gear necessary to do certain techniques and desire to learn how to take those shots is part of the evolving process.

For me, the evolution has gone something like:
Level 1: I want good quality photos of places I have visited
Level 2: I want really good quality photos of places I have visited
Level 3: I want to make the photos of cool places even cooler
Level 4: I want to be able to make awesome photos of awesome places under difficult or less-than-optimal conditions

From there, it's filling in the techniques required to accomplish that. You learn by doing. You can't learn about bokeh by looking at other people's photos and reading stuff on the internet. You need to get a lens that will open up that capability and try it out. You don't learn much about camera shake until you have a long lens that makes it really visible. You don't learn about precise focusing until you stop shooting at f/8 all the time. If all you have is an f/4 lens, you may not want to shoot below f/5.6 because the pictures just don't look so hot.

For me, it's been learning what works and what doesn't work in certain situations. That's led me to plug the holes in my equipment. If you have the ability to put your camera on a tripod or come back at a different time of day, then you can skip a lot of the fancy gear. Unfortunately, it's not always practical (or allowed) to use a tripod. For example, I highly considered the FA31 before opting for the Sigma 18-35. In the end, I think I made the right decision because the flexibility of the zoom is often necessary. If you're in a museum, for instance, you can try to backup to get everything you want in the FA31's FoV, but chances are better than not 50 people are going to come between your camera and the target, where as if you can shoot at 20mm, you can move a lot closer. If I were a pro with a press pass and could get the museum emptied for me, then the FA31 would work. But I can't and so it doesn't. That's an example of where gear plays an important role in the amateur/tourist's life.

One can certainly take bad photos with great gear. One can take good photos with poor gear--looking at people's iPhone photos on Facebook can be painful to me, as really basic things like framing, perspective, can be done with any camera. But it is also true that you need exceptional gear to take exceptional photos. Having gear that you can't yet fully maximize gives you the opportunity to grow. That's what evolving as a photographer is all about.

Last edited by MadMathMind; 09-27-2014 at 11:26 AM.
09-27-2014, 11:46 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
But it is also true that you need exceptional gear to take exceptional photos.
Everything else you said was good and level-headed, except for this.
Come now, exceptional photos are created on a regular basis with pedestrian, unexceptional gear, so your blanket pronouncement is just silly.

M
09-27-2014, 12:30 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
Everything else you said was good and level-headed, except for this.
Come now, exceptional photos are created on a regular basis with pedestrian, unexceptional gear, so your blanket pronouncement is just silly.

M
I think I meant that you have to get exceptionally lucky if you are using only basic gear. Some really famous photos were shot with less than optimal stuff, of course. I'm thinking of Tank Man. The guy who shot that borrowed the film from someone who had just whatever lying around. In the end, the photo is grainy, not sharp, and yet is one of the most striking photos taken in this half of the 20th century. But that has a lot to do with the emotion of the moment captured; no gear is going to affect that aspect of a photo.
09-27-2014, 03:17 PM   #28
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Originally posted by Miguel It's interesting how some folks define their personal "evolution" as a photographer in terms of equipment

Imagine that your friend worked at first just with a knife before finding out, that there is much more equipment preferable for his needings. i think his personal evolution, would although be like "Woa! and then i discovered an bandsaw and sterling hammer."


My evolution took a bit diffrent path.

for about 5 years I bought the pentax k-x, and first thing I did, was turning it to Manual mode. Next two years i Shot everithing that moves in Manual, and things that didnīt move i moved by myself, and shot them although. in that time i didnīt apply the PP at all, so I tried to catch really the final image that i wanted. It really helped me with the composition and estimating the light, and there are still some shots that i find more then pleasant to look at, even if they are not "perfect".

Next step was an old 50mm Helios, from my fathers Zenit 12, and the PP boom. Mith manual lense came the metering, and really narrow DOF. Although I began to study architecture in the university, and one of the topics was PP and creating the new worlds. In that time i learned many kinds and styles of PP and photography. but mainly i tried to shoot right. what perfect macro looks like, what right panorama looks like, the right portrait, right HDR.

and now... Iīm breaking the rules. The thing that I missed is that, all good photografs, arenīt shooting right. they are shooting their own stile, their own stories, their own light, their own PP. Working out own stile, learning telling the stories.

because i learned to composite my pictures preatty early, it was preatty convinient for me - So every time a big breakthrough for my evolution was an increas in the IQ.
My big dissapointment was for about three month - I was able to compare a K-3 with my k-x. And I wansīt able to get more IQ out of it. Maybe 10% more sharpness, but thats all. And the colors where even on the K-x a bit better. Surely, metering, handling, WB, everithing is much easier to handle, Iīm working with K-3 three times as fast, as with my K-x.
So now Iīm searching for what did I miss. I didnīt have the best lenses - adaptall Tamron 28mm f2.8, old pentax A 28mm 2.8., pentax smc FA 50mm 1.4 - obviously they donīt have the quality as the limited edition lenses, but still just 10%?!
09-27-2014, 03:45 PM   #29
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I am just to the right of the hunch-backed primate on the evolutionary chart. I shoot in P if I can, other modes when I (rarely) see a need, and M when I have to (the 17mm TS). Never manual focus - except the 17 TS and 90 when shooting macro. Have a FF body only because it gives another AOV for the expensive 17mm TS. Never use the word "bokeh" or "render".

Last edited by SpecialK; 09-27-2014 at 06:19 PM.
09-27-2014, 04:00 PM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
I think I meant that you have to get exceptionally lucky if you are using only basic gear.
That's a saner walkback, thank you, but I think we differ on the amount of luck that contributes to "exceptional" results. I'm not talking about famous shots, just attention-grabbing images that one has to respect. In my 40 years+ of shooting I'd say that luck is about 30% of everything. From my own experience this includes commercially published work and fine art showings. You being at the right place at the right time with any camera; a bird, person, sunray, interrupting the frame just as you press the shutter and for the better, most photographers should know what I mean here.

On a daily basis I subscribe to multiple streams of new images. Some of them are shooters' streams showing off greats shots taken with great gear, but another couple of the streams are contributions from essentially snapshooters who congeal around specific content or a locality. They use smart phones, bridge cameras, maybe kit lenses on a DSLR. Everyday at least one image will grab my eyeballs; I'll look at the EXIF data and see if it's enlightening. Often the data is lacking and I'll just write the photographer because I'm curious how the shot happened and the photographer's intentions and all that. At least 30% of the time the response is, "I got lucky."

That's the great thing about photography.

M
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