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05/25/2002 02:36:00 PM · #1
Does anyone here get negative comments on photos about them being 'set up'? I am just wondering if there are that many people here who want photos to be 'impromptu' and not staged rather than spending time creating a nice still life image...

I don't normally pay much attention to these comments but I have been thinking about it quit a bit this week.

The quality of the photos that I create are much better when I set them up. I can take snapshots just like anyone else, but I can't always use them to convey the message that I would like. Certain messages don't exist freely in nature and if the do, they don't happen with the frequency required to meet a challenge within a week's time.

I don't think that impromptu photograps are a bad idea... I think lots of impromptu photos I have seen here are really great. I just don't particularly care for the negative comments about any photo being 'staged'. The fact that it is staged has nothing to do with the technical quality, composition, or overall impact of the photo... I guess it does, however, have some effect on overall impact or I wouldn't be seeing these comments, right?

:)

05/25/2002 04:17:07 PM · #2
I can't say that I've actually received any comments along that line this week, but I've been reading a lot of it in the forums and wonder what people are thinking when they look at my shot. Mine definitely looks staged, and in some respects is, but it's also very much a grab shot because I was working with a small patch of sunlight that was rapidly moving across the room.

Ultimately, I guess this is one of those personal preference things. Some people like still lifes/set shots and some prefer action. What does bug me is when someone wants to add action TO a still life. That's like telling someone who's taken a picture of a basketball player dunking a ball that they should have simply taken a picture of the ball and a pair of sneakers on a gym floor. Two different shots connoting two different aspects of the game and neither is necessarily better than the other.
05/25/2002 05:15:26 PM · #3
I have nothing against staged photos, but I think I judge them a little differently. For me, a staged shot should show a "twist" or extra-clever interpretation to score above average, or exceptional technical excellence.
A "grab shot" which fits the challenge gets extra credit for reflexes (physical and mental) and are (by me) cut a little slack on the technical side, especially since there's usually only one or two frames to choose from, not 20 or 200.
And, as noted by Patella, many shots are a combination of techniques. For my Transitions shot, I drove through a particular stretch of freeway on purpose, but I don't think a photo taken with the camera held at arm's length while driving can be called "set up" in the usual way (maybe "nuts" in the usual way). My Advertisement shot was set up in that I had the kids make the drawings and pose for about 8 frames, but the entire process took about 15 minutes. I actually had a "better" shot with a bottle of soy milk, but as is my usual style I chose to prioritize content over "style."

I got my digicam mainly to take pictures of my kid, but with 20+ years
experience in graphics (and pre-digitized photos) it was natural to "turn snapshots into photos" -- I actually feel most constrained here by the fixed aspect ratios.
I generally don't have time to set up shots for this contest, but uually have my camera with me, and try to stay "primed" for settings which might fit the current week's criteria, and shoot a couple of frames. I've felt pretty OK with my scores so far (4-5 range) and have actually gotten far more really positive and thoughtful comments than either mean or misunderstanding ones.
05/25/2002 05:52:46 PM · #4
I have gotten alot of those comments, but every one of my shots has been staged or set up in one way or another. I have heard people say that they judge them harsher and I agree with that, if a shot is staged there is no reason to have an out of focus shot, or have lighting problems. I think that I have learned alot from the other members (comments and photos) on how to properly light a photo, and I am thankful to all the people that have posted in the how do they do that section.
05/25/2002 06:16:37 PM · #5
Because I like to stir up innocent trouble...

I'm gonna pick on you, GeneralE, but it's (mostly) all in fun, K? *grin*

Somehow it doesn't seem fair to me to give the "edge" to grab shots when you're scoring. I mean, you're out some place, something happens, and you take a great picture. Sheesh, anybody can do that, right??? And I mean, it only takes a few seconds of your time -- and you were doing whatever it was anyway.

Whereas a set shot, that means specifically taking time out of your schedule -- usually lots of time -- and knowledge not only about your camera, but how to use lighting and backdrops and bounces and and and... It seems to me that we should be giving that scoring edge and acknowledgment to the people who go out to make their vision a reality -- instead of those who just stumble onto something appropriate.
05/25/2002 06:19:37 PM · #6
Well, there are a wide range of shots from......

..the ultra staged, on a table with a cloth/set-up background and studio lights....

...the semi staged (like a building, flower, landscape etc) with changing lights like natural daylight and weather making things interesting but you can manuever things a bit for the right shot..

...semi impromptu event that can be recreated over and over to a similar but not exact degree but only for a short period of time on demand or by the nature of the event like sports or a wedding....

...total impromptu, the gods must be smiling kind of shot
where every element, while individually repeatable come together like an allignment of the planets. You were hoping for something interesting to shoot but you only had you, your camera and opportunity on your side.

I like them all and each one can be a spectacular shot and demand skill, eye for the right STUFF, etc. And isn't THAT what we are talking about. A photo that has IT. That special combination of elements that speaks with clarity and demands attention AND survives the scrutiny of closer examination, getting better the more you know about the shot.
05/25/2002 09:07:47 PM · #7
I think that staged shots are great for beginners. A staged shot has these advangates:

1) you can control the light
2) you can control the exposure (in most cases)
3) you can take the photo over and over again until you get it right
4) you can try as many different variations as you want
5) you can do it in any weather (as long is it's staged inside)

There are probably more advantages but these just popped into my mind. I just feel a little frustrated knowing that staging a photo doesn't sit well with some... However, by comments that I have received, this is a small minority so it doesn't really matter...

05/25/2002 09:11:28 PM · #8
No end of silly prejudices, eh? I find it helps to rant. {g}
05/25/2002 09:15:04 PM · #9
I can't say I'm prejudiced against staged photos, because there have been some in my tens every week, and I've rated others highly. I recognise when they're good and rate them appropriately. However, not many of them make me excited the way a photo with some action or disorder or humanity in it does. As an example, in the game's challenge the photo that probably excited me the most was the one of the old guys playing dominoes under the banyan tree. I gave it 9 because it didn't seem technically good enough to sit next to my tens, but it's my favourite from that challenge just because of the expressions on those guys' faces, and the tension in their body language. Whoever took that, you rock :)
05/25/2002 09:42:38 PM · #10
I have a similar photo in my 10 rankings this week... It' far from technically excellent but it stirred much emotion... My point is that I don't detract from scores based on the image being staged or impromptu either way...


Originally posted by lisae:
I can't say I'm prejudiced against staged photos, because there have been some in my tens every week, and I've rated others highly. I recognise when they're good and rate them appropriately. However, not many of them make me excited the way a photo with some action or disorder or humanity in it does. As an example, in the game's challenge the photo that probably excited me the most was the one of the old guys playing dominoes under the banyan tree. I gave it 9 because it didn't seem technically good enough to sit next to my tens, but it's my favourite from that challenge just because of the expressions on those guys' faces, and the tension in their body language. Whoever took that, you rock :)


05/26/2002 12:28:18 AM · #11
I think that all photos should be judged individually and for what they are regardless of how it was taken. But with that said, my current photo was clearly staged and I got a few slightly negative comments about that. When I thought about what they were saying I realized some other ways that could have made the picture look more natural even while still being staged. I was so happy about pulling off the shot that I overlooked some other and better ways of executing it. Without those comments about it looking staged I would not have thought of a better way of taking the picture. For me, that's exactly what this site is all about, learning better ways to take pictures.

Tim
05/26/2002 07:23:24 AM · #12
I feel exactly the same as you Tim. My photo was staged too. Instead of getting negative comments on the fact it was staged, I got comments telling my where it lacked in creativity and I totally understand where they are coming from. I think a shot can be staged and still stir something in a person. For example, my favorite this week was a staged photo of a baseball in a baseball glove. That photo stirred up something in me and should do the same I think in anyone who loves the game. I think a well thought out staged photo that is able to bring out an emotional response can be as good as or better than the candid photo taken as the action is taking place. You have to weigh these photos on their own merits. That's my 2 cents.
05/26/2002 08:52:06 AM · #13
OK, I have to respond : )


A) Why make an artificial distinction between staged and not-staged? A cool photo is a cool photo no matter how it came about. Nowhere does it say 'downgrade pictures because they are set up.'

I would also add here that a grab shot might have just fallen into your lap and required no imagination or input on your part, whereas often it takes a very clear and creative vision to imagine a great set-up shot.

and then the gumption to get all the elements together. this might even entail going to a craft store and searching for what fits your vision, buying it, meticulously setting it up, etc.

That can be a lot of work!

B) Almost every picture that has won a challenge was 'staged' or 'set up'. Which makes me think that people are responding to the artistic quality of carefully composed images. very few of the snapshots submitted have had that transcendant quality.

just some thots. ..
05/26/2002 11:22:53 AM · #14
Originally posted by Patella:
Because I like to stir up innocent trouble...

I''m gonna pick on you, GeneralE, but it''s (mostly) all in fun, K? *grin*

Somehow it doesn''t seem fair to me to give the "edge" to grab shots when you''re scoring.


Oooohhh...I feel so picked-on (not). I don''t think I give an "edge" to one type over the other, but I think I do use slightly different criteria, as I might apply different standards to two statues, one carved in wood and one cast in bronze.

I mean, you''re out some place, something happens, and you take a great picture. Sheesh, anybody can do that, right???

Are the streets of your town littered with discarded "great" pictures?
In the context of DPC, I don''t think it''s so easy -- you still have to think about the challenge topic, and find something in the environment which will be both suitable and (hopefully) interesting. This can involve luck and timing, but also requires anticipation and pre-planning. In this sense, I think almost all the photos we see here are "staged," just not necessarily static.

I think the only "grab" shots which wouldn''t be like this are when something previously unnoticed becomes apparent AFTER the photo is shot (e.g., the film Blow-up) and itself becomes the main subject.

* This message has been edited by the author on 5/26/2002 11:24:54 AM.
05/26/2002 11:30:17 AM · #15
I do not think any style is better than the other in any way, shape or form.

Grab shots demand technical control and creativity as much as any set-up shot with the added element of the "get one shot at this" kind of pressure.

Set-up shots demand technical and creative skills but because of the extra control given to the photographer the set-up photo demands the photographer to take the creativity and tech skill up a level.

I don't argue that grab shots are sometimes luck but you better be damn good with a camera if you are gonna make the most of that 1 second of opportunity and break free of the snapshot.

Set-ups demand people to break free of the stiff and lifeless quality many set-ups have.

The trick is a good photographer is able to do all types of photos and bring his style to them.:-)
05/27/2002 12:15:31 AM · #16
Originally posted by jmsetzler:
[i]Does anyone here get negative comments on photos about them being ''set up''? I am just wondering if there are that many people here who want photos to be ''impromptu'' and not staged rather than spending time creating a nice still life image...
****************************************
After correcting her spelling, she says:

I''m new here.
I believe set up shots are an essential part of photography. For example: How do you get an impromptu still life? That''s how food and other commercial photographers serve their clients.
Say I''m out in the woods and I see a great macro shot. The only thing is these pine needles are getting in the way. So I clear them off. Maybe mist the subject with a little water. Maybe I add a pebble to emphasize proportion. This is technically a set-up shot.
I''m sure there was a lot of debate at one time over whether a professional would use gels.
And there sure was a debate just a few years back over whether digital would ever be an accepted medium for the art.
How about manipulated photos? I remember them being dismissed as junk art from wannabes.
My point: Photography is an evolving art. There will always be preferences for one thing or another.

* This message has been edited by the author on 5/27/2002 12:19:52 AM.
05/27/2002 06:27:19 AM · #17
We all know there are going to be setup shots, however when they look setup, it is a distraction. Obviously, a portrait and an advertising shot are setup, however, if I tried to setup a baseball shot with a piece of fishing line holding the baseball and had the batter pose, I think I would deserve a one.
Coming from a newspaper background, I still think there has to be some "moment" type photography. Even with someone like Ansel Adams, he waited for days for the right moment to occur. I could say several moments that were captured on film and you would know them, but not many occur with setup or studio type works.
If studio shots are easier for you, then I suggest you try to avoid them. Go with what is more difficult. Challenge yourself. Learn something different. Walk around and look at life as a series of photos and think about angles and composition. Be different.
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