An eye for a photograph

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Cole Slaw, Feb 19, 2010.

  1. Cole Slaw macrumors 6502a

    Cole Slaw

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    #1
    You guys ever notice that some people just seem to "have it" when it comes to taking a picture?
    Like for example my brother; he had a fairly old 3 megapixel (I think) Fuji point and shoot. He never took photos before owning it, doesn't have a clue about the law of thirds or any other photography principles, yet has taken so many great shots with it.
    He just seems to compose his pictures well, and catch the right moment, without really thinking about it.
    I guess it just proves that it really is the photographer, and not the equipment, that makes a great photograph.
    Me, I have better equipment, but have to work at it to take what I consider to be good pics. Wonder if I am just over thinking my shots?
     
  2. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    #2
    It's the rule of thirds and that alongside of book-learned principals it is likely that you are over thinking things. To me this is the problem. These hot shot people who run out and spent a ton of cash on the "best" do it to seem more professional or get better or whatever their deal may be. However, no full frame 20 MP camera with all L glass is going to make you a photographer and even if it somehow does, it won't make you good. It will mean that your ****** photos are just crisp and clear.

    .
     
  3. maddagascar macrumors regular

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    Oct 26, 2009
    #3
    i think you just have to have fun with it and just relax. it's usually trial and error. me, i was good with my point and shoot kodak, and i thought it was holding me back. but with a dslr, you have more things to do, change things you want you can't do on a P&S. that's when i upgraded. i'm not sure if your new to photography, i know i am. i've only had my camera for a month. just take time and learn. michael jordan wasn't born great, it's all practice.

    have fun and just take pictures YOU like. things in YOUR point of view. you can freeze time any way you want to.
     
  4. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #4
    Photography is a visual art, just like painting, sculpting, drawing, etc. Some people just have a great eye for it, and some people don't (though the 'eye' can surely be taught).

    There is a strong technical aspect to photography, however, and I think this appeals to the left brain-oriented folks. When I first got into photography, I think this was the major draw for me; understanding the nuts and bolts of the camera, how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO affect exposure, DoF, etc, etc, etc, and this stuff still intrigues me. But I think there comes a point where you either take to photography as an art, or you give up on it. The technical stuff can only sustain you for so long; in the end, it's about the photograph.
     
  5. spice weasel macrumors 65816

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    #5
    I think some people do have a natural eye for photography. But I also think that a lot of the "eye for photography" comes after people have taken their shots and have developed their film or imported their digital photos. Good photographers are not only better at getting the shot to begin with, they are also better at deciding which shots are crap and then tossing them. Some people will have more natural talent for a good shot than others, but I think that all this really means is that their ratio of crap to good photos is lower.
     
  6. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #6
    Too much thinking can be a problem, I reckon. Conscious thought is good for planning trips, packing a camera map and reading a map... but when I'm actually taking pix, my unconscious mind is quite capable of reacting and making small camera adjustments... while I'm concentrating on what's happening 'out there'. When the unconscious mind is doing all the work, the camera almost disappears.
     
  7. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #7
    That's more or less what I would say.

    Anyone who has had any exposure to the visual arts, even if it's just as an appreciator, has a head start in photography. If you've ever taken a course in art history or any studio art classes or even if you've just visited a lot of galleries or museums, or have looked at a lot of art books in your life, then you've had the opportunity to internalize some ready-made patterns or formulae that tend to 'work,' even if you're not aware of it and are unable to put labels on those patterns.

    Some people are more attentive to these visual patterns--they absorb them more easily because they are more interested in them. But anyone can develop their 'eye' as a photographer, if they want to do so. Art can be taught.
     
  8. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #8
    I disagree about an eye being able to be taught. To some extent, you either have it or you don't. You can develop what you have, but certain people have an eye for the moment that you can't teach, just as in sports you can't teach speed or soft hands or instincts that go beyond the fundamentals of a game.
     
  9. Macshroomer macrumors 65816

    Macshroomer

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    #9
    Exactly, it's about brilliance that stands far apart from the masses, the kind you can't invent in photoshop either.
     
  10. iPhoneNYC macrumors 6502a

    iPhoneNYC

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    #10
    Sometimes we just think too much. When I studied photography, a master teacher had an exercise: go out and take a roll of film blindfolded. Where there surprises on that roll? Was there perhaps an interesting picture? It's a good starting point on what the photographer brings to the experience.
     
  11. Acsom macrumors regular

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    Jul 10, 2009
    #11
    My daughter does. She just knows how to frame 'em up; she gets a huge keeper rate.

    Worst part is, she shoots green box. She has no idea what aperture is, or anything. She sets it on green box, frames the shot, holds the shutter down halfway and shoots.
     
  12. iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

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    #12
    I disagree with you to an extent. Better equipment will expand the types of photography that you can do and allow you to be more creative. This in turn will help you to become a better photographer and get good photographs that would've otherwise been impossible. An example would be wildlife photography, the 18-55mm kit lens is going to significantly limit your ability to photograph wildlife. And some of the cheaper telephotos might allow you to capture the photo, although due to their small apertures the photos might have cluttered backgrounds. The cluttered backgrounds would make an otherwise appealing photo lose its impact.

    Although more expensive equipment would allow you more options in regards to longer focal lengths and larger apertures. This will allow greater versatility and allow for extreme background blur that can make a good photo great. Sure there are some photographers who don't progress very much over a long period of time, although there are some that are limited by their equipment. And yes, there are some that get the expensive equipment just to attract attention and seem profession. Although personally I'd trade all the attention that I get when I go out shooting for better photographic opportunities. To provide a bit of backing for my stance, there are some of my photographs that I would have been unable to achieve without my current equipment.
     
  13. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #13
    Of course it can, but between "rules" and "taught" you're going to piss off all the people who think they're special and that the difference they feel they have is special too.

    Paul
     
  14. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #14
    But there are people who are extraordinarily talented and no amount of teaching is going to make ordinary people reach that level. That's true in any discipline.
     
  15. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #15
    It's very often less true of a subjective discipline than it is of an objective one, as well as of a mental one than a physical one. It's not "reaching a level" all the time, sometimes it's just "creating visually appealing art." It's true that some people put more creativity into their art, but that doesn't necessarily make it "better" art any more than Picasso's work is "better" or "worse" than Rembrandt, Constable or Charles M. Russell. Even in painting, talent vs. imagination isn't a "one over another" thing every time.
     
  16. TH3D4RKKN1GH7 macrumors 6502a

    TH3D4RKKN1GH7

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    #16
    QUOTED FOR TRUTH.

    I've seen some people take really technically sound image but it's missing that "IT" factor. Nothing moves me inside the image. This kind of situation is apparent in writing, music, and my primary passion of filmmaking.

    A friend of mine were sitting around watching Michael Jackson tour footage the other day, and he said "I wish dedication could make me that great". He's a singer which is a totally different medium from photography but I think the idea is still the same. Some people just have an innate ability for certain things and when they couple it with extreme dedication and love, brilliant, mind blowing, and revolutionary things are created.
     
  17. kernkraft macrumors 68020

    kernkraft

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    #17
    The motivational industry and a number of artists that I read about would beg to differ.

    It's not the eye that matters. Visual intelligence and creativity can be developed just like most human skills. Even the greatest artists had to learn their trade. Surely most of them either had more perseverance than their counterparts, but in the end art is not about being the best as it is not measurable. Art is about getting your ideas through to those that get you further. The whole art market is based on established artists who went through their personal development stages.

    If learning and development had no place, then the best artists would produce acceptable quality right from the beginning and they would produce that quality throughout their career. That is not the case.
     
  18. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #18
    I think it's hard to generalise. Some people do seem to have an innate sense of design and composition, while others make photography look easy only because they've worked so very hard at it.

    In these tech-driven times, I see a lot of people who 'get lost' in the equipment side of photography. Their lust for new gear (and corresponding anxiety about having last year's model) makes it impossible to focus on image-making. They are, essentially, camera collectors... not photographers.

    Photography can be a window into the here and now, where we are simply alive to the moment.
     
  19. Abraxsis macrumors 6502

    Abraxsis

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    #19
    I strongly disagree. As a photographer and an in-training psychotherapist I have 1st hand experience that the brain can learn much more than we give it credit for. It's more in the method than the ability. Art is highly bias, both internally and externally, ergo it is simply difficult to teach "the eye" to a level that can be universally agreed upon. Yes, there are some people who seem to have the eye naturally ... but do they really have "the eye" ... or is their "eye" simply something that you agree with? Most photographers and artists will find an audience given enough time. Take Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollack ... IMO, their work, for the most part, is complete rubbish. It is called art because the person creating it was considered an artist and again, people assumed they had some magical eyes.

    We have basic rules to photography and most of us break those rules daily. We do it because we know, usually from experience, that it will make a better picture. If we simply had the eye or didn't, and it couldn't be taught/learned ... then no one would advance in their skill. Their eye would not evolve as time went on. We would never know that breaking those rules would make a better picture. Developing what eye you already have IS learning it, it is self taught. Anyone can pick it up with the correct method of teaching.
     
  20. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #20
    I just fundamentally believe that certain people are naturally better at doing certain things than others. It's just how life is.

    I agree with what Stephen King said about it in his memoir On Writing, where he essentially said that you can't teach someone to become a great writer. You either have it or you don't. You can improve yourself, but you cannot and never will become great at anything if you don't have an innate talent for it.

    Note that "great" or "brilliant" is not the same as "competent" or even just "good." With practice and teaching and all of that, a person can become very good at something. But if they don't have a certain skill set or intangible bit of ability, they will never become great.

    Visual intelligence and creativity can be developed just like most human skills.

    What is developed is what was there to begin with. Someone can teach me how to do math, but I am never going to be a mathematician. I just don't have the natural ability for it.

    Art is subjective, yes, but only to a certain point. When you become great enough in any art or discipline, an increasing number of people see your ability and tend to agree that yes, you are in fact great. They may or may not relate well to it, but just as I know that certain movies I don't like a lot are still great movies, you can tell that something is great art without necessarily being moved personally by it.
     
  21. JeepGuy macrumors regular

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    Barrie
    #21
    This is a very interesting subject. I was watching my cousin's son taking pictures at a party once, I was surprised how good they were when I looked at them, he was six. I agree with a lot that's been said here, you can learn to be a better photographer, but someone with natural talent will progress faster and perhaps farther. Some people just have to work harder, but can be very good as well.
     
  22. NoNameBrand macrumors 6502

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    #22
    It's not teaching, it's learning from one's own experiences in a field that raises one to excellence. Some people do start out with some raw talent, sure, but mostly they show promise rather than produce amazing works. Mostly it's a lot of practice. "I don't have the natural talent" is the excuse of someone who wants to be good with no effort, and too many people accept and believe in it.

    Malcolm Gladwell devotes a chapter to this in his excellent book 'Outliers'.

    EDIT: I see you used that excuse for math later in the thread: work harder.
     
  23. mtbdudex macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

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    #23
    I took drafting in high school 11th/12th grade back in 1979-1980, also was on co-op program with local tool and die design shop in their drafting dept.
    (I learned on the board long before CAD/CAM was mainstream)

    This is scan from that co-op tracking book inside cover.
    [​IMG]

    Natural talent + hard work
     
  24. kallisti macrumors 65816

    kallisti

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    #24
    This is an old argument. Nature vs nurture. People have been arguing this in one form or another for thousands of years. The fact that there isn't a consensus after all this time implies that it may very well be the wrong question to ask and a moot point. While science has advanced over time and provided many answers to basic questions, this particular question is still in limbo. It will probably never really be answered. Likely because the truth is that both aspects are hugely important and thus both are equally "true."

    To some degree inborn "talent" can overcome a relative lack of technical skill. Equally, superb technical skill can overcome a relative deficiency in inborn "talent" or "vision." True genius likely requires both--some inborn "talent" that allows one to see something in a way others can't combined with the technical experience to understand how to create an image within the limits of the available tools. This being balanced by some understanding of cultural taste--what is currently acceptable and what isn't. Can I convince others who matter that my vision should matter to them? It's not black and white--the process is complex enough that "art" can be created by many with differing skill sets and experience.

    What's more, the observation made by the OP is subject to question. There are many different thresholds for "good" in an image. Good as compared to the "average" person with a point-and-shoot? Good compared to a phone picture taken with crappy built in flash? Good enough to not be immediately thought of as a snapshot? Good enough to make people in an online computer forum go "ooh, ahh?" Good enough for the crazy folks on a photography forum who are obsessed with pixel peeping to go "ooh, ahh?" Good enough to inspire people to pay thousands of dollars for the image? Good enough to be mounted on a wall? Good enough to be mounted on MY wall? Good enough to be published? National Geographic good? Museum quality good? Good enough to make artists/critics/society step back and reevaluate what constitutes art? How good is this "eye" you speak of?
     
  25. kallisti macrumors 65816

    kallisti

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    #25
    Bitter much? I'm not sure what sparked such a venomous post. There is certainly a theme in many online photography forums that good images come from good gear--and thus you just need to spend more and more money in order to create better images. There are certainly people that believe this (if I only had *this* body then my images would be great. After getting *this* body and seeing that the images aren't that hot it shifts to if I only had *this* lens). Fine, there are people like that out there. But your post is just filled with such venom that it makes me cringe. Better gear for many people isn't about upping the Jones's. It's about opening up new creative possibilities.

    As an example, here is a recent snapshot I took of my new kitty Zoe:

    [​IMG]

    Shot at f/4 at 70mm and ISO 400 with a D700 and 24-70 lens. Her face is in perfect focus while the remainder of the image is slightly blurred. There are issues with the composition--the cords in the background are extremely distracting. In hindsight I would love for them to not be there. The reason I think this image works is that it highlights the kitten's face in focus--what is she thinking? What is she going to do next? Lie down? Play with the cords? Jump into the camera? Who the heck knows. Maybe you just look at her expression and feel an overwhelming feeling of love--you humans are crazy and need to get back to basics. Whatever human thoughts you impose on her expression, it makes the viewer enter the image. You have some feelings about what she might be thinking and thus what the image "means."

    While I didn't shoot it at the widest aperture on my 24-70, I couldn't have achieved this image with a kit lens. Or with a point-and-shoot. While Nikon makes a 24-120 consumer lens which might have technically been able to produce this image, it is one of Nikon's worst lenses. I own the original non-VR version and can attest to this. The resulting image wouldn't have been the same.

    Am I submitting this shot to National Geographic? Obviously no. Yet I think it is fairly decent, especially for those that have a soft spot for cats. Far better than most snapshots. This isn't a shot intended to generate income, it is a shot that may bring a smile to some faces. The relatively shallow DOF strengthens this image in my view.

    So am I a poser in your view? God knows my D700 coupled with several professional zooms and primes would make me seem so. Did I buy all this gear just to look cool? Am I trying to look professional for others (while taking a picture in my home where no one but my cats can see me) at the expense of following some inner photographic eye? Can you really not believe that some shots can only be obtained with more expensive gear compared to point-and-shoots? Do you not understand that the reason professional gear is expensive isn't to make those that have it appear "cool" but because there are some photographic possibilities that are only able to be realized with expensive gear?
     

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