A one trick pony

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by uci2ci, Jun 17, 2013.

  1. uci2ci

    uci2ci Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 22, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    I've caught myself wasting a lot of frames and getting still boring results when shooting anything but wildlife, things like portraits, cityscapes, and landscapes. Lots of times I see something that looks pleasing to my eyes, but when I shoot it, it looks like...well....s**t. I don't seem to have an eye for shooting wider angles or discriminating good light from bad light.

    I've been shooting for about a year now. I know I have a lot to learn, but I'm not sure whats the best way to go about learning. A part of me says to just keep shooting and hope it will catch on, but then I don't want to just spin my wheels when I can study something or do exercises that will help me improve my photography skills. I'm not really up for taking classes at the moment; I want something that I can do in my own free time. Were any of you in my position when you started photography and how and when did you develop that "eye"? Any good readings or general tips you can suggest?
  2. mpg01

    mpg01 Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 21, 2012
    I'm at a year or so myself and I get that point of view. I've taken to trying to be more selective about what I want to shoot. One issue is that if you're like me, you pretty much run over the same ground day to day and everything becomes familiar and less remarkable over time. Less photo worthy. But I do keep my eyes peeled for something of interest knowing that I can always come back to it if need be. I'm also at the point where, regardless of the subject, I just concentrate on finding the best composition, and it's OK to experiment on boring, sh*ty things.

    ETA: I meant to add that experimenting with the mundane will help prepare you when that special shot suddenly appears before your eyes and that's really what this work is all about.

    Also, I'm sure a search of this site will produce some quality learning material.
  3. DanSullivan

    DanSullivan Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 21, 2010
    Dan Sullivan
  4. Ian.

    Ian. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2013
    Years ago I was very keen and developed an eye for a nice picture. I remember at the time I admired a lot of photos in books and magazines. In the meantime due to work and family I let photography lapse. But now I've started again and I've found I'm having to work at it to get up to speed again. I'm doing 2 things now that might help you.
    1) Admiring other peoples excellent photos.
    2) Getting annoyed when I mess up a potentially great opportunity.
    Both of these are driving me to hone my technique.

    Other fun things to do:
    1) Find secret locations to re-visit in all different conditions and lighting. Low angle sun often beats midday.
    2) Go out in bad weather. Fog can be amazing. Rain has great reflections and colourful umbrellas.
    3) Join a Photo club. Get critique and ideas. Go shooting with other people. For fun. Don't try too hard.
    4) Find someone elses dream shot and attempt to reproduce something similar until you get the same or better result.
  5. swampduck

    swampduck Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 29, 2013
    Taneytown , MD
    I understand where you are coming from. When I first started out all I shot was landscape and wildlife. If there was a building or person around the shot wasn't worth taking IMO. As I journeyed through life, I started seeing "landscape" pictures in the city and around time. I had to adjust for the change within my own style. I still prefer to shoot nature and wildlife, but people and urban shots have worrked their way into my portfolio.

    as Ian said, look at other peoples work, you may just find inspiration there.
    It also helps that DSLR's are so popular now, standing there holding a :43: body and lens is kind of inconspicous now and that has enboldened me to shoot more when I am amongst people.
  6. darosk

    darosk Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 17, 2013
    Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
    'Consuming' photography and art in your spare/down time is very important, IMO. If you find something you like or you think looks unique - spend some time on it, a couple minutes at the very least. Try and figure out if and how you could re-create the shot. Analyze - figure out exactly what it is about the photo you like and see if you can put it into words.

    It takes a lot of time behind the camera - there is no escaping that.
  7. caimi

    caimi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2012
    middle US
    Caimi caimiphotography.com
    At the risk of being repetitive, I also suggest studying the work of others for an education on subject, composition, color or lack of, etc. Then rely on your own vast imagination.
  8. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Richard Elliott
    Practice makes perfect, though not a perfect proverb, does have value.

    Pick a scene or situation and try to shoot it as many different ways as possible - different times of the day, under different lighting conditions, different lenses, different framing, etc. See what works for you and what does not.
  9. veereshai

    veereshai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 12, 2011
    Arlington, VA
    From my experience, I have never been able to make a good photograph whenever I have been overwhelmed with a beautiful scene. So, emotion plays a big part and our mind chooses to concentrate only on the "good things" that we see. However, deliberate effort has to be made to ensure that I also pay equal attention to other things such as background, foreground, placement of subject and direction of light. Initially you'll have to do it consciously and after a while it just becomes a habit.

    I have been lucky to have friends with me who put so much emphasis on these factors that we end up discussing backgrounds and foregrounds more than the subject itself as we usually get the placement and size (in the frame) right. Also, as suggested by others, give yourself five minutes on each photograph to see why something works and why it doesn't. Once you see the pattern, you'll be able to replicate it more often.

    And finally, please note that good photographers choose to show only their best :smile:. Most of them make a lot of bad photographs but they're ruthless when it comes to culling them. To practice detachment of the shooting experience from the photographs, a few photographers choose not to look at or process the photos for weeks because by then the experience wears off to a large extent and it doesn't cloud their judgement. That helps them to weed out the bad ones and process only the very best.
  10. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011

    Classes and books are always good. But if you want to improve, doesn't matter if it's the genre your in now or one you want to explore, you gotta shoot. The only difference between a pro and a hobbyest is the time behind the camera. The more experience the greater your skill and there isn't much one can do to circumvent that law of photography.

    For 'training', to sharpen your eye and understanding of photography, ("Wax-on ... Wax-Off" stuff), I suggest the following:

    Lesson 1
    1) Everyday day or so, shoot. Shoot with a prime. Start with something in the normal range, 20mm - 30mm. Shoot in manual. Just take a walk. Find an interesting image on every walk. Shoot the neighborhood. Keep shooting at different times of day. Critique, kick your butt when critique. If something has potential, go back and shoot it again, try a different time of day but keep going back until you get it right. After you've mastered a particular lens, toss on another, walk the neighbor with the new lens.

    Look twice at what you're about to capture. Look at the subject ... look at the light, not the light reflecting off the subject, look at the light from the source. Light has different qualities, it can be soft through harsh, diffused through directional, cold through hot, et al.

    Drink plenty of liquids, take sone Tylenol, get some rest 'n' call me in the morning.

  11. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Try shooting Sporks for a year ... everything seems much more interesting after that!
  12. MikeR_GF1

    MikeR_GF1 Guest

    Your first 10,000 pictures are your worst. :wink: (somebody famous said that)

    Try constraining yourself to something "boring", and see what you can do with it. (I have a dead tree in my front lot that the woodpeckers have had a feast on. I must have several hundred images of that one tree, in all sorts of light and seasons.)

    FWIW - don't limit yourself to photography. Visit art museums, galleries, sidewalk art festivals, etc., notice what grabs you. Absorbing "composition" from all sources can help hone your own eye for composition.
  13. uci2ci

    uci2ci Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 22, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Lots of good advice coming my way! Thank you everyone.

    While everyones advice is filled with unique and useful tidbits, the general consensus seems to be to just go out and shoot, but with more purpose..... be mindful of what went wrong and what went right and try and correct it, either today or the next day. Consume more art and try abd recreate the works you like. Veereesh, you have me ready like a book. I get overwhelmed by beauty sometimes to the point where I get shakey in the hands. I dont take my time and analyze the scene, i just shoot and get something mundane, when if i had just taken my time to analyze the scene, taken a few steps back or forth, or just paid attention to the shutter speed or f-stop, i would have gotten something much better.

    Mr. Miyagi...err...Dr. Miyagi...err....I mean Gary :p, I'm going to try your 1-lens regimine and see how that goes.

    Sporks....genius! :)
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