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Thread: Photography - it's a start

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    Senior Member Empty_of_Clouds's Avatar
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    Default Photography - it's a start

    As many will have witnessed on various threads, a photographer I am not! However, my wife has a Panasonic Lumix TZ-20 that I gave as a Christmas prezzy a couple of years back, and which she doesn't use as she finds her mobile phone to be more convenient. So, I thought I'd have a go with it over the end of year break.

    A quick read around suggested I should, at this early stage, choose to shoot in either aperture or shutter priority mode. And as I like black and white street photography, I've tried to accommodate that in terms of subject and light.

    Here goes <big breath>

    This is a building in Oamaru, the Steampunk capital of New Zealand, and is in fact a museum for Steampunk stuff. The light was strong but low angle, so I took the shot from within the shadow of a structure opposite to this one.



    Around the corner is the Victorian street, all original buildings and fixtures. Here is a detail.




    Oamaru sits on the coast and has a harbour with an original old industrial pier and a breakwater. The pier allowed trams or trolleys to load and unload ships. The next two images are on the pier.







    My apologies for the lack of any particularly interesting subjects, and the overall poor quality of the images (at this point). The camera is not a true B&W camera and so I daresay the contrasts aren't as nice as they could be.

    Any advice is gratefully received of course. It's the only way I can learn!

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    EoC, these are beautiful photographs. I'm a painter, not a photographer, but there are commonalities between the two media, especially in terms of composition. So, I have a couple of observations to throw out. They are not meant as criticisms or judgments. I was just looking at these images as if they were one of my paintings, and then had some thoughts about what I saw.

    You have caught a wide range of tonality. There are dark darks, bright highlights, and a nice juicy range of greys. Contrast is the living breath of visual arts. The rhythm of contrasts is like the heartbeat of an image. In these pictures you have been able to create a lot of rhythmic interest with dark areas against light, lights against greys, and greys against dark areas. The 3rd picture, of the pier, is particularly striking. It uses trolley tracks and boards to create interesting patterns as a backdrop to the stark, heavy shape of the thing you wrap ropes around. (Sorry, don't know the name of it.)

    However, the biggest problem is that you have put the main motif of each picture directly in the center of the image. That is a natural choice, and it is a common design for simple portraits. In anything that is not a portrait, however, centering deadens the composition. In the third picture, for instance, the big black shape of the rope thing sucks all the air out of the linear patterns you caught, and reduces their music to a whisper. It's as if someone mixed a recording so that the singer is really really loud, and you can barely hear the backup band.

    I think you'd do really well to start looking into composition for 2D images. Composition is a vast field of study, and there are endless books, web tutorials, and courses on the subject. But basically, it boils down to this principle: keep the most important part of your image away from the center of the canvas, and then find a way to balance it with other elements in your picture.

    Some teachers point out optimal places for focal points (often citing geometry and systems like the "golden mean"), as practiced in Western art traditions. But then when you look at Japanese woodcuts, you'll see an entirely different system to organize visual compositions. They are all interesting and valid ideas, but ultimately -- composition is a bit of black magic that every artist needs to conjure on their own. Show me a compositional rule, and I'll show you a very successful painting that ignores it.

    So, I guess, I'm saying maybe head to the library or a bookstore, and look for a simple primer on composition for photography. Read through the "do's" and "don't" and try editing/cropping/rearranging your own images in response. See if you find anything that looks better to you. It's all just a way to generate ideas. Oh, and don't forget: cropping away parts of a motif is a very powerful compositional tool. You don't need to show something in its entirety to make it recognizable.

    Enjoy! You're off to a great start.
    Last edited by elaineb; January 6th, 2021 at 08:31 AM.

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    I like these.

    I love B&W photos, any B&W photos that don't try too hard to be "edgy" or screaming "i am a rebel, look at me".

    Unlike painting or drawing or sketching, you can't just take stuff in and out of the image, so photography, to me, has that added challenge to strike the balance and harmony given elements that you can't do anything about, and the cool thing is, sometimes you can use the "offending" element to your advantage to give your photo just a touch of interesting-ness.

    I think you have a good sense for composition to start with.
    So the best encouragement I can give you is: Don't stop, hone your eyes and brain and find your own style (after many, many, many reject shots).
    - Will
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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    Very nice! I think the choice of vintage subjects pairs well with the B/W photos
    Online arguments are a lot like the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts!

    elaineb, I think I understand what you are saying about where compositional elements are placed in the pictures, but I tend to agree with what Will says about there being less control of this aspect when taking photographs compared with the much more creative nature of painting or drawing.

    In recalling the day I took these images, I did look to see if non-central placement of the rope bollard (for example) but to do so would have introduced other elements that may have ended up as just noise. This is something I do need to consider carefully in framing my future images, though no doubt it will be a challenge.

    More to come when I get some time.


    Edit: one thing I don't like about this camera is having to look at a screen rather than through a viewfinder. So, depending on how it goes, I may look for a different camera, though not quite ready to make that kind of investment yet.
    Last edited by Empty_of_Clouds; January 6th, 2021 at 12:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    Black and white images always work for me.

    You might want to experiment with some of the settings on Manual, especially the ISO settings.

    Great depth of field on the wooden planks, is it a pier?

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    Thanks, have no idea what ISO means so looking that up now!

    Yes, the planks were on a pier. My interest there was the contrast between the grain and cracks of the planks and their linear cut that provided a perspective element. If you see what I mean.

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    ISO has to do with film speed (think sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO the faster the film.

    I am not a photographer, although there was a time I explored photography as a hobby. That was in half a century ago learning the mysteries of the dark room, shutter and film speed, and light and shading using black and white, colour, and slide films of different makes (Kodak and Ilford for instance). What attracted me then, and amazes me even now, is light and shadow and how it can be captured to create -- I call it -- 'dramatic effect'.

    An example by Harold Cazneaux:


    And another:

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    As advised by AOB, ISO means sensitity, the higher the number means that you can have a faster shutter speed for low light conditions or when your object is moving. I am not an expert but I think that the higher the ISO is aslo a trade off on grain, for NZ in summer you shouldnt have too much in the way of poor light so if you are experimenting and learning the craft I would try a lowish ISO but brace yourself when you are taking the shot or rest the camera on something to avoid movement/vibrations.

    The Panasonic TZ camera is a cracking little camera with a good electronic brain in Intelligent Mode and sports a very good Lumix lens, you could do a lot worse than leave the difficult stuff to the camera and just concentrate on composition and getting the light in the right place.

    An experienced photographer gave me some tips, I worked as an assistant at his studio for a year, take your pics at a time when there is no one else around taking pics and don't take pics that everyone else takes, be out around dawn and sunset, don't take pics of the sun or the sea and you have to be really good to do a good landscape, try not to take pics at 1.8 metres from the ground, which is what everyone does, 0.8 and 2.8 metres is much more interesting.

    Look at how you can make light work for you, for close ups switch the flash off on the camera, it's boring.

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    The first one is my favorite. What a cool building!

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    Quote Originally Posted by RobJohnson View Post
    As advised by AOB, ISO means sensitity, the higher the number means that you can have a faster shutter speed for low light conditions or when your object is moving. I am not an expert but I think that the higher the ISO is aslo a trade off on grain, for NZ in summer you shouldnt have too much in the way of poor light so if you are experimenting and learning the craft I would try a lowish ISO but brace yourself when you are taking the shot or rest the camera on something to avoid movement/vibrations.

    The Panasonic TZ camera is a cracking little camera with a good electronic brain in Intelligent Mode and sports a very good Lumix lens, you could do a lot worse than leave the difficult stuff to the camera and just concentrate on composition and getting the light in the right place.

    An experienced photographer gave me some tips, I worked as an assistant at his studio for a year, take your pics at a time when there is no one else around taking pics and don't take pics that everyone else takes, be out around dawn and sunset, don't take pics of the sun or the sea and you have to be really good to do a good landscape, try not to take pics at 1.8 metres from the ground, which is what everyone does, 0.8 and 2.8 metres is much more interesting.

    Look at how you can make light work for you, for close ups switch the flash off on the camera, it's boring.
    It is surprising at times to realise that 'stuff' --facts and skills -- you haven't used in nearly half a century is still neatly catalogued and ready for recall in the deep depths of the mind.

    Just to confuse matters slightly, I suddenly remembered that ISO and ASA are similar in that they are both indicators of film speed or sensitivity. I believe, but have not confirmed, that ASA is an older, possibly out-dated now, version of ISO. I remember seeing on Kodak films in particular.

    Back in the day 'when dinosaurs roamed the earth', ASA of 60 and 80 were what I remember bog standard (general purpose) Kodak film was rated at since it allowed a slow shutter speed. We considered ISOs of 200 and 400 as high speed film back then for 35 mm film cameras. Today's digital cameras allow ISOs that were only available for the rarest of uses with film in the 1960 and '70s. Shutter speeds allow more or less light to expose the film, and was an issue film and film cameras. As memory serves, time lapse photos back then were taken with high speed film and very slow shutter speeds.

    All of this is probably more than anybody cares to know, but there you have it.

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    Whoa!

    There's a lot of stuff that I don't understand, yet.

    As I see it, and simplifying enormously, there are a number of basic things to learn. For example (and please add important ones I may have missed):

    How the camera works.

    1. Aperture priority
    2. Shutter priority
    3. ISO

    Choosing a subject.

    1. Light - source and direction
    2. Composition


    This seems like a good list to start with, and perhaps later can combine these and others in a full manual approach. Having said that, reading the blogs of a number of professional and highly skilled hobby photographers, there has been stuff said about finding your favourite shooting settings and sticking with it for a while.

    Again, thanks for all the help and info.

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    Beautiful work, E-o-C - - As I've said before, in photography Black & White rules!

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    I would suggest deciding if you want to use film only, digital only, or film and digital. That is a big decision since film and digital have much that are unique while doing both allows you to fully explore the art that is photography. To assist with that decision, have a look here: https://istillshootfilm.org/post/110...ill-shoot-film and this: https://www.shutterbug.com/

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    Fair point, but I think at this exploratory stage I should stick with digital, as that's what I've got. Interesting though is that I have a Yashika FX-3 on my ebay watchlist, though I haven't plunged in as I am not sure I can bear the cost of film processing right now.

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    Fair point, but I think at this exploratory stage I should stick with digital, as that's what I've got. Interesting though is that I have a Yashika FX-3 on my ebay watchlist, though I haven't plunged in as I am not sure I can bear the cost of film processing right now.
    DIY film processing is simple and easy. It doesn't really require any expensive equipment either. You do need a complelely light free space to work in -- an unlighted windowless bathroom will do -- and a red light. The red light allows you to see what you are doing without over exposing the film. Making prints does require a bit of an outlay for an enlarger, but it isn't beyond most people's budgets (cheaper than a new camera).
    Last edited by An old bloke; January 6th, 2021 at 08:06 PM.

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    I would suggest deciding if you want to use film only, digital only, or film and digital. That is a big decision since film and digital have much that are unique while doing both allows you to fully explore the art that is photography. To assist with that decision, have a look here: https://istillshootfilm.org/post/110...ill-shoot-film and this: https://www.shutterbug.com/
    Whoa! Film vs digital is indeed a BIG decision.

    I spent almost a decade in learning and exploring film photography.

    Suffice to say, tons of things to absorb and learn, a lot of very rewarding moments, but man, the investments are deep and wide.
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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    I you are not an experienced photographer I would learn your craft first of all and let your camera do all the technical stuff.

    Take many pics and learn about composition and light, leave the tele function alone, that is just cropping that you can do on the computer

    I used film stock for years, I can understand the appeal o the old ways but digital works well, brilliantly well.

    There is one expert wildlife photographer who is a keen advocate of camera phones being very easy and give good results, here is his site

    https://www.simonkingwildlife.com/

    I know that you enjoy Christofs pics, he is very adept at how he uses light. A still life pic though has a different light requirement, you may be looking for something dramatic.

    I would look at youtube vids for your camera and just enjoy it, you already have an artists eye and have made a good start.


    It really is so much about light and making it work for you

    Last edited by RobJohnson; January 6th, 2021 at 08:23 PM.

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    Lovely photos.
    EOC, my wife is an artist and if my photos are dead centre she'll lecture me in length about what Elaine mentioned above.
    They both have a point...
    So, we've found a simple way to remedy my photographic shortcoming by using a simple photo editor to crop photos...
    Here is your photo cropped different ways:

    Cropped to the right
    Railroad.jpeg

    Cropped to the left

    Rail.jpeg

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    Default Re: Photography - it's a start

    Consider crouching or standing on something to alter your point of view. In the case of the rail lines and wooden planking, a lower perspective would emphasize interesting surface textures.
    Or go in close when there are strong patterns of light and shade, as on the wall of the steampunk building.

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