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12/04/2012 12:40:59 PM · #1
So I ask you all here, how do you go about pushing yourself in the field of photography?
Do you examine your weaknesses?
Do you read about technicals?
Do you study the formal masters?
Peruse the PS forums?

Just curious how you move past that plateau.

For me, I try to push my composition... I see the safe shot, so I try to work in ways which compositional rules can be stretched; to see if they work.
Seeing if the eyes moves in the frame, out of the frame, balance between elements.
I am not talking perspective here, purely composition.

Most are failures and it is a series of guess and check at the moment, but I feel I am starting to move to the next hurdle.

Curious in everyone responses (street shooters/landscapists/portraitist/stock).

<edit> Yes, I enjoy "pushing myself". And yes, I believe as the growing photographer, you hit hurdles (or plateaus) along the way.
But the idea is once you hit one, what do you do (and maybe you haven't yet)?

*** An attempt to get some good forum topics going.

Message edited by author 2012-12-04 13:37:40.
12/04/2012 12:47:10 PM · #2
first off, I'd like to say that if you're "pushing yourself" it's probably time to give up. if you don't enjoy doing it, then set the camera down and walk away from it for a while. days. weeks. months. however long it takes.

secondly, to further my knowledge and become more inspired, I look for inspiration. I search website after website for different ideas. I look for different books both on photography technique as well as photos.
the internet is full of inspiration.

other times, I will just go out for a ride, WITHOUT my camera... and I end up finding something, that reminds me why I always take my camera with me.
12/04/2012 12:55:22 PM · #3
Originally posted by jaysonmc:

Just curious how you move past that plateau.

There's a plateau????

For me it's a constant challenge and goal. The more I learn, the better I want to get at what I have learned. It's an ongoing process, and I see no end in sight. And that's what keeps it fresh for me as well.

Message edited by author 2012-12-04 12:56:11.
12/04/2012 12:56:30 PM · #4
Usually how I push myself is by trying something I didn't want to. People complain about minimal editing and while I wouldn't want to do more than one a month I always learn quite a bit when shooting for one. I wish I had more of an opportunity to shoot street photography it really isn't my thing but I bet I would learn a lot if I could get out there and try it more (but I live in a rural area and the closest place that I could get some good street shots is about 1 hour away)

The other way I learn is by making mistakes and having to try and fix them in photoshop. Either I learn not to make that mistake again when shooting or I learn how to solve it with editing. Right now I am learning a lot because I made the mistake of leaving my camera on JPEG with customized settings heavy on contrast and saturation (for the last minimal challenge) I forgot to switch back to RAW and the stock shots I took of my little girl and her friend were nearly ruined. Luckily with some playing around in photoshop I have been able to save many of them.

Message edited by author 2012-12-04 13:18:51.
12/04/2012 01:14:28 PM · #5
Originally posted by NikonJeb:



For me it's a constant goal.

What's your goal?

Originally posted by NikonJeb:


The more I learn, the better I want to get at what I have learned.

What have you learned recently, and how has it made you better?
Questions, I am really curious about.

12/04/2012 01:16:46 PM · #6
Originally posted by Denielle:


the internet is full of inspiration.



What have you found that has inspired you recently? How has that affected your photography?
As a photographer, I am very curious in the answer.
12/04/2012 01:16:56 PM · #7
Originally posted by jaysonmc:

Originally posted by NikonJeb:



For me it's a constant goal.

What's your goal?

Originally posted by NikonJeb:


The more I learn, the better I want to get at what I have learned.

What have you learned recently, and how has it made you better?
Questions, I am really curious about.


I know this wasn't directed to me...

But for me, the goal is to continuously learn new things, to grow as a photographer and get outside my comfort zone to attain things I never thought possible.

I am constantly learning, so I can't think of any one thing in particular that has made me better.
I have learned that being on DPC has made me a better photographer!
12/04/2012 01:18:58 PM · #8
Originally posted by jaysonmc:

Originally posted by Denielle:


the internet is full of inspiration.



What have you found that has inspired you recently? How has that affected your photography?
As a photographer, I am very curious in the answer.


Currently I have been looking to do more black and white shots.
Easy, right? Just set your camera to monochrome or fix it in PP.
But I want to avoid the PP. I am really trying to hone in on my "minimal challenge editing" skills.
I want the picture to be as near perfect as possible prior to editing.
Therefore, I am learning more about exposure and lighting along with using contrast and sharpness settings on my camera

So any books I can find on the subject of B&W photography and any techniques I come across, I try to utilize :)

Message edited by author 2012-12-04 13:19:28.
12/04/2012 01:20:46 PM · #9
Goals and strategies?

Get off the computer. Stay out of the worthless forums. Get out there with the camera and capture images. If some people would spend half the time they obsessively dedicate to the DPC forums working on their photography skills instead, they would see substantial progress. Sure, you can learn much here. I learn something everyday. But, forum discussions are not a substitute for capturing real images.

(Sorry, I'm having a tough year.)
12/04/2012 01:26:52 PM · #10
Originally posted by hahn23:

Goals and strategies?

Get off the computer. Stay out of the worthless forums. Get out there with the camera and capture images. If some people would spend half the time they obsessively dedicate to the DPC forums working on their photography skills instead, they would see substantial progress. Sure, you can learn much here. I learn something everyday. But, forum discussions are not a substitute for capturing real images.

(Sorry, I'm having a tough year.)


That is very true. Getting out of the house and shooting something... ANYTHING... is better than sitting around here on the computer, doing exactly what I'm doing right now.
But... as much as I would love to get out... I can't.

Today has been a dreary day... a very "blah" day... but, I was still planning on going out and shooting.
However, the fact that my son was sick today hindered that ability.
I was finally able to log onto the computer after he took a nap.
AND... I managed to shoot my Periodic Table shot as well.

You can learn lots from DPC, you can learn lots from going out in the real world and shooting... but a combination of the two creates better results (in my experience).

ETA: As you can tell, I'm quite bored.

Message edited by author 2012-12-04 13:27:11.
12/04/2012 01:28:54 PM · #11
Originally posted by jaysonmc:

How do you go about pushing yourself in the field of photography?

When I first started, it was to do a 365 challenge. Under a month left and I can't wait for it to be over. Some days, either because I'm working late, or the weather, or shit needs to get done at home, I simply don't want to shoot, but I do anyways to not miss a day. Next year I'll probably do something like a portrait a week. Setup portraiture and still life photography are my weakest genres, so I'll force myself to improve.

Originally posted by jaysonmc:

Do you examine your weaknesses?
Not really. I know what they are.

Originally posted by jaysonmc:

Do you read about technicals?
I used to. I've read every book by McNally, got a bunch of others also. I'm really good at learning from a book, so I learnt the technical side of things from them, but then I went out and did a bunch of stuff myself. I'll set up scenes in my basement and play around until I get it right.

The thing I hate about books is you'll read "rules" over and over, and it's all bullshit. Rule of thirds, horizon in the middle, golden ratio, whatever. None of it matters. That's when I stopped reading books on those subjects.

Originally posted by jaysonmc:

Do you study the formal masters?

There are a couple of people I follow on flickr, 1x, 500px, and whatnot and see what they're up to. Most of the time I just wish I was there instead of them. I used to look for ideas over the web when I started doing challenges here, but now I just submit lazy entries to DPC. Couldn't be bothered to shoot for this site anymore in a meaningful capacity.

Originally posted by jaysonmc:

Curious in everyone responses (street shooters/landscapists/portraitist/stock).
After I saw the work of Thomas Leuthard, I decided that street photography was my calling. I have no problems taking someones photo standing two feet away. I've been hit with umbrellas, threatened physically, verbally assaulted, and I still go out there most days and fire away.
12/04/2012 01:30:19 PM · #12
Originally posted by hahn23:

Goals and strategies?
working on their photography skills instead, they would see substantial progress.
(Sorry, I'm having a tough year.)


Which photography skills do you feel should be primarily honed to see substantial progress?

On side note.
Classroom exercises (while no substitute for practice), can yield some useful information. If I could, I would be out shooting right now.

***Some years are tougher than others, sorry to hear that this is one of them for you.

Cheers.

Also Thanks ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Venser for the detailed response.

Message edited by author 2012-12-04 13:32:16.
12/04/2012 01:49:18 PM · #13
Originally posted by NikonJeb:

For me it's a constant goal.

Originally posted by jaysonmc:

What's your goal?

To continue to grow and improve as a photog. You mentioned composition. I'm always looking to compose my images better......sometimes I'll even take a pass on a shot entirely because there are too many distractions, too much clutter, or even a lighting issue that makes me know right then & there I'll have to spend more time in PS than I want. I have noticed that my ability to go through various checks for composition in my head has become almost second nature.I also want to continue getting more & more comfortable with my camera.
Originally posted by NikonJeb:


The more I learn, the better I want to get at what I have learned.

Originally posted by jaysonmc:

What have you learned recently, and how has it made you better?
Questions, I am really curious about.

I'm getting better overall at shooting.....this has a double benefit for me as I feel more confident, and relaxed when I'm shooting. I just acquired LightRoom, and I really like it. It's a little daunting, but I have a friend who teaches how to use LR, so I'm going to spend the money to have him help me.

I have also learned that better equipment not only helps, but after a while you actually can figure out what it is that you want from your next upgrade so it's easier to make that decision. That's partly why I'm not shooting with a D200 any more, and to a certain extent why I regret buying the D7000 somewhat. The D7000 did not get me as far as I wanted to go......this D600 did.

Message edited by author 2012-12-04 13:49:40.
12/04/2012 01:52:38 PM · #14
Originally posted by jaysonmc:


Which photography skills do you feel should be primarily honed to see substantial progress?

What I teach in my field seminars is to compose through the viewfinder to the maximum possible potential. The exposure, focus, white balance, depth-of-field, eliminating distractions, choosing a background, selecting an appropriate shutter speed, avoiding camera shake, selecting a subject, etc. are all fundamental things best done in the field. Not enough time or attention is allocated to getting these things right at the time of image capture. Instead, many beginning photographers take mediocre photos in the field and try to fix it later in postprocessing. That misallocation of time represents the biggest waste of time, the poorest final products and the huge interest in "artistic" photography.
12/04/2012 01:54:56 PM · #15
Shooting for, editing for, and entering dpc challenges; getting advice from some of the very talented folk who hang around this site.

I feel like I've improved in almost every area since joining dpc. I've entered over 500 challenges, and my average score is still below 5. I've voted on over 30,000 photos - some absolutely amazing. I've been privileged to get constructive comments from some of the best talents on the site. I've been exposed to photographic styles, scenery, and social context from around the world. I've gone from a Prosumer digital camera to a DSLR. From almost always shooting automatic to primarily using Aperture priority, and have no trouble switching to full manual if I don't like the shutter speed (quite interesting since I used to use a Canon AE1 - almost always in shutter priority mode).

My occupation and personality are left-brained, and I do photography partially to help stimulate the creative right brain, and am still learning how to bring out creativity in my photographs.

Some one once told me that to learn to play chess well, play often, and try to play with people who are just a bit better than you. I didn't quite follow that advice with dpc and photography - I jumped into a pool of folks way more talented than me.

I have a friend who, back in the 80's, told me: shoot, shoot, shoot - experiment, try things that are not supposed to work - learn from every image. I think it has been good advice.
12/04/2012 04:28:59 PM · #16
Originally posted by hahn23:

the huge interest in "artistic" photography.


forgive my inability to read twixt the lines, and explain, if you would.
12/04/2012 04:34:44 PM · #17
I no longer push myself as a photographer. I don't make my living from it and there are other things far more important. I do what I take enjoyment in. I do know that for some people that pushing IS what they enjoy.
12/04/2012 04:42:57 PM · #18
not as much as i should.
12/04/2012 04:46:16 PM · #19
Originally posted by hahn23:

the huge interest in "artistic" photography.


Originally posted by blindjustice:

forgive my inability to read twixt the lines, and explain, if you would.

I took it to mean trying to pass off a crappy image as "Art". LOL!!!
12/04/2012 04:50:20 PM · #20
Originally posted by NikonJeb:

Originally posted by hahn23:

the huge interest in "artistic" photography.


Originally posted by blindjustice:

forgive my inability to read twixt the lines, and explain, if you would.

I took it to mean trying to pass off a crappy image as "Art". LOL!!!


Well, then- I resemble that remark!
12/04/2012 04:59:20 PM · #21
Originally posted by hahn23:

Originally posted by jaysonmc:


Which photography skills do you feel should be primarily honed to see substantial progress?

What I teach in my field seminars is to compose through the viewfinder to the maximum possible potential. The exposure, focus, white balance, depth-of-field, eliminating distractions, choosing a background, selecting an appropriate shutter speed, avoiding camera shake, selecting a subject, etc. are all fundamental things best done in the field. Not enough time or attention is allocated to getting these things right at the time of image capture. Instead, many beginning photographers take mediocre photos in the field and try to fix it later in postprocessing. That misallocation of time represents the biggest waste of time, the poorest final products and the huge interest in "artistic" photography.


I learned all the fundamentals while at Columbia, but then again that was about 20 years ago and I was using film. But just a couple of years ago I decided to take a class to learn some more about Photoshop and other digital work flow stuff at a local community college...the worst class I have ever taken...ever. I was actually showing the teacher how to do some things, and this was a guy who had just graduated with his MFA. People left his class still not knowing how the use the clone tool! Seriously, he was that bad.

Everything I've learned about digital editing I learned here or in books.

As far as hitting a plateau, I hit a huge one that lasted nearly 10 years. I pretty much quit photography all together. ( Life got in the way... mainly, I got married, not married anymore. ) So I picked it all up when I discovered digital and have been going ever since. I also read a lot about photo history. I'm inspired by the oldies, the pioneers of the medium.
12/04/2012 05:00:38 PM · #22
I guess technically you could say that I push myself as a photographer ... I'm an over-achiever I push myself at everything. I just love to learn new things and in photography my eyes are opened to something new each and every day. New places, yes. Internet research, yes. Advice, yes. You get the idea. I have images and ideas running around in my head that I can't wait to get in pixels. I just don't know how to do it yet. I'll just keep on trying because I love it.

A couple years ago I went on a photo workshop weekend trip ... day 1 I showed the instructor a picture I was really proud of on the screen. He turned up his nose, pointed at the flashing black area (you know what this is) and said "I don't think so. Try again." Best weekend ever! 700+ pictures later I showed him another and that one (w/o processing) is on my wall at home. :)

The recent minimal challenge was very eye-opening as well. My pic is horrible and I know it. Kicking myself as, in hindsight, there are functions on my camera that I should have paid more attention to.

Live, Love, Laugh, Learn!
12/04/2012 05:16:05 PM · #23
ha - good question. Not really sure that I push myself hard enough. I guess if I did my pictures would look better. Although, I don't have to push myself too hard since people around me all know that I got a new camera. I don't take good pictures, my camera does :)

I will say tho that I have probably focused most on improving my sports shots. I used to worry about being in other people's way when shooting, now not so much. Plus I am a follower of ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' MattO on FB and look at what he does since he usually has some pretty amazing shots. And I love looking at ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/user_id/3102.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/user_id/3102.gif', '/') + 1) . ' AlanFreed's work too. That usually makes me aware of how far I have to go :)

Overall - not sure how to begin pushing my skills. I know I need to but not sure where to start :)
12/04/2012 06:09:57 PM · #24
(No forum clowns yet? - Looks like I'll have to step in)

I think the best way is to lean with your back flat against a wall, and try to push off with your hands.
12/04/2012 07:05:25 PM · #25
Shoot, shoot and shoot. Shoot everything, every opportunity, every angle, every day, every different condition. You'll choose what you don't want to do, then go shoot it to prove you don't have to. You'll develop a pattern, or someone will point it out, you'll develop an intuition so you just do 'it' before you realize. Look at everyone's shots, assess, superimpose your ideas, shoot it, reassess it then move on. How many film photographers have died with thousands of undeveloped film rolls and still had a momentous catalog? ps everyone else has great advice as well.

Message edited by author 2012-12-04 20:39:44.
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