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How to see photographically

Discussion in 'Creative Corner' started by sinpig, Oct 5, 2010.

  1. sinpig

    sinpig Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 2, 2010
    Superior, WI
    It always amazes me how the person next to me at the park, finds something compelling to frame while I seem blind to all the possibilities... it's frustrating.

    Since I took on photography 3 months ago I have been striving to see the picture, but I need to train my eyes. So my question is:

    Has anyone struggle with this?? Is there a book that helped you??
    I'm considering buying "The Photographer's Eye"

    I seem to know every technical detail, but I'm missing the artistic part of the equation: Art+Technology= Beauty.
    • Like Like x 2
  2. andrewteee

    andrewteee Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 14, 2009
    Yes! But man, 3 months! Give yourself some time. Practice, practice, practice, and study the work of others. Pay close attention to what they are doing. Buy some old, used photography books and study them at night (don't just rely online). It takes time, just like any skill. Also, pay attention to what you like and are drawn to style-wise. Find your own vision along with the basic photographer's vision.

    • Like Like x 3
  3. John Jarosz

    John Jarosz Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 29, 2010
    Chicago Area
    Look at photographs. try to see what the photographer sees when presented with the same kinds of scenes.
    Get photography books that have subject matter that you like to photograph. Go to galleries and art museums and look at photographs.


    Think unconventionally.

    Try to understand why you like the photographs you see (and why you don't like some)

    photography is about seeing an image out of the jumble of images placed before you.

    it takes practice. It takes shooting zillions of photographs and only keeping the best. Discard anything that is not the best. Don't show photographs with any flaws, only show photographs that depict the image exactly as you want it to appear. Return to a location to improve a photograph that you didn't think was perfect. Work at it.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. grebeman

    grebeman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Not original advice, but I've seen it suggested that you carry a card with a cutout in it that matches the format you might shot in, i.e. 3:2, 16:9 or whatever and hold that up to look through it at the scene to get some idea of how it will look when rendered as a 2 dimensional picture.

    • Like Like x 2
  5. ASA 32

    ASA 32 Mu-43 Regular

    Advice I got not so long ago: "Learn to see not as a human." Get down on the ground, up on a ladder, anything other than a view from 5' 10" (or whatever). Also, look at the frame in the viewfinder, not only at the subject.
    • Like Like x 3
  6. sinpig

    sinpig Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 2, 2010
    Superior, WI
    Never heard of that one before, it's definitely worth the try.
  7. grebeman

    grebeman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    I think it was quoted in a book mentioning that this was the first thing given to students on either an Ansel Adams or Edward Weston photography course.

  8. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    I think its easier to start with somewhat mildly interesting things and try to make them more interesting. Once this is practiced, it becomes easier to take things that at first blush aren't photogenic and put them in an interesting way onto a picture.

    • Like Like x 1
  9. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    simplify... dont try and capture too much in one image...look for shapes, look for juxtaposition, look for contrast...get closer, look behind you

    also decide what kind of photos interest you... personally I find landscapes and macro shots of flowers incredibly boring, though I am sure i could take them technically if i tried.

    set yourself little challenges - go out for a walk and look for something starting with A and take shot of that, then B and so on... or use colours something red, then something blue etc. I also have 'pet' subjects I am always looking for... like vespa scooters or grafitti or torn posters.

    Also google the rule of thirds - a classic composition technique - try it on some of your pictures and learn to crop using this.

    best of all just keep taking at pictures of what satisfys you

    • Like Like x 4
  10. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Join the Image Quest,
    Time for you to start Grasshopper.
    • Like Like x 3
  11. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    yeah Sinpig I am also learning that same thing. One thing I have found myself doing recently is taking about 3 images in quick succession but zooming further in on each one. Then back at home I keep the image I like. My problem is sometimes I'm not quick enough to analyse what will look the best on the finished image when the subjects generally have legs. Legs move not when I want them too but when the brain connected to the legs want them to move! So I quickly shoot, shoot , shoot at different focal lengths and then when I get back and load the images I have more time to think about the moment.

    Hope this can help
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Richard Elliott
    I just use my hands instead of a card to frame a shot - there is a reason you see directors in old movies hold up their hands to make a rectangle for the shot they want.

    I tried a small zoom eyepiece for a while but I learned I never forgot my hands. (at least not yet)
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Chuck Pike

    Chuck Pike Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 3, 2010
    Charlotte, NC.
    Look at art.

    What makes an interesting photograph? Well it took me years to figure that one out. Just kidding. But you do get better with practice. I go to museums to look at art, and have purchased a lecture series on art in order to see better. Then when your just starting out you have to ask your self, what do you want to shoot? Barns, flowers, birds, wild life, people, dogs, cats, cities, and the list goes on. It took me a while to figure out how to take a sharp pictures. Then I wanted to get really sharp pictures, so I used a tripod, mirror lock up (don't need that with my GF1) and a cable release. When I started getting really sharp pictures, the magazine I sold most to, started using soft focus and blown out highlights. I started selling to different magazines. But the biggest thing is practice. Your shooting digital, so your not thinking that each roll of slides is going to cost $20 to get a picture, so shoot often and find what you like. And most of all keep it being fun. I shoot because I am driven to shoot and would shoot if no one ever bought another picture. But if you have only had a camera for three months, your just at the beginning of what can be a fun filled rewarding hobby that might become a full time or part time business. But the main thing is to keep it being fun.
    Images for books, magazines and calendars | photosbypike
    • Like Like x 2
  14. Boyzo

    Boyzo Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 3, 2010
    I agree with Kevinparis
    Keep it simple try not to take too much in ... study good work by others
    Try to take shots with contrasty or side light .. flat dull light is boring
    • Like Like x 2
  15. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Read up on the rule of thirds (google it or look it up on wikipedia). It's a nice way to start out. Also, read the moment it clicks or in the frame, or The photographers eye. Go to the library, and check out books on pictures. If you can find ones on the work of a specific photographer that's a help.

    But I agree with andrewteeee ... 3 months is nothin' You're just getting started.

    The other thing to realize is that some people are born with it and some people have to learn it. As someone who is decidedly NOT born with it, I can feel your pain. I get some good shots with some regularity, but I have to work at it, and you will always run into folks who are born with it. Best thing you can do is just sit back and admire their work.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Think about the image in front of you at LEAST as much as the subject in front of you. You're not taking a picture of someone or some thing as much as trying to create an image that has someone or some thing IN it. So, as Kevin said, look for lines, shapes, shades, colors, and how they fit together to make a nice image. Spend some time shooting a lot of inanimate stuff for a while - it doesn't move or get pissed at your for shooting its picture, so you can really look, really set up the shot. And you'll start to see what's working for you and what's not. Taking pictures of people and moving things is the toughest thing to do well because they're all too often just going to be snapshots. Getting people or animals to actually fit into or become an IMAGE takes a lot of skill (in terms of starting to see more quickly) but a WHOLE lot of luck too. So I wouldn't start with too much of that because it can be an exercise in frustration. Which is why folks like Don and a few others so totally blow my mind - getting incredible people shots that are incredible images too - takes a looooong time to get that good. But its something to shoot for, no pun intended.

    • Like Like x 2
  17. apicius9

    apicius9 Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 1, 2010
    Philadelphia, PA
    Great tips here, thanks to the OP for the question that could have been mine. I find it liberating to be reminded that it can be learned to some extent by hard work - so, I may not have a lack of talent, just a lack of experience. :)  To be honest, I too often find myself to be spending times on chasing lenses and reading forums rather than on taking pictures, but I am working on it...

    • Like Like x 3
  18. sinpig

    sinpig Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 2, 2010
    Superior, WI
    Simplify, that's one thing I must focus on. I'm guilty of trying to fit as much "junk" as possible in my pictures.
    I'm not sure if people can tell what's the main subject sometimes :eek: 
    Thanks for the great advice.
  19. JoeFriday

    JoeFriday Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 28, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    There's a lot of great advice in this thread. I'm frequently trying to explain a lot of these concepts to friends who are new to photography. They get frustrated after seeing something really interesting and then taking a very 'ho-hum' photo of it. Then I borrow their camera and take a photo of the same subject that makes their jaw drop. Not to say I'm that spectacular of a photographer (altho I'm certainly better than a beginner), but I've spent a lot of time studying photos that amaze me, learning the tricks that are listed here.

    Basically I would break everything here down into two steps. Study great photos every chance you get and really look at them to see what makes them interesting to you... it's almost always one of a handful of things.. the lighting, angle (composition), depth of field or the 'decisive moment'.

    Then, go out and take a TON of photos, always analyzing what you've done to see if it works. Make notes (mentally or in a notebook) in both cases. Repeat the good things, avoid the things that didn't work.
    • Like Like x 2
  20. sinpig

    sinpig Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 2, 2010
    Superior, WI
    I have just purchase: "The BetterPhotp Guide to Exposure", Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Photography" and the "BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography"... but now that you mentioned it's all very technicaland not really artistic, I realized a lot of the books I've read can only tell me what setting to use in my camera. But art that is where is at.

    Regarding what I like to shoot, heck I like to shoot anything, (shows my lack of experience) the one thing I'm not too crazy about it's landscapes, besides that anything goes. I guess some soul searching is in order.

    I been really focusing on the Rule of Thirds, and as a matter of fact I have the grid set into my camera and try not to put my subjects dead center.
    Still I will buy The Photographer's Eye" if only for inspiration.

    Thanks for your advice. :thumbup:
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