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Thread: Me moving backwards?

  1. #21
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    i used to laugh at people who used manual cameras and prime lenses and shot only on black and white film. at that time I didn't understand what the whole "fuss" or "deal" it was about.

    I always thought that zoom f/2.8 lenses as well as the top of the line camera bodies would make me a better photographer. maybe in the sense, it would boost my ego (or perhaps flaunt my financial status) when I was in a group of other photographers. a good camera makes it much easier to get the picture. but it doesn't do anything to aid our vision, our creative process and our ability to bring forth the emotion to capture in a subject.

    people are more afraid when you point a mark II and a 70-200 in their face, and somehow, they subconsciously easen up with a leica m6 and a simple 50mm prime lens. strange isn't?

    the truth is, that I've moved back to the region where I meter manually, shoot just on one prime lens - 50mm , and yeah, I prefer black and white film to digital. because to me, photography is about creating, about capturing emotion and about developing my own creativity and vision and discovering myself through the lens of a camera. the camera in itself is just an overglorified light box. its the eye of the photographer that really counts and matters.

    so step back if you want to. go back to the time where wedding photographers could focus manually, meter manually, meter flash manually, adjust aperture for every shot (without looking at the camera), adjust shutter (using the dial and not a click of a wheel at our fingers) and rewind it all manual and load the film manual. and then, I begin to really respect all these "old timers" and "veterans" and understand why sometimes they too laugh off all the new technology for photography.

    i think if you don't mind, just plonk down some spare cash for a 2nd hand camera body from nikon (fm2, fm2n). and get a prime lens of your choice (50mm 1.4 AI-S?) and some black and white film and go shoot. it certainly won't cost you must but it will most probably be a really difficult transition, yet, you'll get there eventually. when you realise that every shot actually counts and there's always this feeling of "something missing" when you can't visually confirm on an LCD of the shot you just took. you'll be more careful as well as more focused when taking pictures in such cases (rather than waste film?). its fun, trust me.

    and when you discover your vision, your creativity as well as having that inate ability to just to adjustthe camera into the settings for the shot you want in an instant without looking at your equipment - when you go back to digital. wow! because your creative genius will surpass all equipment. and all mediums of expression. all the best! move back if you want to. its worth it.

    and to top it off. you'll probably be able to handle a camera that 99% of people will struggle to use effeciently. all the best. and let me know.
    Last edited by slacker123; 23rd November 2004 at 12:50 AM.

  2. #22
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    Hi,

    Just came back before going to bed... Slacker123 you have the idea of what I had... I realise that different cameras are for different situations... Take for example me and my trekking (To Mongolia for instance), I need a small and light camera that will work under all conditions... hence a manual camera... Of course I can bring my MKII along, but weight is a big factor here since I have to carry all my belongings with me like clothes and my food for a 1-2 week trek... besides, power is also a factor to consider too... Unless someone somehow can lend me a very very long extension cord from S'pore to Mongolia...

    Part of using a smaller mechanical camera is that its rather unobtrusive compared to my MKII and 70-200 f2.8L when I go to shoot portraits of people National Geographic style... I did try that once and the people just got terrified at the size of the bohemoth... I like the camera for wildlife and sports though... I'm going to India this December too and bringing my MKII and two L's along is not a particularly great thing for me to carry around... Even in Bangkok I already get stares... I like to do landscapes often and that's for the MF kit I'm exchanging next month too...

    As for compositional techniques, I do agree that there is instant gratification with the LCD of a DSLR but really I'd like to try film again... and I'm confusing myself too...

    Regards,
    Nick
    The equipment can only bring you so far - the rest of the photographic journey is done by you.

  3. #23

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    Hey Nick, just realised that you are from Bangkok. I was there last week and did not have my gear with me. Kinda regretted that decision. Anything to look out for should I decide to bring my gear? Maybe flying over for the weekend again. Love the place

    Anyway, I went opp dir of you. Started with the cheapest manual SLR and was happy with it for quite awhile. It's only after I bought an AF SLR after it broke that I realised that automation really does makes things easier. Actually allowed me more time to focus on 'Thinking about the image' and to 'Capture the moment' better as I do not have to fiddle with the knobs and focusing as much.

    With all due respect to your teacher, I have some different ideas about equipment. I think we DO need to spend quite alot of time 'Playing with our toys'. I played with my camera alot when I first started. Even when not shooting, lazing around at home. I would just turn this knob, turn that knob, have bets with my dad 'measuring' distance with my eyes ( He like to boast about how he can pre-focus and get sharp pics, plus he do it in feet not meters ) Have debates about different way to get shots done with my very very limited equipment back then, etc. And try to prove to the other that the idea works.

    Basically to know your equipment so well that, when you are really shooting you don't think reaaly about it. You know what you need to do in an instant and your fingers will be where they need to be. This applies to both manual and AF cameras. I find myself spending alot of time doing this when I switched over to AF, then again when I switched to digital. Well actually even more in digital as there are just so many things to turn and poke at.

    Do get a set of manual gear if you really feel like it. The feel is very different. I do miss it sometimes. But how about going for something like a FM2 instead? FM10 maybe cheaper but too basic I think. The built is rather flimsy as well from what I can remeber.

  4. #24

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    Hi Nick,

    I have quite a stack of old MF and toy cameras over here, but for a different reason. Been feeling underwhelmed by the soulless efficiency of "work photography" that I've resorted to using clunkers and B/W film when shooting for pleasure. I find that digital photography is too easy, giving you good pictures while not demanding enough discipline. I've come to relish the difficulty inherent in using film, meterless, manual cameras because they force you to work for every image you make.

    What I like best about these things, though, is that they teach you to rely more on yourself and less on your equipment. When you use such demanding cameras, the good images you make are because of your own skill and talent, and not on any glitzy motordrive/AF engine/AE metering feature we might otherwise use

    But of course, different strokes for different folks

    Conan

    Quote Originally Posted by nickmak
    Hi,

    Something has been lingering on my mind... With all the automation in our SLRs in general ie. AF, AE, and all those acronyms, I sort of lost touch with what my teacher, a photographer has said: 'Spend your time finding the image, not figuring out the camera.' After those words, I started to think about what I really do when taking a picture. I realised that I spend more time figuring out my DSLR's buttons and functions than finding that image. With all these technologies I seriously think that I've not learnt much photography at all... Am I being cynical?


  5. #25

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    using a manual camera does mean goin back to basics... but it also means more hassle in terms of exposure/metering/focusing...

    u do spend more time thinking about each shot, therefore everyshot kindda lasts....

    back to basics? perhaps a point and shoot will be more adequate??

    cheers...

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by chunger

    With full manual camera, you will spend more time tweaking and setting your camera to get just one pictures. Doesn't this make you spend more time to figure out your camera b4 you shoot?

    Just my point of view. I just like to shoot more and paymore attention to what i want to capture than spend a lot of time shooting using full manual.
    I am afraid I have to disagree. With my manual camera, I only decide aperture and shutter speed. Two dilals to turn. How much tweaking is that? White balance? Color correction? Etc With manual camera, everything is simplified.

    My point of view is that I would like to shoot less. It is a total contradiction that by shooting more you are paying more attention to what you want to shoot. It is when you slow down, especially in a situation like using a view camera, that your equipment forces you to really look at what you are shooting. The imperative word is "Forced". There is just too much seduction in all singing and all dancing equipment for mortals like us to resist. The seduction of the amazing computer chip taking care of the exposure, of gratification offered by the instant review.

    Some have made reference to cultivating an eye and finding the image. True! A couple had made reference to the images they made and kept inside their amazing brain. But there is a world of differences in seeing great images and making great images. Many images are just that. Images we store in our minds. But are otherwise inaccesible to the camera. Your photographic skills are not the least bit enhanced by keeping these great visual treats in your mind. An artist, trained to use his eyes and aesthetics, may appreciate the same wonderful images before you as well as you. But he will likely fail if he brings up his camera to try to capture those iamges.

    In the right hand, any equipment (well almost!) can make good images. Time and again, I read in this forum about people starting with digital cams, and then after a while ask, what is the aperture? The modern marvels have made it soooo easy to take a picture. But also a whole lot of forgettable (artistic wise - my favorite picture is a out of focus photo of my son sitting on a potty!) images. Those who have grown up with manual equipments ahve an advantage. They at least know the interaction between shutter speed and aperture. The rest are cameras "clickers"

  7. #27
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    Default True Photography is about going forward in the right direction

    All digital cameras "clickers" will have to
    go through the amazing maze of darkroom
    fundamentals and larger film format sooner
    or later if they are going deeper and sincerely
    trying to develop the eye for the ultimate
    aesthetics in photography.
    Last edited by forward; 23rd November 2004 at 08:19 AM.

  8. #28

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    well going back to basics is great if you don't have enough basics, but be careful not to go to a rose-tinted glasses stage where you view the past as being better than the present

    if you really want to brush up your image-making skills go look at the history of images, from film to painting to drawing to illustration
    personally I find that I get much of inspiration for my images from anime
    maybe if you got more inspiration from other artforms apart from photography you'll get new ideas for images.

  9. #29
    Senior Member denniskee's Avatar
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    wah, you guys have all the good english to make what I wanted sound so profound (spelling error again?).
    photography makes one sees things from all angles.

  10. #30

    Default Go back to basic

    Maybe he is afraid of losing how to control camera, becos dslr tends to control user in a way.

    That day while shooting a wedding, saw bride's friend who owns 300D and 550ex flash. He was shooting for two years liao, and i asked why don you learn from film, learn from BASIC, he told me No Confident cos cannot preview...........

    Juz wondering, 10 years down the road, i think all basic photography skills and techniques like dark room will be down the drain liao.

    Who will be the photographer, DSLR or You....

  11. #31

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    so what's the solution to this problem?
    go back to using pinhole cameras with your photographic chemicals on glass plates!!!
    anyway I love digital. when I first went digital I went snapshot crazy. after having fun with shooting like crazy I started thinking more and shooting carefully
    some people prefer to learn by shooting film, waiting a day to process the film, trying to remember how they got the shot, etcetc
    fine, different strokes for different folks, we all learn differently

    don't blame the camera and the technology for your bad image making skills, painters don't blame their brushes and their paint for crappy paintings!

  12. #32

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    while I agree that you can use the DSLR and get rid of all auto functions to essentially get the same functions as a MF but I think that's besides the pt. its the mindset that matters not the camera, using a MF will make you think and feel differently than using a DSLR with auto features off. its like saying drive a ferrari and plug your ears to cut out the throaty roar of the engine and imagine you're driving a toyota. you hold your DSLR with its heavy weight, contoured grip. USM lens, etc etc and you expect to feel like you're back to basics? I think not. your mind will always have this "I"m still holding a DSLR" thought. there will always be temptation and distractions cuz you know what your camera is capable of. like lighting may be tricky and you can go "hey but with my SLR I have centre, matrix and spot to use with a press of a button... and histogram... and and...." but if you have say a FM3 or a rangefinder and a lightmeter, your tots would be "ok I have only these to work with, now how to assess the situation in front of me".

    ok lah damn luo suo but what I mean is that there's the mental aspect that should be considered here as well not just camera functions or lack of.

  13. #33
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    I have a somewhat different view - all the automation liberate us from those adjustments, fiddling with all the numerous buttons and menus in the camera.

    In normal situation, I would just set everything to auto, and leave the camera to decide on the setting, which does pretty well in most situation. Then, you can forget about all those settings, and concentrate on your creativity, in terms of composition, expressions and other aspects. Leave the technical aspect to the camera to decide for you. Most of the time, the camera's setting is the best, as decided by the expects who programmed the camera.

    So, I view the automation as a convenient way and that is highly efficient. These days, a simple entry level camera has got most of the auto features needed to take simple pictures.
    I love big car, big house, big lenses, but small apertures.

  14. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by smallaperture
    I have a somewhat different view - all the automation liberate us from those adjustments, fiddling with all the numerous buttons and menus in the camera.

    In normal situation, I would just set everything to auto, and leave the camera to decide on the setting, which does pretty well in most situation. Then, you can forget about all those settings, and concentrate on your creativity, in terms of composition, expressions and other aspects. Leave the technical aspect to the camera to decide for you. Most of the time, the camera's setting is the best, as decided by the expects who programmed the camera.

    So, I view the automation as a convenient way and that is highly efficient. These days, a simple entry level camera has got most of the auto features needed to take simple pictures.

    but that's exactly what camera companies want you to think. just "point and shoot, we'll do the rest... now just give me your cash...". do you really know what is going into your camera, being recorded on film/sensor? you see the scene in front of you, you see the framing and composition. yes to your eyes its nice. but photography isn't taking photos with your eye. its with your camera. and you are leaving the most fundamental part of taking a photo to the whizz and bangs of your camera... the decision on how much light to admit and based on a reading of goodness knows where. automation is convenient but you gotta use it as a means to help your control over your photo not to substitute it.

    btw the so called "experts" who programme the camera are technicians and engineers, not photographers neccessarily. the camera is designed to produce the highest probability of a "acceptable" photo under most "average" situations.
    Last edited by hoppinghippo; 23rd November 2004 at 08:43 PM.

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoppinghippo
    but that's exactly what camera companies want you to think. just "point and shoot, we'll do the rest... now just give me your cash...". do you really know what is going into your camera, being recorded on film/sensor? you see the scene in front of you, you see the framing and composition. yes to your eyes its nice. but photography isn't taking photos with your eye. its with your camera. and you are leaving the most fundamental part of taking a photo to the whizz and bangs of your camera... the decision on how much light to admit and based on a reading of goodness knows where. automation is convenient but you gotta use it as a means to help your control over your photo not to substitute it.

    btw the so called "experts" who programme the camera are technicians and engineers, not photographers neccessarily. the camera is designed to produce the highest probability of a "acceptable" photo under most "average" situations.
    this/that i agree...

    Too much automation makes one lazy... that's why I'm pondering over a manual camera so that it really prevents me from switching to auto modes because I want to be the one who makes the picture, and not the camera... The amount of light falling on it, the aperture used etc etc play a part in a picture and if we leave the camera to do this, you the photographer has not fully taken part in the picture making process...

    I think I'll settle for a cheap FM10 or used FM2 with a 50mm lens to start...
    The equipment can only bring you so far - the rest of the photographic journey is done by you.

  16. #36
    Senior Member Pablo's Avatar
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    Hi, Just a thought on the automation point. I am not for or against it. But I do like it.
    I drive a relatively good car; it is auto transmission, has anti skid brakes, traction control etc.
    I cant drive it with my eyes closed.
    I still have to be a competant driver.
    I still have to calculate speed in situations, be aware of the possabilities from any actions I take etc.
    Sometimes it is more comfortable getting from poin A to point B when some of the work is done for you.
    I still get great pleasure from driving a manual car though
    Time, is an effortless construction :)

  17. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by forward
    All digital cameras "clickers" will have to
    go through the amazing maze of darkroom
    fundamentals and larger film format sooner
    or later if they are going deeper and sincerely
    trying to develop the eye for the ultimate
    aesthetics in photography.
    Really?

    Ask large format photographers who shoot in color. They do not have to bother at all with darkroom!

  18. #38

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    I remember the first time I held a manual camera when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I was so fascinated about the little black box. But it's too much complicated to use it. I was told that at certain time of a day, under certain weather and light condition, I should use certain F and S settings ... And after each shot, I had to turn the film manually, otherwise I'd end up with double exposed pic ...

    Technologies have evolved so much in the past 20 some years on photography equipment, especially cameras. We don't need to think about the exposure (well, sort of I guess) as we used to do on a manual camera. The f/s adjustment has been made too much easier, we even can totally rely on our cameras' auto settings to take decent pictures without thinking about how the the cameras really work. Even professional photographers have benefitted a lot from these advanced techies, they can put more effort in finding or creating better shots.

    Yes, I agree, a manual camera is fun to use to some guys sometimes. But nowadays when you get a serious assignment, I don't think you'd use your old manual camera to do the job.

    And also, most people don't like to fiddle the f/s dials before taking photos. It's not too much fun anyway. The fun part is that you can catch the right scene/moment with whatever the camera you have, and share it with your friends, families, fellow forum members or just future-you

    As to start from a digital camera or manual camera, there are pros/cons for either one. In my opinion, current digital cameras, especially DSLR cameras are really better tools than manual cameras for us to learn photography.

    Just my 2 cents.

  19. #39

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    1 One can take good pictures with totally manual or totally automatic (does not matter whether it is digital or film - digital of course allows "more" shots and instant reviews.

    2 While one may compose pictures in the mind, you still have to transfer that image to the camera viewfinder. Do not kid yourself that because you can see great images, you can necessary make great images. They are completely different things.

    3 There is absolutely wrong with modern marvels.

    4 What is "wrong" is the people who use these marvels. Because it is easy to take reasonable pictures with current cameras, the mind tend to laziness. Contrast with photographers like Michael Reichmann, schooled in the tradition of view cameras and darkroom, now an enthusiatic advocate for the digital medium. His photos are good. He has already mastered the fundamentals. How many who start with modern cameras ever had their foundations solidly established?

    5 Totally manual cameras are not magical equipment. Because they are devoid of computer assistance, they force the photogs to decide on the why and how of exposure. They have no choice.

    Much have been said that you can put your modern cameras like my Canon 1V to fully manual mode. I just wonder how many have the will power to do so.

    6 Comparing photography with things like travelling in cars instead of carts is not appropriat in my opinion. Photography is also about cultivating the heart and mind. But when the camera takes over, how much of the final product is yours? and how much the computer chips? (film or digital)

    7 The so-called liberation offers by modern equipment is in my opinion an illusion. It in fact traps you in its seduction, offeringmore features that you find so hard to resist. And takes over. Think again.

    8 Nobody asks one to coat his own plates or go back to pinhole! The idea is that manual camera, in its very nature FORCES you to decide, rather than the camera deciding for you. People comes from different background. Some like Reichmann, having master the fundamentals, found modern equipments liberating. But I suspect lesser people will be trapped by these modern things and end up in mediocrity.

  20. #40

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    sorry, need to proof read better

    #3 should be "there is absolutely nothing wrong....."

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