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Thread: An off-track continuation of the OneLight thread...

  1. #1
    Say it with me... Tiffany's Avatar
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    An off-track continuation of the OneLight thread...

    Pineneedle, not all of us in this forum are equipment junkie and focus on the simplicity of it all

    Which is probably why I so enjoyed Jeff's review and example images so much.
    Last edited by Jeffro600; December 21st, 2009 at 01:15 PM.
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  2. #2
    Did it for the LULz Jeffro600's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineneedle View Post
    There is such a huge temptation in photography to become an equipment junkie.
    Being a BIG lover of technology(nerd?), im guilty as charged of this...but the further i divulge myself into this art, the more im starting to realize that with many aspects of photography, those bells and whistles can be nice but are rarely necessary.

    But with all those new camera bodies that roll out every year i think it will always remain in the back of my mind as OHH SO TEMPTING!

    Sort of funny...i was looking through some pictures i shot several years ago when digital first was getting to be really affordable for the average person, when i had my shiny, brand spankin new Canon G1...man o' man was i REALLY bad with an occasional decent shot! At least im to the point to where i can say the majority of my shots are decent with a few really nice ones on occasion. Consistency is something that was stressed highly in that DVD and over the last couple years, again, looking through stuff ive shot, ive seen more and more consistency come into play. Ill be happy when my shots are really nice all the time...
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  3. #3
    My Friends,

    I was not suggesting that the members of this forum are equipment junkies. I did not say that and I do not think that. My comment was made based upon my 30 years in photography (10 years teaching at the university level). For example, I once knew a man who did nothing but photograph lens targets, constantly looking for lenses that could split the finest line pairs. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with that. To each his own. My point is that progress in photography requires thought and discipline, which is why I praised Jeffro's post.

    An analogy I have used in the past is that of a series of plateaus. The first several are easy to climb up on. You know, get a decent camera, use its auto mode, snap away. This will typically produce some damn decent pictures. The next plateau is a little harder to climb, and when one gets there he has a greater consistency (to borrow Jeffro's apt phrase) and more frequent successes. However, each successive plateau is a higher and more difficult climb, so difficult that most are discouraged. After all, so much success and pleasure can be gotten by just going around and taking pictures. So, most of us leave the harder, higher plateaus to the dedicated few.

    This has become exacerbated by the digital revolution. In the old days, you couldn't really get great prints without mastering darkroom. Now, that is all gone away, except for a few cranks such as I. The sheer ease of use has made us forget that great photographs, now just as then, do not occur by chance. They are always the product of mind.

    Anyway, I do go on. If anyone is interested in a couple of books to really raise your consciousness, let me recommend: "Looking at Photographs," by John Tzarkowski, and , "History of Photography," by Beaumont Newhall. These are the path to an awakening in photography.

    Pineneedle

  4. #4
    Did it for the LULz Jeffro600's Avatar
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    Ive actually been watching a fantastic series that was on BBC a few years back..."The Genius of Photography". While its not really a "how to" or a technical series, it goes through the entire history of photography from its beginnings from ancient times to what we have today. They cover pretty much all the legendary photographers over the last couple centuries...and give an inside look to how they looked and thought about the photos they were trying to create. Very interesting to see its progression, how its evolved and where it might go in the future. Makes me want to go find an old medium or large format camera and start experimenting... Ive actually got an old full manual Canon Rangefinder from the 50's ive been wanting to try my hand at....theres a thread i did on it from about a year or so ago if you wanna go digging. Ive contemplated shooting film for a while to try to get myself more involved with making the actual picture than doing the "hey, this will be a cool photoshop edit when im finished" song and dance.

    So as far as im concerned, keep "going on" Pineneedle...i find history fascinating and even more so when it involves Photography!

  5. #5
    My Dear Jeffro,

    Perhaps we can continue our conversation on photography. That would be fine with me. I like nothing better than jawing about the things I love. I suppose it is kind of a hijack, but nobody else seems to want to extend the DVD thread, so I suppose we could give it a little jig-jog and conduct a conversation on the science and art of photography.

    I guess a little intro would help. Allow me to tell you a little about my interests and then you can come back and talk about yours. From that exchange we should be able to come up with some interesting points to discuss. Perhaps some of the other folks would like to join in; that would be fine.

    So, what has Pineneedle been up to photographically speaking? I began taking pictures in the early fifties. I was crazy about mountain railroading, and so I haunted the old narrow-guage yards at Salida, Gunnison, Durango, and so on, taking pictures with an old folding Kodak using 620 film. Little did I suspect that some of those pictures would become historical artifacts. With the exception of the Durango and Silverton, all those narrow guage lines have been torn up, most of them long ago. I still enjoy printing some of those old negatives of working locomotives, etc.

    From '55 to '65, my brothers, friends, and I spent a month every summer living in the cabins at Holy Cross City. I have some awesome pictures of those days as well, all taken with the same camera. As an aside, I chuckle at many of the discussions of the Holy Cross City road. I drove it when it was mostly log corduroy, a bridge across French Creek, and trails to French (Cleveland) Lake, Fancy Pass, etc. It is amazing how things have changed. I drove my little CJ3A into French Lake in the summer of '57 without realizing that my left front tire was nearly flat. The famous "Cleveland Rock" was a yawner in those days. But I digress.

    I then took up 35mm, and found it unsatisfying. I could not get the kind of quality in my prints that I saw in the prints of the great American photographers like A. Adams, P. Strand, etc. Hell, I couldn't even come close. So, I made my mind up to raise my "voice" to a higher level, hoping that "vision" would follow. I haunted the major art museums, read everything I could, and then began to work. I invested in a 4X5 view camera in 1980, set up a really fine darkroom, and really got after photography. At that point I realized that I needed to abandon the shallow "aestheticism" that most of my photographer/acquaintances pursued. I decided to focus on documentation. I won't go into that here because it is a complex topic. Perhaps we can take it up later. Anyway, I mastered the view camera, mastered the zone system, mastered darkroom technique, and mastered print preparation and presentation. By 1982, I had a pretty fine set of skills and tools.

    The long and short of it is that I spent the next 20 years doing large documentary projects. The first was a documentation of the small rural community in which I lived at the time, Chesterfield, MO. Chesterfield was an old German farm town, quickly morphing into an affluent suburb of St. Louis. I wanted to save everything of the old historical architecture, the rural landscape, the old families, before it was gone.

    My next big project, begun in 1986, was to document all the waterways of the Missouri River Basin. That project took me from '86 until '91. I photographed the entire 2800 mile length of the Missouri, all 236 of its tributaries, waterfalls, glaciers, springs, reservoirs, etc.

    From 1992-98 I photographer the German culture of Missouri. Few people know that Missouri has a thoroughly German population. So I settled on the churches of the German-Americans, most of them dating from the 19th century. There are over 400 of these churches, and they were wonderful subjects with their interesting architecture, graveyards, ritual objects, etc.

    Finally, from 2000 to 02 I worked on a project I called, "Hear the Lonesome Whistle Blow: America's Railroad Past." This was a return to my boyhood love. I photographed the vanishing railroad scene all over the American Midwest and West. Each of these projects was exhibited. The Missouri River Project was exhibited as "Waterways West," and it was sent out by the Missouri Historical Society on a four-year tour around the country. "The German Churches of Missouri" was supported by a large grant from the Federal Republic of Germany, and again, was exhibited widely in the Midwest. Finally, the railroad project was exhibited in several venues, then purchased in toto by the Mercantile Library, a library that collects and archives transportation documents. Though much of this time I was teaching photography here in St. Louis at my own university and several other local colleges.

    After that, I was overtaken by the digital revolution. Materials were either difficult or impossible to get, films, papers, darkroom chemicals, etc. I decided that I was too old to learn a whole new technology, so I put my camera away. I still have it, a beautiful walnut 4X5 folding field camera, and four fabulous Schneider lenses. But I haven't touched them in years. Sigh.

    I am sorry that the foregoing is so windy. It is just that I have been at this for a long time; for twenty years it was the only thing I really cared about.

    So that is Pineneedle's story. Write me back, Jeffro, and tell me about your interests, and for that matter, anyone else who wants to get into some talk about pictures, jump in.

    Pineneedle

  6. #6
    Did it for the LULz Jeffro600's Avatar
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    Wanna sell that 4x5???

    Very cool story Pineneedle! Do you have any examples of your work? Id love to see some!

    Honestly, ive never been much of a landscape photographer myself...sure i can take a picture of a nice looking mountain, lake, tree, etc that would make the average person say "wow, thats nice" but have never been to the point to where i could make a photographer saw "perfect composition, exposure, contrast, color, etc"...if ya get my drift. This is sort of the reason why i have thought about trying my hand at a medium format camera...their simple, basic and make you study and really dig deep to understand and master the simplest things in photography(which are often some of the most difficult to master!)

    I started out YEARS ago with a simple Nikon P&S film camera...after shooting with it for less than 6 months, i discovered its limitations quickly and upgraded to a Canon Rebel 35mm. I shot with that Camera for quite a while actually and its the only camera body i think ive owned for more than a year! Did alot of photos for my High School yearbook with that one. After i got out of High School, i got a part time job working at a hot rod\car restoration shop and saved up enough money for my first digital, a Canon G1...i was instantly hooked with digital because it didnt cost me anything to develop my film and i could see the results instantly. This in turn has been what has made myself and millions of other picture takers, lazy IMO...you dont take the time to make it right in camera because you can always snap another one if it didnt look right or just fix it in photoshop later.

    Ive gone through A LOT of digitals over the years though....probably more than i can count on both hands as i always had to have the latest and greatest. I took my first paid job a few years back, shooting portraits for my neighbors and looking back at them, they were terrible! Bad lighting, shadows on the faces, not a very interesting composition, etc. Over those last few years, ive dont several other paid jobs and ive noticed that with each one, i progressively got better and better....especially with my portraits. Sporting events is something that ive always thought I excelled at and my main focus was on that for a while. I shot countless football, t-ball, baseball, soccer tournaments that i sort of started to get burnt out on it, so in the last year or so, ive really started to push my focus on just people. Ive come to the conclusion, i do not want to do weddings for a few reasons; their HIGHLY stressful...its semi-controlled chaos most of the time...not to mention, the local market here is just totally saturated with very good wedding photographers for cheap. And if im going to take the time and put huge amounts of effort into these, its not going to come cheap! Ive done a few and while they are profitable, they are quite stressful. Especially the larger ones...i still might do a small one here and there if requested but no more large ones unless im just assisting. Trying to be the main photographer for 50+ people can get downright annoying.

    So my main focus for the last 6 months has been individual portraits. And while there are a billion and one portrait photographers out there, they all look the same. Boring compositions, uninteresting lighting, unnatural looking posing, etc. So if i can bring something to the table thats unique or rarely seen, i think i can dig myself into a comfortable niche. Thats where Zacks DVD came into play...he gave me a few ideas and techniques that i can practice, apply and use in my professional services and help separate myself from the majority and start to bring something to the local scene thats apart from the norm. Not to say im going to be copying his style but i have a few ideas to learn from his and add my own unique flair to it...but like everything in life, its going to take more shooting, more dedication, more practice.

    After seeing Zack in action, hes put a new charge into my drive to get my butt out there and market myself to clientele that will be interested in what i have to offer. Ive looked through his photographer website critiques and hes brutally honest but he knows what sells...and stresses certain aspects of websites that are going to make you stand out from the rest. Seperating yourself from the typical Jack of all trades, master of none, but focusing at one or two specific things and putting ALL your effort on them is what ive learned from him. So i think after the first of the year, im going to get hot on putting together a simple, no frills, clean, classic looking website to advertise and display the best of the best of one or two specific services i can offer. If other jobs outside of my specialty come along, ill view them merely as a bonus...but i think at this point, i need to put all my focus on one or two specifics and master them instead of marketing myself as a "I can shoot anything" type of photographer.

    Ok, that was long winded....

  7. #7
    Say it with me... Tiffany's Avatar
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    I started in the darkroom in 1988 in HS. BW film, rolling film, developing, printing...the wonders of dodge and burn...the wonderful scent of fixer...ahhhh.

    The digital age has made everyone a photographer because they have a nice camera or a big flash. People have forgotten the art that goes with it. It's not just about making an image, but evoking emotion from an image or telling a story with an image. Not just an image.

    When I hit college I was still shooting, but being a poor college student and the price of materials going up I was being priced out of my hobby. I was not an early adopter of the digital format so I slowed down my shooting then stopped all together.

    When I started using a digital camera I was not impressed. I mean, I was with the technology of it, but not the output of it. In my mind they output was mere snapshots. I had no control. So I used it as such...snapshots.

    Once DSLRs came out and became affordable I decided to try it...I played, took classes, bought all the neat cool equipment that ended up sitting in my bag...because I reverted fairly quickly back to my old ways of when I was shooting film...each shot is costly so get it right. And I found the lens combo that I enjoyed and that's what I use mainly and instead of changing lens I choose to change my environment.

    I obviously have other lens and other equipment for when my fav combo just won't work, but I am finding it far and few between that I switch up.

    I now own just 3 lens, one that I shoot almost everything with and 2 for all those other times. My camera bag is much lighter and my creativity and imagination has been tested and expanded.

    I will pick up a new flash here soon and that will be the end of it. When I do studio work, I look at that as play time these days. I only choose to hit the studio if I have a mind to mimic a fashion shoot I saw on ANTM or have an idea I want to try with my kids just to play with a ton of lights to see what damage I can do.

    Simplicity is my motto these days.

  8. #8
    My Dear Friends,

    Thanks for the reponses. I think that we three have much in common, what the old-timers used to call "this passion for the dark." However, nowadays, not many do darkroom, so it should be restated as the passion for the light.

    Jeffro, I read your comments on landscape photography with great interest. The experiences you describe are so common. Landscape is usually what draws people initially to photography because there is so much beauty there. But for the photographer, there is also so much danger. To begin, there are billions of images of landscapes from all over the world. Famous ojbects like Half Dome in Yosemite or Niagara Falls have been photographed ad nauseam. This fact of the sheer numbers of images out there makes it difficult not to fall into a cliche despite your efforts to be original. Typically, when a photographer confronts one of the great natural scenes, he strives to find a unique vantage point or angle, and the result is almost always a kind of forced novelty. Consider the cliche so common in Mountain landscape where the photographer puts a gaudy clump of wildflowers in the immediate foreground, contrasted to a background of peaks or whatever. That was first done by David Muench back in the day, and now it is overworked to the point of tediousness. Or consider the cliche of turning a small casdade into a froth of shaving cream, another cliche of water photography now done by nearly everyone. I call this stuff "Calendar Pictures."

    A second danger the landscape photographer faces is failing to include a strong subject. When you look at a sweeping panorama of peaks and valleys, the mind focuses on the graphically strong elements and eliminates the non-essential. However, the camera is ruthlessly democratic. It puts everything in the same visual plane, and everything has about the same visual interest. How many times have you been shown (or made yourself) a landscape photo, to which you responded: "What am I supposed to look at?" That is the wandering eye, the mind and eye searching for a confluence of graphic elements that is striking or beautiful. I would say that this weakness about having a strong subject is common to about 90% of the landscapes I see today. In the olden days we used to talk about the "Law of Principality." It states: "Every good photograph has a strong subject." When I was making landscape or riverscape images, I had to continually remind myself: "O.K. This is beautiful, but what do I want the viewer to see? What is the center, the focus, the meaning of this picture I am about to make?" When I failed to take my own advice, I made a record shot, something that illustrates a particular place and time, but without any aesthetic value.

    These are just a couple of observations. I have to avoid wordiness. Perhaps you folks (Jeffro and Tiffany) can add to or object to what I have said.

    Pineneedle
    Last edited by pineneedle; December 20th, 2009 at 03:04 PM.

  9. #9
    O.K., I get it. My last post is pretty boring and professorial. Let me, then, kick it back to you guys. Jeffro, why and what exactly is it that draws you to portraiture? Tiffany, would you expand a little on your comment on simplicity? Is it just a matter of your tools, or do you extend this idea to subjects, methods, etc.?

    Pineneedle

  10. #10
    Did it for the LULz Jeffro600's Avatar
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    lol, not boring...i just think you covered the basis of why landscape can be uninteresting...its all been done before at nauseam. Good ol Ansel, IMO, set the standard for what awesome landscape photography is...and its copied day in, day out by everyone. But even then really, they just dont do it justice as actually being there. Ive gotten to the point i rarely bring a camera with me, or just a P&S for snapshots when we go out on vacation to anywhere that involves scenic ventures. Id rather just soak it all in and enjoy it in person instead of worrying about what F stop im shooting at of if my tripods steady enough!

    Why am I draw to portraiture? Ya know, I honestly cant tell ya. I guess its the pleasure i get from seeing peoples faces light up when they see the images i deliver to them. The "WOW! You made me look amazing!" I get from people makes me feel good and makes them feel good so its a win-win proposition most of the time.

    Something else i have been doing is using a LONG telephoto lens and keeping my distance from people, photographing them when they are unaware and it gives some of the most amazing results sometimes...you get to see them for what they really are and how they naturally act and there has been a few times that ive shot a person, approached them later with the photo(s) and they are just totally blown away! A young couple had approached me to take some portraits of them and their daughter and i think they were going after the standard, "Olin Mills" style(BORING!) studio shot but i told them i had a much better idea...for the photo shoot i had them go to a local park and just go have fun like they normally would...playing on the playground, swings, grass, etc. Most of it was shot with a 400mm lens so i was a good distance away so they really had no idea where or when i was taking pictures. The final prints i delivered to them made the wife literally burst into tears because she was so happy with the results! I honestly do not like shooting in a studio...ive got tons of lights, backdrops, props and whatnot and its a rare occasion that i find myself even using them. Maybe its because one of the things i struggle with is posing...i have a hard time putting someone in a position that doesnt look like it was setup and you can tell instantly from their expressions. Some people just take to it naturally...but its the ones i have to direct constantly that i have alot of problems with. It is something i need to seriously work on though.
    Last edited by Jeffro600; December 20th, 2009 at 11:07 PM.

  11. #11
    My Dear Jeffro, well said. By the way, I would be happy to put a couple of pictures up, but I don't have any idea how to to it. I would have to work with loose prints. I know enough to scan them into my machine. Where would I go from there?

    On a different note, you mentioned in a previous post that you have thought about getting a view camera and playing around with it. I suspect that a nice one could be gotten for not much money. A good quality used lens for not much, a tripod, an exposure meter, and you are there. Believe me, it would "rock your world" (did I really say that?). About the most enjoyable kind of contemplative photography is to work with a view camera using Polaroid type 55. I am sure you are familiar with it, but on the off-chance you are not, type 55 is a positive-negative material. It makes an exquisite b/w print and a fine-grained negative that cannot be matched in the darkroom. So, when you have worked out your solution to a particular photographic situation, you can make a beautiful small print and the negative as well that will allow you to print to any size you like. With type 55 negs, you can bypass the darkroom altogether. Scan them into a computer, and with the proper software, spot them, burn and dodge them, apply selective local contrast control, etc., and print them. The prints are too beautiful for words. My son-in-law is a fine photographer living in Longmont. He has done what I have not, namely, stayed with his large-format work and adapted it to the digital age. His large prints made from 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10 negs make you want to weep. And all without going into the darkroom. But, since I know that you are pretty much on top of the latest tech wrinkles, you probably already know all this stuff.

    Pineneedle

  12. #12
    Did it for the LULz Jeffro600's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineneedle View Post
    My Dear Jeffro, well said. By the way, I would be happy to put a couple of pictures up, but I don't have any idea how to to it. I would have to work with loose prints. I know enough to scan them into my machine. Where would I go from there?

    On a different note, you mentioned in a previous post that you have thought about getting a view camera and playing around with it. I suspect that a nice one could be gotten for not much money. A good quality used lens for not much, a tripod, an exposure meter, and you are there. Believe me, it would "rock your world" (did I really say that?). About the most enjoyable kind of contemplative photography is to work with a view camera using Polaroid type 55. I am sure you are familiar with it, but on the off-chance you are not, type 55 is a positive-negative material. It makes an exquisite b/w print and a fine-grained negative that cannot be matched in the darkroom. So, when you have worked out your solution to a particular photographic situation, you can make a beautiful small print and the negative as well that will allow you to print to any size you like. With type 55 negs, you can bypass the darkroom altogether. Scan them into a computer, and with the proper software, spot them, burn and dodge them, apply selective local contrast control, etc., and print them. The prints are too beautiful for words. My son-in-law is a fine photographer living in Longmont. He has done what I have not, namely, stayed with his large-format work and adapted it to the digital age. His large prints made from 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10 negs make you want to weep. And all without going into the darkroom. But, since I know that you are pretty much on top of the latest tech wrinkles, you probably already know all this stuff.

    Pineneedle
    If you scan them and want to email them to me, ill be more than happy to host them and put them up for ya! PM me and ill send you my email address.

  13. #13
    ColoradoSkier's Avatar
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    OK, here's my story.

    Started taking pictures when I was about 13 with a Kodamatic instant camera. Got some interesting pictures that way, but it was still just something to do. Went off to college with a 35mm P&S, didn't do a whole lot with it. Still had it after graduation, and took it with me to Summit County, where I fixed computers at Copper Mountain for 2 years. Got some interesting ski shots, but still didn't do much with it.

    It wasn't until after a trip to Alaska in 2000 that I decided going digital was a good idea (wrong film speed and a lot of prints that just didn't come out). Since "film" was cheaper for digital, went with an Olympus P&S, D-490Zoom. Got some pretty decent pics with it, but dSLR's continued to intimidate me, both in price and complexity. Decided to move up to something approaching a dSLR to learn more about it, as well as have more pixels to play with - a Canon Powershot G5. Used that camera for several years and loved it. In hindsight, I should have kept it, but used it's resell value to help justify a dSLR to the wife.

    Have had my Olympus E-510 dSLR for 2 years now. Have become much more prolific in the number of pictures I shoot. And even have some quality ones that sell. Still more of a hobby in my mind than anything else, but I am dabbling in the business of photography now too. I really don't like shooting people, but since that is where the somewhat steady money is, I am trying to get over it. I think the Puc seminar in January will help me a lot with that. And I am now trying to decide how much I want to ramp up marketing efforts for my landscape photos. I am confident I have some worthy stuff, just need to decide how best to get them out there.

    And like others, trying to learn how to make the most of one or two flashes. Been following the work of David Tejada for some time (he uses more than one or two flashes typically, but the concepts are pretty similar), as well as Strobist at flickr. Just need to bolster my confidence in this area, as well as shooting people (outdoors, don't want to do studio work).
    Chester Bullock
    Instagram - http://instagram.com/coskier
    My drone photography - http://instagram.com/gypsy_drone

  14. #14
    My Dear Friends,

    Chester, welcome to the conversation. I have seen a number of your prints here and they are very handsome. We share a love of landscape, so there is much to talk about.

    Jeffro, thanks for the offer. I will scuffle around in my darkroom and see if I can find a couple of prints that I would admit to making. I will then scan them. I will contact you as you have asked. Tiffany, what do you have to say. The world wants to know?

  15. #15
    ColoradoSkier's Avatar
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    We should move these to a different thread, given that we have totally hijacked this one. Please post followups to this conversation at http://www.colorado4x4.org/vbb/showthread.php?t=160361 (I can't move posts over there).
    Last edited by ColoradoSkier; December 21st, 2009 at 12:05 PM.

  16. #16
    ColoradoSkier's Avatar
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    General Photography Conversation (who are you, what do you like to shoot, etc)

    Moving some items from the other thread here to return it to it's proper focus.

    OK, doesn't look like I can move items into this thread, but that conversation should continue here...

  17. #17
    Did it for the LULz Jeffro600's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColoradoSkier View Post
    Moving some items from the other thread here to return it to it's proper focus.

    OK, doesn't look like I can move items into this thread, but that conversation should continue here...
    Moved them for ya...

  18. #18
    Say it with me... Tiffany's Avatar
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    Sorry guys, got struck with H1N1 so have been down for the count.

    Simplicity in both equipment and I guess subject and methods as well. I like to call it my laziness kicking in

    I prefer to work with the least amount of equipment as possible, including props and what not. Your subject should not be overshadowded by props and lights and editing and ....

    Just because I can do this or that in Photoshop doesn't mean you should. I apply the simplicity factor to editing as well.

    And lord yes I have more to add to the conversation, but right now this 10 minutes of sitting up has used alll my energy so I will return when I build up more stamina.

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