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An old saying about a modern obsession


strawman e2
11 22.0k 16 United Kingdom
19 Feb 2009 5:43PM
Having thought about it, Jools has a fairly good definition.

I guess some tasks place large demands on the kit whilst others are fairly easy.

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keith selmes
11 7.1k 1 United Kingdom
19 Feb 2009 5:44PM

Quote:"Asking a photographer what model of camera he uses is like asking a writer what model of typewriter he uses"
It isn't really.
I could only go about half way with that.

The model of camera can tell you a quite a bit about the style or type of photography practiced, and the the approach of the individual.
If its a Leica M series, or a Canon DSLR, a Lomo, or Gandolfi for example.

It also tells you something if they say "whatever it needs to do the job"!

Its more like asking a painter what medium they use - like acrylics, or water colours, pastels, oils or a combination thereof. It gives you some clue as to their outlook and the type of work they might be doing. They probably have reasons for their choice as well, and some fairly strong views about it.
Like photographers with their choice of equipment.
keith selmes
11 7.1k 1 United Kingdom
19 Feb 2009 5:51PM

Quote:it's actually all about the gear.

Again I can't go far with that.
You can't take a picture without the gear, and you can only take a picture that the gear is capable of, but that still leaves you with a lot of scope, even with very primitive equipment. So its really up to you to do what you can with it.

I mean, neither extremity of view really works for me, the equipment is important, but its what you do with it that counts.
Overread e2
6 3.9k 18 England
19 Feb 2009 6:38PM
Its all about the gear
no wait
Its all about the light
no not right either
Its all about the subject
nope not right again
Its all about the photographer
mmmm sort of works - but still got problems

Its all about the gear, the light, the subject, the vision and how the photographer brings them together to get the shot.

I think that works better. Polarizing things to only one aspect is always going to be wrong since there are so many other factors that affect the shot. Its also impossible to say that these componenets are not important - yes we can all say that if that Adams chap (who tooks some rather nice landscapes) were given a 3mp point and shoot he would still frame the shot the same way, and still (most likley) shoot at the same time of day as with the better gear - but that is not to say he would get the same results
rowarrior e2
7 4.4k 9 Scotland
19 Feb 2009 6:46PM
It's all about getting out more Wink
SteveCharles
12 2.3k 18 England
19 Feb 2009 7:05PM
Sorry, bit long this, but entirely relevant, I think.

From the book 'On Being A Photographer' by Bill Jay & David Hurn:

Bill Jay:
..... Beginning photographers are obsessed with equipment but there comes a stage when they deny that cameras have any relevance. Yet the best photographers do seem to spend a lot of time talking about cameras again.

David Hurn:
Of course. It is important to have the right equipment for the purpose at hand and which is compatible with your own personality. It is possible to insert a screw with a hammer but the job is a lot more efficient with a screwdriver, preferably a power-driver!

Bill Jay:
A photographer in the middle-phase - dismissive of the camera - tends to feel such talk of equipment gives the impression that he/she is less artistic: "artists don't talk about paint or brushes." In fact, they do. Just recently I was fascinated to overhear two respected watercolour painters heatedly discussing pure white sable versus synthetic brushes.

David Hurn:
It makes sense. Musicians discuss instruments; writers discuss word processors, as I'm sure they once discussed types of goose quill; sculptors discuss brands of chisel and methods of welding; and so on. If you aspire to anything as well as it is possible to achieve, then the tool, instrument or, in our case, the camera, must contribute to, or at least not interfere with, the final product.

Good book.
JBA e2
6 341 1 United Kingdom
19 Feb 2009 10:33PM

Quote:Good book.


I'll second that. Just finished reading it.
Alciabides 5 536 United Kingdom
19 Feb 2009 10:46PM

Quote:Your're right. It is about the gear. But the gear should always be subservient to the image and the image to the idea.


True. The idea, however, is presumably only specifiable by reference to the successful exemplification of it in the image....

Do you know what the idea is (in any determinate sense) until you achieve successful expression of it? It seems to me that otherwise you know what it isn't but not what it is.
strawman e2
11 22.0k 16 United Kingdom
19 Feb 2009 10:54PM
I view it as the gear needs to be good enough to all you to achieve the image you imagined.

Quote:Do you know what the idea is (in any determinate sense) until you achieve successful expression of it?
In a word yes. I have often thought about what I wished to achieve then gone out to shoot it. And sometimes the equipment limits the ability to achieve the shot, and sometimes not.

And there are also examples of where what is a flaw or limitation is picked up by a creative soul and used to great effect. An example would be photo's where lens imperfections in toy cameras are used as an integral part of the image.
Alciabides 5 536 United Kingdom
19 Feb 2009 11:01PM

Quote:I view it as the gear needs to be good enough to all you to achieve the image you imagined.
QuoteGrino you know what the idea is (in any determinate sense) until you achieve successful expression of it?In a word yes. I have often thought about what I wished to achieve then gone out to shoot it. And sometimes the equipment limits the ability to achieve the shot, and sometimes not.

And there are also examples of where what is a flaw or limitation is picked up by a creative soul and used to great effect. An example would be photo's where lens imperfections in toy cameras are used as an integral part of the image.



This is interesting because typically in painting or sculpture or (classical) music as processes of making art, the default position is that what you are doing only becomes clear in doing it. Oh you can have a general coneption of what you you want to do but not a fully determinate conception of it. I wonder if your view - which I take seriously as a report - is tied directly to the basic fact of photography that you press a button and shutters open and close - and that is basically it (ignoring all the complictaions about which we disagree concerning post-shot processing).
keith selmes
11 7.1k 1 United Kingdom
19 Feb 2009 11:36PM

Quote:thought about what I wished to achieve then gone out to shoot it


Quote:what you are doing only becomes clear in doing it.

That seems to be another dichotomy, but I would say photographers do both, dependent on individual preference, and on the subject matter.
Sometimes exploring the subject, finding out what is there, and perhaps exploring their own feelings about it. Other times starting with a fairly clear idea of the picture they want, and how that will be achieved, including the processing, film or digital.
strawman e2
11 22.0k 16 United Kingdom
19 Feb 2009 11:47PM
It is pretty common for photographers, especially studio or still life ones, to have an idea of what they want to do. And I find with landscapes or scenes it is often best if I first inspect the area then work out the correct time and position for a return.

My last 4 photo's were planed, the most recent because I knew the time of day and lighting conditions I wanted. For the infra red I wanted a bright day with clouds and a light wind.

The model, well it is all posed, and was one of the ideas I was trying. I view it as an idea modified on the day.

The Avebury stones because I know the time of day and location, ok its not exactly what I wanted, but I knew where I would be and the type of weather and time of year.

The Abbey, again I knew the conditions and time of day I wanted. OK its not going to set the world on fire, but it was the idea I was exploring.

and sometimes you are just out and about and it strikes you. Mind you there is no saying that any shot that is planned is better than one you come across. There are skills in spotting and using a scene in front of you.
Alciabides 5 536 United Kingdom
20 Feb 2009 12:11AM
So how is this analogy - if I am carving a piece of wood, as I still occasionally do, I have an idea of what I am carving but what I do is highly responsive to the grain of teh wood, any knots, etc. so one cannot predict in advance how the idea is going to be realised; you may when going on (even a planned) photography trip have to be highly responsive to light, weather conditions, etc, so again one cannot predict in advance how the idea is going to be realised - but one knows when it is right and when it is wrong.
strawman e2
11 22.0k 16 United Kingdom
20 Feb 2009 12:20AM
I think Keith has it covered, there are multiple ways of approaching the subject. I know a sculptor who works with clay and stone. With the clay he has an idea of what he wants, but he develops it as he models.

With some stone he looks at it and from that and how the work develops, he carves a work. And with yet another stone he imposes his work onto it.

All three are valid, and photography is like that. Often you have an idea and work on it and go with the flow, other times you go along and see what is in front of you and react from that.

As I said the shots have turned out in the range of what I envisaged, did I see all of it no, but enough. Probably the furtherest away was the Avebury one, but that is because the light was not as I expected.
IanA e2
11 3.0k 12 England
20 Feb 2009 12:27AM
9.6v Green Bosch with crosspoint bit
12v Blue Bosch with set of 3 bits
18v DeWalt with 2x No1 Phillips, 3x No2 Phillips, 2x No3 Phillips and the same in Supadrive.

For the DIYer using it a couple of times a year, the first will do fine, but a professional fitter putting in 400+ screws a day would only have one choice! Wink

Ian

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