Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

"The Digital Camera Fights for Survival" Time (Euro edition)

by Sven Triloqvist Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 03:55:07 AM EST

This Time online article is mistitled. It should read "Some digital camera manufacturers fight for survival".

According to Time, the market is reaching saturation...

When digital cameras hit the mass market in 1997, consumers couldn't get enough of them. Within nine years, nearly 300 million digital cameras were sold, and half of all households in the U.S. and Japan owned one, as did 41% of all European households, making digital photography one of the fastest-adopted technologies of all time. Such dramatic change comes at a price: the icons of photography as we knew it tumbled. Polaroid went bust in 2001. Kodak stopped making film cameras in 2004.


It appears that after a decade of easy-to-sell rapid technological camera advancement, such as increasing picture resolution, there is not much more to promote except by going up into the more expensive DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) technology. (I'm on the lookout for a 2nd hand Nikon D70)

Once you go there, with interchangeable lenses, wide range of shutter speeds etc, you enter the realm of photography as opposed to simple point-and-click documentation - and that requires knowledge.

Technically, photography involves a subtle relationship between several  interacting factors - the quality of light, depth of field as a function of the amount of light which passes through the lens, focus, focal length determining the frame for the composition, and shutter speed. These are the tools that the photographer can use to freeze time and space in a unique fashion.

The photographer is always concerned by narrative: in the moment of capturing a small part of an event's 360 degree space, a decision is required as to what part of that space tells the best story of that event.

Both technically and creatively, good photography requires an investment in learning that most people will never be interested in or have time for. The mastery of lighting, for instance, whether utilising available light or controlled lighting, is not something that can be acquired in a quick weekend course (though it will certainly improve your pictures).

And IMHO the most important factor of all is the photographer's relationship to the event. How do you get a feel for what is going on? What do you understand about the behaviour of the objects (including people) at the event. How do you put yourself in the right position in relationship to the event. What are you trying to communicate?

There are so many factors, that it is hard to think about them consciously all at the same time, and thus instinct, based on knowledge and experience, is always in play. Instinct follows the 2000 hours of experience and practice that are required to do anything well. It takes that long for the cerebellum to get wired up.

The point-and-clickers will always be around, and will need cameras to document their holidays and celebrations - to prove to others that their lives are fun and worthwhile, and packed with experiences. Few realise however, how much the taking of photographs tends to exclude them from the real experience. You have seen them everywhere - the tourists who need a picture of themselves as actors in a significant space (eg standing in front of the lions at Trafalgar Square), but do not actually experience or want to experience that moment in their rush to get to the next significant event or place.

The photographer is always an observer. Good photography requires, like the tourists, disassociation from the event space. Photography is an intellectual discipline of analysis and editing, combined with the technical skils needed to elevate a picture into a point of view. And, as anyone with experience of commercial or news photography knows, you still might end up with only one picture out of a hundred that tells the story.

For the amateur, there is no such editing. Every picture taken, except those that are total technical duds, is significant. Nothing is discarded.

Display:
Wow, what looked like a techie quickie turns into a dense, brilliant short essay on the art of photography. Of course you know what photography's about, having practised it for so long, but you also know how to condense your knowledge into words.

As a non-photographer, I look at this world with envy. I take point and click pics badly because I don't like doing them. I realize that narrative and therefore point of view in a picture depends on the mastery of the technical elements you outline so succinctly and well. (Though there may be oddball geniuses who can do something with point and click). And I realize how much time and "focus" it would take to reach that mastery. So I have often said, "I'm going to get serious about learning photography", and then have put it off. The cost of equipment also being a problem -- when am I going to be able to afford a digital reflex? Aaargh!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 05:46:53 AM EST
Thanks...

There's much that can be done with your basic 5 megapix, autofocus, autoexposure, autoflash digital camera.

To me it's about 'seeing', and being fast enough to capture what you see by moving into a postion where you can frame it, for the exclusion of extraneous detail.

And it all depends on attitude: are you prepared to get 'out' of the event for a moment (which you may be enjoying 100%)  to be an observer?

There are basically two tyoes of photography: as a memory aid or as a narrative. A memory aid is usually the documenting of a situation to later remind you of what happened. This type of photo works well in increasing recall. I often look at old pix and the event comes flooding back in memory in more detail.

Narrative pictures, whether commercial or artistic, require that you think about the people who are going to look at the picture, rather than yourself. You try to communicate what you have seen in toto rather than any particular instant. You look for a gestalt picture and compostion that sums up whatever insight has come into your mind.

Sometimes you can't get the exact picture, but you can crop it later, or process it in photoshop to give the precise feel that conveys what you saw and felt. Sometimes you find a 'picture' within a much bigger picture that you captured by chance. You maybe isolate one small part of the frame that you captured and make it into a new frame. This is where picture resolution comes in. If you have a 10 megapix picture, you can take out just 2 megs of a smaller frame. But if you are using a low-res camera designed for one-to-one printing, you'll soon come up against visible pixels.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 06:39:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I took the liberty of e mailing to you 2 photos I took today with my new kodak z650 point and click. Hope you don't mind.
LEP

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 02:21:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Afew. Looks like the e mail was returned to me. Is your address afew_@europe_.com?

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 02:42:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes but I think that account, which I opened just to catch emails from here, probably won't allow attachments, or at least there's a size limit. Send me a message without attachment, and I'll reply giving you another address?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 02:52:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Those are really fine photos. The subject is perfectly in focus while the expanses of water get beautiful, intriguing treatment.

Need I say these are duck photos (me duck)?

Do you mind, LEP, if I resample one and post it here (or both)? (Though quality will be lost in resizing...)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 04:05:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please do post it here. I would have done it myself if I had an account at a picture hosting site.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 04:18:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They'll come up downthread.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 04:27:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Camera are going to be replaced by Phone.

Gadgets like the Sony cybershot K790 are showing the way, 3.2Mpixel and average picture quality, but some new phones in korea reach 10Mpixel !

the new processing power of these phone allows them to make some very usable pictures despite their small lens.

Camera are dying.

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 06:19:32 AM EST
That maybe true, though it is not about cameras dying, it is about technical convergence. But what you are describing as moving to the mobile phone is just everyday documenting. It will be a long long while before an ergonomically awkward device like a phone will have any relevance to narrative photgraphy.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 06:43:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the lack of optical zoom dosn't help on a phone. The decrease in Picture quality with the digital zoom is awful.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 07:04:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wish they'd bury the ######## cell phones myself!

More dangerous things on the roads here are not to be found.

Great essay on photography and digital photography.

I dabble in the digital realm of it a little bit in my business.

Still even simple still pictures are hard to get right--to convey exactly what you want to convey to the viewer.

"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins

by EricC on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 08:40:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I really appreciate this diary. As I neared the end of my 7th decade I suddenly became interested in photography thanks to my 12 year old daughter who often seems to have a camera or a vidcam hanging from her neck. I think the last camera I had was 50 years ago and I always hated them on the theory that if you're taking pictures you're not living the moment. (Maybe at my age it's easier to observe the moment than to live it.)
Anyway, in February, I bought myself a Kodak for 140euros
and I found myself clicking all over the place, and I seem to have a nice knack for for finding the right scene. I work on the theory that if I was an artist, and I would like to paint a scene, then I'll snap it. And since there's no cost you can snap away at will and since I'm retired I have the time.
When my Kodak broke in June I returned it for repair and after 30 days with no camera Carrefour gave me a refund. I then bought a Nikon (250euro price range) which took beautiful shots but I found the shutter too slow. It was not as nice as the Kodak for me. Within my 15 days of "satisfait ou rembourse" I returned that for a refund and decided to get a Kodak z650 for aroud 300
euros. I went to Darty but saw a Panasonic for the same price with 6x zoom and a stabilizer. I told the sales lady I would try it for 10 days "satisfait ou rembourse" and if I didn't like it I would return it for the Kodak. I liked it but did not love it- the shots were too dark and when I printed them out they looked like the postcards you buy in the tourist stores.
So I went back and now have my z650 Kodak and after 2 days I'm very happy.
So your diary was very timely for someone who's become an obsessive compulsive about picture taking.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 11:56:01 AM EST
Could not a agree more.  How can I be 31 and old fashioned?  I'm not a photographer, per se, but I prefer a 35mm camera (or a 16 mm) to this digital stuff any day.  From the work that goes into preparing the scene to be photographed to the little butterfies of anxiety experienced while waiting for film to be developed.  And the surprise of the final product.  Well, none of this can really be compared to the digital camera.  

Don't get me wrong, I like that the technology of digital allows me to see what you all look like or where you went on vacation, but it is the difference between brute communication and art, I guess.  

I also have a problem with taking vacation photos.  I take them for other people who will want to see them, but, especially abroad, I have that lingering feeling of "stealing the soul" or somehow exploiting what I've snapped a pic of.  Sheer idiocy, I'm sure.  But unless it's something I've put a lot of time and energy into capturing in a way that really celebrates the essence of something, I just get bad vibes from vacation photos.

Few realise however, how much the taking of photographs tends to exclude them from the real experience.

Bingo.  You're on a roll, Sven.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 12:10:26 PM EST

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 04:33:36 PM EST
Ooh, adorable.

Unfortunately for them, when I think "duck," I think confit and liver pate and roasted with a nice sauce...

Gosh, now I'm hungry...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 05:14:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These are mallard ducks. that the French call col-vert, green-collar. Nice, common, familiar ducks that live and nest by waterways even in town.

So of course I'm going to say no one would dream of eating these dear little things. Not. In fact delicious.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Aug 20th, 2006 at 03:09:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't mention Mallards to DoDo! They were really beautiful engines..

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Aug 20th, 2006 at 03:17:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
These photos were shot in Moret sur Loing, about 15 minutes southeast of Fountainbleau. Moret was the home of Alfred Sisley. I love to sit on the banks of the river there on a sunny day. The richest of kings could not find a more lovely spot to enjoy.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sun Aug 20th, 2006 at 08:39:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When I'm not pontificating about society I also pontificate about photography.

If you are interested in this subject you can read some of my essays:
http://robertdfeinman.com/art
If you just want some tips on making better photos:
http://robertdfeinman.com/tips

The transition to digital will probably expand the number of people taking pictures, but it seems likely that a high percentage of them will just be transitory. I have seen many cases of people in tourist spots taking a photo with their mobile phone and sending it to someone. I doubt either of them keeps it. The issues of long term storage and retrieval are debated frequently on photo forums.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 04:46:12 PM EST
Storage.

As I pack up my things here in Germany prior to the move back to England next weekend, I have one chore that I am not looking forward to.

Packing the 3000 or so slides that lurk in a cupboard in my living room. One of these days I will get around to scanning them. Until then they will have to follow me around.

I still haven't bought a digital, but one of these days I will get around to replacing my Canon ES bodies with something new.

Eats cheroots and leaves.

by NeutralObserver on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 05:36:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're going to scan thousands of pictures that are currently stored on media that has been a global standard for over 75 years, in order to put them onto a CD-R or something like that that you won't be able to read in five years?
by asdf on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 09:57:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very true, however the slides and negatives also deteriorate with time.  I've just purchased a rather expensive film scanner to convert my old and new negatives and slides to digital.  The old Ektachromes and Kodachromes that I took in the 70s have suffered a fair amount of damage despite dark storage during most of the period.  The scanner and firmware do a magnificent job in restoring color and contrast.  In addition, I can now custom tweak the digital files to my liking.  Like you, though I also worry about the future of my digital files.  I won't throw away my transparencies, but yes what about those digital camera files?  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 10:53:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excuse my ignorance but why can't you read a cd rom in 5 years? Does the data disappear? Does your comment hold true with dvd storage?

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sun Aug 20th, 2006 at 08:58:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two reasons.

First, the data can disappear. This depends on a lot of factors, pricincipally the quality of the CD. Unfortunately, it's hard to judge by brand name.
"Buy the best gold media, burn it on the slowest burn, keep it in the coldest possible environment with no temp changes, low humidity, low polution if possible, store the media upright like a book in a metal enclosure (not wood), write on the disk with an archival approved soft tip pen and make sure to make 2 copies."
http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=007qwW

Second, you won't have a computer with a CD reader in it. For example, can you read your 5.25" floppy disks from 1995?

Your Kodachrome slides should still be in good shape, if they were stored carefully. And your monochromse slides or negatives should be fine unless they have mould growing on them. Ektachrome, well, yes, it fades.

by asdf on Sun Aug 20th, 2006 at 12:08:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope.

I'll scan to harddisk, backup to CD-R and for the important ones load them up to a website my own or some purchased virtual storage.

As I change from computer to computer then I'll simply move the photos from old to new.

Yes I know it's a risk, I spent ten years upgrading customer off-line storage systems time after time after time.

The biggest headache I had at one customer was 30,000 1/2" mag-tapes where the data had been written with about twenty different utilities on six different types of mainframe over a period of 20 years. The problems with tapes that were decayed, broken, de-laminated, stuck together etc etc were horrible. Took my team, a tape drive manufacturer and two specialist labs, three years to recover all but a couple of hundred tapes

All that effort because they were required by their contract with the government to keep the statistical data for 15 years.

They wrote it all to hard drives initially with gigabyte tape backups. They then produced multiple CD-R extracts for specific projects.

I hate CD-Rs except for short term backup.

Eats cheroots and leaves.

by NeutralObserver on Mon Aug 21st, 2006 at 11:28:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For me in documentary situations, the most important thing is to take a bit of time to observe before shooting. Get a sense of the people, their body language and what relationship they have with each other and the place, if any.

Next is to identify the importance of any objects in the scene - especially if people are involved with the objects, because when people are doing something more important than the fact that someone is taking a picture, they are more natural.

And then decide whether the light is working for you or against you in capturing the mood you feel.

And finally to walk around through the space - whether it is a small room or a large building or a field and get a sense of which would be the best positions to shoot from.

Intel is the photographer's best tool, because you need to be ready at the right moment. Although people are fairly predictable, you have to follow the rhythm of the event to get the best pictures.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 05:32:02 PM EST
I find the digital revolution in photography quite irritating. My reliable old Leica outfit worked just fine for me for decades, and suddenly it's almost completely antiquated.

I got a small digital point-and-shoot and it's horrible: won't focus in the dark, slow to respond to shutter button press, "fun with batteries," etc.

Luckily the local shop will scan a roll of film and put it onto a CD, so I'm almost as up to date as the punks with their fancy new cameras.

by asdf on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 10:04:55 PM EST
It is somewhat unfair to compare a Leica with a point-and-shoot. Compare it with a Nikon D70 and all your problems disappear.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Aug 20th, 2006 at 03:20:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
as a long time 35mm photog...30+yrs...I've reluctantly made the switch to digital w/ an 8mpix canon 350D...have had the thing for a year and still prefer film, especially in situations where time is not of the essence.

photography is, indeed, a serious pursuit, everything else is snapshots.

thanks.

by town on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 10:11:12 PM EST
Frankly, I hope film never goes away.  I love my 35mm and medium format film cameras and the variety of film available for professional shooters.  Over the past few years there has been a a large number of pros that have switched to digital and I think a lot of it has to do with the need to produce a quick product.  Journalist were probably the first, but the trend has continued with 35mm and medium format nature shooters (large format still has plenty of holdouts), and now portrait photographers.  I have an acquaintance who was struggling with his portrait business (he produced magnificent portraits from his Mamiya 6x7s) but his business really took off when he traded them in for a fairly cheap 35mm digital SLR.  I've seen some of his new products and they look good.  Different, but good.  I,m also in the market for a digital SLR, but I don't plan on giving up my film cameras.  Hold on to your Leica, it's a great machine!!

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Aug 19th, 2006 at 11:10:01 PM EST
I love my digital cameras and would never go back to film. I thumb my nose at you reactionaries.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sun Aug 20th, 2006 at 02:20:45 AM EST
Digital is just another medium, with different qualities - some are great advantages, some are inconveniences. It would be hard to say for instance that conté crayon was a better medium than watercolour. However if I was a whizz with conté, I'd be annoyed of they stopped making it and I was forced to use watercolours only.

The real advantages of digital are:

  • the pictures are easy to share, giving photography a new social dimension
  • pictures are easy to self-process - photoshop (while requiring a lot of knowledge to use professionally) is a lot less arcane than the techniques of the colour  darkroom.
  • the cost per frame is way less, especially iterations
  • it is inherently multiformat and device independent
  • storage is simple

In all other ways, the pro digital camera as a capturing device is the same as a film camera.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Aug 20th, 2006 at 03:15:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed, except for "storage is simple." Actually, storage of digital images requires a sophisticated backup regime that is constantly monitored. Traditional film can be put in a shoebox in the attic for a couple of decades without worry.
by asdf on Sun Aug 20th, 2006 at 12:10:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure whether we will need to 'store' digital images anywhere in particular - the sci-fi part of me says that in the near future we will upload eveything we photograph or video onto giant server farms from whence, like the memory, they will be spread all over the place. Sometimes they will remain pristine, sometimes they'll be used by other people to remix and edit and find new meanings in them. But it will be hard to tell which is real anymore.

And slowly THIS reality now will disappear and be replaced by a zeitgeist of images and sounds which we will live in.

Now this may send like a vision of hell to you - but it is how the brain works and you are living in it right now!

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Aug 20th, 2006 at 12:34:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I tried to patent that idea once...

Did you see that article theorizing that those old cave paintings are actually just prehistoric graffiti? The images are all about hunting and sex, which is the typical preoccupation of teenaged boys.

"The theory contradicts the idea that adult, tribal shaman spiritual leaders and healers produced virtually all cave art. It also explains why many of the images drawn in caves during the Pleistocene, between 10,000 and 35,000 years ago, somewhat mirror today's artwork and graffiti that are produced by adolescent males."

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20060327/caveart_arc.html

by asdf on Sun Aug 20th, 2006 at 12:45:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
2000 hours huh...

great, lyrical, concise writing, sven

my fave way to use dig-fot is to print frames from videos.

inching the footage to and fro in imovie, till i find the second when people drop their mask, or the slice of time between the dropping of one and assembling the subconscious components of the next.

i love portraits against a beautiful natural background, nature in anomalous moments, and quirky light studies

fave subjects, musicians in midflight

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 20th, 2006 at 03:59:35 AM EST
Is a theory of Grand Master Gary Kasparov who I had the pleasure to work with for a while. It's very broad, but it certainly applies to the deep learning of all activities that require coordination (the instinctive control of fine motor movment).

Coordination is 'nothing more' than the building of neural networks by feedback. To throw a dart accurately requires that you release the dart exactly in a millisecond 'window of opportunity'. There is not one neuron that will do that for you (though there are neurons that have a primitive timing element to them) So what you need are a whole chorus of neurons, none of which sing exactly the right note, but all together, coupled with feedback from the visual projection systems, arte able to tell the fingers exactly the right moment to let go of the dart.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Aug 20th, 2006 at 04:19:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]

You really don't mind sticking your neck out Sven, so many sweeping generalizations !  :-)

"The photographer is always concerned by narrative: in the moment of capturing a small part of an event's 360 degree space, a decision is required as to what part of that space tells the best story of that event."

This applies to to news and documentary photography, but not to much photography which is more concerned with formal aspects, colours, shapes, etc. where no "story" is involved; though it's always a period of time, usually very short, but sometimes a long time exposure.

"Both technically and creatively, good photography requires an investment in learning that most people will never be interested in or have time for. The mastery of lighting, for instance, whether utilising available light or controlled lighting, is not something that can be acquired in a quick weekend course (though it will certainly improve your pictures)."

First of all it is not all all agreed what "good" photography is and it varies depending on the type of photography involved. Secondly it's just not true, hence the fact that a beginner can get lucky and take a perfectly "good" news shot if they happen to be at the right time and the right place. For example, an amateur got a shot of a Gazza, a British footballer, which showed he was not living up to a promise that he had stopped drinking and was dieting. A young guy saw him late at night, quickly bought a disposable camera and grabbed a shot which made the front page of a British tabloid. Amateurs with little experience sometimes win photo competitions judged by pro photographers, picture editors, etc. Of course experience means that you are more likely to get a good shot, even in very difficult circumstances.

"And IMHO the most important factor of all is the photographer's relationship to the event. How do you get a feel for what is going on? What do you understand about the behaviour of the objects (including people) at the event. How do you put yourself in the right position in relationship to the event. What are you trying to communicate?"

Again this applies more to news and documentary; often people are just trying to communicate that this thing looks nice, which might have been thought as soon as they turned a corner and it has nothing to do with any event.

"There are so many factors, that it is hard to think about them consciously all at the same time, and thus instinct, based on knowledge and experience, is always in play. Instinct follows the 2000 hours of experience and practice that are required to do anything well. It takes that long for the cerebellum to get wired up."

Always be careful about using "always" :-) It didn't take the young guy who got the Gazza shot 2000 hours. Also it's an irritating fact that some people have natural abilities in various fields and start performing well almost immediately, as I've seen in the case of some talented photography/film/video students, especially when the technology will, in many cases, take care of some technical aspects very adequately

"The photographer is always an observer. Good photography requires, like the tourists, disassociation from the event space. Photography is an intellectual discipline of analysis and editing, combined with the technical skils needed to elevate a picture into a point of view. And, as anyone with experience of commercial or news photography knows, you still might end up with only one picture out of a hundred that tells the story."

Again it's assumed that it's  clear what "good" photography is - yet there is general debate about this, and arguments amongst judges of competitions. But anyway, it's just not true that there must be "disassociation". this seems to be variant of the view that journalists must be objective (when what's really meant is balanced - also not true).  Philip Jones Griffiths, who did the classic war photography book, "Vietnam Inc", had a very clear attitude to the Vietnam War, which certainly didn't get in the way and arguably improved his photographic coverage. He didn't just respond to events  as they happened, but sought out images to illustrate some complex aspects of the war, e.g. Americans' dependence on  technology like computers.

"For the amateur, there is no such editing. Every picture taken, except those that are total technical duds, is significant. Nothing is discarded."

This is rather patronising; most amateurs will have favourite photos and will discard some which are technically OK, because they don't like the expression, they have a better version, etc. Also they don't take as many shots of any one scene or event as a pro. So of course they aren't as selective as many professional photographers, some of whom shoot an absurd number of frames, knowing they will reject almost all, to cover themselves when they only need one or two shots - (ah the discipline of large glass plates :-)).

By the way, I also commented on your comment on "Aurelius and The Art of Poo".


Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Aug 22nd, 2006 at 05:49:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I never mind sticking my head out! It gets people like you to be active on ET!! ;-)

While documentary was what I was mainly talking about - since most people with cameras are only documenting their lives.I was not addressing this to dedicated hobbyists or professionals because they have already spent the 2000 hours.

In general, what I would mean by a 'good photograph' is one main thing, that the photograph is exactly how the photographer wants it to be in every detail, in order to convey - to the audience that the photographer wants to reach - the photographer's attitude to what is depicted. All three sub-factors have to be present for it to qualify as a good photograph.

A beautiful close up picture of a bird taken by nature photographer, reveals that photographer's attitude to the subject. In this case, not by 'commentary' but by simple celebration of the creature. Celebration is an attitude. 'Gotcha' in the case of the Gazza pic is an attitude.

Attitudes can equally apply to abstract subjects. The formal aspects still represent the need for an attitude toward them since they involve decision-making.

The 2000 hours is of course spent in order to increase the likelihood of getting good pictures. It makes no difference to take one picture of Gazza by good luck if for the rest of your photographic life it is never repeated. It is more like the images on CCTV. All I am talking about is how to take better pictures, more often.

I'm not patronising, but eliding and simplifying what otherwise would be a page of footnotes - I regard a lot of what you say as common sense which I think most readers will understand anyway.

Glass plates! You must be older than me, or an architectural photographer (who are the only remaining practioners of focal plane distortion in service of their masters who still insist on vertical linearity in a non-linear world)   ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 22nd, 2006 at 06:22:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Sven:

"I never mind sticking my head out! It gets people like you to be active on ET!! ;-)<

OK, but perhaps you should stick it out more carefully :-)

"While documentary was what I was mainly talking about - since most people with cameras are only documenting their lives.I was not addressing this to dedicated hobbyists or professionals because they have already spent the 2000 hours.<

Then don't use terms like "always" or "good" without qualification; use 'mainly"  etc.

"In general, what I would mean by a 'good photograph' is one main thing, that the photograph is exactly how the photographer wants it to be in every detail, in order to convey - to the audience that the photographer wants to reach - the photographer's attitude to what is depicted. All three sub-factors have to be present for it to qualify as a good photograph."

This clearly won't do, especially given some of your critical comments about amateurs. Thus if the photo clearly conveys to the rest of his family, "the audience that the photographer wants to reach", that he was at the Eiffel Tower, I don't think that you would accept that this necessarily makes it a "good" photo, given the rest of what you said.

Also, by the nature of photography, a largely mechanical process, a photographer can't (as a painter can) have control of "every" detail in a photo - that's often part of the interest of old photos, e.g. the info they provide in the background which the photographer took for granted, but which didn't affect what he wanted to convey in general.

"A beautiful close up picture of a bird taken by nature photographer, reveals that photographer's attitude to the subject. In this case, not by 'commentary' but by simple celebration of the creature. Celebration is an attitude. 'Gotcha' in the case of the Gazza pic is an attitude."

You're mixing things up, the issue wasn't whether the photographer had an attitude or not (of course these always exist) but whether one needs 2000 hours of practice to take a "good" photo. The example showed that clearly one does not; from the point of view of news values, the relevant ones in this case, this was clearly a "good" photo.

"Attitudes can equally apply to abstract subjects. The formal aspects still represent the need for an attitude toward them since they involve decision-making."

Yes, but check back, "attitude" wasn't mentioned in your comment. I was arguing against the idea that "narrative" is "always" involved - it isn't.

"The 2000 hours is of course spent in order to increase the likelihood of getting good pictures. It makes no difference to take one picture of Gazza by good luck if for the rest of your photographic life it is never repeated. It is more like the images on CCTV. All I am talking about is how to take better pictures, more often."

Again I'm afraid that you're just changing your argument - now you agree with me - but what you said, in an over-generalization, was that it wasn't possible to make any (cf my reference to your "always") good photo without 2000 hours of experience - simply not true. If you want to admit you overstated your case, feel free to do so :-)

"I'm not patronising, but eliding and simplifying what otherwise would be a page of footnotes - I regard a lot of what you say as common sense which I think most readers will understand anyway."

Yes, but the point is that I disagreed with you - so if you now think what I said is common sense - retract :-)

"Glass plates! You must be older than me, or an architectural photographer (who are the only remaining practioners of focal plane distortion in service of their masters who still insist on vertical linearity in a non-linear world)   ;-)'

Just a joke of course. But I don't agree we're in a "non-linear" world - if you've had too much to drink and have to leave the car and walk, it's  a very linear world :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Aug 24th, 2006 at 09:50:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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