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Simon Says -- SimonSawSunlight Photo Technique From time to time its been suggested that RFF have a mentor Photography help section in terms of Technique - how to shoot this or that. 1st of all I had to find someone whose work I really like. 2ndly that photog had to be willing help others. That's the catch: so many excellent photogs just are not wiling to make the time for that, or just as likely, simply don't give a damn about helping others. SimonSawSunlight is an excellent up and coming photog whose work seems to go well beyond his 24 years.

You can view Simon's work at http://www.simonbephotography.com/  and www.facebook.com/simonbphotography Simon has been published in in FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), LFI (Leica Fotografie International) and more recently in Radiate Magazine. He also recently had a large solo-exhibition in Berlin. Not too Shabby! So, let us begin this adventure and see where it goes. Thank for taking this on Simon!


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When to abstain
Old 07-22-2013   #1
bonatto
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When to abstain

We often try to understand what can best increase our odds at attaining a strong street photograph.

The choice of subject matter, composition, and timing is an inherently personal one - a projection of the photographer's point of view and interpretation of what he sees. What triggers the photographer to raise his camera during a moment of potentiality lies at the convergence of two controlables:

- the existing "database" of possible subject matter, constructed from both previously viewed work, as well as personal experiences, opinions, interests

-the identification of a specific and ongoing rearrangement of visual elements

The first, modifiable by expansion.
The second, directed by situational awareness and focus.

If that was all it took, it would be easy. We look for that which we want to photograph, we point, we shoot.

HCB said the problem is people often identify, but don't see.

There is a third important leg that lies within the realm of composition: when to avoid completing the exposure.

It is said that the coice of what is left outside the frame is of equivalent importance to what is confined within in, thus, as hunters of the decisive moment it is important to understand when to exercise restraint.

When looking through the viewfinder, I often try to avoid releasing the shutter if two bodies overlap, creating a visual blob of arms and legs, or dark subjects against dark or a momentarily busy background, or if a car creeps up where it's not supposed to.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on what it is that keeps you from exposing a particular frame, at a particular time. Call it the calm (or tension) before the moment of convergence.

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Old 08-05-2013   #2
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i don't quite know how to reply to this. i am also not sure about your notion of the "database" of things.
the importance of what one leaves outside of the frame is different from just not taking a picture. i don't take a particular frame when it is not what i hoped for, when there is no tension, when i don't feel anything while looking at "my" scene / whatever - i have no general rules such as "this or that must not overlap" or "too busy backgrounds" etc. but i definitely prefer going out on a limb and taking the risk to take a **** picture if there is interesting potential, rather than just not taking a photograph at all. pictures you didn't take usually suck when you try to show them.
if you were asking for something beyond / more specific that, can you explain a little more? thanks!
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Old 08-05-2013   #3
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the more you shoot the more you realize your own limitations and strengths. after thousands of shots over some years you cannot fool yourself anymore about your potential, the evidence is right there for you to look at.

leave real time editing to superphotographers.
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Old 08-05-2013   #4
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"We often try to understand what can best increase our odds at attaining a strong street photograph. "

If we understood this at the exact moment of exposure, tripping the shutter, we'd all be geniuses. Odds, light, composition, exposure, .....just life, are all working against us. Often the choice, is no choice. You just do it.

Sometimes the "gift" is not getting what you want.
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Old 08-05-2013   #5
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I'm with Simon when it comes to the photo not taken - I'd rather have an image with challenges than not have an image at all. Then it's my choice to leave it on the editing room floor, rather than pine for the image that might have been but never was. I think there's an ethics standpoint for choosing not to take certain images - I don't photograph homeless people, for example, or people who expressly indicate they don't want their photo taken. I don't take a photo when I can't get the composition I want, or if I know that I won't be able to get the things I want in focus without lots of camera blur due to lighting conditions relative to the film I'm using at the time. But I do take risks photographically. There was a shot I tried in the workshops under the cathedral of the Sagrada Familia where I pulled off a 1 second hand-held exposure of one of the workmen amid the plaster models. I've since sold several copies of this image - if I hadn't chanced it, I would never have gotten the image, and I'd be a good $700 poorer.
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Old 08-05-2013   #6
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That's a quite personal question, in the sense where it depends on what each person likes to shoot and is trying to show, and their own work process.
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Old 08-05-2013   #7
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I think it is extermely important to consider these things, but not when shooting. If you're thinking too much you may not be engaged creatively. It's like golf - if you are thinking about all the mechanics of the swing as you draw the club back, plan on duffing the shot.
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Old 08-05-2013   #8
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Thanks everyone for chiming in. It's a difficult thing to verbalize, but I think Simon went at it properly:

Quote:
Originally Posted by SimonSawSunlight View Post
i don't take a particular frame when it is not what i hoped for, when there is no tension, when i don't feel anything while looking at "my" scene / whatever - i have no general rules such as "this or that must not overlap" or "too busy backgrounds" etc
As for the "database", I guess it is a weak word do describe such a broad concept. We can perhaps call them elements of though process that, in your example, allow you to identify tension when someone else may not. Take the shot, wonder later, sound advice.

The reason I raised this question is not to look for absolute rules. The sheer nature of this type of photography pre-supposes a certain lack of foreseeability, and I agree wholeheartedly with the following:

Quote:
Originally Posted by kbg32 View Post
If we understood this at the exact moment of exposure, tripping the shutter, we'd all be geniuses. Odds, light, composition, exposure, .....just life, are all working against us. Often the choice, is no choice. You just do it.
As for the nature of the question, it is indeed personal, as we're talking about a cognitive process that occurs at an exclusively individual level.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lauffray View Post
That's a quite personal question, in the sense where it depends on what each person likes to shoot and is trying to show, and their own work process.
And again I agree with the following:

Quote:
Originally Posted by williams473 View Post
I think it is extermely important to consider these things, but not when shooting. If you're thinking too much you may not be engaged creatively.
Whereas we can leave the discussion at home, and bring with us our own interpretation, and not necessarily an continuous technical though process on the field, but rather something that can always be drawn upon.

Cheers,
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Old 08-05-2013   #9
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Quote:
When looking through the viewfinder, I often try to avoid releasing the shutter if two bodies overlap, creating a visual blob of arms and legs, or dark subjects against dark or a momentarily busy background, or if a car creeps up where it's not supposed to.
I do the same thing - but sometimes overlapping bodies in a frame contribute to a sense of tension, action or confrontation; sometimes the dynamics of the image are enhanced by the overlap of bodies. Sometimes the overlap of bodies or body parts enhances a feeling of intimacy, familiarity or comfort between two subjects in your frame. IMHO, overlap is not always a bad thing.

You have to be able to discern when overlap or other unpredictable, uncontrollable visual elements contribute to the visual impact of the final image rather than detracting from the visual impact.

That is the $64 million dollar question: Does the overlap contribute to and enhance the image or does it detract from and weaken the image?
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Old 08-06-2013   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SimonSawSunlight View Post
i have no general rules such as "this or that must not overlap" or "too busy backgrounds" etc. but i definitely prefer going out on a limb and taking the risk to take a **** picture if there is interesting potential, rather than just not taking a photograph at all. pictures you didn't take usually suck when you try to show them.
I agree with this. You have to take chances. Too many people seem to make every excuse not to photograph something. I go out wanting to make photos, so I will photograph anything that I think will make a good photo.
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Old 08-06-2013   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisycheese View Post
That is the $64 million dollar question: Does the overlap contribute to and enhance the image or does it detract from and weaken the image?
It all depends on each individual photograph. There is no way to answer this categorically.
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Old 08-06-2013   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
I agree with this. You have to take chances. Too many people seem to make every excuse not to photograph something. I go out wanting to make photos, so I will photograph anything that I think will make a good photo.
why do you think we search for excuses not to photograph?
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Old 08-06-2013   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Margu View Post
why do you think we search for excuses not to photograph?
Well, when I say too many people... I'm talking about a small sample of people over the years from people I photograph with or have taken classes with.

What I meant is that people will put personal rules in place regarding what is worth photographing and look down on anything else. When you put these rules in place before you are ready, it just leads to not photographing at all after awhile. I've seen it happen over and over.

Another is someone thinking it's not worth doing because it's already been done. That's another one that keeps people from photographing.
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Old 08-06-2013   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
Well, when I say too many people... I'm talking about a small sample of people over the years from people I photograph with or have taken classes with.

What I meant is that people will put personal rules in place regarding what is worth photographing and look down on anything else. When you put these rules in place before you are ready, it just leads to not photographing at all after awhile. I've seen it happen over and over.

Another is someone thinking it's not worth doing because it's already been done. That's another one that keeps people from photographing.
you make some valid points especially in tune with photography today. the problem is most photographers like myself are still stuck in the 1950s mentality of photography. we all think we need to do something new with photography and thus we need to only photograph "important stuff". but its still hard to digest this brave and harsh new world, where there is an uneasy feeling that still photography has really lost its place.

if everything as you say is photograph worthy then nothing is photograph worthy.

art cannot be universal.
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Old 08-06-2013   #15
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As I said - "Often the choice, is no choice. You just do it."
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Old 08-06-2013   #16
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Quote:
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but its still hard to digest this brave and harsh new world, where there is an uneasy feeling that still photography has really lost its place.
It may have lost its place in the mainstream press, but if it has a place in your personal world, than that sometimes is enough. It depends on what you expect from photography. Do you expect fame and fortune or do you expect to just have fun?

Quote:
if everything as you say is photograph worthy then nothing is photograph worthy.
Now, I didn't say that did I? I said "I go out wanting to make photos, so I will photograph anything that I think will make a good photo."

Of course I still make decisions as to what does it for me photographically on that particular day and I have multiple projects in mind. Also, making photos the way I stated does not mean everything is good or useable (far from it). Photography relies on editing for it to make sense (generally).
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Old 08-09-2013   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
It depends on what you expect from photography. Do you expect fame and fortune or do you expect to just have fun?
photographing one's own near and dear can be fun but what so fun about photographing strangers on the street while they give you the stink eye?
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Old 08-09-2013   #18
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Quote:
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photographing one's own near and dear can be fun but what so fun about photographing strangers on the street while they give you the stink eye?
Not sure why this came up out of what we were talking about. I don't think people on RFF only make photos of strangers on the street.
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Old 08-23-2013   #19
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Its like 5 LEDs. The first 3 are the quiet-eye period (before lifting the viewfinder, focusing and pressing the shutter in the last two LEDs). The three LEDs will light up and energy builds then reverses as quickly again. I can keep this concentration for about 2hours but then I'm tired so I cannot spend any time on photos that I don't want and won't take the **** picture.
I'm in Melbourne and its target poor and I have to scratch real hard in the dirt to find anything. I work on the premise that 1 good photograph is worth 100 bad ones so I dont take 100 and just concentrate on the 1 and now I have lots of them. The other effect is that my cameras look unused.

Quote:
Originally Posted by williams473 View Post
I think it is extermely important to consider these things, but not when shooting. If you're thinking too much you may not be engaged creatively. It's like golf - if you are thinking about all the mechanics of the swing as you draw the club back, plan on duffing the shot.
...is exactly what I am talking about. He and I must talk some more.

"The database of things", I understand that but thats a different kind of shooting (different strategy) from what I usually do. Maybe only comes to the surface if I see something that I've seen before (cliche) and so I dont take it. I've got a couple taken that database way you describe but no one else would understand them.
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Old 08-28-2013   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisycheese View Post
I do the same thing - but sometimes overlapping bodies in a frame contribute to a sense of tension, action or confrontation; sometimes the dynamics of the image are enhanced by the overlap of bodies. Sometimes the overlap of bodies or body parts enhances a feeling of intimacy, familiarity or comfort between two subjects in your frame. IMHO, overlap is not always a bad thing.

You have to be able to discern when overlap or other unpredictable, uncontrollable visual elements contribute to the visual impact of the final image rather than detracting from the visual impact.

That is the $64 million dollar question: Does the overlap contribute to and enhance the image or does it detract from and weaken the image?
It depends on if the overlap is helping the image visually. Maybe the overlap is creating an interesting form. Maybe its creating a more interesting composition.

I think the more it becomes an automatic response to being able to recognize in a fraction of a second when all the visual elements come together to form a moment of clarity is when one is starting to arrive at being a good photographer period.

A great trailer from an upcoming film and some really interesting words by Meyerowitz:
give it a moment to fully load
http://www.traileraddict.com/trailer...street/trailer

There are days I go out and I don't take an image. Some days the eyes aren't seeing well or the timing is just a touch off. I abstain in those times. The important thing is we get out.

For me thinking is done before and after not during shooting. If I'm thinking I'm missing the moments. I hope that all those hours looking at paintings and photographs and honing my technique is finally to a point where I am able to see and capture those moments in a fraction of a second. I'm human and I have good days and bad. The more I do it, the more good days I have.
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