Mu-43 Book Club 1: Passionate Photog. - Step 2: Volume & Step 3: Work It!

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by DeeJayK, Sep 8, 2012.

  1. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    Now that we've all had some time to discuss Step One: Passion, it's time to move along (although, by all means, keep the conversation on the first step going if you'd like or if you are joining the discussion late).

    I've chosen to group the next two steps together, because I feel they sort of work well together: step two is about shooting MORE and step three discusses one way to go about taking more shots.

    Step 2: Volume, Volume, Volume: 10,000 Hours: Practice and Persistence
    This step talks about how the best (only?) way to improve your photographic skills is to shoot lots of pictures. HC-B's famous edict that "your first 10,000 photos are your worst" is featured and the author (Steve Simon) wonders whether in the digital age this should be increased to 100,000. Simon also mentions Malcolm Gladwell's "10,000 hours" theory from his book Outliers which posits that one must devote 10,000 hours of practice to become an "expert" in any field.

    The step then gets into some technical discussions. Some of the topics covered include:
    • Aperture Priority v. Shutter Priority v. Manual
    • Auto ISO
    • Image Stabilization and shutter speed
    • Pros and cons of using a tripod
    • Raw v. JPEG
    • Histograms
    Assignment:
    Choose a single subject or scene and make 40 different images of that subject/scene. If this fits with a "photo essay" or "project" idea you formulated in Step One, then so much the better.

    Please share your images in a new thread in the <a href="https://www.mu-43.com/f88/">Images to Share/ Other Genres</a> forum. Title your post like: "Mu-43 BC1: Step 2 Exercise: &lt;name or description of subject/scene&gt;" and add the tag "book club" and feel free to add a link to your thread to this thread.

    Step 3:Work It: Don't Give Up on the Magic
    This step is all about "working a scene." The author discusses why you should do this and how to accomplish it. He discusses the "compositional dance", the "decisive moment", etc. He once again gets into several technical discussions, including:
    • Wide Angle v. Telephotos lenses
    • Primes v. Zooms
    • Manual focus v. Autofocus
    • Single v. Continuous AF
    • "Back button" AF v. AF on the shutter release
    • Shooting using "hyperfocal distance"
    He also discusses many of the "rules" of good composition. These include:
    • Balance and rhythm
    • The rule of thirds
    • Using leading lines
    • Frames within frames
    • Scale
    • Out-of-focus foregrounds
    • Horizon lines (level or not)
    Assignment:
    Choose a landmark or icon and shoot it from many different angles and vantage points over the course of a day or many days.

    Please share your images in a new thread in the <a href="https://www.mu-43.com/f88/">Images to Share/ Other Genres</a> forum. Title you post like: "Mu-43 BC1: Step 3 Exercise: &lt;name or description of your landmark/icon&gt;" and add the tag "book club" and feel free to add a link to your thread to this thread.

    Discussion
    I'd like to hear from you as whether you agree with the author's approach to both shooting volume and "working a scene". Do you feel these approaches are valid? Have you gone through 10,000 (or 100,000) shots? If so, do you feel more competent?

    I'd also like you discuss any of the various technical/compositional topics that were raised. Do you agree or disagree with Simon on these topics? How have you used any of these techniques in your photographs? Please share examples. Feel free to bring up any other points made in these two chapters that I haven't hit upon.
     
  2. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    At the risk this thread becoming a soliloquy, I'll make a couple of points from Steps Two & Three. Hopefully others will weigh in as well.

    First, I believe I am still working through my first 10,000 (particularly if one discounts simple, non-contemplative snapshots), but I accept the validity of the 10,000 image/ 10,000 hours theory. I felt that the first section of this chapter spent a lot of time on this and ended up sort of belaboring the point, but perhaps that was just because I felt like a member of the choir being preached to.

    Like the author, I shoot primarily in Aperture Priority, although I feel I am more inclined to switch my mode to Shutter Priority than Simon seems to be. I'm not sure I understand why he appears so reluctant to switch modes when he wants to select a particular shutter speed (which he does in aperture priority simply by adjusting the aperture until the speed he wants is indicated). Does anyone else shoot this way?

    I generally leave my camera in Auto ISO mode, although I was intrigued by the suggestion that one could set a minimum shutter speed which the camera should maintain (by adjusting the ISO). I don't recall the ability to set a parameter such as this on my E-PL1 -- as far as I know I'm only able to set the range of ISOs within which the camera adjusts. Being able to set a minimum shutter speed seems like it would be very useful. Am I missing something, or is this feature not available on the PENs? What about the Panny's or the O-MD?

    As far as the assignments, I haven't yet had (or taken) the time to go out and shoot anything, but I will do that this week and will post my results.
     
  3. rhoydotp

    rhoydotp Mu-43 Top Veteran

    609
    Aug 5, 2012
    Toronto, Ont
    rpamparo
    haven't gotten the chance to read the next chapters yet but I probably have taken over 10,000 already! just on a recent "4-day" vacation, I shot over 300 a day. most are keepers but only a few I can call great composed shot. so I would say, yes, it requires a lot of shot but also requires ruthlessness from your side to throw away or at least acknowledge that a certain photo didn't work. learning from those and getting better shots next time. i can definitely say that the ratio of good to crappy shots I have taken have increased, though, I'm still working to get even higher percentage of keepers :)

    Looking to start shooting for the "first assignment" this week as well ... the agony of not having enough time! LOL
     
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  4. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    Anyone else care to add their opinions on Step Two or Step Three?

    Do you have preferences you'd like to share on:
    • Raw v. JPEG
    • Manual v. Auto-focus
    • Use of back-button focus
    • Which composition "rules" you follow or disregard
     
  5. pault

    pault Mu-43 Rookie

    20
    Jan 8, 2010
    Hi, regarding setting minimum shutter speed in auto ISO. This I believe is achieved on OM-D in "Menu, Cogs, (F) flash custom, slow limit"
    Hope this helps
    Paul
     
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  6. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    Thanks for the reply, but I believe the setting you are referring to merely sets the slowest shutter speed available to use flash (default is 1/60 sec., I believe).

    What I am referring to is the section where Simon is discussing Auto ISO and states:
    I'm pretty sure that my E-PL1 doesn't offer this and a quick review of the OM-D instruction manual doesn't lead me think it's offered on that body either. Does anyone know if there are any :43: bodies that allow the user to customize Auto ISO in this way?

    Anyone who has experience with using Auto ISO in this way with any camera?
     
  7. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    Actually, I take back my previous post. It appears that pault is correct that minimum shutter speed for Auto ISO can be controlled via the "Flash Slow Limit" setting.

    This undocumented feature was discussed in DPR's User Guide: Getting the most out of the Olympus E-M5:

    Anyone know if this hidden trick applies to the PENs as well?
     
  8. oldoldold

    oldoldold Mu-43 Regular

    130
    Sep 24, 2011
    Broomfield, CO
    Joe Milan
    I've taken over 10,000 digital photos, but still don't feel like an expert. I've taken almost 4,000 with my E-PL1, so perhaps I'll feel more accomplished once I reach 10,000. I do agree that taking digital photos is so easy that it may take more photos to gain the same level of expertise. I'm a RAW shooter and it has saved me many times. I support the author's message that experience is an excellent teacher (although I'm a slow learner--even from experience)!
     
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  9. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    I have yet read these chapters all the way through, but I'll comment a little on the first part about volume which I have read.

    I completely agree that yes, volume is important, as long as it's of quality - i.e. doing the best you can do and improving on it over time. Taking 10,000 random photos on burst mode is unlikely to improve your skillset, but taking 10,000 photos with intent can transform your abilities, if you review with a critical & realistic eye for improvement.

    I'm just your average enthusiast photographer, but I've taken > 5100 photos since May 21st when I started using LightRoom to organize them, and thousands more in the year before that since I started getting into photography. I've easily crossed the 10,000 photo mark if not more in that time, and it's patently obvious even to me how much my work has improved. Even just the Summer of Photos project with its daily shooting improved my work several times over in the course of a few months, which I think is visible simply by reviewing my summer photos album from day 1 through day 100.

    Reading books & forums, and looking at other photographer's work is important but nothing substitutes for practice in the real world. Getting out there, taking photos, processing (developing) them, and seeing what works and doesn't work, and where I need to improve... that's where the work happens. Like anything else you want to be good at, there is no shortcut. I've delved into a lot of hobbies in the past, and every one of them had one thing in common: they required a huge investment of time to get good at it. Golf, Guitar, Magic, Bushcraft/Primitive Skills, Photography - it doesn't matter field what it is, there's nothing that makes up for time & effort.
     
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  10. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    I don't think that there's any magical switch that goes off when one reaches the 10,000 image plateau. My simplified take is just that true mastery of any subject requires that investment in time, which I think is hard to dispute. A chicken could be trained to peck a shutter release 10,000 times, but I doubt National Geographic would be lining up with job offers once he hit that number of actuations.

    As far as shooting RAW, I agree, it's the only way to go. The latitude it gives me to fix errors in post is amazing. The possible downside of this is that it maybe makes me a bit lazier when I'm shooting. Because I don't necessarily have to nail the white balance (or even the exposure) maybe I don't give these settings as much attention as I should. Perhaps I could make shooting in JPEG only a requirement when I shoot my "assignments."
     
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  11. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    I use Aperture Priority all the time, with Auto ISO. Most of the time, I'm trying to control DoF or light gathering ability more than shutter speed, so A mode makes the most sense.

    It may just be habit but I rarely switch modes unless it's at night or fast moving subjects and I'm trying to maintain shutter speed. Even then I may use aperture to control it in some cases, just because it's faster to switch apertures than switch modes and then select a shutter speed. That might be different on a camera with a shutter speed switch but I haven't shot with one enough to say.

    The minimum shutter speed setting is not adjustable on the GX1 and G3 to the best of my knowledge, which drives me nuts. I use auto ISO 99% of the time, and I wish I could fine tune the configuration. Especially when shooting with OIS lenses, I am often willing to go much lower with the shutter speed than the camera's auto setting is.
     
  12. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    I never put much thought into Auto ISO before reading this chapter, but now I feel it would definitely be nice if the manufacturers would "trust" us to set a minimum shutter speed. Apparently it can be controlled (to some degree or other) in the OM-D (and perhaps the PENs which have a similar flash sync setting), but you think they'd document this.

    This is a feature that even some non-ILC cameras (e.g. the Sony RX100) have, so I would hope that it is something that the :43: manufacturers will offer at least on their "high-end" cameras in the near future. Starting with the GH3, hopefully.
     
  13. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Yeah the X100 had it, and I really appreciated it being configurable even though it wasn't something I'd change all the time. It's just nice to be able to adjust to my shooting (I basically set it by testing until I got consistently clean shots without motion blur).
     
  14. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Bob
    The shutter speed setting for auto ISO also interested me - definitely would be a useful tool. Ialso tend to shoot in AP most of the time. I use shutter priority when I want to freeze action, but that's pretty rare.
    I've shot both jpeg and raw - I tend to prefer jpeg to avoid the processing time but this chapter convinced me to shoot raw+jpeg for a while to give it a try again. Makes sense that it can be used to save detail when exposing to the right.
    I also agree with the idea of shooting volume. When I was doing 365 day projects I found myself making adjustments more quickly and intuitively because I was more familiar with the camera. May have to try that discipline again.
    I'm enjoying the book, not a lot that's new to me so far but a very useful refresher course. I'm trying to get some photos this week for the assignment - I'm spending the week at our local fair running our church booth. I'm going to get some pictures of a vintage carousel. Won't get them posted until next week. :cool:
     
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  15. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    Yeah, I think that getting the technical/camera control stuff down to the point that it's automatic is one big component of the volume requirement.

    I find my recent addiction to picking up legacy lenses is a bit of an impediment to that since I'm always shooting with a different lens which works in a slightly different way. I'm might have to narrow down my kit a bit so that I can develop that competence with a core group of lenses. Does anyone else feel like having fewer lens options might improve their shooting?

    Yeah, there's nothing really earth-shattering (at least to me) with anything that's been presented in the book so far. I think the value is to sort of have all these ideas (that may each seem pretty self-evident) all presented in the framework of a step-by-step method. Of course, the real value comes not in reading the book, but in implementing its suggestions.

    Looking forward to it. There's always lots of great photo opportunities at the fair.
     
  16. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    I want to share one final point from this section of the book. In Step 3, Simon writes a section titled: "Lessons Learned: Don't Give Up on the Magic" where he talks about a time when he ran into two boys carrying paintings down the street. He made at least one fun image of one of the boys where we see only his legs peeking out below the portrait he is carrying.

    Simon feels that he did not fully exploit the photographic opportunity these two boys presented. He gives this as an example of a time when he should have more fully "worked the scene" by following this family for a while.

    Obviously we can't know whether if he had pursued this opportunity if it would have borne more fruit. The other side of the coin is that he may have missed some other interesting opportunity if he had pursued the boys. Apparently that didn't happen (since he now feels as though he shouldn't have stopped shooting the boys), but the "opportunity cost" of not shooting some new subject when you choose to continue to shoot one subject is not something that Simon discusses in the book.

    My question for Mr. Simon (and for you as well) is: HOW does one know when a given situation has been "worked" sufficiently? Is there a given number of shots one should strive for? Or is it just a "gut feeling" that one has or needs to develop?
     
  17. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    I just noticed that author Steve Simon is starting a blog at ThePassionatePhotographer.com. According to the initial post, he is planning on "launching" the blog in a couple of weeks on September 25, 2012.
     
  18. rhoydotp

    rhoydotp Mu-43 Top Veteran

    609
    Aug 5, 2012
    Toronto, Ont
    rpamparo
    Just finished reading Step 2 and I'll be sharing some thoughts and responding later tonight.

    And good news on the blog! :)
     
  19. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    That's one that's so hard to answer... I guess I feel like when I start ending up with a lot of "sameness" to my shots, I either have tapped out the scene or it's run its course. Even so that's not foolproof by any means, and assumes that I've been doing my part to look for different approaches and angles.

    I think we've probably all had the experience where you think "man that was great!" and you get home and find out you missed the shot you thought you had by the tiniest margin; someone blinked... there was a shadow you didn't see... that garbage can is right in the middle of the frame, etc. I can't tell you how many times I go home thinking I got tons of great shots of something and when I run through them I find out it was really only a handful, and none of them captured what I truly wanted. By the same token there's always going to be shots you snap without thinking much of it that turn out to be winners.
     
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  20. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    How is this discussion working for you?

    How is everyone feeling about the pace of this discussion? We had more (and broader) participation in the Step One thread, than we have so far in this one. I'm trying to evaluate if that drop-off is because I'm moving the discussion along too quickly and people haven't yet had a chance to get through Steps 2 & 3 in the book, or if those chapters just didn't spur as much conversation as did Step One, or if people are turned off by some other aspect of the way the discussion is being conducted.

    I'm prepared to move the discussion along to the next step, but I'm also happy to hold off for a bit if people are still trying to catch up. Obviously the nature of the forum means that people can continue to comment on these threads for as long as they wish, but I feel that the more we can move through the discussion contemporaneously as a group, the more we're all likely to gain from the insights and opinions of the others. The other thing I'm noticing is that no one (including myself) has yet posted any images from the "assignments" in the book. Perhaps we're spending too much time discussing and not enough time shooting?

    So, please let me know if you'd like for me to push the discussion forward with the next step soon, or would it be better to hold off and let folks catch up and maybe take some time to get out and shoot using some of the ideas put forth in the book?