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05-15-2011, 05:55 PM   #1
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Just taking pictures

I thought I would throw out this random thought that crossed my mind. Any of you guys miss the days when you just threw the camera up to your face and snapped a picture? I find myself often obsessing about setting the right aperture, making sure the camera is perfectly level, selecting spot/center-weighted metering, etc. Seems like some of best photographs I've taken have been simple snapshots--I left the camera in Program or Full Auto and just took pictures. Maybe that might bring some of the fun back for me.

05-15-2011, 06:23 PM   #2
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I totally agree. When I take pictures, I check every single setting (aperature, ISO, shutter speed, metering, AF). Then, when a family member wants to take a picture, I put it on AUTO PICT and they take great pictures, sometimes better than mine!
05-15-2011, 07:40 PM   #3
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P&S is OK if you don't mind not getting the picture you would preferred to get, or if you don't care enough about the picture to have a preference. Otherwise, no, I don't long for not having the option of setting those parameters. No one ever said you have to worry about *all* of them for every shot. I typically never change AF mode, metering mode, or exposure mode. I change ISO only when the light changes. So the only two things I'm messing with are aperture and shutter speed. And I don't change aperture all that often, and even when I do, the Green button can set shutter speed for me. Somehow, I don't see this as problematic.
05-15-2011, 11:39 PM   #4
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There are planned shots, and there are grab shots.

When grabbing a dynamic image, just GETTING THE SHOT is more important than getting the shot perfect. This is especially true in areas like street shooting. I may be on a crowded sidewalk when someone picaresque pops out in front of my K20D (with wide manual lens, CIF enabled, Av mode, SR on, 100-800 Auto-ISO). I may have just enough time to point, hold the shutter, and twist the focus ring until CIF snaps. Any problems can be fixed sufficiently in PP, as long as I GOT THE SHOT!!

Any shot you get is better than any shot you DON'T get.

Whereas if I'm moving slowly and shooting compositions, I can take the time to consider ISO, DOF, EV compensation, B&W filtration, stuff like that. (I almost always stay with Auto-WB and fix the light in RAW development.)

We get back to the split: AF zooms (and P&S shooting modes) are great for taking pictures. MF primes (and manual mode) are great for making pictures. We can make pictures of technical competence, and it's all our own responsibility. And we can let the camera's robot brain help us take pictures of dynamic excitement.


Last edited by RioRico; 05-15-2011 at 11:52 PM.
05-16-2011, 03:04 AM   #5
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The more I learned from my film class, the longer all of my assignments took. I picked up a K100D with the intention of just having it for that semester and for that class. My first assignment was shot in about two hours. My second one took days as I kept learning about more settings and things to tweak hah.

I have fun messing with the settings though to be honest. Then I have more fun tweaking them in lightroom. I'm a secret nerd. Shhhh.
05-16-2011, 03:28 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by bushwhacker09 Quote
I thought I would throw out this random thought that crossed my mind. Any of you guys miss the days when you just threw the camera up to your face and snapped a picture? I find myself often obsessing about setting the right aperture, making sure the camera is perfectly level, selecting spot/center-weighted metering, etc. Seems like some of best photographs I've taken have been simple snapshots--I left the camera in Program or Full Auto and just took pictures. Maybe that might bring some of the fun back for me.
No, I don't miss it it. It is just a case of adopting the right strategy for the moment. This is the debate of taking vs making a photo.

I like to use the analogy of the De Bono Six Thinking Hats approach(see the diagram below). In that approach you consciously don a certain kind of thinking hat. It means that you deliberately enter that thinking mode and bring that approach to the problem at hand.

In the same way we, as photographers, put on different photographic hats at different times:
- The Journalist's Hat. We take a photo (the Red Hat)
- The Director's Hat. We make a photo (the Blue Hat)
- The Artist's Hat. We create a photo. (the Green Hat)
- The Critic's Hat. We assess the photo. (the Black Hat)


Taking a photo.
When he does this, the good photographer intuitively engages his store of experience as he 'takes' a photo. He need not consciously summons up that knowledge or plan the photo. It emerges without conscious volition. This is often desirable because creativity thrives without the limits placed on us by our conscious 'making' mind.


Making a photo.
Every photographer should be encouraged to engage in 'making' in the earlier stages of his photographic journey. By consciously engaging and practicing skills we embed them in deeper stores of knowledge so that they are quickly available to you, without thought, when you later engage in 'taking'.

So we need to distinguish between the 'taking' of the unpractised amateur (snapshots) and the 'taking' of the experienced photographer. In the case of the experienced photographer these are not snapshots but are rather the fluency of practised skill.

The diagram below outlines De Bono's Six Thinking Hats (copyright the De Bono Group). One is supposed to put on each hat in turn when approaching a given issue so that you approach it from all points of view.


05-16-2011, 03:35 AM   #7
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No, don't really miss that. Last time I threw the camera up to my face I gave myself a black eye.
05-16-2011, 04:07 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by MPrince Quote
No, don't really miss that. Last time I threw the camera up to my face I gave myself a black eye.
Ah, the origin of black and white photography

05-16-2011, 05:19 AM   #9
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For me there are technical shots and spontaneous shots.

Technical shots:
My long lens bird shots. I spend a long time just finding suitable habitat for the species I'm looking for. I may only have a fleeting moment where I will get a chance for 3 or 4 frames and then have to wait another year (in the case of migrating birds) to have another chance. You are wasting your time if you don't get it right the first time - time of day, position of sun, quality of light, proper cover, the right focal length, tension and balance of tripod, proper preset focus range, ISO, etc etc.
Macro shots are much like this also.

Spontaneous shots:
Street photography for instance, grap the moment. You need your gear to get out of the way and just let your eye concentrate on the moment. Your gear must be fast and responsive and capturing the moment trumps technical quality. In my opinon the SLR in not well suited to this kind of shooting. Better one of the classic rangefinders like the Leica or the Nikon S2 film cameras.

In one case you need a sniper rifle and in the other a shotgun. Which one you choose depends on what you want to accomplish.

Just one man's opinion.
05-16-2011, 08:13 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by bushwhacker09 Quote
Any of you guys miss the days when you just threw the camera up to your face and snapped a picture?
Yes, I was missing it somewhat...mostly for family pics. So I picked up an Olympus XA for me and a Stylus for my wife, loaded them both with T-Max 400, and have been using them to shoot family get-togethers. I haven't processed the film yet, so it's still a bit of an experiement.
05-16-2011, 12:19 PM   #11
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I essentially shoot with only manual lenses and I also really like fast, unintentional candids/street shots/etc... I don't think they are definitely not mutually exclusive. I'd say 90% of the time I shoot in AV unless I need to compose a shot to allow more DoF or something like that. As a few others have said, getting the shot is what matters, letting the focus on gear and settings get in the way of actually taking the photo kind of defeats the purpose (at least in the case of quick, response oriented photography).
05-16-2011, 07:40 PM   #12
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Now that's what I'm getting at. Perhaps, if you're clumsy like the fella in one of the responding comments, tri-pod stabilization would protect his nose. I am simply saying I miss the sponteneity that came with only having a basic understanding of the myriad functions that my K-7 sports. I've shot several weddings; this type of shooting requires serious attention to most everything--especially when the available lighting is marginal. However, I'm afraid this mindset has bled over into what formerly was my favorite way to use the camera--just shooting candids of friends and family. Anyhow, thanks for the post.
05-16-2011, 10:51 PM   #13
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One of the best photos I ever shot was one in which I literally was unable to even consider thinking about any photographic rules, and was made with a cheap old Kodak P&S. About the only rule I followed was the rule of thirds, and that was just luck. (I even broke the 'don't take pictures out your car window while you are driving' rule. That one is important. Trust me.)




A fun challenge is to purposely give yourself a very short time limit between spotting something and snapping a shot off. Say, five seconds, or even only three.

You'd be amazed how well you might actually do simply because of all the instinctual knowledge you have built up from composing your shots.
05-17-2011, 05:38 AM   #14
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think faster and get so used to shooting that you only need to throw a camera to your face and the rest is automatic
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