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Roger Hicks
03-16-2010, 15:05
Practice! says the old joke. But that's also a much better answer to "How do I get to take pics that look like Salgado's [or HCB's, or Willy Ronis's, or AA's, or whoever's]."

There's a quality threshold. Below it, a better camera/lens will give you better pics. Above it, the camera/lens can take better pics than you can. The threshold is very low. Above it, all you're buying is pleasure of use (which is not irrelevant) and maybe ergonomics (I have a Varex IIa with 58/2 Biotar).

Cheers,

R.

Ducky
03-16-2010, 16:02
Photography, like fiddle (violin ) playing takes practice, true, but without someone listening how do you now if you're doing it right? That's why a site like this, with a decent gallery audience, is important. But even an audience is no good without valuable critique.

aad
03-16-2010, 16:23
A camera/ lens really doesn't take better pictures. Above a certain point, the improvements are hardly noticing.

Bob Michaels
03-16-2010, 16:24
Practice! says the old joke. But that's also a much better answer to "How do I get to take pics that look like Salgado's [or HCB's, or Willy Ronis's, or AA's, or whoever's]."

There's a quality threshold. Below it, a better camera/lens will give you better pics. Above it, the camera/lens can take better pics than you can. The threshold is very low. Above it, all you're buying is pleasure of use (which is not irrelevant) and maybe ergonomics (I have a Varex IIa with 58/2 Biotar).

Cheers,

R.

Roger:

A thousand thanks for posting the lead-in to a thread that potentially may lead to intelligent discussion. (however, I am skeptical)

I personally think the key it critical self editing. Shooting a gazillion photos year after year does nothing to improve one's ability if all you do if file them away or maybe post 1/10 gazillion on line hoping someone else will give them a clue. But having to pick out 10-20 to tell a story or make a point does wonders to improve the overall. I also realize that many simply do not care and are just happy to shoot without regard. I have no problems with them as they are fulfilling their own personal objectives.

johne
03-16-2010, 16:38
Bob,
Amen!

BTW, I suspect a gazillion is a really large number; however, it may be a negative number.
:-D Johne

wgerrard
03-16-2010, 16:46
If you are shooting to please yourself, you really need to understand what kind of pictures you are trying to take. If you don't know what you like, no amount of self-editing is going to help that much. However, if you know what you are trying to produce, then you can work on building the skills and the knowledge to allow you to criticize your own work in a useful manner.

Example: It seems a number of folks here do not like Ken Rockwell's photos. Too bright, too saturated, too bereft of people. But, if you do want to create images like his, then you need to focus on different aspects of photography than someone shooting street an hour after sunset in a big city. And vice versa.

As for posting photos online and asking for advice, I've noticed that many well-meaning people confuse "good photo" with "I like that photo". So, don't ask, "Is this photo good?" Instead, show or describe what you want to shoot and ask how to make that happen.

sepiareverb
03-16-2010, 16:49
Practice, yes.

True Bob, editing is key- as are a few people whose opinon one can really trust, and who one can argue with without fear of banning or hurt feelings.

I'd say that certain equipment is always going to be more capable than I- I find myself being the reason negatives don't make the cut far more often than the lenses I use are. Granted, the needs of a 16x20" print are a lot greater than a 150dpi 7" wide jpg, but it is my failings that are the reason most of my images remain as contact prints alone.

As valuable as valid, smart criticism is, giving and receiving it is something that few seem able to do without ruffled feathers or worse. Opinion should be seen as just that- opinion, not a cut and dry fact. It is in the listening and arguing of opinion that real progress is made in the understanding ones work.

Keith
03-16-2010, 17:02
I'd say concentrate on one instrument ... a theory which I've failed miserably to put into practice of late unfortunately!

The great violinists of the world played violins ... they didn't faff about with violas, cellos and other stringed instruments ... they focused their energy and talent into the one!

I'm convinced that if I locked all my other camera gear away giving someone else the key and left only my OM-1 with 50mm, 35mm and 85mm lenses accessible ....

... sigh, that will never happen though!

:p

surfer dude
03-16-2010, 17:28
In short, I don't think you get to Carnegie Hall by sounding like Frank or Ella anymore than you'll end up producing work that would stand up to the photographers mentioned by trying to emulate them. You get there by being original. But if you don't use a LEICA, or a NEUMANN microphone, you'll never get there! Sorry.

In most cases I believe it takes more than practise. It takes ambition, passion, networking, hard work... and, as Bob indicated, years of critical self evaluation.

Of course in the case of Carnegie Hall you may get there by winning American Idol. Maybe there should be an equivalent TV show for photographers ("Capture Idol") who then go straight into Magnum or the MOMA without passing "Go". I guess it's on the cards.

kbg32
03-16-2010, 17:34
I don't want to take images that look like "Salgado's [or HCB's, or Willy Ronis's, or AA's, or whoever's..." I want to take images that I hope are my own.

Carnegie Hall?? I would be happy with the Public Theatre.


:)

antiquark
03-16-2010, 17:40
Above it, all you're buying is pleasure of use (which is not irrelevant)

To quote the great computer scientist, Donald Knuth:

The enjoyment of one's tools is an essential ingredient of successful work.

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Donald_Knuth

dcsang
03-16-2010, 17:51
FYI: Dear Roger.. you're talking about this joint right?
http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=carnegie+hall+new+york+city+new+york&sll=49.891235,-97.15369&sspn=51.62158,135.263672&ie=UTF8&hq=carnegie+hall&hnear=New+York,+NY,+USA&ll=40.752719,-73.980045&spn=0.114435,0.264187&z=13&iwloc=A

And not this joint:
http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=carnegie+deli+new+york+city+new+york&sll=40.752719,-73.980045&sspn=0.114435,0.264187&ie=UTF8&hq=Carnegie+Delicatessen+%26+Restaurant&hnear=Carnegie+Delicatessen+%26+Restaurant&z=15&iwloc=A

Anyway, regardless... that site can get you directions.

That said, I would concur with Bob and Keith here.
Shoot a gazillion photos.
Edit judiciously.
Tell a story.
Use one instrument so you know what you're doing with said instrument. :)

Cheers,
Dave

KenR
03-16-2010, 18:04
See Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers" for a discussion of how long it takes to become really good at something - 10,000 hours! He applies this to multiple fields and it probable applies to photography too.

Philly
03-16-2010, 18:31
Practice! says the old joke. But that's also a much better answer to "How do I get to take pics that look like Salgado's [or HCB's, or Willy Ronis's, or AA's, or whoever's]."

There's a quality threshold. Below it, a better camera/lens will give you better pics. Above it, the camera/lens can take better pics than you can. The threshold is very low. Above it, all you're buying is pleasure of use (which is not irrelevant) and maybe ergonomics (I have a Varex IIa with 58/2 Biotar).

Cheers,

R.

I have difficulty making a coherent link between these two paragraphs.

For the second para', you would have to give us your definition of quality and of better.










...

robklurfield
03-16-2010, 19:44
I like Salgado's work. I like the work of many renowned photographers. BUT, I want what I shoot to look like my work. I don't see what we these guys and gals see/saw. They're unique and so is their vision. My vision is unique, too. I certainly won't pretend to have their mastery, but my eye/brain connection is all my own and I'd like it to reflect my view of the world. With all that out of the way, I'll be honest and admit that I'd certainly like to get better at realizing on paper (or screen) what my mind's eye is visualizing. I'm sure not there yet.

I'm only into the equipment because I like tools that make photography fun and that make realizing my vision easier. I'd be dishonest if I didn't admit to also just appreciating the gear for its machine-ness and engineering, aesthetic qualities. I think my eye/brain connection can always stand far more improvement than my gear. If my pix didn't come out the way I saw 'em in my head, I'm usually the culprit (well, expect for the flummoxed transport on my Rolleicord; Krikor, I'm headed your way soon; the darned thing has uneven registration between frames... ugh!).

While I build up to my 10,000 Malcolm Gladwell hours, I'm currently enjoying a 35/3.5 ltm Summaron on both my M's. Does that lens make me a better photographer? Hell, no. But the 10,000 hours are sure to help. I just feel comfortable with exploring that lens this week.

I need to do more editing, but I found I needed to hit a certain threshold of images to see what I liked and what I didn't and what worked and what didn't.

I do not believe a two-year old who splatters paint is an artist in the way Jackson Pollack became an artist (whether you like his work or not) who splattered paint. You need experience not just with technique, but also with a point of view (as Dave says, telling a story). Life makes you better at that IF you pay attention as you move through it.

If you ever reach a point where you feel that you're as good as you can be, it's probably time to try a new vocation/avocation. As long you're not completely satisfied, life still holds promise of new discoveries. I'm glad to have plenty to learn. It's sure to keep me feeling young longer than I have right to expect.

FrankS
03-16-2010, 19:55
I usually agree with what Keith says, but not with his "concentrate on one instrument" statement. Different situations call for different cameras. There is no one camera that is best for all situations. Going back to the musical analogy: serious guitar players often/usually have more than one guitar because different guitars produce different sounds, which are better matched to different purposes/music. Similarly, there is nothing wrong with a carpenter having more than one hammer, one screwdriver, or one chisel, etc.

maddoc
03-16-2010, 20:22
How to get to Carnegie Hall ? ... practice, a portion of luck, and the right connections. ;)

Roger Hicks
03-17-2010, 00:30
Bill says you have to know what you want to shoot, and Bob says you have to know how to practise profitably -- not in the financial sense, but in the sense of shaping your practice towards an end, rather than just shooting for shooting's sake. They're both right, I think, but there's also a path which does involve just shooting, and seeing what you're good at.

Shooting or choosing pictures for a purpose is actually much easier when you're working professionally, because either you meet the brief or you don't. It's also easier to shoot illustration than art. This is one reason why I shoot a lot more illustration (the other, of course, is earning a living). Even so, I think I'm getting a bit more self-confident about what sort of 'art' I can do.

The danger seems to me that it is all too easy to become obsessed with a particular kind of 'art' and disappear up your own fundament, (a) doing the same thing again and again and (b) becoming increasingly detached from what others want to see: http://www.rogerandfrances.com/sgallery/g%20usa%20new%201000.html.

It's all very well to say that Van Gogh never sold a painting in his lifetime, but there's an omitted middle here: just because some geniuses are not recognized in their own lifetime, it doesn't mean that failing to be recognized in your own lifetime is a sign of genius.

Then there's the possibility of being technically accomplished, but exhausting an idea: http://www.rogerandfrances.com/sgallery/g%20sl%20m%201.html (the tankards series).

Cheers,

R.

kzphoto
03-17-2010, 00:54
See Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers" for a discussion of how long it takes to become really good at something - 10,000 hours! He applies this to multiple fields and it probable applies to photography too.

10,000 hours at 8 hours a day is 1250 days. That's roughly 3.4 years, or a Bachelors degree.

Bottom line, keep practicing and keep your camera close by.

Sparrow
03-17-2010, 02:34
itís on 7th avenue (iirc), so itís easy to get there, but I wouldnít bother going today the traffic will by awful, and it will be just an Irish pastiche anyway

;):D

Juan Valdenebro
03-17-2010, 02:57
Bob Michaels just said some of the most important words seldom found in this or any other forum: shooting a lot doesn't make us better photographers. It's always surprised me how often the opposite words are taken for granted!

And about Keith's words: I totally agree... We must concentrate on one instrument. It's like any other science: to check results we must avoid as many changing factors as we can... FrankS is right too: we need different tools... Then we must concentrate on all of them, but deeply, and as Bob said, ONE BY ONE...

Cheers,

Juan

Sparrow
03-17-2010, 03:23
To be serious however, in my experience a mix of talent, luck and lots of hard work is needed, and sadly we have no way of influencing the first two.

FrankS
03-17-2010, 05:28
Carnegie Hall? Oh, no one goes there anymore, it's too crowded.

Juan Valdenebro
03-17-2010, 05:30
To be serious however, in my experience a mix of talent, luck and lots of hard work is needed, and sadly we have no way of influencing the first two.

That's so sad and true!

Cheers,

Juan

matt335
03-17-2010, 05:58
Great discussion Roger. Why do we photograph? Why do/did artists perform in Carnegie Hall? Practice does make perfect, but is that practice with a camera in hand, or practice on yourself and understanding "why" we photograph, why we paint, why we draw, why we play an instrument or sing? This discussion could go off in a number of tangents, much like a improvisation of a 24 bar solo in a jazz standard. Purpose has been mentioned and also about who we are pleasing? Which great photog said "I Need to satisfy my eye"? For me it's a personal expression that covers many type of photography from documentary to fine art. But maybe more importantly it's about expression from within. I think every photog should experience digital and analogue simply to appreciate purpose. Like BB King once said "It's not how fast you can play and how many notes you can hit, it's about how few notes you do play, the spaces between those notes and the emotion behind them" (paraphrased). When anything becomes a personal expression, a personal communication it ceases to have to please someone or something. It doesn't need to perform. It can though and really tell a story and share something vital. That's where photography works for me, in that it can make an impact.

FrankS
03-17-2010, 06:24
Talent, hard work, luck, and include: the ability to recognize an opportunity.

ferider
03-17-2010, 06:47
How do I get to Carnegie Hall?

How about: ask somebody who has actually been there, metaphorically speaking. Send a PM to Bill for instance.

Also, I'm sure spending lots of time on-line will not be part of the recipe.

Roland.

03-17-2010, 09:00
there's an excellent book by Malcolm Gladwell titled "Outliers", the books suggests, among other things, that success in a field often comes from Talent and a magical 10,000 hours of practice, an example given was the Beatles who spent around 10,000 hours in Europe goings gigs before becoming big.

Ronald M
03-17-2010, 10:35
You got to have talent, sing, dance, or play a musical instrument, or tell really good jokes maybe.

Another method is Garmon. Mine has helped me thru twisting turning streets in pure dark to get me somewhere.

robert blu
03-17-2010, 14:29
You need to have an idea or project which interest you enough that you like to work hard on it. And when it seem you get a result ask yourself if you could do it better, and try it. And of ocurse confronting yourself with other photographer/critiquer will help. Of course when you have your workready you need the correct contacts with the right people, having the right contacts is part of the hard work (PR).
robert

Roger Hicks
03-17-2010, 14:33
You need to have an idea or project which interest you enough that you like to work hard on it. And when it seem you get a result ask yourself if you could do it better, and try it. And of ocurse confronting yourself with other photographer/critiquer will help. Of course when you have your work ready you need the correct contacts with the right people, having the right contacts is part of the hard work (PR).
robert

Dear Robert,

Beautifully phrased! And, without doubt, one of the hardest parts.

Cheers,

R.

Rob-F
03-17-2010, 18:24
There's a quality threshold. Below it, a better camera/lens will give you better pics. Above it, the camera/lens can take better pics than you can. The threshold is very low. Above it, all you're buying is pleasure of use (which is not irrelevant) and maybe ergonomics . . .

Cheers,

R.

This is from a guy with a $7000 M9!

I agree, to a point. But practice makes perfect--or not--depending on what you practice. I think self-criticism and feedback from others is important.

"Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result."
--Albert Einstein

"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got."
--Moms Mabley.

Roger, hope to see you in France next year.

--Rob

robklurfield
03-17-2010, 19:14
I took the subway the last time I was at Carnegie Hall (really Zankel Hall, the smaller venue inside). The last show I saw there was saxophonist/bass clarinetist David Murray performing with a small group.

David is proof in support of Gladwell's 10,000 hour theory. )And, his wife, Ming, is a photographer.)

Practice may not make perfect, but it sure can make you better. David has recorded hundreds of albums; they keep getting better. And, everytime I'm fortunate enough to sneak a camera into a performance of his or my other favorite musicians, I manage to correct a mistake or two from my last shoot (while probably creating at least one new one in their place). Ah, sometimes the mistakes are better than the ones I didn't screw up. Serendipity, improvisation and accidents are not necessarily bad things, though they are more meaningful when you have some skill, otherwise everything is an accident and I'm not convinced that makes it art.

mad mike
03-19-2010, 14:07
This is from a guy with a $7000 M9! Surely Roger paid in Euros!