Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Let The Photographs Speak For Themselves

It takes a lot of courage and strength to speak up and stand your ground, when your belief and practice are being challenged and questioned. However, it takes even greater courage and more strength to know when to stop, and stay silent. I have thought out a complete blog entry layout, detailing on items to elaborate a very crucial argument which I have been wanting to bring forth for quite a while now. At the same time, I also realized the repercussions that this argument may cause, and the unnecessary complications that may follow. The topic itself is a sensitive one, thus for the sake of avoiding violent internet bloodshed, I decided to hold my tongue (in this case, my fingers from typing those sentences out) and just let this slide.

I do admit that I am still fairly new to this world of photography, not as seasoned as many readers that I have. Many of you beautiful people have been shooting way longer than I have, and I must speak out with caution, acknowledging my limited experience and knowledge in this field. 

Nevertheless, I also believe that in the world of photography, photographs speak louder than words. Everything I wanted to say in the first place, everything I intended to defend, and everything I wanted to prove, are all evident, and prominently shown in the photographs I have compiled in this entry. Perhaps if you look close enough, and really study the technical difficulties of achieving each of the photographs displayed here, and how my practical execution, choice of gear and shooting considerations needed came together, you might find that what I wanted to say in the first place was quite obvious. As I have mentioned many times before, show me the photographs, and we will talk. 

Sometimes, it is important to capture a series of photographs to better illustrate what was happening. Emotions and expressions can be strongly amplified. One photograph is often inadequate.



How do you know you have captured the decisive moment? What if the next thing that happened could be better than what you have captured previously? There is no telling. Don't stop shooting. Keep yourself focused, and concentrate on getting even better photographs. The moment your camera stops clicking is the moment you have given up on getting better images. 

Some photographers say, don't shoot so much, be more selective, and you will have higher hit rate. I disagree. If you shoot more, but at the same time, put more care and thought in what you do, you will come home with a series of much better photographs. Shooting less does not guarantee you better hit rate. It makes you lazy. 

People say modern shooters love to spam the shutter, and burst unnecessarily. What if it is necessary? 

Waiting for the right timing to click the shutter button does not apply to all situations. Some photography subjects happen so fast, you cannot even see or track it with your eyes. Like these shots of doves releasing by the bride and groom. You think you have time to individually shoot each frame? The photographer has to decide when to trust the camera, and know how to use his camera to get the shots. Being stubborn and not using the camera's full capability will only result in your missed opportunities. 

They say that in showcasing your photographs, especially when it comes to "editing" your work, only show your best. I find that ridiculous. I say, show MORE photographs, your photographs deserve to be seen, NOT hidden. Being too selective surely will make the worse out of yourself. 

I have no idea why some photographers are so against the use of telephoto lenses. They say that using long lens, you get disconnected from your subjects. Without the long lens, I would not have gotten this shot in the first place !! My clients were very happy with this particular shot. I guess they felt connected to this shot after all, though it was taken with a long lens. 

I love macro photography. Especially shooting insects. If you have dabbled in the world of macro photography you would understand it is possibly one of the most technically challenging photography, ever. 


Modern technologies helped making this shot MUCH more convenient to achieve. Wireless TTL flash off camera, live view preview to confirm focus and exposure balance, and advanced autofocus operation. 

The amazing thing I find about newer and newer camera releases, would be the autofocus performance that keeps improving. 

It is amazing, is it not how even a cheap RM380 compact camera (I bought 3 years ago) can produce shots like this. 





Even a compact camera can deal with low light shooting these days. XZ-2, taken at ISO6400

Modern technologies, such as the tilt and swivel screen with live view, surely encouraged photographers to be more creative, exploring different angles and composition alternatives. 

To me, it does not matter what camera you choose to use, if you are passionate about photography, it truly shows.

Once upon a time, the photography purists condemned the introduction of live view implementation on modern cameras. Today, every single freaking camera has this live view function. And you know what, it did make lives much easier. I admit, I still prefer shooting with viewfinders, but having live view can really make a difference in some shooting situations. In that difficult shooting condition, not having to lie down on the muddy floor, or climbing up on the trees, you will know live view is a modern Godsent gift. 


Lens not wide enough? There is always panorama stitching, done with just a few clicks of button. 


In general shooting, whether it is for professional jobs (paid assignment) or simply for personal pleasure, one of the most crucial factor to make a real difference, would be practicality. Everything you do, your shooting methods, your choice of equipment for that unique shooting conditions and how you plan your overall shoot, will determine the outcome of your photographs. Sometimes, you need to act fast. Sometimes, you need to shoot more than required  Sometimes, you just have to use tools that have as little limitations as possible, so that you will not be restricted to capture the moments. Many times, there is no such thing as single decisive moment, because in most shooting environment I have encountered, there are in fact MANY important moments, and each and everyone of those moments counts. Having the right tool for the right job is important. You cannot use a hammer to nail a screw, likewise, you do not use a screwdriver to drive a nail.

It all comes down to the photographer to make the shot happen. If the photographer wants the shot to happen bad enough, by hook or by crook that photograph will materialize, by whichever means possible, and whatever tools that he had in hand. How much better the photographer could have performed, or improved, should he chose a different technique, or use a different set of gear, are secondary, and did not matter much. The creative vision, and the passion to make great photographs matter more. 

If you have been with me all these while, you would possible have guessed what I wanted to say in this blog. If doubt many will know the real message, but lets not push that out just yet. As I have said earlier, this is a sensitive issue, and I fear many will not be able to take it very well. 

The most important thing, aside all these talks and discussions, of course, is to go out and shoot more. What is photography without shooting?

23 comments:

  1. I think you sum it up very well: to be successful in one's work -whether it be the art and the craft of photography or something else- requires vision, planning, being there with the right tools, capture the moment(s), and then finally be able to learn from mistakes.

    Plan-Do-Check-Act we say in my trade.

    Obviously, the camera and the gear is just a tool - nothing more. The tool needs to be right for the job (nobody shoots sports with a colossal view camera) but that's about it. It's just a tool - it enables the "do" phase of the "project".

    But the (artistic)vision, the "plan" and the "Check" and "Act" phases/actions that surround the "Do" (capture) moment are equally important for success.

    That's my interpretation of what you are saying, at least. And as usual, superb photography again, my friend. Its obvious to anyone with half a brain that you master the art and the craft very, very well. Much of the work shown here falls in the category I would call Masterpieces. Yes, with a capital M.

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    1. Hey Andre,
      Thanks for the kind words. Those were indeed what I wanted to convey, but not the main subject. Perhaps I shall reveal it much later. I want to hear what others have to say.

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    2. Hmmm, now you make me very curious. I have an idea, but I'll keep my big mouth shut (I'm the world's worst diplomat, often) but I think I know. I'm looking forward to see if I was right ;-)

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    3. Ahhh no worries. It has been a question many people around me kept asking me, and it gets frustrating and very tiring having to explain myself again and again. It has a lot to do with the difficulties to produce all the above photographs, and the restrictions or challenges faced in shooting them.

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  2. What has gotten Into you Robin? You do know many like your photos and follow your blogs, you have shown your talent and your passion to strive for more. You are not obliged to prove your photography to others (unless for commercial clients). So cheer up mate!

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    1. Hey anonymous,
      please do leave a name next time you comment.
      Oh no, I was not proving myself to anyone. This was an age old question, an argument that sees no end. Nonetheless, I was writing my points in the most gentle and subtle ways I can, trying not to offend anyone.

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  3. In the last few years I have the privilege of being a photo judge around local clubs. I often see good ideas that haven't quite made it, and I ask - 'how many shots did you take of this subject?'; the answer is often 'one' or 'two'. Then I find that I haven't quite made it and find I *only* took five or ten - a hangover from my Leica film days! Now I resolve to take 10-20 - after all one can always delete them - to find that elusive masterpiece.

    Great article - good points! Thanks!
    Mike

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    1. Thanks Mike !!! What you have described basically summarized what I wanted to say in the initial paragraphs. Take more photos, but with varying angles, composition, focal lengths, techniques, etc, until the right shot came along. The persistence and desire to get better and better shots are crucial.

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  4. Hi Robin,
    Just wondering... what's your shutter count on your E5 and Sony? Else... nice writing and pics! I did not know you that photography could be approached with such strong philosophy.

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    1. Thanks Johan !! I think it was not really a philosophical write up but more of an argument to defend a point, which I still keep it hidden.

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  5. Hi Robin, base on the photo you took , you just nail it.. and catch the moment and that a real photo should be.

    Francis - Toronto

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    1. Hello Francis,
      Thanks for the kind words. Photography is a lot about capturing the right moments !!

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. Thanks Robin for these wonderful pictures. These photos of yours reflect a unique zen about photography. The pictures does speak for themselves. You have truly mastered the art of capture Robin.
    Congrats!

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    1. Hello Edwin,
      I have not really mastered photography yet, it is still far from my grasp. Nonetheless those photos in this blog are sufficient for me to prove my argument. Lets hope it does not turn ugly !

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  8. Robin, you say you are new to photography. Your work surely belies this!

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    1. I am really new !! Just a few years into this and got lots more to learn.

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  9. *hadi nik*
    Hi Robin..meet again..just want to share with u about my story..i also new in this entry..when i buy my 1st camera (gear with long lens)my wife ask me "why u buy this thing..wat do u want to do with it..u can take a pic with ur phone..why u throw ur money just to buy this thing"..then i just smile and tell her.."its my new hobby..just want to show u how to use it and manipulate it..u can see d result that i can get from this stuff and u will like it".."PROVE IT" my wife said..i take her challenge..after that every day i take my gear with me where ever i go and shoot what ever i want but d result is not just like i want..its bcoz i set my gear to IA setting (fully control by my gear)..then i ask my friend how to get a pic like him..he just tell me about how to shoot and how to set ur subject b4 u press d shutter..i do like wat he said but still get d same result and i really dont like it..after that i try to find some refferences from d net to improve my skill..i read so many blog how to setup my gear, how to take a great pic, how to manipulate my gear and bla bla bla..then i found one of d blog that tell me to use d P setting..from this setting i learned how to use and manipulate d iso, shutter speed, apperture and exposure..then i found from d net about Sony workshop for sony user..i register my name and join d workshop..i learn from d workshop about d basic and how to set d gear..now i understand how to manipulate and control d gear..thnx god now i can share some idea with them and i can get some knowledge from them..till now i still bring my gear with me to shoot what ever i want and still do a praktis to upgrade my skill..thnx a lot to all my referrences, my family, d workshop and my friends..

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    1. Hello Hadi,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and story, really appreciate it. I am glad you have found the joy of shooting, and great of you to shoot more and more, to be better in the photography game. The only problem I see about many photographers not improving is actually simple: not shooting. As long as the desire is there, and the heart is in the right place, anyone can be great in anything they do. I admire Sony for their effort in organizing outings and workshops for their users. I learned a lot from them, and find them to be extra useful not only for beginners, but for any photographers. That also serves as a platform for like-minded people, user of same system to stick together and learn to utilize their tool.
      Surely, lets shoot together again some time !!

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  10. Robin, I don't get it. I'm not sure what the big arguement will be against the words (and photos) that you put forth in this blog post. Whatever that arguement is, I wouldn't worry about it at all. You take fantastic photos, and whatever methods and philosophies that you utilize to get these great shots are certainly working very well for you.

    It will be interesting to see what "opposing" arguement that you fear will get everyone into an uproar. Whatever it turns out to be, you should continue to ignore it.

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    1. Thanks Gregg for the kid words. I shall take your advise, continue to ignore it !

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  11. some years ago, I was on "less and better" clicks, anda started to explore the film world. it was useful to learn composition and to think before shooting. But if you ask me now, i'm on your line, Robin. If your camera can do something, it's stupid do not use it. Now I often have paid assignment and i know that the first thing is client's satisfaction. He do not want how, he want good photos. So I started to use electronic VF, software lens correction, burst shooting modes and so on. And you are right when you say that sometimes we need to shoot fast and non-stop. Be a good photographer is not only take the perfect photo but often choose the rights situation to take photos and than select the best of them.

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    1. Thanks for agreeing Ugo !! The main thing is, when the opportunity arise, if we wait too long, sometimes we might just miss it. Start shooting and waste no time !

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