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07/27/2013 04:55:08 AM · #1
Hi all, struggled with the title and it appears a little defeatist but I am really struggling to capture my feelings while taking photos. I was in a beautiful little village in the Northamptonshire countryside this morning and when walking around its picturesque, peaceful, but when I get my photos back home they feel stale. Obviously, as I much as I would love it, I can't expect all of the pictures I take to be amazing. But it would be nice if they had some feeling or told a story.

This was highlighted again recently when i had a trip to Helsinki Finland and again the pictures dont invoke the feelings I was having on holiday.

How do you all go about trying to capture those feelings in your photographs. I'm really struggling to change the way I take photos in these circumstances to capture all of that, and I am not really sure how or what to change.

Some photos to show you what I mean:

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07/27/2013 05:20:24 AM · #2
Indeed a beautiful village and I do understand where you are coming from. I typically find it is the composition that usually fails. Take this one for example, the light is lovely, but you are right, it misses somehow. I would have perhaps taken the image from a lower perspective by crouching down thus giving me the opportunity to include the whole of the steeple in the image.
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I'd be interested to see more of your images from Helsinki - I quite like the one you shared of the Cathedral and don't feel it misses too much (I maybe a bit biased as I know Helsinki so very well) In Finland at this time of year it is difficult to shoot during the day time, as the light is so very bright and you end up with lots of dark shadows. I only start shooting after 7.00/8.00 pm when the light is a bit softer or in the morning before 9.00. Of course, that's not practical when you are on holiday:)

Message edited by author 2013-07-27 05:28:11.
07/27/2013 05:44:33 AM · #3
The shadows of the people in front of the Helsinki cathedral start to make something of that picture. It might have been better a couple of hours later with more light play on the side you're photographing (leaving you with a nightmare of exposure and post processing, but hey...). I've certainly taken reams of tedious exposures of beautiful things/places that deserve better. Light is one thing of which you have so little choice on fly-by holiday shots. Here's a thread that might help, or alternatively might just confirm the status of the dilemma...

If you check my record here, you can see I'm about the least qualified to say anything. Nevertheless here, out loud, is what passes for my thinking on the matter:

subject -
check

light -
oboy, but there's the 64,000 dollars we're all chasing, either you choose the light or use the light you have and, like playing the Germans at football, most of the time it doesn't work, but you have to keep believing there's learning in it all...

context -
can make a frog into a prince. Like some tedious tank barrel with a serendipitous butterfly on it. That is apparently a matter of chance for the most part, but you may note that some do it better and more often than others, so...
Also postcard and chocolate box pictures are justified by their context and fare less well outside of it.
07/27/2013 05:59:19 AM · #4
photos can never be boriiii ......zzzzzzzz
07/27/2013 09:40:02 AM · #5
take more photos. try different angles. get closer than you feel comfortable with. get further away.

you have the hunger.

the same feeling that says "boring" will also tell you which pictures are good. and this is how you will improve.

the hunger is the thing you can't learn, and you already have it. good for you.
07/27/2013 10:46:51 AM · #6
You have been given great advice by some great artists. Learn the rules and then learn to break them. Try to look at things differently, don't be afraid to enter photos that may do poorly. Some of the greatest photos on this site have scored very poorly. Keep shooting and experimenting and looking at photos that you love and learn from them, also look at photos you hate and learn from them.
07/27/2013 10:50:57 AM · #7
and maybe a good idea is to stop trying
to make NICE photos
spend a hour or so to just click away
sort of devil may care
flowers in a vase,so what that in your wild mood
you kicked it over,take a pic
etc
but have fun
07/27/2013 10:52:52 AM · #8
Originally posted by cutout:

and maybe a good idea is to stop trying
to make NICE photos
spend a hour or so to just click away
sort of devil may care
flowers in a vase,so what that in your wild mood
you kicked it over,take a pic
etc
but have fun


this +1000000 emphasis mine.
07/27/2013 11:26:50 AM · #9
Originally posted by salmiakki:

Indeed a beautiful village and I do understand where you are coming from. I typically find it is the composition that usually fails. Take this one for example, the light is lovely, but you are right, it misses somehow. I would have perhaps taken the image from a lower perspective by crouching down thus giving me the opportunity to include the whole of the steeple in the image.
' . substr('//farm4.staticflickr.com/3737/9376780958_a6abef0358_t.jpg', strrpos('//farm4.staticflickr.com/3737/9376780958_a6abef0358_t.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

I'd be interested to see more of your images from Helsinki - I quite like the one you shared of the Cathedral and don't feel it misses too much (I maybe a bit biased as I know Helsinki so very well) In Finland at this time of year it is difficult to shoot during the day time, as the light is so very bright and you end up with lots of dark shadows. I only start shooting after 7.00/8.00 pm when the light is a bit softer or in the morning before 9.00. Of course, that's not practical when you are on holiday:)


Thanks for the comments! I was already laying down with this one. I have started trying to use just my 50mm lense (on a cropped frame camera :/) and couldnt get any further back to get the photo. But yeah, the sentiment is taken on board.

I will try and get some more of my Helsinki photos up. I got carried away with my new toy a 10-22 efs lense so they are all a bit wide :)
07/27/2013 11:27:51 AM · #10
Originally posted by posthumous:

take more photos. try different angles. get closer than you feel comfortable with. get further away.

you have the hunger.

the same feeling that says "boring" will also tell you which pictures are good. and this is how you will improve.

the hunger is the thing you can't learn, and you already have it. good for you.


Thanks for the help. I've been starting to mix things up with street photography which certainly is making me and others feel uncomfortable at the moment!
07/27/2013 11:33:35 AM · #11
Originally posted by MinsoPhoto:

You have been given great advice by some great artists. Learn the rules and then learn to break them. Try to look at things differently, don't be afraid to enter photos that may do poorly. Some of the greatest photos on this site have scored very poorly. Keep shooting and experimenting and looking at photos that you love and learn from them, also look at photos you hate and learn from them.


Originally posted by cutout:

and maybe a good idea is to stop trying
to make NICE photos
spend a hour or so to just click away
sort of devil may care
flowers in a vase,so what that in your wild mood
you kicked it over,take a pic
etc
but have fun


Thanks for the help and advice guys. The problem I have though is that I have been taking photographs and lots of them, for a few years now, but I havent got any better at it. I think what I am trying to do is be more active with my thought process, learning what makes a photo work and what doesnt. But more importantly being able to capture a moment I am in and being able to record that moment - the feeling, context etc. So that I can enjoy it, but also so I dont bore my family and friends with tiring informational shots of things I have seen. If that makes any sense :)

I'm enjoying taking the photographs, just not the results at the moment. Which is a little disheartening. I know deep down I need to work harder to achieve this, but I am lacking direction.

Looking at other photos and rather than being awed by them actually look at them and figure out what makes it work, is something I don't do enough of I think.

07/27/2013 04:58:40 PM · #12
Boring to whom? Compared to the DPC colour, water drop, HDR, process, process, process crowd, then yes they are much quieter. But as memories of what you saw and felt then no, they are far from boring. Take pictures for other people if you choose - for money or love, but take pictures for yourself too, not for judgment or for other people to be bored by, but as "something to wear against the heart in the long cold."
Your pictures are beautiful because you were there once.
07/27/2013 06:01:38 PM · #13
Originally posted by cutout:

and maybe a good idea is to stop trying
to make NICE photos
spend a hour or so to just click away
sort of devil may care
flowers in a vase,so what that in your wild mood
you kicked it over,take a pic
etc
but have fun


how had i not added this man to my favorite photographers earlier. wonderful advice
07/27/2013 06:29:35 PM · #14
Quick disclaimer, compared to some more experienced members here, I m a total newb - so take what i say with a grain of salt.

The best advice i can give is through the lens of my own experience thus far, so - here goes...

When i m shooting for personal satisfaction; sometimes with intent to use my photos to please or to tell a story or just to keep an account of a trip, i have a general idea in my mind.

I will shoot things that are interesting to me, attempt to do it with the tools i have at hand, and generally not care too much if someone doesn't happen to like my focus on any one thing. In the process its likely that i'll come across pictures that cater to a wider audience, but the primary recipient of the satisfaction from those pics is me and to a lesser extent my family and friends. i do like critique, but i m alright with some pictures not being crowd favorites

If i m really on a mission, i'll take these trips more or less alone so i don't have to worry about holding up a group or boring a friend or family member as i spend hours taking pictures. To be honest, I don't always want pictures of things i see, so oftentimes i'll leave the big camera home and rely on my phone camera if i really feel compelled to take a pic.

I m writing this to talk about when i do take pictures so: I set out looking for interesting things with an idea of whatever equipment i have handy so i can work with what i've got. There are days when I'll see something, take the camera to my eye and shoot - and it'll be exactly how i want it - subsequent shots are afterthoughts because i already have my keeper. Other days, I'll shoot something i see that i like but it'll look different through the eye-piece, so i 'll move around, adjust my location or my focal length or whatever i think might make a difference to get pretty close to how i want to see the image.

Heres another bit: You know, there's sometimes a stigma attached to checking your work or "chimping", but this kind of exercise is exactly where i think you can begin to get better shots by looking at them. You don't always get the complete picture with your eye to the eye-piece. Use your LCD to glance at your shots, esp when you have the time, and think you have something decent. If you don't like a specific element, move around and adjust things till you get to where you want to be in terms of framing/lighting etc.

I want to emphasize this if i haven't yet, take your time to get the right frame, and if you can help it - wait for the light you like best. Try to understand and use the tools at your disposal and don't rush through your shots. You might want to weigh certain options while you're shooting. Example: There is debate on what the "eye" sees in terms of focal length and some photographers like to stay close to their "ideal" zoom length for the majority of their photos. Others tend to use zoom to emphasize specific elements in a photo and might take it a step further with depth of field adjustments. Practitioners(or followers i guess?) of both philosophies (and the others in between) have generated brilliant photographs over time, so i don't think that its about who's right - but which method speaks to you.

Over time, your process may have phases where it becomes more complex or more simple. You will acquire, discover, new skills and techniques that you can employ in specific settings and you'll continue to evolve as a photographer. Don't despair, we can all get lucky shots here and there, but improving your consistency takes time, education and experimentation. Things are a lot easier when you're enjoying what you're doing. Frustration is sometimes part of the process - but don't let it make you lose sight of your goals.

I hope this helps,

Devinder

edit: since we're talking pics from trips, here's the batch from my last trip link i had plenty of help along the way, and it was loads of fun.

Message edited by author 2013-07-28 14:00:40.
07/27/2013 06:31:10 PM · #15
Just. Slow. Down.

And be more specific about what you want. You keep saying you want to capture the moment, but that's too vague. What is it specifically about that moment that you wish to capture? Is it the sheer beauty? Or is it the way the light falls on something, or the quality of the light itself? Is it the angle, or the color, or....?? Is it something that is not visible? Each of these things should make you look at and think differently about what you want to photograph. One of the biggest challenges about photography is realizing that "context" rarely makes it into the image. We know what was happening at the time, the story behind the image, but if the viewer wasn't there, they will not see what we see when we look at the image.
07/27/2013 07:04:33 PM · #16
Originally posted by Atirez:

The problem I have though is that I have been taking photographs and lots of them, for a few years now, but I havent got any better at it.


Are you sure about this? Open up your photos from three years ago and compare them to what you have taken recently. What you may find may surprise you.

It sure did me. I did just this last night. I was disgusted at many of the images that three years ago I thought were great. This gave me a great shot of confidence that what I'm doing today is so much better.

Message edited by author 2013-07-27 19:04:49.
07/28/2013 08:47:51 AM · #17
Great advice everyone. I think my main problem is the point between seeing something I want to photograph and then raising the camera to my eye. I havent been actively thinking about what I want/dont want in the frame, DOF etc.

giantmike: yeah your probably right :)
tanguera: Slowing down and considering what actually is my subject is something I havent been doing really. More of a "The whole scene is my subject, where is my wide angle lense so I get it all in". :/
Devinder: Thanks for taking the time to write all that down, it was helpful - thank you.

Well, I went out this morning and slowed down. Tried to think more about frame, subject, and all that other goodness and for the first time for as long as I can remember I have taken photos that I like. And this one stands out as I wanted to focus on the house and flood thing and drag your eyes through the lovely pink flowers and through the lake. Thanks all!

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No cropping or tweaking done to this :)

Now need my monitor calibration software to turn up so I can make sure you see it the way I do :)
07/28/2013 05:21:23 PM · #18
i m liking that shot already. What matters most is that you like what you shoot.

To provide a different style/opinion -> if i were shooting something like that, i'ld attempt to get just past the tree on the right and see if i could get everything in there. I like the bottom and left of that frame, i'd probably do something different with the top and right edges.

Happy shootin
07/28/2013 06:22:02 PM · #19
Originally posted by Devinder:

i m liking that shot already. What matters most is that you like what you shoot.


That's exactly right! Who cares what others think (unless you're shooting professionally for a client). What matters most is that you like it.
Not everyone is going to like what you do, but so what? Not everyone likes icecream either.

Just enjoy yourself. :)
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