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09-17-2014, 04:27 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Your Evolution as a Photographer

So lately I have been thinking about where I began as a photographer and ultimately what I aspire to become. I would be curious, if you could describe your thought process at different stages of your photographic journey, what would it sound like? I will try to illustrate mine in "levels", starting from my first DSLR purchase a few years ago.

Level 1: See something cool, raise camera, snap picture.
Level 2: See something cool, think about settings and how they will affect the image, snap picture.
Level 3: Think about places to explore and find cool things to photograph.
Level 4: Looking a lot more at how the subject is lit and how the background affects the picture. Imagining how the subject would be lit at different times of the day or with different light sources/manipulators.
Level 5: Trying to combine special elements into one image. For instance, instead of a cool sunset, trying to bring additional interest to it. Thinking to myself, "Is this how the average person would photograph this object? If so, what can I do to make my photo more unique?"
Level 6: Not sure yet!

I know there are probably a ton more things I could have mentioned but that seems like a pretty good start to how my photographic thought process has evolved thus far.

How has your thinking evolved? What are you working on doing right now to make your photos better? I would love to hear what you guys think.


Last edited by vagabond79; 09-17-2014 at 05:14 PM.
09-17-2014, 05:01 PM   #2
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Somewhere there, maybe around level 3, you need to think about what focal length to use and what aperture would provide better image.
09-17-2014, 05:05 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Why not :
I started way back , 35mm 1980's .. Camera was a Ricoh KR10M , followed by a SF7 Pentax ... Most of my lenses back then were Ricoh + Tamron + SIgma ... ( And they all worked really well )
Unfortunately I got in just as the cost of 35mm was going up , so a lot of used gear was ending up in the pawn shops ...
I would have been Level 5 , making special trips to special places specifically to get great shots , and I was starting to entertain the idea of entering Photo Comps ( there were lots of those )
But the costs kept going up , especially with digital cameras and video cameras becoming ever cheaper .. Heck even we got a Mini VHS camcorder ... ( No developing )

Anyhow , 35mm was put away till the Corporations brought out the digital backs ( Never happened )

So until a year and a half back , I hadn't done any photography at all ..
So the last year and a half has been a catch up game ..
Pentax iSTD L was my first camera + buying some used budget priced Pentax lenses ..
Then came a iSTD , a K5 , K100 , K200 , K20D , K10D , K7 , K50 , so Im pretty much caught up now ...
Though Im still chasing a few lenses as by budget allows ..

My main interest used to be landscapes , with some minor interest in Macro .
With digital , my main interest has been macro with some minor interest in landscapes and general photography ...
Currently own
K10D
K200D
K20D x2
K5
K50
and a D3200
Yeah , probably more cameras than I need , but about what I want .. ( I don't like swapping lenses )






Two more recent pictures :
09-17-2014, 05:09 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by aleonx3 Quote
Somewhere there, maybe around level 3, you need to think about what focal length to use and what aperture would provide better image.
Yeah, I know there are a lot of things I skipped in there haha. It would be rather lengthy to write out everything!

09-17-2014, 05:13 PM   #5
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I guess that I'm around level 3/4 as I often study maps for places to shoot. I explore them and find viewpoints that like and analyse my images to see how they could have been better, then often return to reshoot my images. I find Flickr is a mine of information and inspiration for shots. I often like to limit my choice of lenses as it forces me to think so much more about composition (as well as lightening the load on my m/cycle).

A year of Photographic Studies at the local college has brought my photography on quite a lot.
09-17-2014, 05:13 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by old4570 Quote
Why not :
I started way back , 35mm 1980's .. Camera was a Ricoh KR10M , followed by a SF7 Pentax ... Most of my lenses back then were Ricoh + Tamron + SIgma ... ( And they all worked really well )
Unfortunately I got in just as the cost of 35mm was going up , so a lot of used gear was ending up in the pawn shops ...
I would have been Level 5 , making special trips to special places specifically to get great shots , and I was starting to entertain the idea of entering Photo Comps ( there were lots of those )
But the costs kept going up , especially with digital cameras and video cameras becoming ever cheaper .. Heck even we got a Mini VHS camcorder ... ( No developing )

Anyhow , 35mm was put away till the Corporations brought out the digital backs ( Never happened )

So until a year and a half back , I hadn't done any photography at all ..
So the last year and a half has been a catch up game ..
Pentax iSTD L was my first camera + buying some used budget priced Pentax lenses ..
Then came a iSTD , a K5 , K100 , K200 , K20D , K10D , K7 , K50 , so Im pretty much caught up now ...
Though Im still chasing a few lenses as by budget allows ..

My main interest used to be landscapes , with some minor interest in Macro .
With digital , my main interest has been macro with some minor interest in landscapes and general photography ...
Currently own
K10D
K200D
K20D x2
K5
K50
and a D3200
Yeah , probably more cameras than I need , but about what I want .. ( I don't like swapping lenses )






Two more recent pictures :
old4570,

I have seen some of your posts in the macro forum as well. I really like your images.

So how has your macro photography evolved? What sort of stuff do you do now to get better images than when you were early in the game? What mistakes did you used to make? Etc.

Cheers.

---------- Post added 09-17-14 at 08:18 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Trawlerman Quote
I guess that I'm around level 3/4 as I often study maps for places to shoot. I explore them and find viewpoints that like and analyse my images to see how they could have been better, then often return to reshoot my images. I find Flickr is a mine of information and inspiration for shots. I often like to limit my choice of lenses as it forces me to think so much more about composition (as well as lightening the load on my m/cycle).

A year of Photographic Studies at the local college has brought my photography on quite a lot.
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.
09-17-2014, 05:28 PM   #7
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I think at about level 4, 5 and 6, I started to look at other people's photos... and starting to weed out the good from the bad, and then try to improve even if it is already good enough... and develop some sense of style or preference that I would like....(for example, moderate HDR is good but I would not do some heavy HDR). I am also learning more about post processing as well; even at level 4, 5 or 6 as you indicated, there is still lots of room to grow.

---------- Post added 09-17-2014 at 08:38 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by old4570 Quote
Why not :


Two more recent pictures :
Those are nice macros shots... I have not explored too much into that territory (partly because I don't like to get too close to the critters). One aspect of taking photos that I want to strive for is realism (what you see is what you get). I have to ask you if it is by design you kill the background (make it so dark) to make your macro subject stands out? Since you already give me the setting, and knowing the result of the flash would be, I wonder what would be like if you ease on your aperture and allow more ambient light to come in; perhaps you may get different results, just curious.

Last edited by aleonx3; 09-17-2014 at 05:39 PM.
09-17-2014, 05:56 PM   #8
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I would say I'm somewhere between level 2 and 3. I have only had my DSLR since May and since I started doing the Single Challenge here I find that I tend to tote it around where ever I go. As I drive around at work I'm constantly now evaluating the view out the windows of the car for things to shoot. More than once I've either stopped and shot, turned around and shot or if I don't have time came back to shoot something. On the weekends when I don't have anything going on I look online for nearby places and things that may be interesting to shoot. The very first weekend I had my K200D I took it to a local county historical society museum just because I thought they might have cool things to photograph. I didn't even know how to use most of the settings at that time. Now that I do and have a couple of faster primes I need to go back there.

09-17-2014, 06:17 PM   #9
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Nice idea for a thread.

After many decades, employers, and tools the journey continues. Adding onto your list a ways down. I'd say that taking the picture and processing it correctly are only parts of the whole process of photography.

For me what matters

- Developing an assignment for yourself to sell, and deciding what the intended audience would like to see.
- Shooting a series of related shots to better communicate a story
- Shooting to create a new section of your portfolio
- Objectively editing your portfolio
- Finding and analyzing threads of similar shots taken over your lifetime and seeing if you are going in circles
- Objectively selecting shots for a personal retrospective if you are ever asked to organize one
- See something cool, raise camera, snap picture.

M
09-17-2014, 06:26 PM   #10
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Vagabond79, interesting question and observations. I enjoyed reading the others. I've been through all five levels, and depending on my situation may find myself operating at any one of them.

Perhaps Level 6 could be simply, "Tell a story." Miguel mentions that concept. The camera is just a tool to tell a story. In other words, progress beyond needing to think much about the tool and be able to just use the tool for an end purpose. If that is level 6, then I don't think I'm quite there yet, but I think about it and try. That's after over 50 years of taking pictures sporadically (started with a 1930s-vintage box camera & 120 film around 1960). So, I'm a slow learner... Also, I'm an engineer - a "tecchie" - so really tend to get caught up in the tool itself. In a sense, to me the tool is its own reward, and that hampers my ability to focus on the art of photography.

-Joe-
09-17-2014, 07:05 PM   #11
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
Nice idea for a thread.

After many decades, employers, and tools the journey continues. Adding onto your list a ways down. I'd say that taking the picture and processing it correctly are only parts of the whole process of photography.

For me what matters

- Developing an assignment for yourself to sell, and deciding what the intended audience would like to see.
- Shooting a series of related shots to better communicate a story
- Shooting to create a new section of your portfolio
- Objectively editing your portfolio
- Finding and analyzing threads of similar shots taken over your lifetime and seeing if you are going in circles
- Objectively selecting shots for a personal retrospective if you are ever asked to organize one
- See something cool, raise camera, snap picture.

M
Thank you, those are some great things to aspire to. Now I just have to figure out HOW to do them...

---------- Post added 09-17-14 at 10:08 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by k0og Quote
Also, I'm an engineer - a "tecchie" - so really tend to get caught up in the tool itself. In a sense, to me the tool is its own reward, and that hampers my ability to focus on the art of photography.

-Joe-
I also consider myself to be a left brain thinker. But that is one of the things that appeals to me about photography -- it challenges and develops my right brain. I think because of this I find it very rewarding and fun.
09-17-2014, 07:41 PM   #12
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Ok

QuoteOriginally posted by vagabond79 Quote
old4570,

I have seen some of your posts in the macro forum as well. I really like your images.

So how has your macro photography evolved? What sort of stuff do you do now to get better images than when you were early in the game? What mistakes did you used to make? Etc.

Cheers.
Ok .. I started slowly , I did one thing at a time , Aperture / ISO / and shutter speed ...
Only after I fully understood , the relationship and needs for macro did I move onto using a flash ...
About this time , I started collecting Macro lenses .. And as I used better gear my photos got substantially better - which also brought along greater understanding .
And every so often I would re-visit the gear used earlier to see what sort of pictures I could take ...
And it was some what of a revelation to see how good the shots were ( using the cheap gear ) after having some Macro miles under my belt .
So the bottom line is as simple as understanding the basic's , and practice , practice some more .. You never stop learning ..
I would have taken thousands and thousand of pictures in the last 12 months , something not possible in the 35mm days .



K100D Super
Sigma 28-90 1:2.8 So called Macro lens
+ 4 close focus filter

That K100D super got a lot of use , it was my practice camera ( I actually had a dedicated practice camera , well 3 actually , Both iSTD cameras and the K100D , all sold now )
If you used the K100D properly , it could take amazing pictures ..
I have been some what lucky picking up used gear at reasonable prices , otherwise I would have got no where near as many shutter actuations under my belt .
So anyone starting out , yeah buy a practice camera ( Cheap ) and don't be afraid of clocking up a serious shutter count ..
Its only by taking photos , then looking at the results that you can see what is going on .. For that , digital rules supreme .. Im still amazed that some camera courses here ( Local - Melbourne - Australia ) specify 35mm cameras to be used for the course .. I think this is seriously antiquated thinking and slows down the learning process monumentally and drives up the expense of learning ..
All it cost me was the price of electricity to recharge my Nimh batteries ... ( And I had nothing better to do anyways - so learning a new skill = priceless )

Changes over time =

Probably the use of better more dedicated gear ...

Mistakes = Probably all of them at one time or another ...
What's important is to recognise the mistake , then find a way to correct it ...

Early to now :

The secret to Macro is LIGHT ! , you need to make sure you have enough off it ..
Be you shooting natural light , or with a flash ...
The rest is the basic photography rules .. But you do need to learn the relationship between light and the rest as its just so much more critical in macro ..
Also what sort of Macro ?
I see a lot of shallow depth of focus shots , but the colours , and the layout of the picture work .
My photography is more subject focused , and I want the entire subject in Focus , so over all the entire photo may be less appealing . even though the subject is razor sharp .

And the location where you are taking photos , may be very limited ( Angles - the amount of time you have ) , especially with say bees ( I do like bees ) as the window of opportunity may be very short .
I often find that with bees I have less than 5 seconds to get the shot , that's not a lot of time to get creative . Its more like shoot and shoot some more and your lucky if you score a good photo .
You may have lots of bees in focus , but the light might be bad , the angle is bad , etc ..
So in that regard my gear has evolved for the fast macro shot , and to maximize opportunity . This is all very individual , and is something folks have to develop for themselves .

Last edited by old4570; 09-17-2014 at 08:03 PM.
09-17-2014, 07:58 PM - 1 Like   #13
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I was really lucky to do a project on flickr - 365 days of self-portraits - right after I bought my first DSLR. There were some amazingly talented people doing the same project, and I learned so much from doing themed shots or special challenges within the project. Nearly always, the shot I pictured in my head was far beyond my technical skills, but I wanted to post something every day that I could be proud of so I plugged away.

Now it takes me far fewer shots to get what I want, but I often think that I was a bit more creative when I didn't know what the camera could (and couldn't) do. So evolutionarily, I think I'm more technically proficient but creatively deficient. Or maybe the deficiency is just having two young children vying for my attention at all hours...ah, the halcyon days of youth when the bag held only a camera and lens, and not diapers and pacifiers!

I don't know what my end game is. I need to learn studio lighting, but it feels like taking a required subject in school and I have no passion for it.
09-17-2014, 08:18 PM - 1 Like   #14
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I have no idea where I stand in that "evolution" but there is something I am sure of: I am not much better a photographer than I was some years back!

I assume I am one of the "older" guys around here, and here is the evolutionary story:
  • 1970's ... Pentax "Spotmatic" something (or maybe something else) with a 50mm lens; all manual everything. Remembering my first photography course: took some shots in the nearby bush with a sun light through trees!
  • 1970's still ... my own very first camera: Pentax K1000
  • 1977 ... Pentax ME, Me Super, MX .... started to look like a Pro!! ((Joke)). But could at least "think" before snapping away ... film was very expensive then.
  • early '80's (maybe?) ... MZ6 with a goofy Sigma zoom lens .... deteriorating results and lack of confidence in the overall "picture"
  • 1984 to 1988 ... Almost quit altogether at photography. By that time, I was quite "busy" with trying to make ends meet.
  • Followed by a quick and disastrous try into "other brands" with lesser cameras (point and shoot)
  • Resurrection period: Sony, Canon digital P&S cam's ... was dearly missing the "reach" that the oldies provided back in the 70's and 80's. hat made me think that I "needed" one of those big SLR's (again)!! I thought for sure that the better gear would make me a better "shooter" !!
  • The digital age of the D-SLR's: coming back to Pentax with the K10D, followed with the K20D, K7 and now the K5 ... with too many lenses.

All during that time I went form really trying to be "artistic" to "technical" ... that didn't make much difference actually. I should have gone back to photography school!
I tested the waters with landscapes, portraiture, wildlife and ended liking to "get out there" more than inside .... end result: most of my stuff is now outside with a telephoto lens. I occasionally take "the other lenses" out but because I am now rather lazy ... I got me one of those smaller mirrorless cam's to tag along with the K5 - DA*300/4 gear.

End results? ... not quite what I'd like them to be, of course. Tell me of one single photographer who is satisfied with his/her results 100% of the time?
Not a pro, not a beginner .... I pretty much stayed in the middle for the past 40+ years!!

End of the homily!

Cheers!
09-17-2014, 08:19 PM   #15
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Sometimes I'm operating on one of those numbered levels. Sometimes I'm just a camera collector trying to make good use of my investment.
I work to improve my technical ability to operate the camera. Any "artistic" portion contributed to my photography is either natural ability that I don't realize I have, or dumb luck. I can't tell the difference. I figure if I keep working toward being the best camera operator I can be, any artistic talent I have will find room to grow. Tonight, it was street photography with a 70 year old medium-format range-finder, at night with only available light, with Velvia 50 and a hand-held light meter. I was far more concerned with getting proper exposure than how well the set-up for the shot worked out. If I DID get good exposure on some of those shots, maybe some latent artistic talent will shine through in my choice of location and subject. Maybe I am pushing myself on an artistic level, but my engineer-brain thinks in terms of pushing myself into more difficult situations to perfect the craft, not the art.
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