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Friday, 26 March 2021


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Boy, so much to say here. So, in the spirit of things, I'll try not to bloviate too much.

So, as a fine arts repro photographer professionally, I can only say thank the gods for digital. In reaction to the Bossi idea that things shouldn't be too perfect, I'd say that architectural and fine arts repro/cultural heritage photography is just high-falootin' product photography. So, those hairs stuck under the wheels of this giant NamJune Paik video monitor array I just shot and processed have got to be removed in post. & etc. The Bossi stuff I could see is super dreamy and beautiful, reminds me of fashion photography---the kind where you can't really tell what the clothes look like. The photographers at the Getty (and some other museums) strike a better balance, imo, between the beauty of the image and its descriptive purpose.

Then I also think that shooting too much is an internal problem with the photographer. I shoot more images than I did with film to be sure, but I don't go hog wild either. Don't need to, just need to shoot enough to have a little "insurance".

Finally, I found the Gossage comment really fascinating! I met him and spoke with him a number of times when I was doing my MFA at UMD, and I would never have guessed he would say that. The opposite, in fact. Just goes to show ya. Wish I'd met you back then.

One exercise to improve your "decisive moment" skills might be skeet (trap?) shooting. You have to think and shoot ahead of the moving target to meet at the right time. I don't know why I thought of this, as I take 5 minutes for one shot of a rock. Hope it's useful to birders...

Interesting that a Grafmatic film holder holds "only six sheets of film." Coincidence?

Film holders loaded, heading out with the Sinar tomorrow. Thank you so much for the timely nudge.

My high school art teacher who got me involved. with both photography and sports cars gave me an assignment to help me learn how to “see” a photograph. Pick a location and shoot a roll of film. One of the first tries was in the 2 acre lot of my home. In the process of finding things to photograph, I too pictures of lots of different things. One of those photos was of a stack of broken pieces of marble waiting to be installed as a patio. That photograph still resides in the file of photos I use as my screensaver on my Mac so I see it periodically and it brings back memories about Mr. Wolery. It also started me on what remains the biggest focus of my photography, abstraction around me. Second is documenting what I see. Not a lot of charge in almost 60 years!

The economical use of materials in a subject that is important to me, not because of any need to be thrifty, but rather a part of my early experience as a photographer where I quickly learned that with film, it was important to get the shot desired rather than the indecisive moments surrounding it.

I was approached by a friend who was the photo editor for a college newspaper, to shoot photos of a NCAA regional basketball game, a sport that held no interest to me and about which I knew less than nothing. In the week leading to the game I looked at game photos in the local paper, and I found out quickly that there were certain shots that were, for some reason quite common. A gaggle of players around a basket with the ball hanging on the rim, guys taking shots and such, showing players actions in the game. I understood that even with a motor drive, which was out of my financial realm, there was no guarantee that I would get the desired result. My only option was to be sure to anticipate the desired shot, and press the button just before it happened.Over the length of my career as a photographer, I continued to apply this technique to my daily work, and I was know as someone that didn't shoot that much film, and later digital. When I was shooting photos of construction work (the very definition of a niche), I could cover a very complicated part of a project with my Hasselblad using but a single 12 exposure roll.

This leave me appalled with today's photographers that shoot a dumpster full of useless exposures because it it generally recognised as "the only way to get the shot." That's something with which I firmly and sometimes loudly disagree.

Yes, you can spray and pray, and sometime, but not all, get the perfect shot, but doing that is like an amateur poker player going to the local casino expecting to win big.

Like everything else in photography, music, writing, race car driving, being a pilot, or a mob hitman, these things all require one of two things. First, loads of very expensive equipment, or years of practice. Everyone wants to spend money, but few want to work to improve their skills. Have you not advised a photographer that when asked if they would do well with a "better camera" that they could buy one but the better result would come with what would be essentially be free, working on their technique?

In Jr. High, a teacher advised that any good story needs to have a moral to it. The moral to this story is those guys that causes jaws to hang open because the only used six sheets of film were not just weirdos, but guys that had chosen to work on techniques. But in the days when one shot sheet film, carrying around lots of film was a hassle. either a heavy plywood box called a plate holder that held many full film holders, or boxes of film and a changing bag. As photographers, they most likely made a choice to make the job easier.

And this is what is wrong with digital, it is an excuse to be a photographer without studying the subject and practicing. It's like the people that gave piano recitals where all they did was load rolls into a player piano. Ultimately, the art of photography will suffer.

Sorry for the length of this.

One of my favorite projects in the digital era is to take one lens and then go out and say "I have one roll of film today" and shoot a maximum of 36 exposures. There are plenty of times when I don't artificially limit myself but I've found the percentage of keepers on those kinds of projects is higher than otherwise.

About mice that are easy on your hands - your mileage may vary. I've tried various mice that are supposed to be ergonomic, and most have not fit well with my hand. A few have been definitively less comfortable with extended use. I'm not going to name names, because others have found such mice work well for them. It's a matter of individual fit.

What comes to me is the proper amount of frames to have on hand is 12. 6x6 and a roll of 120 is perfect. 24 is too many and one is just not enough though I often just shoot one if using the 4x5.

Even though I started with digital (albeit a Fuji E510 in 2006) and have never developed my own film (though I shoot a fair amount of it) I find the longer I have been making photos the more deliberate my approach has become. I loath loading up hundreds of photos into Lightroom and winnowing them down, and I'm at the point where I know what I like to take pictures of and how I like to take them.

Years ago I spent some time shooting with an old Voigtlander Bessa 1 shooting 6x9, which I think informed my subsequent approach to shooting digital. The routine of -wind film-compose-check rangefinder-set focus-estimate or check exposure-set aperture-set shutter speed-cock shutter (don't cock the shutter before setting the shutter speed!)-then finally press shutter button, along with the limitation of 8 frames
per roll of 120 film, made me very discerning in what I shot, but also gave me an appreciation for the process of slowing down and visualizing what I wanted in and out of a scene.

And despite trying a few times over the years to work with presets -both made by me or others- and even shoot jpegs I seem to have to spend ever more time with each individual shot in Lightroom before I'm prepared to release it into the world (whether via print of screen).

I used to use the evoluent mouse a lot, it really helped with the carpal tunnel syndrome I used to get with normal mice. (Mice? is that plural still correct in the context of computers? It sounds wrong somehow!)

Mike, another benefit of shooting less - when I scan 18 negs (because I will sometimes cut a roll in half) or 36, and I go through the process of scanning it - first lower resolution via SilverFast and an Epson V700, then higher resolution via a Nikon Coolscan 5000 and Vuescan - I realize the time involved makes me look at all things I did wrong in most images. Focus, background, Composition, whatnot. I am trying to get the habit of adding notes to negs that_might_ have made good images, and what I could have done... 18 or 36 at a time, this can work. Two or 300 hundred? It made me look for the "best" ones, ignore most others, and learn very little.

“ Spray and Pray” is a cliche. Limiting the number of exposures you take is laziness, either at the taking stage, or at the editing stage. I’ve done the “12 sheets of large format film to last a weekend” thing, and I’ve shot 19 rolls of BW 35mm film in a day, processed it the next day, and printed the following day.

There’s a place for both approaches, but I think you progress faster by being productive, not by imposing artificial limits.

I think you are 'right on' on this one. One of the things that has always interested me about photography is how many different ways photographers find to approach essentially similar things. There is always something to learn, as you say 'whether you agree or not'.
It is always good to consider different approaches.

follow the guide that has gotten where you want to get

To me, Less is More at this juncture. Shooting 19 rolls of BW film in a day, processing and printing, may work for you, great, not for me. I do take exception to my option being called lazy, and I don't equate speed and volume with "being productive". I winder how many good ones you really got, or what you learned in the middle of all this frenzy. But then again, your way, my way, no name calling. OK

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