How to take pictures of the unambiguous

Djarum

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I think I need to explain the question a bit more. For those out there who take photos on a daily basis, how do you find art, or more precisely, a photo worth taking, of subjects that are inanimate or boring?

I take pictures of the usual suspects: People, Architecture, landscapes, flowers, rock formations..etc. But what about when those interesting things are not available? How does one get motivated to take pictures of things that are around us all the time and are uninteresting?

I bring this up because I went out during my break at work and tried to make the most of an old fire hydrant outside our building. I will post some pictures when I get a chance, but I was curious as far as what others do.
 

Justified_Sinner

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Perhaps "unambiguous" is not such a bad idea...
I like to create tension in photographs by being ambiguous. Instead of photographing a fire-hydrant, photograph it in the context of something else, or photograph an interesting section of it. Photograph the colour of it in contrast to litter lying next to it... it is about FINDING interest and not being afraid of showing boring things in interesting or odd ways.

Don't be disheartened, however. We all shoot hundreds and hundreds of photographs that bore us stupid and never see the light of day.

OK. Well, I do anyway!
 

Maczero

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I Try to Do the Same

... although not every day - I just don't have time (I don't count experimental shots on the train into work simply to understand the camera better).

For me, if I want to take a picture, the next question is 'why?'.

And the question after that is how to translate 'why' into an image.

I do get a lot of duds, but sometimes it works out and I daresay the more I practice perhaps the fewer duds.

Andrew
 

steve

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i am certainly no expert on shooting the "unambiguous." However, what I strive for in each and every image I make is meaning. I suppose it's the photographer's goal to find meaning in the mundane. Something like Seinfeld's show about "nothing."

Every time we frame reality to make a picture, we are making artistic decisions about what we want the image to say. The "decisive moment" is what separates photographic art from snapshots.

It's up to you as a photographer to make images that matter. And it takes practice. Lots and lots of practice. And that practice should include review of your own images (see Streetshooter's excellent thread about this) and a study of other photographer's images that you may like to determine why you like them. How do these images speak to you?

I'm rambling on, aren't I? One last suggestion: Try some practice exercises like locking yourself in your kitchen and shooting 25 unique images. Try using only one lens for a week or a month. Try shooting the same thing (like a banana) a hundred different times and make each shot different, etc. etc.

Most importantly, enjoy it. We're doing for fun, right?
 

Streetshooter

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What they teach in the military applies to photography....

"Shoot now, ask questions later". If you question every move, you'll never make the move...
I would just make images and look at them later...but do it with intent....
 

Amin Sabet

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Dj, I like the first one. Part of the appeal was in trying to figure out what it was, what the text said, and what the significance of the text might be. I like the textures and the composition. The second one is less interesting to me.
 

chalkdust

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about the pictures you posted...I prefer the second one. I like to look at it in terms of its colors and textures. The facts about what it is do not interest me. Somehow, that dark region distracts me, though. I do not care for it. Your cropping, in my opinion was well chosen. It emphasizes the colors and textures.
 

Djarum

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To Amin,

Thanks for the honest opinions. To be honest, I have no idea what it says, LOL!

To chalkdust,

I actually like them both equally. I really like the colors. The dark area is a shadow cast from a tree.
 

BBW

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Me, I'm torn between the two. I like the b & w version because I like the simplicity of the image. I wonder if it could be intensified a touch? Not sure if that's the correct term. I'm after some blacker blacks and whiter whites. I think it could have more "zing" and it would be an even better image that way.

For the color one, I'd be interested in seeing the left side cropped in quite a bit just to the left of the hydrant's top piece (the plug?) to allow me to zero in on those great colors and patterns more.

These are my first impressions.

And also, the Quest really doesn't take too much time. You'd be surprised to find that pictures such as these would fit right in. It's been a very subtle but extremely worth while experience for many of us. OK advertisement over!:biggrin:
 

goldenlight

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I like the sentiment behind these two pictures but I'm afraid that neither quite do it for me. The first is perhaps a little too abstract in a stand alone context. As part of a series, where the subject had already been identified, it might work better. The second I like better and, as it is a colourful subject, I think it benefits from being in colour. However I do find the dark shadow cast across it a distraction, as is the light background. I wonder if, as the sun moves around, there comes a point where the background is in the shade but the hydrant is fully lit?

Thanks for putting these up for critique. :smile:
 

Djarum

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Me, I'm torn between the two. I like the b & w version because I like the simplicity of the image. I wonder if it could be intensified a touch? Not sure if that's the correct term. I'm after some blacker blacks and whiter whites. I think it could have more "zing" and it would be an even better image that way.

For the color one, I'd be interested in seeing the left side cropped in quite a bit just to the left of the hydrant's top piece (the plug?) to allow me to zero in on those great colors and patterns more.

These are my first impressions.

And also, the Quest really doesn't take too much time. You'd be surprised to find that pictures such as these would fit right in. It's been a very subtle but extremely worth while experience for many of us. OK advertisement over!:biggrin:

Maybe it needs a touch more contrast? This is the original with a bump in the contrast. What is interesting here, is that this is two different pictures now. The first one I posted, I was going for a BW old time look. You know how printed pictures sort of "yellow" over time? Thats what I was going for in the first one. This one, on the other hand, looks almost like an over exposure. Two very different takes on the picture. I think in both cases, it works. I think it just depends on what one wants to go for. I think if I had a series of pictures, I think I'd like the first one I posted. As a standalone picture, this one is more dramatic and can stand alone.
 

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