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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Maybe you're focusing too much on the technicals
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01/19/2015 03:14:22 PM · #1
Hunter S. Thompson on the Problem of Focusing Too Much on the Technicals of Photography

"When photography gets so technical as to intimidate people, the element of simple enjoyment is bound to suffer. Any man who can see what he wants to get on film will usually find some way to get it; and a man who thinks his equipment is going to see for him is not going to get much of anything."

Shoot more. Worry less. Have fun.
01/19/2015 03:18:30 PM · #2
fun? you must be joking.
01/19/2015 03:24:45 PM · #3
It's exactly why I no longer use Photoshop. I'd rather connect with the world than correct it.
01/19/2015 03:24:55 PM · #4
He came out with plenty of good advice did Hunter. I tried his diet once. That *was* fun.
01/19/2015 03:29:59 PM · #5
He wrote this back in 1962. Although camera technology has gone through significant changes we're still having the same conversation. For some, the camera is just a tool to help us learn to see.
01/19/2015 03:52:37 PM · #6
This reminded me of a section in the chronology part of the fantastic Diane Arbus book, Revelations.

From 1960 -

'Around mid-November she appears to be on the verge of purchasing a new camera, probably another Nikon. Allan recalls her asking him to test some lenses: I must have tested five lenses, he says, Nothing was sharp enough for her. The dissatisfaction with her relationship to the camera will recur at various intervals throughout her career, often signalling an impending change in her work.'

01/19/2015 03:53:23 PM · #7
Originally posted by bvy:

It's exactly why I no longer use Photoshop. I'd rather connect with the world than correct it.


well put.
01/19/2015 04:05:16 PM · #8
Photoshop does not correct. You use it to adjust for information from the picture that has either been deleted (if your pic was taken in jpg) or to enhance available information (if shot in RAW). Fools dont use editing, or they over use it. Appropriate editing is what you should do. Wisdom is to know the differnce between appropriate and over use.
01/19/2015 04:06:55 PM · #9
I try to focus on obtaining a quality image rather than image quality.
01/19/2015 04:21:34 PM · #10
Originally posted by Karelfred:

Photoshop does not correct. You use it to adjust for information from the picture that has either been deleted (if your pic was taken in jpg) or to enhance available information (if shot in RAW). Fools dont use editing, or they over use it. Appropriate editing is what you should do. Wisdom is to know the differnce between appropriate and over use.

I'm being provocative. Or just speaking too casually. I neither said that I don't edit nor that I don't use an editing tool. For my purposes, the Sigma RAW editor and its eight or so sliders (contrast, exposure, fill light, etc.) are all I need to bring a picture to life. Three minutes max. Photoshop for me, when I was really into it, amounted to splitting hairs and wasting time as I obsessed over dozens of images representing every permutation of the unsharp mask settings (for example). It was only after I put all that aside that I was finally able to see what I was taking pictures of.
01/19/2015 04:23:51 PM · #11
Originally posted by insteps:

... the camera is just a tool to help us learn to see.


That, IMO, is the crux of the matter. Until we learn to envision the desired result, we are unable to take the second step, which is to use the tool(s) to realize said result.
Now, this second part of the process is where technical knowledge can in fact help us. But no amount of technical know-how, and no amount of investment in the best available equipment, will substitute for vision.

ETA: When I came here in 2002 (!) it was with the realization that my photography was all wrapped up in the technicals, and that I had no clue on how to make a compelling image. Nearly 13 years later, I still sometimes struggle, but I am comfortable in my style and know where I still need/want to grow.

Message edited by author 2015-01-19 16:27:49.
01/19/2015 04:57:08 PM · #12
Originally posted by kirbic:

Originally posted by insteps:

... the camera is just a tool to help us learn to see.


That, IMO, is the crux of the matter. Until we learn to envision the desired result, we are unable to take the second step, which is to use the tool(s) to realize said result.


I'm not so sure... well, at least for me. The images that I enjoy the most have little surprises, over sites, and accidents. You actually exceed your expectations. This is probably what I enjoy most about photography. Learning from what was captured and apply this knowledge next time I'm out shooting. I'd loose interest if everything was so predictable. This logic can be applied to how you edit images too.
01/20/2015 08:29:38 AM · #13
Perhaps the technicals focus too much on the what, and not enough on the why.
01/20/2015 08:37:45 AM · #14
Interesting discussion, and one I have been having with myself for some time.

I find when I focus so much on the technical aspects and being compositionally "correct", I have skipped by the life essence of the shot. It has become somewhat sterile and clinical.

Interesting that, to me, the shots with the most life and vitality are the ones getting 3's and 4's here on DPC. My opinion, your mileage may vary.
01/20/2015 08:44:46 AM · #15
I think this man has it all' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' rooum, just sayin'
01/20/2015 09:48:20 AM · #16
Just for perspective, Hunter was a whiskey soaked, drug addled lunatic.

God I love that guy. ;)
01/20/2015 10:40:00 AM · #17
Good man
01/20/2015 10:56:35 AM · #18
Yeah. Think of the thousands of photographs still in the camera or phone or on a hard drive never processed by any software at all. I keep reading of the thousands of photographs taken by famous but now dead photographers that they took, but apparently never even looked at after that. How much of your work kept your interest after you took the picture? Who was it said that of a years work he considered one or two keepers good? The photographs that flood our world now is a tiny percentage of all the photographs taken and forgotten.

It is more fun to take photographs than to do the work of processing and archiving them. For some, it's more fun to acquire new gear than it is to take the photographs. It's relatively easy to brag about the acquisition of gear. Not so easy to brag about the photographs taken with the new gear. After all, it's likely that you are taking the same ol' photographs with the new gear as you did with the old gear.
01/20/2015 11:38:59 AM · #19
There are different kinds of "seeing", as it were, and they have different requirements. It's as simple as that. For the street photographer to be obsessed with technicals, in the moment, is ludicrous. Not so much the landscape photographer. The portrait photographer is rightly "obsessed" with the precise (and technical) aspects of her lighting. And so forth and so on. In all cases, sufficient practice with the gear internalizes the use of it, so vision again overtakes technical concerns about image-making.

I'm currently "obsessed with technicals" right now because I've switched systems to a very different camera. My images are changing because of it, and it is fascinating. But by the time the Big Cruise sets sail in April, I'll have all that internalized.
01/20/2015 12:42:07 PM · #20
Over the years I have focused and unfocused on the technical parts of photography. When I am shooting for a challenge, it is easy to focus on the technical, and grow my skills. When I am traveling or am more emotionally involved with my photography subject, then I am much less concerned about the technicals. I found it was easy to hide behind the camera and miss some important aspects of life experiences. Now I try to find a balance between living in the moment and capturing the momement.
01/20/2015 12:51:57 PM · #21
There's a place and time for everything. If you spend time focusing on the technicals, hopefully they will become second nature, and when you get that incredible shot, you know exactly what you're doing and how to do it.

It's like practicing scales and exercises on the piano. You can jump into the difficult pieces, but if you don't have a good, strong basis to work with, you won't be as effective and you won't be able to really lose yourself in the piece.
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