An Unusual question fro all of you - part II??

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by stevewillard, Dec 12, 2001.

  1. Before you read this you should read the question I posted on
    December 12 titled “ An Unusual question for you”.

    <p>

    The reason why I love this website is because of the
    experiences, commentary, and knowledge that people bring to
    these pages. It is rich and invaluable. Thank you.

    <p>

    However I think some of you may be off topic. My questions are
    not why I carry 160 lbs of gear or why it is so heavy, but rather
    how can I be more productive and creative in the field. There
    are very few, if any books that speak to this topic, yet this is really
    what photography is all about. The equipment is secondary for
    once you have it then you must do something with it and that is
    very hard.

    <p>

    I believe that imposing a goal of 1-6 exhibition quality images per
    day is absolutely essential for you to grow as a photographer. It
    forces you to start to think about how can I obtain such a goal.
    All of a sudden one image per week is no longer acceptable and
    now you are forced to move outside of your comfort zone. Your
    mind becomes filled with frustration and self drought. After
    many failures you will start to ask the question am I really an
    artist or just a fool running around with expensive gear. You are
    now in a crisis. Only then do you really start to innovate and truly
    create, if you survive.

    <p>

    Let me drive this point home by introducing you to another side
    of myself. I am also a wedding photographer. Four years ago I
    changed my whole approach and offered four packages starting
    at 300, 500, 700, and 900 excellent photographs. Excellence
    here means not only excellent images, but also excellence in
    coverage. The next thing I did was to tell my clients that they
    could keep half the fee until after inspecting the final product. If
    they did like it then they do not have to pay. This kind of sounds
    like 1-6 exhibition images per day, but it is even worse because
    brides have unrealistic expectations. When I first instituted this
    changes I can assure you my income went into a noses dive.
    This year I have exceed all my expectations and booked 62
    weddings and will shoot over 24,000 frames of film. So far I
    have had no unhappy brides and I have received over $1600 in
    tips. Four years ago I was an introvert. Today I have become a
    extravert and I love pouring film over humanity. Yet, each time I
    shoot a wedding I still sweat bullets which forces me to learn
    and grow as a wedding photographer. If I fail to grow then I can
    assure you I will not get paid.

    <p>

    So let me repeat my question. What methods and techniques
    do you employ to insure success? To increase your
    productivity? Do you have any untested ideas that you would like
    to share with us. Here are just a few of the many things I have
    done to move closer to my goal of 1-6 exhibition images per day.

    <p>

    1. I now use a llama. A llama lets me get lots of gear into
    wild-prestine remote areas. Hershey allows me to set up a
    comfortable camp, carry 10 lens, a polaroid system, a big tripod,
    and many other things. All of this adds up to a very versatile
    system. Once we start to shoot film, Hershey carries everything
    (about 50 lbs) and I stay fresh, energized, and very productive.

    <p>

    2. I use color neg film. I then print it on Fuji super gloss crystal
    archive papers to get cibrachrome colors. Most people think I
    use chromes because of my colors. The reason I use negs is
    because I can record up to 11 stops of total light and 8-9 stops of
    dynamic light. This allows me to shoot later in the morning and
    earlier in the evening. I can shoot rings around people who use
    chromes, 4 stops does not cut it. I can also do contracted
    development with my negs: n-1, n-2, n-3, and n-4 just like you do
    with b&w film. In fact, I contend that I can take on higher
    contrast scenes then those who use b&w film with my color
    negs. This has made me extremely productive.
     
  2. Personally, I have learned a great deal from Galen Rowell's books.
    Instead of talking about the techno-babble regarding equipment, he
    focuses on translating human experiences into photographic images.
    His most recent book, "The Inner Game of Outdoor Photography", is a
    compilation of various articles he has written over the years.

    <p>

    Even though he shoots with different tools than I, he describes the
    process of capturing emotional images, not the mechanics.

    <p>

    I recently took a 3-day workshop in the Eastern Sierra Nevada with
    him and 12 other students, and most people were asking the same
    old 'what aperture would you take this image with' and 'what film do
    you like to use'. Productive questions for some, but the reason he
    has been successful as a photographer has more to do with searching
    out and anticipating great photos. Keep in mind, most of his best
    photos were taken with a manual-focus Nikon from the 70's, and an
    older manual focus 24mm lens. Not exactly an equipment snob.

    <p>

    I don't want to come across as being a commercial for Galen Rowell.
    I find faults in most artists, including his work. However, I am
    intrigued by the process by which he seeks out his images.

    <p>

    Hope this helps.

    <p>

    Andy
     
  3. As long as you equate numbers with quality you will be easily
    satisfied with average 'pretty picture' images.
    Look at the work of Ernst Haas, David Muench, Paul Caponigro and
    Edward Weston. Seeking only excellence in results, not numbers, will
    get you out of the rut you seem to be in and pushing for good images.
     
  4. Are you really looking or asking for answers, or are you
    challenging anyone who cares to respond to point out the rightness or
    wrongness of your current mindset?

    <p>

    The beginning of your thread asks 'how can I be more productive?'
    and your last sentence suggests that you are extremely productive? If
    you think you've been productive because of your personal style and
    mindset then it's essentially case closed, because nobody can be you
    better than you can. Nobody could or should shoot like you except you
    if the way you shoot works for you, notwithstanding what can be
    learned from you or any of us from example and/or inspiration and so
    forth.

    <p>

    There are many ways to be productive, some I think are going to
    wear you out quicker than others, and maybe the day will come when you
    will want to 'mellow out' your style a bit.

    <p>

    Change, flexibility, inspiration, doing things differently,
    getting a masterpiece as a result of and/or making a mistake, in other
    words growth, are the keys for me, not quantity or quotas(I say that
    with absolutely no disrespect to your position).

    <p>

    'I believe that imposing a goal of 1-6 exhibition quality images
    per day is absolutely essential for you to grow as a
    photographer'...........If this is a reflection of you true beliefs,
    then maybe thinking this does in fact help you to grow, but only
    you'll be able to know if it does.

    <p>

    Growth for me as a photographer takes place when I'm not
    shooting. Growth for me occurs for me while I'm looking at what I've
    shot and how I shot it. Sometimes this process is drawn out,
    sometimes I'll be driving down the street thinking about anything but
    photogaphy , and an inspiration will hit me!

    <p>

    Sometimes I'll be sitting at the beach with my wife and kids and
    I'll 'realize' something that I'll want to try later. I'm racing
    around the beach begging anyone with 'earshot' for a pencil and a
    piece of paper so I can sketch out my newfound 'idea', and when this
    happens, my wife thinks that I've gone crazy.

    <p>

    Growth takes place for me while I am setting up a shot, and I'm
    thinking about how it looks, but at the moment of taking a shot, the
    thinking is over, and all I care about is executing. Its not in me to
    think about things when I'm shooting, and whether it's right or wrong,
    that's me.

    <p>

    Expecting one to six exhibition quality images per day is a hell
    of a Gorilla to hoist up on your own back! I can't help but think
    that the day will come when you'll get tired of carrying that Gorilla
    around, and eventually, the time might come when you will indeed want
    to put him down, which will probably be a part of your growth process
    to help you achieve what you want.
     
  5. You grow as a Photographer on the days you don't shoot and on the
    days you don't come up with good shots, and even though you might have
    had a day that stinks, think of it as the fertilizer that makes your
    grass grow.
     
  6. You sure that's a llama your using, and not a weasel?
     
  7. My brothers and sisters in large format photography:

    <p>

    I came to photography back in the 1960s when my mother gave me an old
    beat-up Kodak Brownie box camera. After we moved up to a Nikkormat,
    we spent the next 30 years essentially documenting a growing family,
    travels, and sundry special events. These were snapshots, where the
    subject was the thing, and there was little or no attention to any
    artistic or other esthetic quality. We still regard handheld 35mm
    photography as a wonderful way to share experiences with others, to
    preserve a record of things that would otherwise be entirely
    forgotten, to (re)create an acceptable past, to make possible a
    visual review of our lives in images.

    <p>

    Last year, we took up large format with the acquisition of an 8x10
    field camera with related gear. We shoot b/w only, in response to
    largely esthetic considerations. Entering LF photography, at least
    on my part, was the end result of long-simmering unfulfilled
    aspirations rooted in autobiographical details which are beside the
    point here. What is to the point is the difference I perceive
    between my ongoing 35mm snapshooting and the use of the field
    camera. The two work in synch, but with entirely different purposes.

    <p>

    Through large format, I try to express some very deep-seated life-
    long esthetics and mental images that I carry with me everywhere. A
    decade ago in a frenzied burst of enthusiasm I grabbed some of my
    preschool daughter's colored craft paper and within a quarter hour
    had pasted together a likeness of perhaps my most persistent image:
    approaching the Sierra Nevada range by road from the San Joaquin
    Valley--my childhood mental rendition of John Muir's account of the
    view eastwards from Pacheco Pass a century before. I framed it and
    it's still hanging in my living room ("When I Paint My Masterpiece",
    I always explain). But I still have other images I want to express:
    some childish, some erotic (the curve of a woman's body), some
    heroic, some monumental, but basically abstractions in search of a
    specific visual embodiment. All, I suspect, are rooted in some
    autobiographical ego-related space-and-time circumstances, but I'm
    far less concerned with those circumstances than with my desire to
    find expression for them in my black and white large format images.

    <p>

    When we take the rig out, we're not looking for Kodak moments,
    although I'm not ashamed to admit that those boyhood visits to Best's
    Studio in the Valley have in not a few cases substituted photographic
    icons for reality--icons I'd like to try to recreate myself in my own
    personal way. Essentially, what we're about is to capture on film
    the essence of almost archetypal notions. We (me, my wife, and a
    child or two) work hard on technique, on the craft in all its
    aspects, but all in the service of the larger personal project "from
    within." No quota of images, exhibition quality or otherwise, other
    than to continue until I/we have satisfied these inner
    emotional/esthetic longings.

    <p>

    All the best,
    Nick.
     
  8. Dear Stephen,
    my heart rate is increasing just thinking of all the stress you are
    imposing upon yourself. Does this stress show in the pictures?

    I work as a professional photographer, and - like you - I have certain
    commercial demands and motivations (i.e. my mortgage payments depend
    on a consistent turnaround of quality of work in very short time
    spaces).

    <p>

    However, when I make pictures in the landscape, the motivation behind
    the work is altogether different. My motivation here is to MAKE
    pictures (not TAKE them), pictures that I can live with, that feel
    they have been made with a clarity of mind not possible in the
    commercial world, whether I make them half way up a mountain (usually
    not), or somewhere close to home (most often).

    <p>

    Most of us have limited time to make these kinds of pictures, and so
    there is an inevitable pressure to 'perform'. However, I find that
    when I have forgotten those anxieties, the picture-making process
    begins to work faster.

    <p>

    At the same time as arguing for the necessity of a calm, clear-minded
    approach as I have, for some artists this anxiety may actually help to
    generate a flavour in the work that the pictures need. Signs of
    urgency, or agitation. For some this may be an equally necessary part
    of the process, reflected in the images.

    <p>

    At the end of the day, it sounds as though you are making plenty of
    pictures. The question you maybe should be asking, more importantly,
    is whether they reflect your artistic motivations, or are they a
    series of practical excercises in coping with everything thrown at you
    and making something come what may?

    <p>

    If you are making six great pictures every day, then congratulations!
    I think Ansel Adams said to Imogen Cunningham that he probably made
    one or two great pictures a year (or something like that), to which
    she replied "one a lifetime".......

    <p>

    Best w
     
  9. I think you make a mistake setting your goal based on a target number
    of great photographs a day. It's good to have goals, but you'd be
    better served if you made your goal simply to *be* there as often as
    possible and to look and see and imagine the possibilities are before
    you.

    <p>

    Photography is very much a Zen-like experience--the harder you aim,
    the more likely the arrow will go astray. You cannot force the arrow
    to the target; you focus your energy on the target and *let* the
    arrow find its way.

    <p>

    You must dismiss numerical production goals. That's good for
    manufacturing, but not creating. Numbers of photographs mean
    nothing. Some days we are on, some days we aren't. The important
    thing is to free your mind and allow yourself to focus, to experience
    the world around you, and to see without excessive mental burden. A
    relaxed mind, clear yet focussed on your environment, should be your
    goal. If you do that, you will not have to concern yourself with
    production numbers. If you build a place for images to grow, they
    will come.
     
  10. Don't tell anyone you use colour print film that our little secret.
    Everybody thinks you need to print slides but of course our prints
    prove people wrong. It is bad to be a factory but a production goal
    is important. Yes we have to go with the flow but we can't get
    anywhere without a goal. I never expect to make that special image
    everyday however I need to make a lot of images to find that special
    one. I try to enjoy life and when I can't take a picture I will just
    enjoy the moment. However we are photographers and photographing our
    lives is what we need to do. This discussion is really good because
    this forum is technical and we don't talk about what we actually make
    with our great cameras. I am doing a school documentary project of my
    photography program at Ryerson University in Toronto. I can't believe
    you use a IIama. So does the animal live with you or do you just
    rent? What film do you use to get massive N- development? Portra?
    Please e-mail me offline.
     
  11. I find that traveling light and being responsive to local conditions
    works best overall.
    For example, if I am working in the desert and a thunderstorm rolls
    over a mesa in the distance, I know that I can go there and shoot
    water pockets when the sun is low. Or if the weather reports say snow
    in the high country – a quick trip.

    <p>


    This is a strategy, of course, for one who has very limited time……
    Nothing can beat living in the area full time for quality of
    production, if not quantity.
     
  12. I don't see why so many are fixated on the llama. My recollection is
    that St. Ansel commonly used a burro, even indicating that how much
    equipment he brought depended on how much the burro could carry.
    Heck, Ed Weston didn't like getting 50 feet from his car. So what?
    It appears to me that the questioner is focussed on eliminating a lot
    of variables that ordinarily interfere with the act and process of
    shooting. He seems to be doing that. He obviously has all the
    technical tools. Maybe Stephen is asking the how to move between the
    chaos of wedding photography to the relative calm of nature
    photography. As to his goals, different things drive people
    differently in the creation of their art, their vision, their
    message, their whatever. However, I think that ultimately, as others
    have said previously, that most of the battle is just showing up.
    You're there -- enjoy it and enjoy the results whether the photos are
    exhibition quality or not.
     
  13. Jonathan hit the nail on the head. If you can already knock out this
    many keepers in a day and truly close the gap between quantity
    and "real" quality, buildings will be constructed in your name in the
    future to house all of these masterpieces for many generations to
    see. For some reason, I do not think that this is the case. How can
    we take you seriously that you want to kick it up a knotch. When I
    first read your first post, I thought you were pulling our leg. Now I
    realize that you are serious. In any event, in the extended period
    that I have been monitoring this forum, yours is the first to even
    suggest such a paradox. I run across the llama brigade in the
    Colorado high country on occasion and it seems to me that the likes
    of you are on a mission to a higher calling. Stop and talk? Just sit
    down and marvel at what is transpiring in front of you? Hell no, we
    are on a mission! I just steer clear any more and let you do your
    thing. Photography for me is not a destination, it is a marvelous
    journey not defined by the parameters we use to describe success in
    our daily lives. How many frames you shoot in weddings has no
    material bearing into the "esthetics" of photography. The bottom line
    is that very people could assist you in your question that I have
    ever interacted with. You are in another orbit and I wish you the
    best of luck. Can you say burnout?
     
  14. So you are an obsessive compulsive who feels you must be productive
    every minute or you are moving dangerously backwards. You are on an
    accelerating treadmill with only brief glances of satisfaction.

    <p>

    It sounds like your system makes you both productive and very
    successful - so there isn't really a problem. I suspect the roots of
    your dilemma are not in photography at all.
     
  15. Michael,

    <p>

    These are only goals and in most cases are not a measure of what
    actually happens. By having goals it forces me to grow and innovate.
    That is all. No goals no growth!

    <p>

    For the record, Hirshey and I are a real team, and we have lots of
    fun on our journies where ever that may lead us.

    <p>

    Perhaps you could tell us about a typical day in the field for you.
    Outline what you do. Maybe in between the lines there is a small bit
    of information that no one except you has thought of. Something
    innovative that the rest of can benefit from. For example, I attach
    a 10" cable release to everone of my lens because this saves me time.

    <p>

    Remember, this is a small commutity and we are all in this together,
    so lets challenge each other and share what little we have to
    offer.

    <p>

    Thanks
     
  16. We all are into photography at different levels and for different
    reason. It sounds like you need to relax and maybe enjoy what you are
    doing a little more. I love it when I have a very productive day.
    Some days it just doesn't happen. If you feel the need to meet
    production quotas, get a factory job somewhere. You will never get
    enough numbers to please them and you will have plenty of the stress
    you seem to need in your life. (Just kidding).The number of
    photographs I'm going to make is the last thing on my mind. I get
    totally into the subject at hand and then move on to something else,
    and hopefully another subject will inspire me to make another
    photograph. When I shoot 35mm, I pretty much take the same approach,
    except I usually will shoot a little more film on the subject.
     
  17. I think part of the reason that some may be distracted by the quantity
    of gear, is that some of us find excessive amounts of equipment to be
    a distraction in the field. I own a good deal of equipment, but I try
    to go out with a focused vision, with certain things that I am looking
    for, but also prepared for a few surprises. When I decide to leave
    equipment at home, I'm making aesthetic choices.

    <p>

    But that's just the way I work. I'm not trying to pay the rent with
    photography. I have a very fulfilling day job that pays the rent as
    well as providing much intellectual and aesthetic satisfaction. One
    of the reasons I set aside the idea of pursuing photography as a
    profession at a certain point was the desire to be free of commercial
    pressures and influences in this part of my life. If I can produce a
    few aesthetic objects of lasting meaning and value, that is sufficient
    for me.
     
  18. Here's what I do to be more "productive" with a view camera. I shoot
    roll film.

    <p>

    If you get a small view camera and 6x7 or 6x9 RF back, you won't need
    a llama, the weasel would work just fine.
     
  19. all the other stuff aside I recommend Robert Adams, Why People
    Photograph. Mainly the first few chapters. It's good soul food.

    <p>

    happy holidays
    ec
     
  20. Here is one of my techniques that you may find unacceptable. When I
    am going into a new area that I am relatively unfamiliar with, the
    only optical equipment I bring with me is my Linhof finder for my
    format (4x5/8x10 or 5x7)and my binoculars for spotting bears, sheep,
    eagles and elk. I cover terrain to look for composition without any
    photography equipment specifically because I do not want to be
    tempted to make a photograph and spoil the "understanding" of the
    area in its entirety that will let me feel where the best places
    within its boundary are to make photographs. I can cover a larger
    area and when I return, it is like visiting an old friend - we have
    commonalities. In the past I found that I was moved to make a
    photograph only to find that 100 yards further, was a much better
    position. It is still a lot of hard work, but it is without the 60#
    pack.
     
  21. Stephen, in the field there is no way to “insure success”.
    Opportunity comes from simply holding ones’ feet to the fire -
    getting up at 4am for sunrises, getting out in windy and inclement
    weather, taking the time to really see the compositions and form the
    image you’re trying to achieve. There is no substitute for time spent
    in the field. But opportunity alone cannot ensure satisfying images.

    <p>

    You need to enjoy both the process and the results, otherwise you’ll
    not spend the time. You really need to have some kind of internal
    motivation or drive to do photograph. You seem to be approaching this
    from a “production” perspective, perhaps a conditioning brought on by
    your wedding photography - where results are everything.

    <p>

    I guess what I’m trying to say is enjoy the process and the results
    will come. Give the llama a weekend off, reduce your gear to backpack
    size, and go for a days’ hiking - relax and see what’s around you.
    You could be making this more difficult than it should be. I wish you
    luck.
     
  22. I'm new at this board, I asked a question earlier about the MXT
    enlarger, and thanks to everyone for their ideas and suggestions.

    <p>

    I guess I will add my ideas about productivity and creativity. I'm
    probably a beginner in photography when compared to some others on
    this board, started in 1991, using a 35mm Yashica range finder camera
    that my parents bought for me at a garage sale. I used it for two
    years, wandering around the streets of Chicago with it bouncing on my
    belly. I guess it was more like shooting from the hip, because even
    though I looked through the rangefinder, I discovered it focused on
    one thing, and the lens another, so the negatives were always a
    surprise to me, at least until my brain figured out that I had to move
    the finder about two inches to the left of what I wanted to photograph
    - scary process, because I started getting it right. I saved money for
    a year and during that time thought about what camera I was going to
    buy. I decided on a Hasselblad (whoops, I know this is a large format
    discussion, but one day I will buy one), so far it is all I use, but
    hopefully soon I will move into 4X5. I try to go out everyday with the
    camera, sometimes I don't though, things come up, but if I am diligent
    and carry it around good things sometimes happen. I notice better
    things happen when no people or cars are around, so I like to go out
    at 3am when most people are dreaming, then strange things occur, I see
    rabbits and fog and twisting maple tree shadows. I start to have a
    rapport with the things around me, then I have the desire to make a
    photograph of what I am seeing. I don't photograph people much because
    they seem to complain when I pull the camera out and point it at them
    when they are telling me about what they bought at Walmart, but trees
    and empty roads are always cooperative with my efforts. Sometimes I
    walk around and never make a photograph, because the desire never
    arises in me to make one, but other days I come back with 40 exposures
    and think - "damn, I can't wait to develop this stuff". I have never
    done photography as a job, because I probably would never want to see
    a camera outside the work environment. I try to use the camera to
    learn about the world that I find myself sinking in. Using it thus, I
    rarely go out with any set ideas about what I want to make - I don't
    want to make pictures of things that that are already known to me. I
    want to see things on the film that startle me - even though I am the
    one who presses the shutter, the image should remain difficult to
    recognize.
     
  23. I haven't even read but the 1st three answers but I have to get to
    work so I'll save it for a treat later.

    <p>

    You are a person that thrives under pressures that would crush most
    others:

    <p>

    5-6 isn't enough! That's laziness and sloth for you. You need to
    change that requirement to at least 24. OK 24 to start with and 50
    tops. Then you need to take more gear so you can duplicate all your
    camera backs with Black and White film. (Poor Hershey)

    <p>

    Plan your trips around a full moon so that you can work at least 6
    24hour days while you're there.

    <p>

    Treeline in the rockies isn't hard enough for you. You need to come
    out here to central Nevada where I live to add some difficulty.

    <p>

    Finally, you need to hire a large vicious person with a bull whip that
    will inflict real pain if you start to slack off. Let me know when
    you're coming so I can get you on my calender.

    <p>

    Jim Galli
     
  24. Michael,

    <p>

    Most excellent. I have just purchased the same finder last year and
    it is turning out to be a very powerfull tool for quickley weeding
    out junk. I suspect that this finder will have a significant impact
    on my yeilds. This summer I did go to a place that turned to be
    worthless. If I had done a scouting trip as you suggested I would
    have saved myself a lot of time and money.

    <p>

    Thanks
     
  25. Stephen, I'm not sure where you get your idea that you should, or can,
    take 1-6 exhibition quality images per day. Without getting into the
    definition of "exhibition quality" (which arouses my suspicions right
    off the bat), if you can accomplish this, you'd be the first
    photographer ever to do it. Ansel Adams said he was happy if me made
    one good photograph per month. If you read Edward Weston's daybooks,
    he photographed almost continuously for 25 years and the total of his
    life's work is about 100 images. Look at the work of any great
    photographer, or other artist for that matter, and you will see a
    similar pattern-- a challenging goal for a full-time artist would be
    10 new pieces per year. For a part-timer, one or two really strong
    images per year would be a happy result. My personal production
    follows this pretty closely-- I've been photographing for 10 years and
    my work to date is about 120 images (which you can see at
    www.chrisjordanphoto.com if you are interested). I recently spent ten
    days in the canyons of the desert southwest, and took a photograph
    only on the ninth day. I exposed two sheets of film (both the same
    image at different exposures), and got one of the best photos I've
    ever taken. That, for me, was an extremely successful trip.

    <p>

    My belief is that if you are out there pushing yourself to take 1-6
    killers per DAY, then the intellectual side of your mind will be so
    filled with pressure and stress and dreams and fantasies about shows
    and galleries and success, that the intuitive side of your mind will
    never get a chance to take over the controls and see the really
    magical scenes that you encounter, and so you will walk right by the
    real killers that would stop a focussed artist in their tracks.

    <p>

    My recommendation would be to try to forget about artistic goals, and
    learn to enjoy and love the process of making art. Set an impossibly
    high standard for yourself that applies to every image you make, and
    then meet that standard by looking really deeply wherever you go and
    not taking a photograph until you see real honest magic in front of
    your lens. And then, adopt a brutally harsh throw-out standard for
    when you get the film back from the lab. In five years, if you have
    50 "keepers" then you can consider yourself an asskicker.

    <p>

    It might help you also to try to define what that magic is that
    you're looking for, through some form of spiritual study as well as a
    comprehensive study of photographic history. Spending a few years
    studying the history of painting wouldn't hurt either. Without these
    ingredients, you're inevitably destined to simply take a bunch of
    pictures that you "recognize" as being good because you've seen them
    in calendars. In other words, to break out of the formula, you have
    to go deep into yourself and your medium.

    <p>

    The goals will happen by themselves, if you really care about what
    you're doing, and do it sincerely.

    <p>

    Best of luck,

    <p>

    ~chris jordan (Seattle)

    <p>

    www.chrisjordanphoto.com
     
  26. Jim....If he doesn't come your way, then you need to fed-ex the
    whip to Hershey. Hershey, if you've got a laptop in that pack, and
    Stephen gives you some time off, contact us and let us know the 'real
    deal'.
     
  27. Didn't Ansel Adams say he was happy with his output if he made one
    image a year that really mattered?
     
  28. Stephen....with all joking aside, please e-mail me a j-peg of
    Hershey if at all possible, it would be appreciated.
     
  29. Stephen,
    At first I thought that your question was interesting, but now I'm not
    so sure. Harry Callahan was an engaged photographer for his whole adult
    life, but I don't think he ever thought in the terms that you are. I'm
    not suggesting that what you're doing is wrong, but it may be self-
    defeating. Productivity is the kind of consideration that is important
    in your commercial work. You seem to be dragging that mind-set into
    your artistic journey. I really think that if you'll let yourself be
    more at ease, without any pre-set quantitative quota, you'll be more
    able to think and see clearly. I'll overstate this slightly to make the
    point: If your goal is the realization of your self through artistic
    work, then it's what you do not yet know that counts, not your
    preconceptions as to what constitutes an acceptable photograph. If your
    goal is to create a second photo business with your landscape
    photographs, then your daily quotas might make more sense. The real
    question (for yourself, not for this forum) is, which is it?
     
  30. - I scout a location with a small viewfinder and a palmtop full of
    software. I document the places and angles, figure out the position
    of the sun thruout the year, try to "previsualize" the scene.
    Sometimes I just sit and admire a rock from every angle for a whole
    day. Later (a day, a week, a year) I come back with just the gear I
    need for the image I want. Frequently, the small viewfinder captures
    a fleeting moment that never returns i.e.: a fish in a pond with a
    blooming lilly is one of my personal best shots. I have returned
    many times, but the fish has not. I have a stack of maps, pics and
    notes of places to go back to.

    <p>

    - I select one of the best shots from one of the master photogs. I
    then go to that location and try and see what it is they saw, try to
    duplicate their results with my modest skills. This gives me a
    measure of how and where my skills need improvement, and where
    my "inner vision" needs refinement. The question I try to answer,
    and which I never will, is whether I could have made the same picture
    had I never seen the masters'.

    <p>

    - I really like the idea of a llama to carry my gear, but I lack the
    back-country skills to handle a pack animal. My wife has 8 cats,
    maybe I can hitch them to a wheelbarrow.... <vbg>

    <p>

    - I am yet to create a picture in the same league as the masters.
    OTOH, in the rockies above the treeline, that close to God, I can
    imagine that all pictures would be great.
     
  31. Stephen,
    your entry and the many contributions clearly show once again
    that there are all sorts of people in photography, I am afraid that I
    belong to a different tribe than yours. You concentrate on
    "results" and amounts of "perfect" shots seem to play a large
    role in your approach to your craft.
    Numbers matter in a commercial enterprise and I am sure that
    you are very good at doig what you do, in art, numbers matter a
    great deal less than what you seem to think, art is the product of
    a fine spirit fed on long conversation to your good friends, good
    films, good books, visits to museums.
    Some people are then possessed by the holy fire and go and
    sweat and produce a lot, some produce a great deal less.
    No one of these two methods is any better than the other.
    Practice is a good school but cannot give somebody talent,
    some choose to frantically work, some don't.
    There is no point in doing something different from your nature.
    By nature I am a less active person than you seem to be, I don't
    blame you and don't espect you to blame me. We are different,
    we make different photographs, and there is no telling from our
    characters if any of us, one day would create an unforgettable
    masterpiece.
    I hope you will, in any case, take it easy and enjoy the ride!
    Good luck! (even though you might not believe in it!)
     
  32. Stephen, how old are you? <p>
    Could this feeling of what seems like self doubt, simply be a touch
    of the "middle-aged crazies"? Do you ever entertain thoughts of
    trading Hershey in on a red sportscar? Do you constantly examine the
    financial success of others your age, and compare it to yourself? Are
    you thinking about trading the wife in for woman 20 years younger? <p>
    From reading the 2 questions you posted, it seems to me that you are
    approaching your photography with a great deal of energy and thought.
    Producing museum quality photographs is not something you can
    schedule, or practice, or explain...
     
  33. Mr. Willard,
    I am astonished by the progress of your contribution to the forum.
    Many genuine image makers and thinkers have responded with some
    genorosity to your question. And yet - and this is what amazes me -
    the only answer you have deemed worthy of response in return, is one
    regarding the grand virtues of a viewfinder!

    <p>

    Which planet are you from that you boldly ignore the broadly mutual
    sentiment that picture-making is not about the equipment?

    Stop. Take a deep breath, and answer these questions honestly, please:
    Is all of this 'stuff' really improving your work? What elements of
    your work genuinely fulfill your needs as a picture maker? What things
    do you feel are missing from your work?

    <p>

    Surely the one thing you are not lacking is quantity. I feel you need
    to ask yourself deeper questions about why you make pictures.

    <p>

    Sorry if this sounds harsh. I just cannot comprehend the level of
    obsessive behaviour which forces you to go and buy a seperate 10 inch
    cable release for each lens, pre-attached for speed.

    <p>

    Please calm down, you are making me tense!

    <p>

    Maybe your joking though.......that would be funny..
     
  34. Stephan.....One of the most 'feel good' and 'battery recharging'
    moments I've ever had was running around the house 'shooting/catching'
    images of my wife and kids with my sons SX-70 and time zero film.

    <p>

    The best one of these I caught as my wife, son, and daughter
    sprang out of the closet, with all three made up with my wifes
    gree/quacamole/mudpack in the morning in their pajamas.

    <p>

    Sentimentality aside the shot is carefree and uplifting, and more
    importantly the shot stirs something in me in that it has a quality I
    want to add to a few Portraits that I do with my gear.

    <p>

    The point I'm trying to make, is that you can snatch from any
    part of your lifes experience, any number of little
    vignettes/inspirations, the creativity/Artistry that you would
    mold/weld together to use for your craft.

    <p>

    Living your life with fun/Panache, a sense of humor, with a joy
    for it all, and the ability to laught at yourself(I need practice on
    this) will serve your Art as much as anything.

    <p>

    Fooling others is mean spirited, fooling yourself is downright
    cruel. I don't mean this as a personal statement to you, I'm saying
    this to everybody including myself.
     
  35. Hi Stephen

    <p>

    I really think you are joking;-))
    But if not I would start to make your equipment lesser in wight! I for
    exampel go sometimes only with 1 lens 1 camera and 3-6 holders for a 3-
    6 ouhers walk somewhere and sometimes I did`nt even take the camera out
    of the backpack and sometimes I came back with all negs. or pos. used.
    Thad works not so good if I work for a mag and I have a deadline from
    2-3 days, but it works very well for my free work!

    <p>

    Could it be that you are to hard to yourself and to Hershey?
     
  36. Some master said (anyone know who?) that if you make ten "masterpiece"
    photographs IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE you are doing all right. The catch is
    that you don't usually know which ones will be the enduring
    masterpieces (to yourself or anyone else) until months, years, or even
    decades later.
     
  37. I just cannot comprehend the level of obsessive behaviour which forces you to go and buy a seperate 10 inch cable release for each lens, pre-attached for speed.

    Many people do this, including such well known landscape photographers as Tom Till. Obsessive? Maybe, but also very convenient. .
     
  38. So you really want to save time and make 6 masterpices a day?
    Ok, I see you got all the gear, all the advice. All that I really
    think you are missing is sitting down and think what you want to
    photograph. In my case I just moved to Mexico and I am building my
    house and darkroom. Since I am unable to use my LF cameras, I already
    scouted the are and have at least 5 or 6 pics in my mind I want to
    do, When I get the rest of my equipment it will be only a matter of
    going to the site and set up and click!
    Easy...:))
     
  39. Stephen,

    <p>

    You've asked an interesting question and for me the methods and techniques
    to produce those successful images come from within, not from the equipment
    or the technique. Creativity is the key. Having a sound knowledge of
    technique and having good quality equipment is certainly a help, but if you
    are not able to be creative then all the equipment and lastest techniques in
    world will only produce mediocre images at best.

    <p>

    To be "productive" you must first love your subject with a passion and have
    the ability to express that through images that will provoke strong emotions
    in yourself and in others too. Turning your photography into a numbers game
    is, in my opinon, non-productive. After all, it's not about how many images we
    produce, it's about how many unforgettable images we produce.

    <p>

    So to answer your first question, I would say that "the art of seeing" and
    "the art of creativity" are the techniques and methods I employ the most.

    <p>

    And I think the text below best sums up my thoughts to your second
    question:

    <p>

    " I have always liked landscape photographers, people who make their living
    from vistas of nature, whose hands are familiar with the feel of the camera,
    whose eyes are trained to distinguish the different varieties of the land, who
    have a form memory.

    <p>

    Their brains are not forever dealing with vague abstractions; they are
    satisfied with the romance which the seasons bring with them, and have the
    patience and fortitude to gamble their lives and fortunes in an industry which
    requires infinite patience, which raises hopes with each new image and too
    often dashes them to pieces with each change of the light.

    <p>

    They are always conscious of sun and wind and rain; must always be alert
    lest they lose the chance of seeing at the right moment, shooting at the right
    time, circumventing the vagaries of nature by quick decision and prompt
    action.

    <p>

    They are manufacturers of a high order, whose business requires not only
    intelligence of a practical character, but necessitates an instinct for beauty
    which is different from that required by the city dweller always within sight of
    other people and the sound of their voices. The successful landscape
    photographer spends much time alone among his rocks, his trees, his nature,
    away from the constant chatter of human beings."

    <p>

    Peter Habens-Brown 1953 -

    <p>

    Photographer & Explorer
     
  40. Stephen,

    <p>

    I must say that I have read this post and your previous with much
    interest. I am not going to tell you the kind of LF photographer I
    am, nor will I try to evaluate why you do what you do. You asked a
    simple technical question in looking for ways to improve your
    productivity.(this is important to you)

    <p>

    What I will say is that I am totally amazed at the many replies that
    need to judge/evaluate your reasons while still not contributing any
    answers to your original question.

    <p>

    I am able to offer only the simplest of answers and that is be
    prepared with your knowledge of the terrain as well as the expected
    weather. This may help to maximize your chances of shooting some
    wonderful shots when the opportunities present themselves.

    <p>

    Great ability develops and reveals itself increasingly with every
    new assignment. Baltasar Gracian

    <p>

    Regards
     
  41. "I believe that imposing a goal of 1-6 exhibition quality images per
    day is absolutely essential for you to grow as a photographer."

    <p>

    This is just my opinion, but I believe that in order to "grow" as
    anything, it is essential that you sometimes fail at your attempts. It
    is from examining those failures that you can really learn something.
    If you are looking for a "formula" for producing exhibition quality
    work, your work will probably take on the appearance of such....formula
    art! I think an important thing to do is to frequently look at a lot of
    great photographs made by others. Actual photographs, not just ones in
    monographs. It's a bit like playing tennis with someone who's better
    than you... your efforts to keep up will help you to improve.

    <p>

    Here's some questions for you. Do you sell your landscape photographs?
    How many? How frequently? Through galleries? Is the demand for your
    work so great that you need to come up with new images at such a fast
    rate just to keep up with that demand? Do you bring Hershey with you
    on wedding jobs? If so, does he wear a tuxedo?
     
  42. Steve,

    <p>

    I am not so much as an equipment junkie as a solution junkie. I like
    to mix things up to keep me on the edge. A change in venue or
    formats. Shoot medium format for awhile in a particular location. I
    go along the San Mateo coast in california. Now dump the medium
    format & start dragging along the 4x5 & suddenly you have to think
    very differently.

    <p>

    Jim Brandenburg published a book recently where he traveled in the
    northern woods for a specific time & allowed himself one meaningful
    image per day.

    <p>

    I turn that around a bit & pick an area ~ say a local park & make
    your goal to produce a single photograph that will capture the
    essence of that park. Do you start at the North or South entrance?
    What season? Start walking around without a camera on a regular
    basis...

    <p>

    You get the idea.

    <p>

    The goal is to have fun & once you do that, the quality of your work
    follows.

    <p>

    ~Ted
     
  43. Get on Ebay and buy every Grafmatic back you can find.
     
  44. Many people are way too busy/active !Thats cool but there is another
    way too...Try moving very slowly...taichi style without a camera
    while in the forest or while doing regular activities around the
    house.Real....real...real....SLOW.The unknown/universe might open up
    to you and then perhaps to photograph...If you reach the
    STATE...but you may not need to at that point!Most people are
    overactive to avoid something they dont want to encounter inside
    themselves. The other way is to do something with extraordinary
    speed and risk outside of the comfort zone. This can lead to the
    STATE but through another door if the first one dosnt work or
    becomes stagnent.Its all really about you...not some stupid
    exibition or anything else your mind can decieve you with.
     
  45. Stephen,
    When out in the field taking landscape photogrpahs I carry my 35mm
    camera with several lenses as well as my 8x10. Upon seeing an
    enticing composition I first pull out my 35mm with a lens combination
    that closely matches what I forsee using with the LF camera and
    lens. What I then do is walk around looking through the 35mm to get
    a better sense of where to first place my tripod and LF camera and to
    see if the composition will work. It saves me some time in moving my
    big heavy LF camera around on tripod from spot to spot until I find
    the right vantage point. This doesn't always work but seems to help
    me. Another thought is to become very familiar and proficient at
    setting up your camera. It may be the difference between catching or
    missing a scene in which the lighting is quickly changing or fading.
    I've missed a few at being too slow and clumsy with my camera. Lastly
    if you can get your hands on the publication LENSWORK issues 33 and
    34 there may be something of interest to you. In issue 33 the editor
    talked about a 100 prints project in six weeks and follows it up with
    some observations in issue 34 "The Importance of Structure". Some
    tidbits from issue 34 "I can be much more productive when I define a
    project and then set about the task of executing it. When the
    definition is missing, the execution tends to be random, unfinsihed,
    inconsistent and mostly theoretical. One of the keys to success is
    to frankly face our limitations and work within them." You can buy
    back issues on line at http://www.lenswork.com/ These ideas may
    help you be more productive, which may or may not help in getting you
    more exhibition quality prints. Best of luck.
     
  46. Lenswork is a great mag! Perhaps to be sucessful it's necessary to
    work on ones weak points as well as our strengths...but we need to
    recognize them first! This we rarely if ever do ever do for
    ourselves.We need to have an honest eye and heart...but with NO
    judgemental qualities to alter the reality of our position.Just to
    SEE...clean and clear!
     
  47. Ooops, a correction on my previous post. The article - Getting
    Serious: The One Hundred Prints Project is found in Lenwork issue 21
    not 33 according to their web site.
     
  48. One thought would be to use the shutter off of a Graflex Super D. It
    allows you to focus at full aperture and then stops down
    automatically to the taking aperture when the shutter is tripped.
    Thus saving one whole step in the exposure process. Also you could
    use UV filters instead of lens caps.

    <p>

    Also if you use Grafmatic backs, you can buy extra septums and
    instead of loading septums in the field, you can just swap out
    septums in a changing bag which would be very quick. If this doesn’t
    make sense, see the Graflex.org web site.

    <p>

    However, the king of rapid fire 4X5 has to be Peter Gowland. Get one
    of his Gowlandflex cameras (4X5 and 8X10 TLRs), and you eliminate
    several steps in the normal view camera picture taking process. You
    can leave the Grafmatic back in place, leave your shutter speed, and
    aperture set. They are a bit heavy however, so I hope your Llama
    doesn’t spit on me if we ever meet.

    <p>

    Keep in mind when everybody tells you about these great artists that
    didn’t do very much, all of the stuff that Michaelangelio did during
    his life time. Read “The Agony and the Ecstasy”. The birth of
    American Art Photography coincided pretty much with the Beat era
    so prolific output would not be expected.

    <p>

    However, I have been trying to get a satisfactory picture of a door
    with vines around it for several months, so I don’t think I can
    aspire to your 6 or 7 a day.
     
  49. I prescribe a 4x10 pinhole camera that has to be taken apart to be
    loaded, five sheets of film, and a 7 day backcountry trip.
     
  50. Perhaps I am too late to ask, but could we see some of your work? It
    might give us a good insight into what you consider exhibit quality
    images, and also to see what your work offers to mankind.

    <p>

    Regards,

    <p>

    GS
     
  51. I've been faced with this situation at times. For my National Parks project, I often travel to a remote area for a relatively short period of time, during which I want to bring back some good (whatever it means) images. What I found help me the most was
    • Understand the location and the light, in order to be able to select the right subject for any given conditions. Previsualize the effect of changing light, and return later to nail the image.
    • Keep moving, watching, and exploring. The more you see, the more you are likely to find something to your liking.
     
  52. Stephen,

    <p>

    Although there is clearly some difference of opinion regarding
    specific approach, I am entirely in sympathy with your basic aim of
    ensuring success and increasing productivity--if success and
    productivity mean eventually creating images the photographer can be
    proud of. Particularly for those of us who are amateurs who must
    adjust their photographic work to a bunch of other overriding
    obligations, it's esp. important to go about this complex business in
    a methodical and premeditated way. While it's true that in our own
    case some of our best images were the impromptu result of on-the-spot
    inspiration, it's also true that on the average the harder we work,
    the luckier we get. So here, in brief, are the stages of preparation
    and execution we work through. They assume that the vision is in
    place, that the photographer is animated by some artistic impulse,
    that it's basically a question of acting on something that's already
    in your head.

    <p>



    <p>

    (1) Rehearsal. Many have said it in this forum before: practice,
    practice, practice. We sometimes take the camera out without film
    and go over the sequence of steps, esp. the movements. Important for
    amateurs like us who don't shoot enough to retain what we've already
    learned from outing to outing.

    <p>

    (2) Previsualization. Tuan just mentioned this. I picked it up from
    the athletes. I mentally put myself in the field where we plan to
    shoot (often a place we've been before) and visualize location,
    position of sun, probable range of values, distance of subject from
    camera, etc. etc.

    <p>

    (3) Check list. It's so easy to forget something, esp. if you've
    come from a different format where you don't have to use a dark slide
    as lens hood, or lift a sagging bellows, or have to worry about
    excessively shallow depth of field. Our check list is in our heads,
    but my wife and I are always catching something the other forgot.

    <p>

    (4) Take notes. One of us sets up the camera, meters, works with
    movements, the other takes notes on everything. Let's face it, some
    of our best shots were pure luck, but without notes we'd never be
    able to recover what we did. Equally valuable for understanding and
    hopefully eliminating mistakes.

    <p>

    (5) Follow through. I develop every sheet, even an unexposed 8x10
    one time. I test print every developed sheet, no matter how awful.
    We're still at the point (and probably always will be) where we can
    learn something from every exposure, good and bad. It's in the post
    mortem that the real progress is to be made, I think.

    <p>

    Photography at this level requires a lot of attention to mechanics,
    so the practitioner is an easy target for the charge of excessive
    preoccupation with technique. But all of us know that without
    mastery of the craft, there will be no satisfactory results however
    inspired the vision. I don't think you can have one without the
    other. Nick and Marilyn.
     
  53. great question...my response is a little late but since i just found
    this place yesterday-4/10/02, what the hell..similar to another
    response, i just decided to leave the 4x5 system at home and
    now use a very simple, elegant 2x3 camera called the galvin view, that
    i bought on ebay for $400.00...it uses horseman 120 roll film backs and
    with a carbon gitzo tripod and small back pack i can go all day and
    never feel over over loaded...i am my own llama...also, using roll film
    uninhibits me...hand processing b&w sheet film is laborious and the
    thought of "just more darkroom work" sometimes stops me in my
    tracks...i give generous props to any one using an 8x10 or larger
    format without an assistant but for me a lighter load in general seems
    to be the answer for uninhibitted creativity in the field...not a
    personnally imposed creative quota...tg.
     

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