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Wednesday, 26 November 2014


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I think of myself as primarily a "shooting for some photo editor to make story sequences" photographer. I'm not particularly that editor myself. This is among many other things a convenient cop-out.

The core conflict is between the best individual photos and the best sequence, as always.

If one photo can't tell the entire story (Newspaper photographers do it all the time.) then try to do it in 3.

A beginning, middle, and the end.

Now that's a challenge.

I did tell you UPS not delivering that Sony A7 + 35/2.8 making you use Fuji will turn out to be blessing in disguise, didn't I?

I've long enjoyed photography from airplanes and have had some shots that really work out: http://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjones/2013/12/photography-up-in-the-air/
It is interesting that it seems phase detection focus on a couple of camera systems I've used have more trouble hunting when shooting from the air or in low contrast situations like that seen from the air. I would be curious to hear if anyone else has that experience.

An interesting problem/process. One that some bloggers are quite good at. Particularly with those who manage to maintain a weekly PAW blog, a real sense of continuity and picture of a life may emerge. One I enjoy is Nathan Wajsman.

The ability to take images all the time to document my life is not one I have or desire. (Probably too boring, anyway.) Nathan shows how it's done, and has a good enough eye to make quite a few images that do stand on their own.

Another interesting thing is editing a set of stand alone images into a book. Selection of which to include, in what order, across from what other image and on left or right page all have an effect on the feeling of the book.

Putting together my first book was a revelation. Switch two images across from each other from side to side, and the whole affect of the spread changes!

People tell me I'm good at this, but I can't say why. It's all instinct, as far as I can tell. But then, so is most art(ish) photography.

Bookish Moose

I don't believe that photo-essays, and the like, require photos that follow a sequence per se. As long as the photos support the narrative and/or allow the reader to imagine what you're conveying, then the story will hold together. I find that photos taken at unrelated times and/or from unrelated events will often nicely support the thoughts that I'm penning (metaphorically speaking, as it's all typed on a keyboard).

A classic sequence for me might be a good old parade set, which I just happened to put together today, if anyone would care to see (yes, a Christmas parade, be warned)...


I edited for visual impact, humor and relational content, loosely. If I had more to say about the images I would, but Flicker's service is not the best for a wordy sequence, I think... a straight blog might be better. The first image in the pub makes no sense at all unless I put up a caption explaining that we were listening to jazz, eating dinner, and waiting for the parade to start, but I like it.

Thank you, some really good information here. As an airplane geek, even in web size, #5 caught my eye... :D

Image 4 as opposed to the two alternates is the right choice. Without the wing shadow (or one so small I didn't notice it) it is the pilot's view as he is entering the runway rather than what a passenger sees riding along the parallel taxiway on the way to the runway. A little more drama -- here we go!

Thanks for featuring my comment yesterday and then mentioning me again today. I'm a long time TOP reader and it means a lot to have my efforts recognized here. It feels like getting a pat on the back from a favorite college professor. Also, my sleepy little blog had a record traffic day today. That's a kick. Thanks Mike!

Okay, Mike, quit being coy. You know that we all want to know this about your girl friend:

What kind of camera does she shoot?

P.S. And just to prove that I'm not an expert on whittling down a large set of photos, last night I had an unexpectedly great night of photography on Santa Monica Pier. Now, I have twenty-seven cool shots and I can't decide which five will make it into the blog post. Here's what I'm up against: http://photos4u2c.photoshelter.com/gallery/Santa-Monica-Balance/G0000xZbb6YsrQxE/

P.P.S. Last month I finally ordered a copy of "Magnum Contact Sheets". That book pulls back the curtain on how the greats select photos. I highly recommend it. A lot of the book is about picking a perfect single image but there is also a fair amount discussion concerning photo essays. One series by Robert Capa is particularly moving. http://www.amazon.com/Magnum-Contact-Sheets-Kristen-Lubben/dp/050054431X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417056532&sr=8-1&keywords=magnum+contact+sheets

Yah, you definitely got the teacher thing.

"I've long enjoyed photography from airplanes and have had some shots that really work out:"

Aha! Another one. I spend inordinate amounts of the time I'm in 'planes peering out the window - and taking pictures. I spent much of my work career working with aerial photos, and still find the landscape from above endlessly fascinating.

"It is interesting that it seems phase detection focus on a couple of camera systems I've used have more trouble hunting when shooting from the air or in low contrast situations like that seen from the air. I would be curious to hear if anyone else has that experience."

I've mostly used cameras with contrast detection AF, which often has that problem. I use manual focus much of the time. When subjects are eight miles away, focus doesn't change much. I do focus when I can, note where that focus is and then switch to MF, as I believe the multiple bits of transparent plastic affect focus. When at lower altitude, AF seems to generally work fine.

Here's a series over much of the empty West, including one of Great Salt Lake and one of the Front Range.

Some of my favorite clouds, including a minimalist series, and a favorite landform image.

And a few from SF=>Seattle=>Kalispell and with some wonderful views of mountains, esp. Shasta.


For the printed page another facet comes into play with the "picture story" or essay. The printed page....The layout of the words and pictures play a big roll in how the pictures are cropped and size they are run on the page....so play your best first and biggest for impact..

Interesting! I love editing! It's sometimes difficult, like to put on a line your best friends and decide who will not join your birthday party but is the moment you really give a sense to your work, at least in my opinion. And interesting is how with a different selection and sequence from the same bunch of photos you can make two different stories highlighting different meanings!
And real pictures, small size, on a table help to pre visualize the final result. Great post, thanks
PS: just in case you are curious here is one of my editing areas...http://thequietphotographer.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/printing-editing-sequencing-one-more-time/

It's very difficult to tell a story with a single photograph. That's why I have to use the photo essay approach.

Then again, I began taking photos in the Life Magazine era.

I was trying to think of series of photos and the only one that readily comes to mind is Larry Burrows - One Ride with Yankee Papa 13

All the other photos I think of are singles.

Like Dave Levingston, I too grew up (in the UK) with photo essays. As a student I could still find the odd second hand copy of Picture Post, and then later I briefly worked on The Independent in its heyday, when every Saturday they would give over the entire (broadsheet) to a Photo Essay. There was quite some competition to get your story picked!
Nowadays I mostly photograph weddings, which I regard as one large photo essay. But as David says, they're so much more different in print, which is where the importance of a wedding album is.
Convincing couples that they don't just need a disc of photographs, or a collection of prints, but an album full of prints, some large, some small, the 'big' or 'great' pictures on the right hand page, is getting more difficult. Mainly because they're used to seeing all photos the same size on the web.
And I'd second the recommendation for Magnum's 'Contact Sheet,' and also recommend Magnum's 'Stories'

Mike, did you notice that even though you have just the little side window to shoot through, and Captain Dave has the big front windows, you got shots of the runway environment and the field from close overhead that he does not have the time and freedom to capture. "Sterile cockpit" rules and the amount of work that has to be done means that no business but flying the plane safely takes place up front from pushback to at least 10,000' altitude, even on legs where the first officer is doing the flying and the captain "just" talks on the radio.


Along these lines, I've been meaning to pick up a copy of Michael Freeman's "The Photographer's Story". Anyone got that? Useful?

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