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07-02-2018, 10:43 AM - 1 Like   #31
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QuoteOriginally posted by tvdtvdtvd Quote
solar prints using organic pigments like turmeric and beet juice.
Wow, this gives whole new meaning to the concept of "food photography"!

07-02-2018, 11:44 AM - 4 Likes   #32
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QuoteOriginally posted by tvdtvdtvd Quote
My point to what I said above is that you shouldn't feel obligated to extract magic from your gear.
Follow whatever impulse is driving you at the moment. If that means putting down the big DSLR and heavy lens in favor
of a point & shoot or even a watercolor brush, so be it. The DSLR will be waiting for you when a genuine impulse to use
it returns.
I completely agree!

Some people are driven and constantly strive to push their equipment and skills to the maximum in order to create outstanding photography, post incredible photos here and elsewhere, and create huge prints for their walls. That's great! At the other end of the scale are those who capture random snapshots in Auto mode with a kit lens and never post or print a single photo. That's fine too. And then there are those of us who are somewhere between those extremes, or bounce back and forth between various limits as the mood and inspiration takes us (or not, as the case may be). And the thing is, it's all good - especially where amateur photography is concerned. It's all about enjoyment.

Of course, I'd recommend everyone should try to learn new skills and techniques at least occasionally, and achieve new things, as it can be extremely satisfying - and that in itself can be inspirational... but only if you're having fun doing so. Otherwise, just take it slow, enjoy what you already know, or take a little break until the desire and inspiration returns. There's no need to keep up with anyone else, or to feel like you should be doing what they do.

I think I'm the photographic equivalent of a manic depressive, as I go through massive swings of activity and inactivity with all aspects of my photographic hobby. Right now, I'm pretty active - but occasionally I'll take a break, and my only involvement might be monitoring these forums. I'm good with that

Last edited by BigMackCam; 07-02-2018 at 04:28 PM.
07-02-2018, 12:09 PM - 5 Likes   #33
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QuoteOriginally posted by Thagomizer Quote
The eyes and imagination you bring to your subject are more important than the gear.
Like all old saws, this is true to a point, but if one works hard enough at any avocation, then he or she will reach a point where gear does become a limiting factor. At some point, a person will squeeze all the juice that can be had out of a particular kit, and will either stagnate or will find something else, something better, that allows the next steps to be taken.

Using the film example, there is only so much quality that a 35mm negative can give. Once one has taken everything they can from that format, it's either settle into a stagnation where growth ends, or it's move on to something that will allow growth.
In my example, 35mm was only able to carry me so far down the creative path that I was on. When I reached the end of where that format could take me, I was left with the choice of stagnating or allowing my creativity to bloom with a different and better kit more suited to where I was going.
The kit I started with became a millstone, and new gear became very important.

The problem with the old imagination trumps gear horse is that it often doesn't recognize that gear can become very important. Too many people fail to recognize the importance of good or even great gear and what it can bring to the table by getting stuck in a mindset that if their pictures aren't good enough, it's their fault, not their gear's fault. Failing to recognize that one has outgrown their gear is more hobbling than buying new and improved in the hopes it will automatically make one better.

Here's another example of gear being as important as vision. My other hobby, the one that replaced the darkroom, is carpentry. I make little jewelry boxes for fun and to occupy my hands. As I spent many years in the construction trades I own some pretty good quality power tools that are well suited to home construction and renovation.
My jobsite table saw in particular is very decent quality, and light enough to be tossed into the back of my truck.
As it is what I had, I decided to make a jig that would mount on it for making finger joints, which is the joint type I am favouring at the moment. At some point I will probably start doing hand cut dovetails, but for now I am using a more simple type of joint.
My very good jobsite saw turned out to be pretty useless for making good finger joints. It's too light and it vibrates. This causes the sockets to be very slightly different depths, making tight joints impossible to achieve.
All of a sudden my "kit" wasn't good enough, so I bought a 300 pound hybrid cabinet saw, and just like that, my finger joints got good.

I could have stuck with the tool that wasn't good enough and continued to beat myself up trying to make it do something it couldn't do, but I recognized that I was asking it to perform outside of it's performance envelope, and that new "kit" was called for.
Just like when I was shooting 35mm and came to the conclusion that my vision required a better camera, I recognized that my carpentry required a better saw.

Don't get too tied to the idea that it's all about vision. Absolutely vision is important, but this is a technical game, and in technical games, equipment is also important.
Recognizing when one has hit the wall regarding equipment capabilities is as important as the vision and imagination that one brings to the table of creativity.
07-02-2018, 12:34 PM - 4 Likes   #34
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
The problem with the old imagination trumps gear horse is that it often doesn't recognize that gear can become very important. Too many people fail to recognize the importance of good or even great gear and what it can bring to the table by getting stuck in a mindset that if their pictures aren't good enough, it's their fault, not their gear's fault. Failing to recognize that one has outgrown their gear is more hobbling than buying new and improved in the hopes it will automatically make one better.
I wouldn't disagree that equipment can become very important... for sure, it can ultimately make or break one's ability to achieve certain things, particularly in more specialised disciplines and situations. But I'd also like to bet that of all the photographers on these and other forums, the number that are truly limited by their kit (assuming they own a reasonably modern camera and a few half decent lenses) - is considerably smaller than those that are limited by their skills, knowledge, and/or the amount of work they're prepared to put in to get "that shot" (which is more difficult to admit - at least to begin with ).

You point out that, sometimes, people blame themselves when in fact they've reached one or more limits of their equipment... I'm sure that happens, but I'd like to think most people reaching those equipment limits would be savvy enough to realise they're not at fault. I'd further bet (based not on hard evidence, but merely a strong hunch from the posts I read) that a much greater number are convinced that better equipment will automatically make them better photographers, when learning a new skill or three could improve their photography far more

For many of us - I'd suggest, perhaps, the majority of us - here, great equipment is (in my opinion) less important than great skills. Of course, for those that can really and truly claim the latter, great equipment can - as you rightly imply - make all the difference


Last edited by BigMackCam; 07-02-2018 at 01:03 PM.
07-02-2018, 01:18 PM - 3 Likes   #35
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
My advice, if you are feeling jaded, is to make a conscious effort to stop looking at pictures on the web, and stop looking at your own pictures at web resolution.
Make some prints instead. Make some big ones and hang them on the wall.
That will tell you where your game is at.
just taken a snippet to represent the whole post - great stuff - thank you. I know I'm capable of great pics - I've taken some pretty good ones already, I'm just looking to get it over the line again, but missing the drive right now and looking for hat it takes to motivate myself. That's good advice.
07-02-2018, 01:30 PM - 5 Likes   #36
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QuoteOriginally posted by ffking Quote
I don't know if I'm just going through and end of mid life crisis, whether it's just the dilution effect so many images out there, or whether I'm just getting jaded - but I find fewer and fewer pictures on Flickr (I don't operate on instagram or others) that actually hold my attention.

One possible explanation is the number of training courses and many free YouTube How To videos, which tend to lead to everyone going to the same places and doing the same things - which is an issue, but I don't consciously do that, and I'm also finding my own images less interesting. ( )

I've also noticed that since being a regular browser of PF contributions, for better and worse, I've become much more kit aware.

What I am wondering is this: is modern kit so good that it's too easy to produce images that have an immediate impact, and does this too often stop us from going that bit further to produce something exceptional, meaningful - and memorable?

Any thoughts?
i'm going to offer another possible explanation, time and opportunity. I have all the lenses i need, to the point where I haven't had an LBA impulse in over a year. And at the risk of sounding conceited, believe I have a fair enough skill set to come close to maximizing my gear's potential. However what I lack is enough vacation time (along with a severe dislike of living in tents and being without running water).

I've told this story a few times, about an article I read in Outdoor Photographer: This pro hiked 15 miles one way and camped overnight at this remote location for 5! straight years at the exact same celestial event date until he finally got the one shot that made the OP cover. That's the day i realized I would never be able to make a living doing this. As such, I've dealt with record heat in Yosemite, record rain falls in alaska, forest fires in southern california, and some other not quite as dramatic events that rendered my 7-10 days in the area useless for making "spectacular/amazing/mind blowing" or "whatever adjective you want to use" photographs. I did the best i could under the conditions, but when you (and others) judge your photos by the "would i pay $500 to hang this on my wall?" standard, a cloudless sunset at Yosemite just doesn't cut it when there are hundreds of others who were "luckier" with weather conditions that I was.

So perhaps a big reason why there's a glut of the same thing, is because the vast majority of photographers, save the 1% who have unlimited PTO, have to pick and choose the most accessible locations at dates their boss will allow them to go. I get 9 days at a time (counting weekends). Am I hiking 3 days in and 3 days out for one chance at one photo? Or am I hitting 9 different easier locales? The law of large numbers says i have a better chance of getting a keeper doing the latter. And chances are 1000 others are doing the same thing. the law of large numbers also says 5-10 of those 1000 are as good or better than me. So now there are 5-10 photos of the same shot from that exact day. Within just a week you can have 70 very good photos if the light is cooperating. That by the olden days standards is a lot of pictures and perhaps why there are so few "memorable images". It's a case of sensory overload.

If you put 10 highly skilled photogs in the same place at the same time with the "right" lighting, chances are you'd have a tough time finding a "memorable" photograph because there would be so many similarities between the results. Yes, you will have one or 2 you like better than the others, but I would guess the sheer amount of similarities would water down your emotional response to all.
07-02-2018, 01:30 PM - 2 Likes   #37
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Truly great responses, folks - I love this community

---------- Post added 02-07-18 at 01:42 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by nomadkng Quote
If you put 10 highly skilled photogs in the same place at the same time with the "right" lighting, chances are you'd have a tough time finding a "memorable" photograph because there would be so many similarities between the results. Yes, you will have one or 2 you like better than the others, but I would guess the sheer amount of similarities would water down your emotional response to all.
I really admire your dedication. btw - I've chose to highlight this quote because it sums a lot up: I think that if you're sufficiently engaged, you'll be the guy who takes the memorable image in a place like that, and maybe my belief that I can be has wobbled bit, but it's not gone away.A lot of us, however, and I am very guilt of this, want to put a good eye above the sort of dedication you're talking about, and the truth is you need both.
07-02-2018, 02:12 PM - 3 Likes   #38
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QuoteOriginally posted by nomadkng Quote
*snip*

If you put 10 highly skilled photogs in the same place at the same time with the "right" lighting, chances are you'd have a tough time finding a "memorable" photograph because there would be so many similarities between the results. Yes, you will have one or 2 you like better than the others, but I would guess the sheer amount of similarities would water down your emotional response to all.
Uh... I don't think I agree with the last passage.
Sure, photography has a lots to do with the amount of time you spend, the luck you get with the weather, general conditions etc. I agree 100%

But one of the hallmarks of being a "highly skilled photog" is having a personal vision. That means being oneself, with all the personal history, taste, character etc. that one brings within.
I think "10 highly skilled photogs" would each end up with a massively different picture, otherwise they wouldn't be "highly skilled", they'd just be re-doing a "set piece" by rote.

Another feature of a real photog is brewing lemonade when the weather/conditions etc. gives you lemons...

07-02-2018, 02:18 PM   #39
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remember

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07-02-2018, 02:24 PM - 6 Likes   #40
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
I wouldn't disagree that equipment can become very important... for sure, it can ultimately make or break one's ability to achieve certain things, particularly in more specialised disciplines and situations. But I'd also like to bet that of all the photographers on these and other forums, the number that are truly limited by their kit (assuming they own a reasonably modern camera and a few half decent lenses) - is considerably smaller than those that are limited by their skills, knowledge, and/or the amount of work they're prepared to put in to get "that shot" (which is more difficult to admit - at least to begin with ).

You point out that, sometimes, people blame themselves when in fact they've reached one or more limits of their equipment... I'm sure that happens, but I'd like to think most people reaching those equipment limits would be savvy enough to realise they're not at fault. I'd further bet (based not on hard evidence, but merely a strong hunch from the posts I read) that a much greater number are convinced that better equipment will automatically make them better photographers, when learning a new skill or three could improve their photography far more

For many of us - I'd suggest, perhaps, the majority of us - here, great equipment is (in my opinion) less important than great skills. Of course, for those that can really and truly claim the latter, great equipment can - as you rightly imply - make all the difference
One thing I failed to speak to in that mini rant is how new (or at least new to you) equipment can sometimes punt a person out of a rut. It can be a very expensive way to do it, but if a new lens or other gear can motivate a person to get off their duff and go outside and do something creative, then the new gear is, from a creative standpoint, not a bad thing.
This is something I freely admit to, and in fact I'm hoping this new 50mm pops me out of a bit of a rut I find myself in at the moment.
When I was doing darkroom work, if I found myself in a rut, I'd try out a new paper, when I was still doing a lot of studio I'd beg my muse to come over and get naked for me. At the moment i am between muses and the darkroom is long gone, so we do what we have to do. Usually a new lens gets me moving.
If I start posting a bunch of pictures here in a few weeks, you'll know I have successfully pulled myself out of the longest photo funk I've ever been in. If not, you'll know I wasted a grand and a half on a very expensive glass paperweight.
07-02-2018, 02:35 PM - 5 Likes   #41
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
One thing I failed to speak to in that mini rant is how new (or at least new to you) equipment can sometimes punt a person out of a rut. It can be a very expensive way to do it, but if a new lens or other gear can motivate a person to get off their duff and go outside and do something creative, then the new gear is, from a creative standpoint, not a bad thing.
Absolutely. And it needn't be expensive, depending on the individual's requirements... For some, it can be something as simple as (and it's no surprise I'd say this, given my own interests) a Helios-44-variant lens with swirly bokeh, or any number of other inexpensive items. Something that offers new creative possibilities can be just as effective at inspiring or re-kindling interest.

Ironically, for me, it was a step back into older digital cameras - the K10D-clone Samsung GX-10, specifically - that did it for me after a particularly lengthy hiatus... I enjoyed working within the limitations, and with RAW files that seemed to jump out at me such that far less post-processing was required to get results I liked... Everyone's different, of course, but your point applies and is well made

I have an inkling that the new 50mm will be very inspirational for you and many others...
07-02-2018, 02:39 PM - 6 Likes   #42
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QuoteOriginally posted by nomadkng Quote
If you put 10 highly skilled photogs in the same place at the same time with the "right" lighting, chances are you'd have a tough time finding a "memorable" photograph because there would be so many similarities between the results. Yes, you will have one or 2 you like better than the others, but I would guess the sheer amount of similarities would water down your emotional response to all.

I think that would be ten highly technically competent but unimaginative photographers, all using the latest top-of-the-range cameras and lenses. Meanwhile, standing a few feet away from them completely unnoticed, a sixteen year old girl with real vision would be creating something amazing with an iPhone.
07-02-2018, 02:40 PM - 1 Like   #43
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
If I start posting a bunch of pictures here in a few weeks, you'll know I have successfully pulled myself out of the longest photo funk I've ever been in.
I'm looking forward to it already
07-02-2018, 04:19 PM - 1 Like   #44
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dartmoor Dave Quote
I think that would be ten highly technically competent but unimaginative photographers, all using the latest top-of-the-range cameras and lenses. Meanwhile, standing a few feet away from them completely unnoticed, a sixteen year old girl with real vision would be creating something amazing with an iPhone.
This!
07-02-2018, 04:32 PM - 1 Like   #45
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dartmoor Dave Quote
I think that would be ten highly technically competent but unimaginative photographers, all using the latest top-of-the-range cameras and lenses. Meanwhile, standing a few feet away from them completely unnoticed, a sixteen year old girl with real vision would be creating something amazing with an iPhone.
Well said, Dave. Equipment is fun, but at best it's an enabler or enhancer to varying degrees. Even the most basic equipment can be all that's needed for someone with an eye for the right shot (which might well be something very different from what others have been formally or informally conditioned to see)...

Some years ago, before I venture properly into digital photography, I dabbled with so-called "Lomography"... Actually, in the main, I just shot with a Lomo LC-A 35mm compact. As we all know, a lot of thoroughly untalented people shot really terrible stuff with that camera - but a very select few produced some absolutely gorgeous photos, primarily due to their vision, with some character added by the Minitar lens and the chosen film...

Last edited by BigMackCam; 07-02-2018 at 05:01 PM.
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