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Archive 2012 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?
  
 
ben egbert
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p.4 #1 · p.4 #1 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


Camperjim wrote:
The foot zoom often does not work well. You still need an assortment of primes and space to foot zoom. Then there is the time factor. I often make several failed attempts for each composition I like. Changing lenses and positions could take a long time ...by then I would be moving on to another angle or a different scene. The idea I am proposing is to try lots of compositions in a short period of time to avoid the perfectionists approach.



Yep, I went through that stage with my Nikon990. On the other hand, I have been wading through a bunch of my icon collection and re-processing them per current workflow. I am appalled at the images I got with my 20D and 5D. And the stuff with my 17-40 and 24-105 are a big part of the problem. I suspect my 5D with primes might have been ok.

Some are really great light, and work ok for web, but can't be printed which is the whole reason to do this.




Sep 09, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Camperjim
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p.4 #2 · p.4 #2 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


I am not recommending you stop using primes for serious landscape work. You have been complaining that you pay little attention to composition. You also complained that you view composition as an application of rules and wished composing would be more natural and intuitive. If you get a simple camera even a point and shoot and work compositions for a while I believe your feelings about composition will change and when you do more serious photography composition will just be a natural part of what you do, such as selecting an f/stop.

Beyond the composition practice, I still wonder about your issues with zoom lenses. Before I accept a new lens, I do a lot of pixel peeping. I usually compare my zoom lenses to my 35/2 and 60/2.8 primes. I am amazed at the image quality of even some cheap lenses. I have evaluated 4 Canon 18-55 kits lenses and the quality has been remarkable for all but one lens. My cheap Canon 55-250 lens also does very well when compared at 60mm with my prime or at other focal lengths when compared with my 100-400. It seems that the 55-250 actually has slightly better resolution however the colors are better with the 100-400. Inexpensive lenses seem most limited by factors other than image quality. The 18-55 Canon kit lens has a lower quality focusing motor and these motors have a limited life. In addition the front element rotates and makes it all but impossible to use a CP filter. And of course the overall build quality is poor. Finally primes are usually much faster and zoom lenses really need to be closed down by several stops. I don't even want to try to evaluate an inexpensive lens without closing down by several stops.



Sep 10, 2012 at 12:04 AM
AuntiPode
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p.4 #3 · p.4 #3 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


Zooming with your feet had/has limitations, but for the first eight years I attempted to make serious images, all I had was a few prime lenses. Zooms were too expensive. I'm not even sure when I first became aware of zoom lenses. The first I bought was in 1973 - a Nikkor 43-86mm. Still have it somewhere.


Sep 10, 2012 at 03:18 AM
AuntiPode
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p.4 #4 · p.4 #4 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


The "rules" aren't there to enforce composition. They are attempts to explain and guide. They won't make an image good, but ignoring them without good aesthetic reason is likely to result in an under-appealing image.


Sep 10, 2012 at 03:20 AM
David Baldwin
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p.4 #5 · p.4 #5 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


"They won't make an image good, but ignoring them without good aesthetic reason is likely to result in an under-appealing image"

Yes but the ability to identify the "good aesthetic reasons" is what photography is all about. I labour this point because in a way teaching new photographers "rules" or "laws" in a way discourages them from the free experimentation that true photographic style depends on.

When I was a photography student we were give a detailed set of tasks and sent into the local town. The tasks were very specific except for one. We were told to take the camera and hold it well away from our bodies (so we couldn't look through the viewfinder), and to just guess what you were photographing (like photojournalists sometimes have to do when standing behind a crown, they lift the camera over their heads and simply trust their intuition).

This technique forced us to let go of any detailed rules/laws, and trust the subconsicious (which knows best IMHO). And you know what, the tutor was right, these images were often better than the ones where we were really deliberate and shot in the normal way.

Take lots of images, over time you will learn what you like, and subconciously develop your composition. If photography isn't individual it is nothing. Rules/laws can very easily inhibit creativity. If anyone shows you one of those composition charts which are meant to show how people's eyes rove over your image, chuck it in the bin, those things are no help at all in the field.

If anyone is feeling constipated by the bloody "rules" get the camera off the tripod, set it to AF and Program exposure mode, and just "play" at finding interesting things to shoot. Do this for a couple of weeks and I guarantee you will have had great fun, and have produced images that will surprise you.

I say this as a photographer who religiously uses tripods, spirit levels etc, sometimes letting go of precision is a tonic to creativity.



Sep 10, 2012 at 08:58 AM
AuntiPode
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p.4 #6 · p.4 #6 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


I've alway recommended just the opposite - a view camera. Easier to judge composition when the image is upside down because you are examining the aesthetic of the image rather than the content of the scene. A scene carries brain baggage you lose when you take the brain out of auto-pilot seeing mode by inverting the image. Rules of composition are just tools I use to explain, after the fact, why a composition works... or the converse.


Sep 10, 2012 at 09:09 AM
dmacmillan
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p.4 #7 · p.4 #7 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


Camperjim wrote:
I also forgot to mention, but using a prime is a real hindrance to exploring composition. A zoom lens will give you much better options with little effort.

When you're learning, I think zooms aren't a good idea. A photo taken with a 17mm lens is not the same as the exact same framing but taken with a 35mm lens. There's more to focal length than getting more or less in the frame from the same spot.

Using primes will help a starting photographer learn this. Yes, you can do the same with a zoom, but I know human nature well enough to know it won't happen often enough. How many of you regularly look at the focal length of your zoom, then move to use a more appropriate focal length?

I realize this is the way I learned. I started photography when I was a boy, back in the 1950's. I didn't own a zoom until I bought a Canon G2 in 2002 and didn't own an interchangeable zoom until 2008!



Sep 10, 2012 at 10:54 AM
RustyBug
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p.4 #8 · p.4 #8 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


+1 @ perspective vs. framing. We can get very similar, seemingly same, framing ... but the difference @ moving your feet is that the perspective changes. Also, the issues of foreshortening vs. compression come into play as we move our feet vs. change focal lengths.

But, I think the point the Jim was trying to get across was that at the cost of the (debatable @ critical/non-critical) differences noted above ... the zoom offers a much more expedient opportunity for "exploratory" composition (i.e. framing). I can relate ... in that I will often times mount my 17-35 as my walkabout lens. Then, when I find something that inspires or intrigues me, I'll invest the time to explore the various "move your feet" perspectives. Then I'll make my decision to switch to a prime of choice for the best quality capture ... yet, sometimes the switch isn't necessary, subject/conditions depending.

It works reasonably well that way, in that IF I run across something that requires a "spontaneous" capture ... the zoom is helpful. Whereas the argument about time lost for switching glass @ primes becomes not critical for those more "calculating & exacting" shots.

I also go through times where I don't change lenses for days, when my pre-visualizing mind seems to only see things through a given focal length.

So, I can definitely appreciate the role of life with zoom vs. life with prime. I have my share of zooms, so I'm not knocking them at all, but there are some factors and differences ... subtle to some, a bit more critical to others ... the foreshortening effect likely being one of the more notable @ perspective.

But, after Ben's 30 years of shooting ... Ben is likely fairly rooted/established in how he "sees" the world. The zoom may or may not provide a liberating impact for Ben, the same way that Jim (et al) finds it so creatively useful. I know sometimes I feel like I've become a bit of a "one trick pony" at times. Then I have to purposefully set out to do something "radically different" to kinda shake things loose a bit ... lest I wind up too much like the Tin Man in Oz.

But, whether it is a switch to a zoom, or 360 degree walk around your subject, get on a ladder, get on the ground, switch orientation, move forward, move back, tilt, shift, stitch, rotate, etc. ... exploring various compositions is a worthy endeavor. For some, it comes naturally ... for others, we have to do it a bit more by intent.



Sep 10, 2012 at 12:59 PM
ben egbert
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p.4 #9 · p.4 #9 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


What I do. I find a scene and determine what I want to include/exclude. That determines the place to stand and the focal length. I move around as much as the terrain allows and frame within the constraints of my primes. I have been known to cling to a tree to avoid sliding down 100 feet or so into a waterfall.

What I find is that below 24, you often need really wide, sometimes 14 is not enough. But also it tends to have too much height. When you have a scene wide enough for 14 it is generally a pano.

A zoom might be useful here, I am not sure. Above 24, it would for sure. I have 14,17,24,35,50 and a 70-200. I almost never need the 70-200 for landscapes. Maybe a 21 and 28 prime would fix the gaps, but then I could not carry the bag.

With my two TSE lenses, 17 and 24, I can shift to move the horizon up or down. But sometimes I want the entire view from my tripod legs to the top of that cumulus cloud. Maybe my problem is that I love the view so much I can't eliminate any of it. I often can't decide what to eliminate, its all just too good to leave out.

In many cases however, the view will need cropping, almost always the height. In such cases, the horizon can be chosen when processed.

For my taste, I don't like the main feature off center. That grates against all my instincts. It might make for a more dynamic scene, but what the heck, a photo is static, if I wanted motion I would do video.

If that big rock is the feature, my eyes would be glued to it, not looking 1/3 to the left or right.

It gets back to what I want to do. I want my images to look the way they would to a person standing there looking straight ahead. I am not attempting to create art, I am attempting to create a record.








Sep 10, 2012 at 02:59 PM
 

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RustyBug
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p.4 #10 · p.4 #10 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


ben egbert wrote:
I am not attempting to create art, I am attempting to create a record.


And therein lies the diff "What did Ansel Adams actually do?" ... he strove to create an emotive rendering FROM a recording, rather than to PRODUCE a recording,

The techniques he utilized, optimized, standardized, created, developed and otherwise painstakingly spent a lifetime of refinement toward were for the purpose of generating an end product that was derived from the record, with the record only being a part of the process ... not the end product.

Two very different animals indeed. That is why I was so overcome by the "He Cheats !!!" way back when. AA's objectives and techniques were totally contrary to mine, once I came to realize our inherent objective differences. I was about recording, purity & in camera, even though I was smitten with the power of his imagery ... mistakenly associating them to be "one in the same", when they are actually polar opposites.

Nothing wrong with striving for the "record" perspective ... good stuff ... just AA may not be the legendary poster child to emulate for such endeavors.



Sep 10, 2012 at 03:41 PM
ben egbert
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p.4 #11 · p.4 #11 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


RustyBug wrote:
And therein lies the diff "What did Ansel Adams actually do?" ... he strove to create an emotive rendering FROM a recording, rather than to PRODUCE a recording,

The techniques he utilized, optimized, standardized, created, developed and otherwise painstakingly spent a lifetime of refinement toward were for the purpose of generating an end product that was derived from the record, with the record only being a part of the process ... not the end product.


And the word lifetime is the key here. I was 40 when I started and did not have the means or time for this in any serious way until 2004 when I retired. I also have the hidebound attitude of someone who is old. I suspect AA was mostly working old images by that age not taking them.

I already know that the guys willing to backpack and/or hike 10X further than I am willing to go will get to better places. I learned in my working days that it is good to have a niche where you can do something that others are not doing or not willing to do.

I think mine may be to create travelogs for other photographers. Yes, its been done, and I have the books myself. So I am trying to make mine reflect the needs of somebody who wants to know how to get there, what it looks like and some tips on gear t use.






Sep 10, 2012 at 03:54 PM
RustyBug
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p.4 #12 · p.4 #12 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


ben egbert wrote:
So I am trying to make mine reflect the needs of somebody who wants to know how to get there, what it looks like and some tips on gear t use.

DING ... and the light comes on.


"What's the point?" "What's the message that you are trying to convey to your viewer?"
Reference information ... yup, that is an animal unto itself as well.

Walk into Antelope Canyon for the first time ... it looks WAY DIFFERENT than the renderings that can be achieved photographically, It would have been a nice preparation to have known what to expect regarding the diff @ what I was striving for, and what I would encounter en route and upon arrival.

AA was noted for his 'previsualization' of what his final product would become ... yours will be a forerunning visual representation of what one will encounter prior to attempting the creation of their vision. Other than using AA for a map of iconic imagery ... you probably should kick your associations to AA style to the curb, down the mountain, off the cliff and to the bottom of the ocean ... as they will likely be of little value to you in helping you achieve your objective to deliver your message to your audience.

You can probably "rewind" a whole bunch of things previously said, now that the intended message/audience is realized to be vastly different from what it was previously thought it to be. AA's body of work and technique have little relativity here ... other than it moves a lot of people to want to go to those places. Since his work has already done that, yours is not intended to be a repeat of emotive conveyance "come & experience", but rather a reference.

"Thar's gold in them thar hills. Howz 'bout a map so's yous can find what yer lookin' fer?"

Gotcha.


Edited on Sep 10, 2012 at 06:30 PM · View previous versions



Sep 10, 2012 at 04:03 PM
ben egbert
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p.4 #13 · p.4 #13 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


Here is one I just did for the Tetons. I have others I will need to work up.

I was going to have the images used critiqued here first, but they are all old images and will not reflect the lessons I have gotten here in the last few months. Most of them will probably never be done again as I have other Icons on my bucket list.

But this shows where I am heading.

I made separate pages for each location in the Tetons. For Oregon, I embedded the words and images into the Oregon Page with the exception of Thors well.

I would really like some feedback on this approach. My first time to the Tetons I wasted one sunrise trying to find the barns and I had 2-3 guides. They just did not have the info I needed.

As far as AA, my message was inspired by comments about how much latitude he used. I am sensitive to altered reality, and I only wanted to say that I did not think he altered reality. I am actually more of Gallan Rowen guy.

http://ben-egbert-photo.com/?page_id=493



Sep 10, 2012 at 04:27 PM
AuntiPode
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p.4 #14 · p.4 #14 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


ben egbert wrote:
It gets back to what I want to do. I want my images to look the way they would to a person standing there looking straight ahead. I am not attempting to create art, I am attempting to create a record.


That could be the source of the disconnect. I critique on the presumption the purpose is art. I, for one, had no idea your intent was to make record shots. Here we mostly critique photos as art, although occasionally we may critique for some other specific purpose *if* the poster makes the intended purpose clear. I often don't comment on specific purpose images such as stock photos, for example, because I have no experience shooting for stock.

Historically folks have taken snapshots to record what they see. The more serious may take record shots, which are more deliberate and technically accomplished records than snap shots. Aesthetic considerations of composition don't matter much to record shots unless they compromise the intent of making a useful record. OTOH, short of making suggestions on technical details for improving visual information gathering and recording, there's little critique can contribute to help make record shots. Offhand, I don't know of a forum with an orientation towards presenting record shots.



Sep 10, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Camperjim
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p.4 #15 · p.4 #15 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


With a zoom lens, you can move back and forth, sideways, up an down to select a different point of view and then select the focal length, compose and frame the shot. You can do all of this quickly while you try and reject many compositions without making a shot. Ben has seen me do this. I am like an ant over the landscape while composing and then shooting what I like.
With primes, you have a slow deliberate process. You also need to carry a backpack full of primes so that when you reach a suitable point of view, you can select the correct prime to sort of come close to what you want. Even then you will probably need to crop in post.

I am a technical person and quickly learned that the last thing I need is a slow deliberate process. I am trying to develop my artistic skills not learn how to play with a camera to achieve the best results with today's ever improving cameras. Ben is already set with a tedious deliberate process which in my opinion is great for image quality but hard on the creative freedom. I would only try his process for focusing a tilt/shift once before trying to decide on a different hobby.

I spent my first year with a DSLR shooting mostly with a couple of primes. Sure you can sometimes zoom with your feet but I want to also select the focal length and compose as exactly as possible in camera. You can't carry enough primes to do that. With a zoom or two, I can go to a place like the Wave, North Coyote Butte, and come back with hundreds of great compositions. Most require little or no cropping. To get many of the comps I was often perched on a ledge with no foot zooming possible. I guess it would be possible to use a prime, shoot wide and then crop later. Yuck. Lots of work plus that approach makes it very difficult to decide on compositions which will work best.



Sep 10, 2012 at 08:56 PM
ben egbert
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p.4 #16 · p.4 #16 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


AuntiPode wrote:
That could be the source of the disconnect. I critique on the presumption the purpose is art. I, for one, had no idea your intent was to make record shots. Here we mostly critique photos as art, although occasionally we may critique for some other specific purpose *if* the poster makes the intended purpose clear. I often don't comment on specific purpose images such as stock photos, for example, because I have no experience shooting for stock.

Historically folks have taken snapshots to record what they see. The more serious may take record shots, which are more deliberate and technically accomplished
...Show more

I am probably just casting about for my niche if I even have one. I have a large body of decent quality Icon shots and 10X that many non icon. None are art, just photos. I guess when you get the technique, art is the last step and I am pretty sure I don't have the talent or inclination. I need an online photo outlet and have been casting around for one.

I had this same conversation with Jim Fox who suggested here when I washed out at landscape. But I see this is not a good fit either. I suspect some forum more about travelog or technique would be apporpriate but have not been able to find one.

I started my web blog in case I had to start my own because there are none around. But that is not really getting any feedback either.

I am really at a cross road. I might be better off finding a new hobby.

I sort of feel like an agnostic in a church.









Sep 10, 2012 at 10:23 PM
ben egbert
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p.4 #17 · p.4 #17 · What did Ansel Adams actually do?


Camperjim wrote:
With a zoom lens, you can move back and forth, sideways, up an down to select a different point of view and then select the focal length, compose and frame the shot. You can do all of this quickly while you try and reject many compositions without making a shot. Ben has seen me do this. I am like an ant over the landscape while composing and then shooting what I like.
With primes, you have a slow deliberate process. You also need to carry a backpack full of primes so that when you reach a suitable point of view, you
...Show more

Canon makes a pretty decent 70-200, otherwise their zooms are not cutting it for landscape. The new 24-70 ver II is reputed to be pretty good. I have thought about ditching Canon and moving to Nikon so I could use the 14-24. Not sure about their zooms above 24 though.

But if I liquidate, I will have a hard time staying with photography, especially when I am at the end of the road.




Sep 10, 2012 at 10:26 PM
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