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Mentoring

dark_lord

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Mentoring

2 Jul 2022 1:41PM   Views : 183 Unique : 108

When you start out in photography, or any other activity for that matter, it helps enormously to have honest and constructive feedback.

I wish that had been the case for my photography. The learning process and being pleased with my results took a lot longer than if I'd had some helpful input. Being self taught is how many learn but the element of feedback was lacking. By that I mean meaningful feedback. It was easy for me to absorb knowledge but applying it iwas where help and direction was needed. For others it may be the opposite but the result is the same. These days there are many resources available. Online articles are plentiful so you're not limited to a few magazines and books together with the associated cost. But you still need to read, understand and put into practice in order for learning to fully happen

Then there are online videos which can really help. A few seconds of video can make something very clear and more understandable than a block of text. Pictures and a thousand words and so on. Your personal learning style (a huge and fascinating subject that I can't go into here) plays a big part.

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A local church, as shot. It's a little underexposed and muddy. Knowing when to increase exposure, and by how much, or taking a reading of a mid-tone area would have been helpful feedback. Is the wall on the left an intrusion? It's a cleaner view without, but including more of it would make for a stronger frame. Both are valid points and mentoring is there to make you consider options. If it's a familiar scene people will say it's 'nice' but won't provide helpful suggestions. At least the scourge of converging verticals has been avoided


However, despite the plethora of helpful media it can be very variable. There are detailed articles, blogs and tutorials that can be dry or hard going, so the learner is put off. Then there are ones that spend a lot of time on a subject but lack any substantial content or are far longer than needed for the message. Again, the learner will lose attention. Getting it just right is tricky especially as one size does definitely not fit all. And that's not to mention those that are misleading and inaccurate, which as a learner you're not likely to spot easily. A couple of problem areas for example involve the true meaning of 'macro' or 'bokeh'.

That said, there are photographers who have different working styles to others. No ight or wrong but some do think their way is 'correct'. It is important, and useful, to see the different points of view, even if one or another doesn't convince you at this point in time.

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There are some great lines inn this image. Exposure has been handled well. However, a smaller aperture would have improved depth of field and a slight change in viewpoint could have made more of hose lines together with the placement of the people. Being aware of what changes to make at the time of shooting is invaluable in order to move away from a 'so what' record to something more visually engaging


I have read of people being at best underwhelmed and often let down by the quality, or lack of it, of online correspondence courses. The basics are not explained well lt alone the more technical and aesthetic aspects. Not all such courses are bad of course, far from it. but it is a jungle and for some it's just a means to rake in some cash.
On the whole, don't take what family and friends tell you. At best they are well meaning and evenn say 'tha's a nice picture' even if it's plain ordinary. Perhaps they don't want to offend. You may not feel like asking them how you could have made a better job. But then they may not have a clue and just can't bring themselves to admit that. I'm not saying people will be unkind but honesty is important

If an image is unsharp, 'nice picture' isn't going to cut it, in fact it's downright unhelpful. The intelligent person will mntion it's unsharp and ask questions to figure out what it was with your technique that caused the unsharpness and suggest ways to avoid it in future. It's important to put your point of view too, so you get appropriate feedback. If you were going for creative blur, then say so. It could be that your technique neds a tweak. Notice that when I said 'unsharp' I didn't specify exact circumstances! If I want help on deliberate n-camera movement I don't want to be told 'use a tripod' but suggestions on shutter speed and panning action.

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A low angle has accentuated the marching Civil War soldiers returning from the Royal Oak (the tree that is, if you know your English history) and the semi-silhouettes add mystery and drama. Exposure was probably the 'best compromise' here though a graduated filter (which I would have had) would have made more of the sky. There is enough information in the original film image to enable modern software to be used to create something even more dramatic


If you want to learn and progress and you know someone who's accomplished and who's work you admire, they would be worth asking. Or preferably more than one person, as different viewpoints will be of benefit to your learning. No-one has all the answers either. We all see differently, and ou may prefer someone's vision over another. For example some are aficionados of square images. Many people are reticent o offer advice online, even when a poster asks, though there can be many reasons for that.

Mentoring and constructive criticism are rare commodities indeed.

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All text and images Keith Rowley 2022

Comments


Great blog Keith, you are absolutely right. I have found those who are most secure in their talent, are those that most freely give of their time and their knowledge.

I have learnt so much on this site by seeing others work and receiving positive feedback and constructive criticism from kind, well mannered and talented photographers. Feedback is always a gift and an opportunity to learn. Smile

Hannah
dark_lord Plus
18 2.9k 824 England
2 Jul 2022 6:44PM
Thank you for your comment Hannah, and I'm glad you find the site helpful.

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