Taking photographs

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread


I am an beginning photographer and have been self taught. I got hooked when i visited a local photo gallery (Ken Duncan) here in Sydney, Australia. I have become interested in medium format 6x17 photography and since then have made my own 617 camera, with an SA90 F8, and set up my darkroom for producing ilfochromes. I shoot velvia and provia. I have just finished my first batch of prints and I am very pleased with the results (sharpness/colour saturation and balance/exposure). I have learnt so much from here, (thanks to all) at the LF BBS and, lots and lots of books from the library. My problem is that amongst all the technical learning about taking photos and printing them, and the technical aspects of film and paper (which i have found most interesting) i seem to have a much reduced skill in taking a good photo (at least what i think is a good one). I seem to be making so many decisions now when i go out to take pics, and with poor results. Before i got really interested in photography I was just taking snapshot 35mm, and looking back at them they seem to be better. I always tried to keep "rules" out of taking pictures but perhaps all the technical side has influenced me into thinking too much before opening the shutter? The thought and process of LF was the thing i was most interested in when i got started, but has that been my own worst enemy?? Does anyone have any experiences here??

-- Phil Brammer (filsta@goconnect.net), January 20, 2002


You have entered the realm of making, not taking, a photograph......

-- James Webb (jwebb66@yahoo.com), January 20, 2002.

Keep at it, Phil. With plenty of practice, all the mechanics of photography will become an unobtrusive, natural extension of the process, allowing your artistic vision to shine through.

-- Todd Caudle (todd@skylinepress.com), January 20, 2002.

Phil: I am sure many can relate to your comments and question. When you've done the mechanical parts of the job enough times (setting up tripod, putting camera on tripod, putting lens on tripod, etc. etc. etc.) they become nearly second nature and the long list of ways you can mess up your photo don't intrude so much on seeing a good photograph and getting what you think you see on film. The simple fact of the matter is that for some time you really need to think about what you're doing with the camera, and that can interfere with the photograph. Given your level of interest I think you'll move beyond that if you're patient. Keep working at it and good luck.

-- Kevin Crisp (KRCrisp@aol.com), January 20, 2002.

Panoramic formats can be difficult. They take in so much information, and you have to figure out how to manage it.

Go back to the gallery and try to figure out what makes those images you liked work. Look at the work of Lois Connor, who treats the long frame like a scroll for telling a narrative. Look at Horst Hamman's work, which exploits the vertical possibilities of the long frame. Look at billboards and the long advertisements inside buses and subway trains. Which ones work and why?

Try to find a subject that lends itself to the panorama. Skylines and mountain ranges are the obvious ones, but they also lend themselves to cliche. What else is long and flat or tall and thin in your environment?

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), January 20, 2002.

What seems to be the problem on those occasions that you get poor results? Perhaps there's some easily resolved problem. One thing, working in transparencies is especially challenging because of the difficulty in getting proper exposure. I can't see that what you are doing is much different than working with medium format on a tripod.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), January 21, 2002.

Going from the (probably) fully automatic snapshots to the manual making of panorama photographs does take quite a lot from anyone. I guess that you take your snapshots on negative film, which is a very forgiving film compared to Velvia in particular. The fully manual process is also an obstacle, which you'll gradually learn to master. A third obstacle is the panoramic format, which is an extreme format. I wouldn't expect brilliant results on the first attempts even from expert photographers who havn't done panoramic before, as the format takes a new way of looking and evaluating the subject.

-- Björn Nilsson (b.w.nilsson@telia.com), January 22, 2002.

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