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08-04-2010, 12:21 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Can photography be learned from scratch?

Ever since I learned the basics of exposure, I have been swimming in research about photography. I've read Scott Kelby's 3 part series multiple time, as well as DSLR's for dummies, and I just ordered 4 more books in anticipation for a trip to new york. I'll probably hide out in my room for a few days until they are finished. I'm love taking pictures and I'm trying really hard to be adequately good at it.

My friend however has always wanted to try photography but has basically never touched a camera, I gave him my Kx on auto mode and 15 minutes later I was looking as some of the most beautiful and well framed pictures of people and nature I had ever seen.

Is photography all natural artistic ability?...I see so many beginners with incredibly beautiful pictures, and they all seem to have some amazing quality to them, they should be hanging in art galleries. Mine however, even my best shots, to me seem to simply be amateur and slightly juvenile, no matter how by the book or how expressive I try to be

Can photography be learned or am I going to be forever trying to rise up to the level of natural ability that some people seem to have?

Example of two of my best (read: personal favorite) pictures below, they're missing something, something blazingly obvious but impossible to define, and then two of my friends pictures following it, his just seem to be naturally flawless in a way none of mine can be (neither have been post processed and were taken with a Kx or K7 with the default in camera JPEG processing)





08-04-2010, 12:33 AM   #2
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I think it is definately something you have to have a knack for.

I've taken close to 7,000 photos with my K10D and I still see better cell-phone photos.

If you're good at it, you can refine your technique to become great, or define a style and feel, but if you're born to be a point-and-shoot photographer, well.. don't buy a DSLR
08-04-2010, 01:22 AM   #3
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You can learn to be a photographer, but not learn to be an artist.
08-04-2010, 01:41 AM   #4
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The plants aren't very impressive. The picture of the girl isn't bad.

Your friends have a more developed eye for composition. You just seem to stick the center of attention in the middle of the picture. Whoever took the picture of the girl either got lucky, or has a sense of both composition and what makes for good lighting.

One useful thing to do to get better is to read up on composition and lighting to understand the fundamentals, and then to just gather up a whole lot of images that you like form other people, and then try to figure out what you like about them in regards to framing, composition, lighting, etc. Then comes the hard part... working at trying to find those opportunities on your own and capitalize on them successfully.

08-04-2010, 01:58 AM   #5
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Of course you can learn.
While natural artistic ability helps, in my opinion this can be learned or practiced to some extent.

When I bought my first SLR back in Feb '09, I really had no clue about composition or photography in general. The easiest thing for me to learn was the technical side of things, ie. exposure. But even so my photos were still mostly crap. However after persisting with it for many months I finally got some results I started to like (or at least think were OK).

Yes it may be frustrating to see others that seemingly take very nice photos from the start. But just keep practicing and you will get there. Comment on others photos and critique them, then you will start to see what you like, so you can think about the same things when you go to take photos the next time.

I like the first photo. IMO the last two aren't particularly great at all. Yes the last one is of a nice girl, but to me the photo itself isn't impressive at all.

We are all our worst critics hey?
08-04-2010, 02:01 AM   #6
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Most of my shots are at least loosely framed in the rule of thirds but those two are some of the few that aren't. I'm still getting the rule of thirds down (one of those 4 books is all about composition) but this one might be a little more by the book:

08-04-2010, 02:04 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by goddo31 Quote
Of course you can learn.
While natural artistic ability helps, in my opinion this can be learned or practiced to some extent.

When I bought my first SLR back in Feb '09, I really had no clue about composition or photography in general. The easiest thing for me to learn was the technical side of things, ie. exposure. But even so my photos were still mostly crap. However after persisting with it for many months I finally got some results I started to like (or at least think were OK).

Yes it may be frustrating to see others that seemingly take very nice photos from the start. But just keep practicing and you will get there. Comment on others photos and critique them, then you will start to see what you like, so you can think about the same things when you go to take photos the next time.

I like the first photo. IMO the last two aren't particularly great at all. Yes the last one is of a nice girl, but to me the photo itself isn't impressive at all.

We are all our worst critics hey?
Thanks for the words, I'll definitely keep with it I'm just wondering what I should be aiming for

08-04-2010, 04:46 AM   #8
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Photography as an enthusiast's vocation has no bounds, nor does it need peer appraisal for it to be personally valuable. To take photography to a new level, however - creating art, and not just photos - there needs to be more than simply following commonly accepted rules; an eye for lighting, scenery, composition and pose (for portraiture in particular) are like the gates to photographic mastery.

Photography as a professional job is more restrictive, greatly dictated by client desires, but requires the flexibility and adaptability of the photographer to create the results demanded with minimum fuss. This is quite different to the hobby of photography.

Emulation does much to teach the budding photographer the craft and how to create the art, but ultimately it requires the creativity and dedication of the photographer to find and capture the peer-inspiring works of art to go from good to excellent.
08-04-2010, 04:58 AM   #9
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Check out some Bryan Peterson books, really worth a read and helped me a lot.

His number one tip (compositionally speaking) always rings in my ears when I take any shot ....

"Fill the frame !!"
08-04-2010, 05:06 AM - 1 Like   #10
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Do macro work and everyone will think you're an artist.
08-04-2010, 11:08 AM   #11
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Could you post some of these "masterpieces" that your friend took? I'm curious as to what you find so great about them.

I wholly disagree that you can't learn to be an artist. All of my life I have been science oriented with absolutely zero art exposure except for middle school art class. I was always a crappy artist and pretty much had no drawing ability.

Since I've started photography, I'm still a crappy artist. But, in learning the technical side, you eventually start training your eye to see interesting subjects. Eventually, you may be able to photograph the subject in a way that really gives meaning to someone, even if that's just yourself. Congratulations, you've created art. I have yet to really create much art, but I like to think I'm getting there.

Looking at the pictures you've posted, I think you are trying to implement the rules of composition, but you just don't have many interesting subjects. Of course, this is largely subjective. Personally, I think the girl is interesting, and is the best shot you've posted here. Are there ways it could be better, sure, but I feel that there is some meaning behind it. The others, not so much.
08-04-2010, 11:21 AM   #12
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The first two are mine and the last two are my friends I was talking about in the first post
08-04-2010, 11:36 AM   #13
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Ah... crap, my bad. Reading comprehension these days...

Well, I looked through some of your other stuff, and some of them are honestly quite good, the snow boarding ones, in particular. Basically I think everyone goes through a phase where they think everything they take is subpar, so you just need to keep shooting and work past it. I remember seeing an interesting picture on /p/ that pretty much laid this out in graph form... I'll see if I can find it.
08-04-2010, 11:38 AM   #14
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Well that was easy.

08-04-2010, 11:47 AM   #15
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Well thanks for the compliments and that graph is pretty darn funny. The only thing that scares me is I think I got so wrapped up in the science of exposure and sharpness that I almost forgot that photography is an art
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