The Joy of Photography

Discussion in 'Philosophy of Photography' started by pictor, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. pictor

    pictor SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 14, 2010
    One of the biggest advantages of digital photography is said to be its convenience. It has become much easier to get a technically decent picture than ever before. One can shoot as much as one likes. It won't make any difference, if one shoots 36 pictures or 1000, because shooting digital is cheap. One can be even sloppy, because one can fix so much in post processing.

    The technical quality of our gear is great and we are able to do things which we did not dare to dream of when we shot film. Even my tiny Canon G12 makes decent pictures up to 800 ISO (by applying the right tools in post processing). However, I doubt that the technical quality of our digital tools will ever be good enough. No matter how good the gear already is, even higher usable ISO (more MP, ...) will be wanted. We sit in front of our screens for hours and use the newest and best software to get the last 0.1% image quality. Of course we shoot raw to be able to do that. At least we think that we have to shoot raw to be able to do that.

    Since releasing the shutter does not cost anything, we tend to shoot much more than ever before and it is a good thing that we can do that. But in our digital age so many pictures are produced. Although I have never been a photographer who shoots an excessive amount of pictures, I used to take a much more pictures than ever before. I have become used to sit in front of the computer for hours, because each picture has to be developed individually (I have never seen any sense in batch processing of raw files and most probably won't ever do). Photography has become work in front of a computer at last.

    [​IMG]

    The result of the high amount of pictures and the intense post processing is not joy but just a high amount of intensely processed pictures which often enough lack interestingness. So I have changed my habits, which is a still enduring process having started in May. When I photograph today, I take less pictures than ever before, but the percentage of keepers is higher than ever before. I am looking for a good balance between flow and control. This needs some discipline, but I am rewarded with joy.

    Some weeks ago there was an interesting discussion in the Micro 4/3 User Group about JPEGs vs. raw. Someone said, that many photographers shoot JPEGs because they want to finalize their concept as much as possible when they release the shutter. That found my interest and I tried to shoot JPEG and raw in parallel. I soon realized, that I actually like the JPEGs my Olympus produces, and stopped shooting raw. I have defined the function key to save the raw, if necessary, such that I still have the raw in difficult situations.

    My shooting discipline has grown significantly and I am concentrating on making pictures much more than before. The time I needed to develop all those raw files is better spent for improving my skills in making pictures. I have been able to improve the image quality of my pictures, too, although I have heard about a myth which says one had to shoot raw for doing so. But the best thing is, that I am very satisfied with what I am doing now. Photography is pure joy again. Life can be so beautiful!

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    Christian, I had been wondering where you'd been lately - and now I know! I'm very happy for you and I can see in both these pictures that you've done beautifully. It is a joy to enjoy your picture making - and I can tell by looking at the beauty here!

    Olympus definitely has great jpeg colors!
     
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  3. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    Pictor,
    Interesting revelations you discovered.
    Discipline is the key to any venture you undergo.

    You seem to have stumbled upon the inverse square law. Less is more/more is less.
    I will not engage in the raw/jpeg part of your post. To each his own.

    For me....when I go out for say 4-5 hours on a walkabout, I carry one camera. Now it's the X100 due to the memories it provides me of my time with my Leica.
    I may shoot maybe 15-30 frames. 30 is a big shoot for me in a session.

    What I strive for is around 10-20 images that matter in a year. I'm not talking keepers. I'm not talking great images, I'm talking about images that define me.
    10-20 in a year is a wonderful crop. I don't always get it but I strive for it.

    That's my discipline. The inverse square law shows me that the Less time I have to work, the More productive I become. I make sure that I don't have a camera with me all the time. That doesn't mean I'm not photographing, I'm just not recording.

    I don't know what photography means to you. That my friend is a personal journey of discovery you travel alone. I hope you find passengers on that journey that appreciate your vision and support your efforts.

    As far as working on the computer, for me it's the same as camera in hand. It's all part of the process, The Joy of Photography.
    Don
     
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  4. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    Amen, to its being an individual journey, Don.
     
  5. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    Well, unfortunately not all make the discovery. Pictor has and I look forward to his future images.
    Photography means different things to many different shooters. I'm happy and very excited for Pictor.
     
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  6. Lili

    Lili SC Hall of Famer

    Oct 17, 2010
    Dallas, TX
    Real Name:
    Lili
    Interesting Pictor.
    I come from a different background in film. I used to shoot B&W exclusively, and worked hard to produce the most stunning prints I could so post processing is not so onerous a task to me.
    Esp since there is no acetic acid to set off my Asthma!
    That being said I have almost never used RAW till I got my XZ-1. The jpegs out of my F200, E-PL1 and e510 only ever need slight tweeks.
    This recent Single in July PAD has reminded me just how much I miss that time and how much I like my PEN.
    Shooting more and agonizing less is freeing.
     
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  7. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Real Name:
    Sue
    And there I was thinking I must be weird because when I go out I don't shoot several hundred. I just can't manage that many. Its also why I don't have large capacity cards. I have 2x8G Class 6 just in case I have a temporary aberration and want to shoot some video (hasn't happened yet) and in my other cameras, its 2 or 4G and I never even go close to halfway filling them, even with RAW.

    10-20 in a year? Thank goodness.

    I remain bemused at those who bought their K-5s at Christmas and have already shot in excess of 10k shots. They must be permanently on burst mode, and finger never off the shutter release.

    Getting the best you can straight up is just the best feeling. Sure, some tweaking might be necessary, but for me, if I get one or two decent in a week, I feel like I have achieved something. Quality over quantity every time.
     
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  8. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    Real Name:
    olli
    I too over time have taken to shooting fewer and - I hope - better. However, during a recent trip to London all my discipline disappeared mostly because I'm not there very often and felt compelled to take pictures. The result is mountain of average images with a few decent ones scattered around that its going to take me a while to sort out.

    But now I'm back on the wagon:smile:
     
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  9. pictor

    pictor SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 14, 2010
    Don, thank you for sharing your thoughts about your journey! I am very interested in this.

    I have known the inverse square law, but internalizing something is a different kettle of fish than only knowing something.

    That's very interesting, because it's just the opposite of what many idols are telling us all the time.

    I want to complement the raw vs. JPEG part a little bit. In general I have always enjoyed processing my photographs, but I have always enjoyed making pictures more than post processing. At the end of the day I want to have got as much as possible right. If I can get what I want by shooting JPEGs, I will shoot JPEGs for convenience. I have some technical and aesthetic reasons I did not mention anywhere, why I have come to prefer shooting JPEGs with my Olympus cameras, but I think that this is not the thread for discussing this. This might be temporary, but at the moment it helps me to concentrate on what is really important to me.

    I want to add that I have not lost joy in Photography, but I have found more joy by having started the process of reviewing my photography.
     
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  10. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 8, 2010
    Great post.
     
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  11. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    Pictor,
    To start, I'm no idol, believe me. My family makes sure to check me on that.
    What I am is a dead serious photographer. It comes down to taking the time to stop and smell the roses. That sweet fragrance, the beauty of the rose is appreciated because it's not everlasting.
    My discipline allows me to See more than Record. Others might Record and then See later. I don't work that way, never did.

    I'm not suggesting that my discipline is fit for you or anyone else. Only you can discover what journeys you will travel and what memories you will record and leave behind.
    I do what I do because I have. It seems you are embarking on a similar road.
    I wish you luck and remember....
    Stop to smell the Roses along the way...
    Uh... have your camera at hand when you do.
     
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  12. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member Subscribing Member

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Real Name:
    Jason
    Excelent topic.

    I enjoy shooting JPEG mostly. I have been playing with RAW, and I do find myself toying with the images a bit more and sometimes I can get a little more out of them. I find that it has to start out as a good image in the first place. There are many on various forums who exclaim that RAW is their saving grace. I have yet to be able to save a picture in RAW.

    I am also one of the types of people who, if I see something interesting, will take lots of pictures of. When I go hiking, I might take 30 or 40 shots of a water fall with various ND filters and shutter speeds. I also like to shoot many angles of a particular subject if I can. For me, experimenting is fun too. I might even wait for better lighting, or take similar pictures with different lighting by taking the picture during different times of day. I usually have many many pictures to go through. Sometimes keeping many, sometimes not.

    SS brings up an interesting side-topic though, in regards to images that "matter". I've never thought in a particular way that any one or group of images defines a photographer.
     
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  13. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    Jason,
    Think of any serious shooter, their images define them.
    The Decisive Moment by Bresson, the elegance of Kertesz, the stark reality of Winogrand, the precision of Adams, the sheer beauty of Weston etc. Their images define them as yours do you.
     
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  14. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend Subscribing Member

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    Real Name:
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Seems to me the joy in photography is whatever YOU take joy in. Whether its the challenge of pretending we're in the early film days and everything has to be locked in at the moment of exposure, whether its processing your image files to within an inch of their digital lives, whether its pixel peeping and KNOWING down to your bones that your pixels just look awesome (whether anyone else should ever look at them at that level or not), whether its just the process of walking down the street and watching and anticipating as moments and compositions and people come together in what you HOPE will be a great photograph, whether its selling a print, being recognized by others, producing a book, etc, etc, etc. There's no single way to experience the joy of photography. Each of us probably enjoys it on more than one level but all that matters is what works for US, not anyone else. Kind of like most endeavors in life, really. I have my own ideas about where I get the joy, but they're about as relevant to anyone else as my religious beliefs or political thoughts. They come from my unique set of experiences and perceptions and they work for me. They don't have to work for anyone else. Which I believe is true of all of us. I could tell you the specific aspects of it I get joy from, but I probably already have in one way or another and its probably meaningless to anyone else anyway. On the off-chance I leave behind a body of work that anyone else takes any joy from, well that's nice for them, but that would be THEIR joy - I will have already had mine by then!

    The bottom line is we must all feel some joy from some aspect(s) of the photographic experience - otherwise we wouldn't be here. I'm glad we are.

    -Ray
     
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  15. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    To see the joy in anyone's work, just look at their images.
     
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  16. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Real Name:
    Stephen
    The other day I was browsing through my photography books (a mixture of how-to, portfolio's, philosophy, history etc.) and reached for the first one I purchased for myself. I was on a journey of discovery at the time with regard to my writing and my photography. Inside the cover there is a note:
    "From me, to me, 1984". I was 20, and the Orwell thing just wasn't happening. Or maybe it was.

    Anyway, I realize that about sums it up for me. I deeply enjoy every aspect of photography, including absorbing the work of others. It's very much part of who I am. I remember being about 12 or 13 and my Dad yelling at me for lying on train tracks with my Ricoh, shooting along the rail as it narrowed into the distance to meet the approaching train... Very nice in B&W.

    In practical terms, I am always challenging myself, enforcing limits to create growth etc. But I do not count or limit exposures. I photograph, probably scoring around 5% where I capture what I consciously intended, and maybe another 1% where I see afterward that my eye led me somewhere before my brain had the idea.

    I print the ones that move me. That's the one thing I will say: for me it's not really a photograph until it's printed and brought to life. Until then it's an image, nice, but incomplete.
     
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  17. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    Nic
    Nice post. The most important part of pursuing photography as a hobby is to have fun doing it and I'm glad you have found a method that works for you and that you can feel satisfied with.

    I am somewhat different in that I now find at least half the enjoyment from my photography comes from image processing. Taking the image is over in an instant. Refining an image can take as little or as much time as you choose. I was never previously an image editor and tended to take images and store them away in 1's and 0's on a hard drive somewhere. I am currently revisiting those older images and processing them for the first time, which is effectively helping me to "reclaim" my old work. To remember the thought process that went into taking the image and using my memories of the how, why, where, and when to help make the image. The original always remains as a snapshot of what I saw at the time but now I can add a personal touch of how I feel about the image now.

    Potentially heretical statement: "The computer has become as much a piece of photographic equipment to me as the camera and lens itself."

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
     
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  18. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Real Name:
    Stephen
    Well that makes sense. If you were to use the word 'darkroom' instead of 'computer' you would cover a great deal of photography's history.
     
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  19. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    I have to throw my hat into the developing joy of photography, as well. Not saying that I don't find great pleasure in finding a well exposed, perfectly framed picture - I do, but I also do enjoy my time in my digital darkroom very much.

    That said, we've just planned a trip with some old friends to the beach in August and I know I'll be taking a lot of pictures. I'm sure that I'll be very pleased to get some good photos of our crew that won't "need" lots of manipulation, though I am sure there will be some that will call out to me for more.

    A very thoughtful thread, here, thanks to you all - and to Christian for starting it off.
     
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  20. Grant

    Grant SC Veteran

    249
    Nov 12, 2010
    Lunenburg Nova Scotia
    Don you and I must be brothers!

    I moved to digital gradually. Many rears ago I went to Arizona to shoot and I took a film camera as well as reasonably good digital camera. At the end of two weeks I had exposed 288 shots on film and almost 4000 on digital. I ended up with far better number shots on film that I did with digital. Not just a far better percentage of shots but an over all far better total of film shot. My first reaction was that digital was sh*t but I looked deeper. Because there was a cost factor on each pressing of the film shutter with film I though deeper and harder before I made the captures.

    Today I shoot almost exclusively in digital I shoot frugally but I shoot daily. On average I shoot 17.4 frames a day. How do I know that? Presently just under 64,000 frames for a 10 year shooting period and I do shoot daily. Again shooting fewer images but I’m thinking deeper and harder before I release the shutter.

    I want the best possible images my cameras can produce therefore I do shoot exclusively in raw. While processing to me is half the fun of photography I spend less than half my time processing. Most of my time is spent before I trip the shutter, thinking, planing and examining all my options. The actual taking the picture is where the least amount of time is spent. If you consider that on average each shutter is open for 1/60 of a second I have spent only 18 minutes taking pictures in the last 10 years.

    I am pleased with my images and the quality is consistent but I am not content with them as there is always room for improvement. Over they years I have amassed a fair number of good images but I am still looking for the next one, the one that will define me, the master piece.
     
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