Self discovery

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
I am not asking for anyone to show me the way......
That said my OP was really just a statement of the fact that I was coming to understand the path I was on. Nothing more. I appreciate seeing and hearing from other folks such as yourself, Don , Lilli (and pretty much everyone else) but it something that happens from within. I see my path with regards to photography as being very close to the path I have taken with the sword.
It was just an observation.
I thought that it was obvious that my comments were observations also. I certainly wouldn't presume to "show you the way" I'm somewhat taken aback that you saw it as that.
 
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dixeyk

Guest
I meant no disrespect and I do apologize for not interpreting your post(s) correctly. I am always interested in what you (and the other senior board members) have to say. When I teach the martial arts I often see folks wanting the sensei or sifu (or what--have-you) to reveal the "secret" to them. I was probably the same way way back when. The truth is...there is no secret. You practice and find your path and then more you let go of the idea of there being some sort of great truth you need to find the more you understand. I think perhaps I was just trying to be clear that I wasn't asking for any secret. Again, sorry if I offended. It certainly wasn't intentional.
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Jul 6, 2010
I often see folks wanting the sensei or sifu (or what--have-you) to reveal the "secret" to them. I was probably the same way way back when. The truth is...there is no secret. You practice and find your path and then more you let go of the idea of there being some sort of great truth you need to find the more you understand.
Well said. I agree totally with that.
 
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jhawker

Regular
Aug 30, 2011
Springfield, Illinois
Finding your voice

Lot's of great info here so far.
Old Walker Evans found a joy in using old equipment.
Good tools make thing easier.
I remember finally getting a dark room sink and expecting the prints to improve.
Minor White worked consistently throughout his life to use the camera "faithfully".
Nathan Lyons continues to explore that idea and to try to get us to find our voice in our work.
Bill Jay wrote and photographed trying to quantify his approach.
Streetshooter mentioned earlier there is no right way.
It's a process an exploration and it's the best thing there is.
Keep Eager.
JH
 

Lightmancer

Legend
Aug 13, 2011
Sunny Frimley
Bill Palmer
Fascinating thread.

I think it is less about the Zen of photography, as finding your Tao. Over the years I have progressed (regressed) along a trajectory that I think I am not alone in traversing. I started with basic cameras then "peaked" in the last years of film dominance with a Nikon F100. It sang, it danced, it was capable of producing exceptional results in the right hands - but those hands were not mine... I couldn't take a decent image with it for toffee. It was too complex for me and too "thick" - that is, there was too much camera between me and my subject to enable me to be at one with my subject. The finest SLR I ever owned was a Contax RX; it was slap in the "Goldilocks zone" - not too simple, not too complex, not too small, not too big, etc. But it is almost impossible to find one in good working order these days. The next best (for me) is the Nikon FM3a, which I now have an example of to take my old Leica R glass.

But I digress. The point I wanted to make was that my path of self-discovery has lain in the old adage "less is more". The first time I picked up a Leica M it was a revelation - the absolute minimum of electronics coupled with exceptional glass. The camera became transparent to me. It was an enabler to my photography, instead of a blocker. I spent more time seeing and capturing images and far less trying to work out what the camera was doing. In later years I went beyond that and found myself back at the Barnacks - first a IIIc then my current II (D). No electronics, no gadgetry, no nothing except brass, glass and my "talent" - if I took a "good" photo it was me that had done the deed, not a programmer in Kyoto. If I got it wrong I had only myself to blame. I practiced, and I learned - Sunny-16 with a single film speed (ISO400) until I could set exposure without raising the camera to my eye. Ditto focus. I learned how to estimate, take the first shot then refine focus - in a single movement.

I built my confidence with the basics with M and LTM cameras then applied those lessons "back" to more high-tech equipment like my D-Lux 4 and latterly the GXR and GRD III. It's an old and clichéd thing to say but there is no substitute to learning the basics. Everyone's path is different; everyone's Tao will be personal to them. There is no one set of rules, or guidelines except to say that you have to get yourself out there and learn - really, really learn - with a single tool until it becomes not just an extension of your arm but an extension of your personality.
 

pdh

Legend
Jan 2, 2011
It's interesting to think about how people might "learn their craft" differently in 2011 than they did in 1990 (or 1970, or 1940 ... )

I wonder who is giving thought to exercises fit for almost entirely automatic cameras?

That's not to say of course that the ability to set an exposure using sunny-16 and estimate focus distance correctly doesn't add richness and refinement to one's technique using a digital compact ... but I'd be very surprised if any but a handful of enthusiasts for the history of photography are using a manual camera in, say, 50 years time ...

This isn't the first time I've posted the following ... but ... It can be fun and instructive to play a counterfactual game ... so ... let's suppose film photography had never ever existed, and that digital photography had been invented, in all it's current glory and developments, just this year; no-one had ever used a camera without autofocus or IS or live-view or whatever, because they had simply never existed; post-processing, whether HDR or focus stacking or deblurring, was taken for granted as a natural part of the process of photography.

Or if that's too fanciful for some, then let's not forget that there are huge numbers of people using cameras daily who never used film or a manual camera.

SO .. .what does the "craft" of photography consist of for people who have never heard of (or perhaps don't care that) manual photography ever existed?
 

Landshark

PhotoDog
Jul 15, 2010
SoCal
Bob
There is also something to be said for what our natural talents are, all crafts require work, nurturing and practice but some abilities come to some of us more easily than others, even though we want to excel, it may take more time and practice to find our way. Not every thing we do, has to be great, there are many thing we do that just let us express ourselves for our own amusement, which is a good thing.
Photography has been a part of my life since I was a young boy, I have identified myself as a photographer since my early twenties it is what I have become, even if I stopped being paid to shoot today, I would still be a photographer, it is that much a part of me. I am not assigning any value judgments on my work, good, bad or mediocre; it is just how I see the world and how I see myself.
When it comes to some of the other interests I pursue, many are far easier to master than others. For example I have lived in a bilingual house for over 30 years but I still struggle when trying to speak a second language, my father-in-law on the other hand speaks several without much effort at all, I am very possibly a good enough cook to be a working chef, it comes naturally to me, again not that I do not work at it, it is just something I feel, taste and smell, but when it comes to something that I have always wanted to do, play guitar it has been a mighty struggle for me, I can entertain myself making noise, but nothing anybody would want to hear. I try and try but apparently not hard enough, I find myself over thinking and too mechanical, I struggle to just feel the music with my hands, I will get there someday, although I know now a guitar or uke will never feel as natural in my hands as a camera.
 

Landshark

PhotoDog
Jul 15, 2010
SoCal
Bob
Honestly I do not think it really matters at what point somebody picked up a camera, understanding manual controls can help one achieve and understand the results they are trying to achieve, but that only address the technical part of the photographic art form, what the real core of photography is, the light, composition, subject, mood, emotion and communication to name just a few. None of those descriptors care how automatic or manual the camera is, nor does it really matter if it is on film or digital capture. The final image is all that counts no matter how one gets there
It's interesting to think about how people might "learn their craft" differently in 2011 than they did in 1990 (or 1970, or 1940 ... )

I wonder who is giving thought to exercises fit for almost entirely automatic cameras?

That's not to say of course that the ability to set an exposure using sunny-16 and estimate focus distance correctly doesn't add richness and refinement to one's technique using a digital compact ... but I'd be very surprised if any but a handful of enthusiasts for the history of photography are using a manual camera in, say, 50 years time ...

This isn't the first time I've posted the following ... but ... It can be fun and instructive to play a counterfactual game ... so ... let's suppose film photography had never ever existed, and that digital photography had been invented, in all it's current glory and developments, just this year; no-one had ever used a camera without autofocus or IS or live-view or whatever, because they had simply never existed; post-processing, whether HDR or focus stacking or deblurring, was taken for granted as a natural part of the process of photography.

Or if that's too fanciful for some, then let's not forget that there are huge numbers of people using cameras daily who never used film or a manual camera.

SO .. .what does the "craft" of photography consist of for people who have never heard of (or perhaps don't care that) manual photography ever existed?
 

pdh

Legend
Jan 2, 2011
Don't take my post in too literal a manner.
I'm not arguing for the primacy of the technical aspect ... in fact I'm not trying to argue anything at all, but what I am doing is seeing if we can explore how technical things and artistic things interact.

One of the points that soundimageplus, amongst others, makes in this thread is the importance of "the technical part of the photographic art form" ... that "craft" and "technique" do matter as they are the means with which the final image is produced. I think this is a very common point of view.

Don, perhaps on a different tack, has said he's interested in how little a camera gets between him and his vision ... which sounds like the position of a master craftsman to me ...

Would neither exist without the other?
If "the final image" is the only thing that is important, then why should anybody learn any technique at all?
Why not just point a camera and takes lots of shots in Program mode and find your "final image" later?
Why not just hand a camera to an infinite number of monkeys and let 'em rip?

Again, I'm not arguing for a particular point, simply asking questions ...
 

Landshark

PhotoDog
Jul 15, 2010
SoCal
Bob
Maybe I overstated mine, I just think an over obsession with equipment and or the technical can get in the way. In retrospect, early in my career there was way too much emphasis on the technical by me, it took hanging out with painters and other artists to learn there was more to the image than just being sharp with "perfect" exposure. While I think it would be great and extremely beneficial to everyone to know all the technical aspect and rules, I do not think it is absolutely necessary. For me it does not really matter if one sees the image when they took it or latter in the edit, the important part is they finally did see it. We all have different ways to get to that final image.
When my girls were very very young I gave them automatic cameras, I was blown away by what they shot and saw.
I would be fascinated to see what the monkeys shot.
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Dec 24, 2010
Brisbane, Australia
Nic
I once worked in a zoo and did witness a squirrel monkey take a picture, with (I think) a Canon Ixus that belonged to one of our volunteers. The image was rubbish: out of focus, poorly composed, no real subject. The lady whose camera it was thought it was the coolest photo ever.
 

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