Can anyone take a good photograph?

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Following on from "What should the serious amateur concern himself with?"...

A good photograph is one that most people can look at and say, "hey,
that's a good photograph".
The 'rules' of photography are based on what people like the look of.
This means that everyone must have the rules of photography built-in.

So, my questions are:

Is the difference between a good photographer and a bad photographer how
in touch they are with their in-built rules?
Is it possible for anyone to learn this or can some people really not
tell what looks good from what doesn't?
If this is the case, how can they tell if a photo looks good? Can they
just not apply it to the things they see around them?

Tom
 

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"Tom Hudson" <gbz@fvathyne.bet.hx> wrote in message
news:41b5ceb6$0$223$bed64819@news.gradwell.net...

Are your questions philosophical or are you hoping to learn how to improve
your photography?

Question: Can anyone take a good photograph?
Answer: Depends on what you call *good*, but if we assume some level of
elementary competency there is always the possibility that luck will play a
part thus resulting in a favorable outcome.

> Following on from "What should the serious amateur concern himself
with?"...

That post was fatally flawed by the words "should", "serious" and "amateur"

> A good photograph is one that most people can look at and say, "hey,
> that's a good photograph".

Maybe, depending on what most people consider *good*.

> The 'rules' of photography are based on what people like the look of.
> This means that everyone must have the rules of photography built-in.
>
> So, my questions are:
>
> Is the difference between a good photographer and a bad photographer how
> in touch they are with their in-built rules?

Rules and art make uneasy bed fellows so my answer is not necessarily.
Unless of course you dismiss the concept that photography is an art form in
which case you may apply as many rules as you like.

> Is it possible for anyone to learn this or can some people really not
> tell what looks good from what doesn't?

Anyone can tell what they think is good just by looking.

> If this is the case, how can they tell if a photo looks good?

See above.

> Can they
> just not apply it to the things they see around them?

No they just can't get it on film.

> Tom

Film, Ahhhh!
me
 
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"Tom Hudson" <gbz@fvathyne.bet.hx> wrote in message
news:41b5ceb6$0$223$bed64819@news.gradwell.net...
> Following on from "What should the serious amateur concern himself
with?"...
>
> A good photograph is one that most people can look at and say, "hey,
> that's a good photograph".
> The 'rules' of photography are based on what people like the look of.
> This means that everyone must have the rules of photography built-in.
>
> So, my questions are:
>
> Is the difference between a good photographer and a bad photographer how
> in touch they are with their in-built rules?
> Is it possible for anyone to learn this or can some people really not
> tell what looks good from what doesn't?
> If this is the case, how can they tell if a photo looks good? Can they
> just not apply it to the things they see around them?
>
> Tom

I think that just anybody can take a good photograph. One lucky shot or from
time to time.
Of course, having better equipment and experience help. But they are no
guarantee.
One can learn all the technical aspects of photography but there are other
aspects that cannot be learned.
Photogrpahy is an art and one has to have a talent for it. Being able to see
things the way others don't.
 
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Tom Hudson wrote:
> Following on from "What should the serious amateur concern himself
> with?"...
>
> A good photograph is one that most people can look at and say, "hey,
> that's a good photograph".
> The 'rules' of photography are based on what people like the look of.
> This means that everyone must have the rules of photography built-in.
>
> So, my questions are:
>
> Is the difference between a good photographer and a bad photographer how
> in touch they are with their in-built rules?
> Is it possible for anyone to learn this or can some people really not
> tell what looks good from what doesn't?
> If this is the case, how can they tell if a photo looks good? Can they
> just not apply it to the things they see around them?
>
> Tom

IMHO: Good or Bad pictures (like beauty) is totally in the eye of the
beholder.
I seen many photo competitions where the viewers get to pick "Viewers
Choice". Many, if not most of the times, the VC did not even earn an
honorable mention from the judges.
Different judges like different things and "never the twain shall meet".
If the image makes you say, WOW, it is by definition a great photo to
you. And who are you trying to please anyway?
Bob Williams
 
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"Tom Hudson" <gbz@fvathyne.bet.hx> wrote in message
news:41b5ceb6$0$223$bed64819@news.gradwell.net...
> Following on from "What should the serious amateur concern himself
with?"...
>
> A good photograph is one that most people can look at and say, "hey,
> that's a good photograph".
> The 'rules' of photography are based on what people like the look of.
> This means that everyone must have the rules of photography built-in.

Your reasoning is flawed. People may have the "rules of what they like"
built-in, but they don't innately possess the rules of "*how* to get what
they like"; those are the rules that must be learned or developed. While
the non-photographer can come a across a photo he likes and say "That's a
good photo!", a photographer might look at the same picture and say
something like "That's a good photo! Hmmm... I never thought of using that
shallow a depth-of-field in this context, but it works-- think I'll try
something similar on my next shoot."

Also, I think being a good photographer, at least in a technical sense, is
as much a matter of learning how to keep what don't like out of your photos
as it is in knowing how to include what you do like; much of that kind of
knowledge has to be learned or worked out by experience over time. Of
course, a person can snap off a card full of shots and there'll sometimes be
one or two good photos among them, but that doesn't make the picture-taker a
photographer. Even a blind hog can find an acorn now and again, as the
saying goes.

Though some might deny it, expertise exists and can be acquired through
reason and study. I'm pretty disdainful of "passion in photography",
whatever that phrase means. I think a photographer should *know*
photography and occasionally have passion for his subject-matter. A
"passionate photographer" is often just a picture-taker with an attitude
problem-- I guess that's why we have the two adjectives, "artistic" and
"artsy."
 

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Hi Tom!

In my view, part of photography is science, part is art.
Science - knowing the basic elements of photo composition, lighting, lenses,
etc.
Art - such as capturing the moment, exceptionally transgressing the habitual
photo composition...

I guess it's a bit short and simple ;-)

Marcel

"Tom Hudson" <gbz@fvathyne.bet.hx> wrote in message
news:41b5ceb6$0$223$bed64819@news.gradwell.net...
> Following on from "What should the serious amateur concern himself
with?"...
>
> A good photograph is one that most people can look at and say, "hey,
> that's a good photograph".
> The 'rules' of photography are based on what people like the look of.
> This means that everyone must have the rules of photography built-in.
>
> So, my questions are:
>
> Is the difference between a good photographer and a bad photographer how
> in touch they are with their in-built rules?
> Is it possible for anyone to learn this or can some people really not
> tell what looks good from what doesn't?
> If this is the case, how can they tell if a photo looks good? Can they
> just not apply it to the things they see around them?
>
> Tom
 
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Tom Hudson wrote:

> Is the difference between a good photographer and a bad photographer how
> in touch they are with their in-built rules?

When you learn photography you learn a lot of technical things that are useful
for the recording of an image. These can be bent to a good degree. You learn a
lot of differnet ways of seeing, composing, perceiving, etc. This is the art
and it is an individual journey. You do learn all sorts of 'rules' regarding
the artistic side, and they are reasonable at getting you to nice images.
Fantastic images come from individuals who have their own vision and can express
it without relying on other people's success formulas. Some say it is best to
learn and master the rules prior to breaking them, some say it is best to
develop ones own style from the ground up without being tainted by the rules.
To each his own... IMO, the "rules" never hurt anyone nor hindered them from
developing their own unique vision. What you choose to do has to be what *you*
choose to do.

> Is it possible for anyone to learn this or can some people really not
> tell what looks good from what doesn't?

Just about anyone can learn a set of static rules and apply them. But to
generate fantastic images demands 'seeing' in a way that is beyond all rules.
At some point you realize that the subject is no longer the made up of the
attributes of the subject, but the subject is part of a visual message that
includes the surroundings and the light.

> If this is the case, how can they tell if a photo looks good? Can they
> just not apply it to the things they see around them?

Go through the galleries at www.photo.net of the most popular images. You don't
need any rules to see what is good about the many great photos there. You might
not like many of them, for reasons all your own, but many of them, without
thought to a rule or a convention are automatically pleasing to your eye. When
you see a photo that is particularly appealing, spend a lot of time studying it
for form, relationship, light, perspective, movement, ...etc... and all this
before you give a thought to the technical approach that the photographer took.

You learn as much from studying other people's work as from practicing your own.

Take risks. It's only film.

Cheers,
Alan

--
-- r.p.e.35mm user resource: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpe35mmur.htm
-- r.p.d.slr-systems: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpdslrsysur.htm
-- [SI] gallery & rulz: http://www.pbase.com/shootin
-- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.
 
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Even a four year-old. I have the proof.
 
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"Paul H." <xxpaulhtck@zzcomcast.yycom> wrote in message
news:KY-dnb4Yxvu8iCvcRVn-rw@comcast.com...
>
> "Tom Hudson" <gbz@fvathyne.bet.hx> wrote in message
> news:41b5ceb6$0$223$bed64819@news.gradwell.net...
>> Following on from "What should the serious amateur concern himself
> with?"...
>>
>> A good photograph is one that most people can look at and say, "hey,
>> that's a good photograph".
>> The 'rules' of photography are based on what people like the look of.
>> This means that everyone must have the rules of photography built-in.

>
> Though some might deny it, expertise exists and can be acquired through
> reason and study. I'm pretty disdainful of "passion in photography",
> whatever that phrase means. I think a photographer should *know*
> photography and occasionally have passion for his subject-matter. A
> "passionate photographer" is often just a picture-taker with an attitude
> problem-- I guess that's why we have the two adjectives, "artistic" and
> "artsy."


I agree with Martha Graham:

"Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great
because of their passion."

---Martha Graham

A violinist can play 3 octave scales perfectly but it can be dull to hear
but technically perfect unless some kind of nuance is added to give it
interest.


One could say photographers are not great because of their great technical
expertise; photos are great because of the amount of passion/feeling is
conveyed to the viewer.
 

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"Robert Nabors" <nabors7@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:DMGdneOjgNGFgyvcRVn-2Q@comcast.com...
> I agree with Martha Graham:
>
> "Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great
> because of their passion."
>
> ---Martha Graham
>
> A violinist can play 3 octave scales perfectly but it can be dull to hear
> but technically perfect unless some kind of nuance is added to give it
> interest.
>
>
> One could say photographers are not great because of their great technical
> expertise; photos are great because of the amount of passion/feeling is
> conveyed to the viewer.

I don't think passion alone will do. If passion were the only perquisite for
greatness then all you need do is love photography and you'd be guaranteed
great photos. How many people do you know who are great simply because
they're passionate about what they do? What about study, practice and hard
work? Passion doesn't hurt but there's a lot more to it than that.
IMHO,
me
 
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"Robert Nabors" <nabors7@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:DMGdneOjgNGFgyvcRVn-2Q@comcast.com...
>
> "Paul H." <xxpaulhtck@zzcomcast.yycom> wrote in message
> news:KY-dnb4Yxvu8iCvcRVn-rw@comcast.com...
>> >
> > Though some might deny it, expertise exists and can be acquired through
> > reason and study. I'm pretty disdainful of "passion in photography",
> > whatever that phrase means. I think a photographer should *know*
> > photography and occasionally have passion for his subject-matter. A
> > "passionate photographer" is often just a picture-taker with an
attitude
> > problem-- I guess that's why we have the two adjectives, "artistic" and
> > "artsy."
>
>
> I agree with Martha Graham:
>
> "Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great
> because of their passion."

Both are needed for greatness, but that doesn't change my point: A good
technical dancer with passion might make a great dancer, but a passionate
person with no training in dance will likely just ardently stumble about on
the stage. A may imply B without B implying A.

In a similar vein, many people are stunned with they see some of Picasso's
early work-- he had full mastery of many techniques and could paint and draw
in many styles, including realism. His passion for art eventually led him
to invent and master new forms, but he definitely did not substitute passion
for learned skill-- it simply can't be done. Passion is an internal force
that drives a person to do whatever he or she does, but the passion is NOT
the doing itself, a fact that is lost on too many people.

I suppose if you're passionate about being passionate, you can indulge your
obsession without learning anything else, assuming passion is an innate
quality and not a learned one. :)
 
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Marcel wrote:
> Hi Tom!
>
> In my view, part of photography is science, part is art.
> Science - knowing the basic elements of photo composition, lighting, lenses,
> etc.
> Art - such as capturing the moment, exceptionally transgressing the habitual
> photo composition...
>
> I guess it's a bit short and simple ;-)
>
Sometimes that's best, I'm finding I ramble on too much in the name of
clarity (and still don't achieve it <:)

What I'm getting at is that the basic elements of composition are built
in to everyone, and the ability to instinctively recognise them when you
see them.

Tom
 
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"Tom Hudson" <gbz@fvathyne.bet.hx> wrote in message
news:41b5df06$0$222$bed64819@news.gradwell.net...
> Marcel wrote:
> > Hi Tom!
> >
> > In my view, part of photography is science, part is art.
> > Science - knowing the basic elements of photo composition, lighting,
lenses,
> > etc.
> > Art - such as capturing the moment, exceptionally transgressing the
habitual
> > photo composition...
> >
> > I guess it's a bit short and simple ;-)
> >
> Sometimes that's best, I'm finding I ramble on too much in the name of
> clarity (and still don't achieve it <:)
>
> What I'm getting at is that the basic elements of composition are built
> in to everyone, and the ability to instinctively recognise them when you
> see them.

While it may be true that we tend to be drawn to particular patterns of
composition as a *viewer* of a well-composed shot, this does NOT necessarily
translate to people instinctively creating photographs with good
composition. Quite the reverse. I think it is most instinctive for people
to do with their camera viewfinder--exactly what they/we do with our
eyes...that being centering our eyes (and unfortunately, our viewfinders) on
the most interesting spot.

Where do we naturally look when we look at people??
-The eyes.
So where does the typical snap-shooter place the eyes of a person in their
snaps??
-Smack dab in the middle of the viewfinder! (ugh).

This is easy to illustrate from most people's experience:

How many times have you asked a stranger or family member to snap your
pictures for you? What do they do??? -They cut off your feet, and include
a big grey sky...all because they instinctively stuck your eyes right in the
middle of the frame, without any thought whatsoever to the placement of
other scene elements.

THIS is instinctive.
For the most part, I think we have to overcome this instinct in order to
consistently create compelling shots.

This is why if I ever hand someone my camera to snap my picture with
someone, I always say something like, "Try to get our feet a bit above the
bottom of the picture." -I think many people silently wonder to themselves:
"Why does he want a picture of his feet???"
:)
 
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> What I'm getting at is that the basic elements of composition are built in
> to everyone, and the ability to instinctively recognise them when you see
> them.

I disagree. There is some useful instinctual prowess in all of us; perhaps
common sense. However, the best photographers study composition and study
the works of masters to improve and they do improve! So can amateurs, by
the way.
 
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"Mark²" <mjmorgan(lowest even number here)@cox..net> wrote in message
news:8eotd.400828$a85.315959@fed1read04...
>
> "Tom Hudson" <gbz@fvathyne.bet.hx> wrote in message
> news:41b5df06$0$222$bed64819@news.gradwell.net...
> > Marcel wrote:
> > > Hi Tom!
> > >
> > > In my view, part of photography is science, part is art.
> > > Science - knowing the basic elements of photo composition, lighting,
> lenses,
> > > etc.
> > > Art - such as capturing the moment, exceptionally transgressing the
> habitual
> > > photo composition...
> > >
> > > I guess it's a bit short and simple ;-)
> > >
> > Sometimes that's best, I'm finding I ramble on too much in the name of
> > clarity (and still don't achieve it <:)
> >
> > What I'm getting at is that the basic elements of composition are built
> > in to everyone, and the ability to instinctively recognise them when you
> > see them.
>
> While it may be true that we tend to be drawn to particular patterns of
> composition as a *viewer* of a well-composed shot, this does NOT
necessarily
> translate to people instinctively creating photographs with good
> composition. Quite the reverse. I think it is most instinctive for
people
> to do with their camera viewfinder--exactly what they/we do with our
> eyes...that being centering our eyes (and unfortunately, our viewfinders)
on
> the most interesting spot.
>
> Where do we naturally look when we look at people??
> -The eyes.
> So where does the typical snap-shooter place the eyes of a person in their
> snaps??
> -Smack dab in the middle of the viewfinder! (ugh).
>
> This is easy to illustrate from most people's experience:
>
> How many times have you asked a stranger or family member to snap your
> pictures for you? What do they do??? -They cut off your feet, and
include
> a big grey sky...all because they instinctively stuck your eyes right in
the
> middle of the frame, without any thought whatsoever to the placement of
> other scene elements.
>
> THIS is instinctive.
> For the most part, I think we have to overcome this instinct in order to
> consistently create compelling shots.
>
> This is why if I ever hand someone my camera to snap my picture with
> someone, I always say something like, "Try to get our feet a bit above the
> bottom of the picture." -I think many people silently wonder to
themselves:
> "Why does he want a picture of his feet???"
> :)

I agree. You have to learn to look all around your viewfinder to verify that
everything you want is in and whatever you don't is not.
Also, while shooting people from short distance, you have to bend your knees
if you want the whole person without the dropping perspective. This is
unnatural as well.
 

Tony

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If the ability to come up with a good composition is built in, an awful
lot of people are doing their best to avoid it. Anyone can take a good
photograph. Very few can take a lot of good photographs. An art class or two
would help a lot of photographers but most of them are so hung up on
technical bull (the stuff the camera can do for you anyway) they never think
about composition.
--
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com
home of The Camera-ist's Manifesto
The Improved Links Pages are at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/links/mlinks00.html
A sample chapter from "Haight-Ashbury" is at
http://www.chapelhillnoir.com/writ/hait/hatitl.html

"Tom Hudson" <gbz@fvathyne.bet.hx> wrote in message
news:41b5df06$0$222$bed64819@news.gradwell.net...
> Marcel wrote:
> > Hi Tom!
> >
> > In my view, part of photography is science, part is art.
> > Science - knowing the basic elements of photo composition, lighting,
lenses,
> > etc.
> > Art - such as capturing the moment, exceptionally transgressing the
habitual
> > photo composition...
> >
> > I guess it's a bit short and simple ;-)
> >
> Sometimes that's best, I'm finding I ramble on too much in the name of
> clarity (and still don't achieve it <:)
>
> What I'm getting at is that the basic elements of composition are built
> in to everyone, and the ability to instinctively recognise them when you
> see them.
>
> Tom
 

Marcel

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> One can learn all the technical aspects of photography but there are other
> aspects that cannot be learned.
> Photogrpahy is an art and one has to have a talent for it. Being able to
see
> things the way others don't.
>

I guess that's what makes up an artist ;-)
Marcel


"Paul Bielec" <someone@microsoft.com> wrote in message
news:cp4noo$cq7$1@dns3.cae.ca...
> "Tom Hudson" <gbz@fvathyne.bet.hx> wrote in message
> news:41b5ceb6$0$223$bed64819@news.gradwell.net...
> > Following on from "What should the serious amateur concern himself
> with?"...
> >
> > A good photograph is one that most people can look at and say, "hey,
> > that's a good photograph".
> > The 'rules' of photography are based on what people like the look of.
> > This means that everyone must have the rules of photography built-in.
> >
> > So, my questions are:
> >
> > Is the difference between a good photographer and a bad photographer how
> > in touch they are with their in-built rules?
> > Is it possible for anyone to learn this or can some people really not
> > tell what looks good from what doesn't?
> > If this is the case, how can they tell if a photo looks good? Can they
> > just not apply it to the things they see around them?
> >
> > Tom
>
> I think that just anybody can take a good photograph. One lucky shot or
from
> time to time.
> Of course, having better equipment and experience help. But they are no
> guarantee.
> One can learn all the technical aspects of photography but there are other
> aspects that cannot be learned.
> Photogrpahy is an art and one has to have a talent for it. Being able to
see
> things the way others don't.
>
>
 
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its like a sport of tennis,

anyone can hit a nice shot, with enough swings.

but can you play the game?



"Tom Hudson" <gbz@fvathyne.bet.hx> wrote in message
news:41b5ceb6$0$223$bed64819@news.gradwell.net...
> Following on from "What should the serious amateur concern himself
> with?"...
>
> A good photograph is one that most people can look at and say, "hey,
> that's a good photograph".
> The 'rules' of photography are based on what people like the look of.
> This means that everyone must have the rules of photography built-in.
>
> So, my questions are:
>
> Is the difference between a good photographer and a bad photographer how
> in touch they are with their in-built rules?
> Is it possible for anyone to learn this or can some people really not tell
> what looks good from what doesn't?
> If this is the case, how can they tell if a photo looks good? Can they
> just not apply it to the things they see around them?
>
> Tom
 
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"Marcel" <cosmar@rogers.com> wrote in message
news:zbedndnjcPsXqSvcRVn-uQ@rogers.com...
> > One can learn all the technical aspects of photography but there are
other
> > aspects that cannot be learned.
> > Photogrpahy is an art and one has to have a talent for it. Being able to
> see
> > things the way others don't.
> >
>
> I guess that's what makes up an artist ;-)
> Marcel

I personally prefer real-life artists over made up ones...
:)
(Sorry...I'm slowly turning into my father!!!
....Courtesy-laughs are appreciated)
 
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On Tue, 07 Dec 2004 17:37:45 GMT, "Tony" <tspadaro@nc.rr.com> wrote:

> If the ability to come up with a good composition is built in, an awful
>lot of people are doing their best to avoid it. Anyone can take a good
>photograph. Very few can take a lot of good photographs. An art class or two
>would help a lot of photographers but most of them are so hung up on
>technical bull (the stuff the camera can do for you anyway) they never think
>about composition.

People also get stuck in a genre, and need to occasionally review
those areas of photography that they might enjoy but haven't tried.

The other big one is lost opportunity. Many people are too shy to use
a camera when certain situations arise:

Two people are yelling at each other through their open car windows,
do you grab the camera?

At an air show, do you turn around and photograph the crowd's
expressions?

It's getting dark outside; turn on the TV or grab a tripod?

It's raining outside; hit the internet, or grab a coat?

Sitting outside a Starbucks, are you just getting fat or doing some
slow-shutter shots across the street?

A group of bikers invade your local IHOP dressed as Santa. Do you ask
if your daughter can borrow a chopper seat for some photos, or quietly
eat your breakfast? *

* Now why the hell would I take my camera to IHOP? This is why.

You are going out for a walk - anywhere. Is your camera going with
you?


BTW, there are some dangers involved in taking candid shots in cities.
A pal of mine who lives in London nearly lost his camera and nose
because a nearby drug dealer thought he was the subject of the photos.

--
Owamanga!
 
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