Machine gun tactics or careful & calculated

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by UltimaMC, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. UltimaMC macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    #1
    When I have gone out shooting I come home with several hundred exposures, and sitting down to begin the editing process sometimes feels like a monumental task. I've been able to overcome this by editing a limited amount of pictures a day (say 5-10). However, I've heard some photographers actually limit how many pictures they can shoot and by taking the time to think about each exposure can yield significant leaps in quality. I would imagine the post processing is much easier too!

    How do you folks feel about the different strategies? What do you find yourselves doing?
     
  2. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #2
    Thinking about each exposure? You know, I think I might give that a try... ;)
     
  3. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #3
    I usually think about exposure, then take a lot of shots. I'm not 'machine gunning' in an attempt to get a 'lucky break', I'm taking shots to bracket my composition and exposure around an image that I already think is going to be good.

    I assume that 1 in 20 or less photos will be any good... so I'm very critical when I edit down, and it's quite quick to do.

    I use lightroom's star rating, and on the first pass I just delete photos that are unusable (to blurred, clearly out of focus etc.). On the second pass, I rate pictures I like at 1 star - then I filter everything so that I can only see 1 star images. I filter a second time, and now I'm down to maybe 1/15th or so of the original images.

    From that point further editing or adjustments are a much smaller task.
     
  4. Apple Key macrumors 6502a

    Apple Key

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    Jan 4, 2012
    #4
    It all depends on what you're subject is. If you are photographing a spots game, and the action is fast you might want to shoot off a bunch of frames per shot to help you get the best one. But if you are shooting something like architecture (and the lighting that day isn't changing too often), then you would be best off setting it up perfectly and getting one really good shot.

    Generally the masters who had to work with film and couldn't just shoot off a bunch of digital frames without thinking, waited for the perfect shot and were rewarded for doing so. Some even give themselves a limit to how many shots they can take in that day and then try to make each one count.
     
  5. 100Teraflops, Feb 13, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2012

    100Teraflops macrumors 6502a

    100Teraflops

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    #5
    You know, I can't imagine taking only a few shots and being satisfied! I change settings multiple times, for say one picture. I suppose it is one way to experiment with different aspects of photography. Although, I understand capturing a scene once is the most desired effect! If I 'know' that setting "X" always achieves result "Y", then maybe I would do it, but I'm not sure it works like that for me. Maybe in a controlled environment?

    This is one example of shooting many photos with the hope to keep more than a few. I take a lot of wildlife photos and I burn through images looking for a set of keepers of birds in flight. I can understand the need to shoot tons of pictures in order to achieve desired results. What is excessive? I suppose you must decide what is excessive!

    EDIT: after re-reading your question, it seems to me that you are still learning a ton about photography, which is not a big deal. Also, why limit your number of photos captured or edited in a day? This is subjective and strictly for each and every photographer to decide oneself. My 0.02
     
  6. mtbdudex macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

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    SE Michigan
    #6
    My worst experience was almost 2 years ago to this date.

    I paid $75 to a local conservation club to hear a Photography lecture on wildlife and then take some "staged" shots of live wildlife that did not look staged.

    I literally took 100's of pictures also (over 450), there were 8-9 live animal setting's.
    I went too crazy, bracketing exposures, bracketing focal lengths (DOF), lens, etc.

    Upon downloading so many looked too similiar, yet an eye here, or an expression there was just slightly better than the prior one.....argh, never again I told myself.

    Best is to take test photo to dial exposure, then a sequence for capturing the eye/face/limb/body expression that presents itself at spur of the moment.
     
  7. steveash macrumors 6502

    steveash

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    Aug 7, 2008
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    UK
    #7
    I try to always plan m composition before I hit the shutter. I get much better pictures that way. When I am working commercially I will have drawn out sketches and plans of exactly what I or my client are looking for long before I pick up the camera. I try and let this habit pass into my personal photography too. Of course there are always times when something happens and I get excited and start firing off frames but I find if I calm myself down the end result will be a lot better.
     
  8. emorydunn macrumors 6502

    emorydunn

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    Jun 5, 2006
    Location:
    Austin Texas
    #8
    I usually try and plan my compositions and exposure settings before pressing the shutter. That being said I also take lots of photos, varying both composition and exposure. As for "machine gunning" I don't find much value in it. The chances of getting a good image go down greatly.

    Of course, for some people it works (look at Garry Winogrand, he shot thousands of rolls of film, most of which still aren't developed). It does of course take more time to weed out, but sometimes the situation calls for it, like a once in a lifetime event where lining up the shot might cause you to miss it.

    I don't think you should be limiting the number of photos you take in a day. Especially if that number is so low. Now, if you want to force yourself to focus on composition then maybe limit yourself to one memory card per day. Depending on your camera and card that could be a few hundred photos. This would give you a limit but also a little bit more flexibility than 5-10.
     
  9. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    London
    #9
    Digital? Can sometimes take way too many shots

    Film? Possibly the opposite: sometimes the thought that I've only got 36-39 exposures means I don't take a shot
     
  10. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #10
    Depends - though I no longer go to full "machine-gun" mode.

    I don't take photos, generally, of moving things (sports, birds in flight, etc).

    In some cases I "see" an image I want to capture. I take the time to frame and compose, set the DoF and shutter. Perhaps I will take a couple of test shots to see how the exposure lines up. (Love digital for that feature alone.)

    After I've got the shot I will take a couple more.... in case the camera shook, incase something was moving through the background, etc. Then I will likely take a few more, moving my framing or DoD etc trying to improve on the original shot. In this case I find my 1st shot is usually the best.

    In other cases, I can't quite "see" the shot - or the lighting is changing, etc. In this case I take a few quickly, just so I have something. They may not be good enough for a print, but perhaps I can put them on card or something. Then I keep improving the shot... moving around, and/or changing DoD and shutter to improve on what I am seeing on the screen. For some reason seeing the image on the screen tells me more than seeing it in the finder (this is just a personal thing, not a recommendation). I can usually narrow down the images until I finally get the image I want. In this case it's usually the very last image.

    I use a system similar to firestarter to edit. Once you've done it few times and have the routine down, it's a very fast way to get to the keepers. I tend to keep just about everything.... except for mis-fires. But I only want to see the better images.... so filtering is key.

    Luck.
     
  11. UltimaMC thread starter macrumors member

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    Sep 7, 2011
    #11
    Thanks for all of the great feedback and ideas! After I wrote this post I thought to myself...it depends on what you're shooting obviously! Lately I've been shooing events (Like an auto show and Chinese New Year festival) and in these cases I found it difficult to take my time. I didn't want to miss anything which lead to tons of exposures.

    snberk103 & firestarter, you guys made some excellent points about importing workflow and how crucial it is, thanks a lot.
     
  12. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    Boston
    #12
    Depending on the situation, I shoot differently.

    If I'm trying to snap some pictures of my kids say jumping in the pool. I set my camera to continuous, open up the lens and boost the ISO so that the shutter speed is as fast as possible, I snap away.

    If I'm walking around taking pictures I compose what I want. Taking a lot of pictures isn't bad, snapping wildly hoping to get maybe one keeper, is not the best way to embrace photography imo.
    I go with the calculated so I can maximize what little time I may have taking the picture.

    I consider how Ansel Adams or the other great photographers did things, and they didn't use the machine gun tactic and if these giants of the industry had habits and procedures of shooting, perhaps I should emulate them :)
     
  13. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    Dec 31, 2002
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    Green and pleasant land
    #13
    Ansel Adams is an extreme. He used large format film (very slow to set up and shoot), had an enormous matt screen to compose on, then used the zone system (which he developed) to measure all the brightnesses of the scene and get perfect exposure.

    A completely different example would be the contact sheets of street and fashion photographers. Here's a famous example from Elliott Erwitt:

    [​IMG]

    This was back from the days of film where each shot cost money!!

    (I got the image from a great Blog post on contact sheets... warning - it does contain some tasteful nudity, so probably NSFW).

    I have a successful photographer in my family (published in Vogue, sides of buildings in Times Square etc.). They would always shoot at least 3 or 4 (medium format) films of images for any single portrait... and in portraiture this seems to be standard practice. I think the biggest improvement to my own photography (back in the days of film) was to relax about the price of film and just burn through it. I once spent $1000 on film and processing for a 3 week vacation...

    The difference with these contact sheets is that multiple shots are being taken for a reason... to catch a fleeting expression or a change of light. The photographer is taking them with a sense of purpose and composition though. 'Machine gun' implies thoughtless snapping without any purpose - and that's not such a good thing.
     
  14. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    #14
    No question but how he approached the subject is what I'm after, his framing of images is astounding and that doesn't take that much time. Rushing into a situation with cameras blazing is what I'm saying is not the best practice to get great shots. :)
     
  15. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #15
    I've always said the better the photographer, the fewer shots they take. Even with sports, someone who can time the shot will frequently end up with better shots than someone who does a spray and pray. The other piece of the pie is that if you limit your shots and miss, you're more likely to pay attention to why you didn't get the shot you wanted out of 2-3 shots and correct the problem, where if you have forty "almost there" shots, it might be difficult to ascribe it to anything other than bad luck. Unless I'm trying to get a behavior shot, I try to limit myself to less than 4 shots of any given subject- it'll also save time when you get back to the computer and have to sort through everything.

    Paul
     
  16. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #16
    True... Even if you have the camera on 'continuous shooting' mode, the aperture will be 'closed' for far longer than it's 'open': ie you can run through an awful lot of frames without necessarily capturing the decisive moment.
     
  17. SimonUK5 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    #17
    I treat it like i have one shot, to get the picture right. If i get home and find out i cocked it up. Tough one, i learn and next time i go out, i remember what i did wrong.

    Digital is WAY less forgiving than film(especially black&white)
     

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