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Thread: Nature photography vs Potraits

  1. #1
    mdchuah
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    Question Nature photography vs Potraits

    hi everyone...i personally like photographing people compared to nature but which do you think is tougher???

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    Moderator ziploc's Avatar
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    People portraiture is tougher of course. You need to concern about the subject's emotion, expression, posture, make ups, lighting, ways to bring out the strong points while concealing the weakness (in appearance), etc etc...

  3. #3

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    I think both has its difficulties. But for general photography (meaning you're not expecting National Geographic standard or the likes) I would think landscape is easier, if you're lucky. In that, if you know in your head the kind of composition you want, almost half the battle is won.

    For portraiture, even if the lighting is good, you must have the skill in knowing how to position your subject. Then you need to consider how to pose your subject. I've seen many shots ruined even though the subject looks pleasant or pretty simply bcos the pose is awkward, composition wrong or the photographer didn't pay attention to lighting. It's easy to tell by a first look of a picture if it's a lazy/novice snapshot or one in which the photographer has a good knowledge of lighting and positioning of his subject.

    For beginners, I think it is safe to say he is usually more successful in landscape shots than portraiture. With the advent of digital photography, it is no wonder beginners and novices are more into street/animal photography. U can work alone and just go out to snap stuffs which catch your eyes. Not so simple with portraits.

  4. #4

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    There are simple kinds of outdoor portraits in late afternoon sun that are very easy to take and there are more difficult types of portrait shots to take.

    Also, if you shoot someone who is photogenic and a 'natural', half your battle is won


    Originally posted by David

    For beginners, I think it is safe to say he is usually more successful in landscape shots than portraiture. With the advent of digital photography, it is no wonder beginners and novices are more into street/animal photography. U can work alone and just go out to snap stuffs which catch your eyes. Not so simple with portraits.

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    Originally posted by ziploc
    People portraiture is tougher of course. You need to concern about the subject's emotion, expression, posture, make ups, lighting, ways to bring out the strong points while concealing the weakness (in appearance), etc etc...
    Nature photography is tougher of course. You need to be aware about the subject's atmosphere, colours, your viewpoint, lighting, ways to bring out the strong points while concealing the weakness (of the natural form), etc etc...

    Honestly, I'd find it very difficult to understand how one form of photography can be readily considered easier or tougher. On the surface level some work can seem straightforward, just point and shoot, sorted. Yet if you dig deeper, to get consistently good results in any area of photography requires dedication and application.

    Consider portraiture. How many of the portraits we see would fall to pieces if we replaced the sweet young, occasionally scantily clad young lady with a guy of the same age? A portrait needs to be more than just depiction and likeness of a person, at least it does on a photographic level.

    Or macros for that matter. Seems relatively straightforward to just fill the frame with a subject and snap it. But just because it's some bug that you've never seen before at that magnification doesn't make it a good shot. It certainly doesn't mean that you can forget about composition, form, lighting, backgrounds, or, "subject's emotion, expression, posture, make ups, lighting, ways to bring out the strong points while concealing the weakness (in appearance)". With the possible exception of make up.

    No specific criticism directed at any particular person.

  6. #6

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    Originally posted by Jed


    Consider portraiture. How many of the portraits we see would fall to pieces if we replaced the sweet young, occasionally scantily clad young lady with a guy of the same age?
    Well, there are ugly bugs and ugly worms too

    But I personally feel that nature is definitely more challenging.

    1. You can't talk English to a bug. And expect it to respond.
    2. Small bugs bring about many technical constraints e.g. shutter speed, how to fill flash, etc etc.

  7. #7
    Moderator ziploc's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Jed


    Nature photography is tougher of course. You need to be aware about the subject's atmosphere, colours, your viewpoint, lighting, ways to bring out the strong points while concealing the weakness (of the natural form), etc etc...

    Honestly, I'd find it very difficult to understand how one form of photography can be readily considered easier or tougher. On the surface level some work can seem straightforward, just point and shoot, sorted. Yet if you dig deeper, to get consistently good results in any area of photography requires dedication and application.

    Consider portraiture. How many of the portraits we see would fall to pieces if we replaced the sweet young, occasionally scantily clad young lady with a guy of the same age? A portrait needs to be more than just depiction and likeness of a person, at least it does on a photographic level.

    Or macros for that matter. Seems relatively straightforward to just fill the frame with a subject and snap it. But just because it's some bug that you've never seen before at that magnification doesn't make it a good shot. It certainly doesn't mean that you can forget about composition, form, lighting, backgrounds, or, "subject's emotion, expression, posture, make ups, lighting, ways to bring out the strong points while concealing the weakness (in appearance)". With the possible exception of make up.

    No specific criticism directed at any particular person.
    Well, that's just my view. You can have yours, of course.

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    Originally posted by Lennier

    1. You can't talk English to a bug. And expect it to respond.
    2. Small bugs bring about many technical constraints e.g. shutter speed, how to fill flash, etc etc.
    At the same time, you also don't get terribly nervous bugs that no amount of english will get to settle down. People have the same technical constraints of shutter speed, how to fill flash.

    And for every aspect of shooting bugs that's more difficult than shooting people, there will be aspects of shooting people that's more difficult than shooting bugs.

    I am not saying that macro is easy, or that nature is easy, or that portraits are easy; or difficult. And I stopped short of saying the following earlier, but I'll say it now. I think it takes a certain maturity of photographer to appreciate the subtleties of different disciplines. In no way is this intended as a direct criticism of Lennier or anyone else either.

  9. #9

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    Maybe because I've been doing portraits lately, I'm inclined to feel that they're easier than bug shots.

    Jed, what's with all the preemptive stuff? It gets a little ... idiotic, if you don't mind me saying.

  10. #10

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    This question interests me, because I'm definitely leaning toward portraiture. Not because it's more difficult, or challenging, but simply because I enjoy it more. Bugs and animals (with some exceptions) mostly have the same appearance. They may be colourful and indeed exceptionally beautiful, but theirs is a static beauty. The human face, on the other hand, has an infinite variety of expression (at least to other humans like myself) and I find it enjoyable just to capture those expressions, although I lean towards trying to capture joyful expressions most of the time. More importantly, human expressions evoke more visceral emotional reactions than animals do, at least in me.

    Most animals have a natural beauty, and unless you choose to photograph mangy dogs and flea-bitten lions, it's hard to go wrong, really (IMHO). The same goes for humans, in a way. If you start out with a beautiful model, as Erwinx points out, your job is more than half done. I actually keep a database of contact numbers of good looking people I meet, in case I ever need a model.

    Old, ugly people have their own photogenic appeal. I won't go into that.

    I think the real challenge in portraiture is to make an ordinary person look good. Fortunately for me, I don't see that in my job description. That is the unenviable task of wedding and commercial photographers. I just take pictures of people I personally find interesting, and ignore the rest. If I had to do that job, though, first thing I would do is learn to tell jokes. Nothing lights up an ordinary face more than a laugh. Many people look much better when they laugh or smile, than when they are trying to look cool, or dignified.

  11. #11

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    Hi,

    Having done portraits and recently, insects/nature... I would say that both have their difficulties. That is saying that you are seriously going into the details of the shot and not simply snapping them. On one hand, there can be terrible lighting that needs to be taken care of.. Or uncoorperative/tense models... Likewise, there can also be bad lightings/backgrounds for insect shots (that you can't just ask the insect to move to a nicer location) Or insects that never stays still. The list of comparision can probably goes on and on. Compositions can be similar across the two different shooting situations but the techniques/equipments/knowledge required for portraits and insects might not be quite the same. So in my case, I would thought that both it's own difficulties (though I'll tend to find portraits slightly 'easier' with the lesser experience I have on insects). And that's just my 2 cents worth...

    KS

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    Thread moved to General Photography Chat forum due to contents.

  13. #13

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    Yeah, agree in general it is not fair to say specifically one is easier than the other. It's up to the individual to find a niche in his or her shooting preference.

    For me, I like the magical lighting in landscapes, deciding what I want to include or not to. I don't have to talk. Usually just wait or walk around.

    In portraiture, communication is one tool that if the photographer doesn't have, the sharpest lens or many years of experience in other areas of photography might not just save him. And I find almost always it's good if I have at least 1 assistant around. In landscape photography, I feel more space and freedom around me for expression.

    Just me...

  14. #14
    Belle&Sebastian
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    Hi all! I am reading a book called FACES by Jane Brown, a professional portrait photograher for (Observer) with 50 years of experience. She shoots celebs, arty ppl in b/w mostly. This book studies the creative & mental aspects of her sitters(subjects).

    I am very impress by the emotions that she captured and for one aspect i feel for portraits is that you and the subject must have an (sync) or sort of in order to portray a true emotion. So often in communciating and having a rapport with ppl that you can find a geninue side of themself and a good emotion in the portrait. That is the PR skills you need for people photography.

    I believe that every aspect of photograpghy is a challenge and a good photographer will find its merits and explore its directions and decide if he/she is suited for it.

    my .o2cents!

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    Originally posted by Lennier
    Jed, what's with all the preemptive stuff? It gets a little ... idiotic, if you don't mind me saying.
    Yes, I do mind you saying. What kind of a question was that? Did you really think I wouldn't mind? And what was pre-emptive about my post? All I was doing was responding to your points, and other points. The only thing that I can see that is remotely pre-emptive are my disclaimers, and I really meant those disclaimers. Obviously from your reaction I can see that certainly some people took specific offence, hence I was right to put them in.

  16. #16

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    Originally posted by Lennier
    Maybe because I've been doing portraits lately, I'm inclined to feel that they're easier than bug shots.
    Hence, your opinions are biased, yes? Can't really take your comments fairly already then, can we?


    Jed, what's with all the preemptive stuff? It gets a little ... idiotic, if you don't mind me saying.
    It's known as a disclaimer, which are pre-emptive in nature. Or do you read them after **** happens to you?

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    Originally posted by Lennier
    Maybe because I've been doing portraits lately, I'm inclined to feel that they're easier than bug shots.

    Jed, what's with all the preemptive stuff? It gets a little ... idiotic, if you don't mind me saying.
    Lenneir,

    Jed's post made perfect sense to me, and I don't see why you should feel that it gets "idiotic". I hope to see an explanation from you.

    Jed,

    "Difficulty" is subjective. I believe mdchuah is not asking for an absolute answer or trying to get to some sort of concensus here, but instead just doing a poll to find out which field is considered more difficult by the majority. While your points are absolutely valid (and a pleasure to read as always), please relax when someone comes along and say "I think that nature photography is more challenging for me than portraiture", as long as that person does not try to imply "therefore you should feel the same way". I would definitely challenge that kind of statement myself.

    If we better define the scope of this discussion to "Nature photography vs portraits - which do you find more challenging and which do you prefer?" then we can have the common understanding that each person responding to this thread is just stating his/her own perception. In that case everyone has the right to be biased, and there is nothing wrong with that.

    Generally, I think people trigger heated arguments because they use "you" while they are actually discribing their own opinions/feelings/perceptions. Consider the following paragraphs:

    "To me, nature photography is more challenging/difficult than portraiture because I feel that I have better control of the situation when I am photographing people. Being able to direct the subject verbally and get feedback on how they feel makes me more effective."

    "Nature photography is more challenging/difficult than portraiture because you have better control of the situation when you are photographing people. You can be more effective if you can direct the subject verbally and get feedback on how they feel."

    I guess the second paragraph gets the poster in trouble even though the first paragraph is really what he is trying to express.

    Personally, I feel that I am better at portraiture than nature photography, but that is not because nature photography is more challenging to me. Each has their own set of challenges, but I am more inspired by portraiture, that's all.
    As complexity rises, precise statements lose meaning and meaningful statements lose precision.

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    Roy, I'm relaxed. The only thing that worked me up was the idiotic comment.

    Sure, obviously I have no problems with people expressing what they find more challenging for themselves. I certainly get what you are saying about people phrasing loosely. No doubt upon considering everything, Ziploc for example wouldn't have meant "People portraiture is tougher of course" as a unilateral sweeping statement. But as I said, I was relaxed, my response was meant to balance that out and nothing more, and the only thing that worked me up was being labelled idiotic.

    I was just expressing that to claim (in general) that A is easier than B is simply to do a disservice to people who work hard at taking B type pictures.

    Frankly this is not largely dissimlar to camera brands. Different brands have pros and cons, just like different types of photography has different difficulties and joys, different attractions and drawbacks.

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    Originally posted by Jed
    Roy, I'm relaxed. The only thing that worked me up was the idiotic comment.

    Sure, obviously I have no problems with people expressing what they find more challenging for themselves. I certainly get what you are saying about people phrasing loosely. No doubt upon considering everything, Ziploc for example wouldn't have meant "People portraiture is tougher of course" as a unilateral sweeping statement. But as I said, I was relaxed, my response was meant to balance that out and nothing more, and the only thing that worked me up was being labelled idiotic.

    I was just expressing that to claim (in general) that A is easier than B is simply to do a disservice to people who work hard at taking B type pictures.

    Frankly this is not largely dissimlar to camera brands. Different brands have pros and cons, just like different types of photography has different difficulties and joys, different attractions and drawbacks.
    Jed,

    I am also disturbed by Lennier's comment. Hope he can make himself clear what he actually meant.

    So, which do you prefer, nature or portrait?
    As complexity rises, precise statements lose meaning and meaningful statements lose precision.

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    Me? Dunno. Like both

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