Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

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Antonsrkn
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Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by Antonsrkn » May 5th, 2013, 5:31 pm

I saw a thought provoking thread on DPreview. I thought it was interesting and would be interested in hearing what people have to say on here as I know we have a bunch of gifted photographers on FHF. Anyways, the point is we are in the digital age which makes it possible to go out for a weekend and come back with a few 1000 images without prohibitive development costs, that raises a question...

The guy who started the thread said it well so I will just quote him:
Do you use any strategy of self restraint when shooting when you're visiting photogenic places? I'm wondering if we should just be more selective with our shots (as we were with film). I love looking at all the images, but it can be overwhelming. Any thoughts? Thanks.
Here's is a link back to the Dpreview thread incase anyone wants to read what other people are saying.
http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3483023

I know for myself that I can go out on a uneventful outing, then I take a look at my camera and am surprised that I still snapped a 150 photos even though I hardly saw anything. On a trip to a cool area I can easily take 1000s of photos, and when I see something I like I can take an staggering amount of photos trying to get that one perfect shot. Obviously this is different depending on what you are shooting, I will take far more photos of the same subject if its some sort of wildlife than if its a landscape. Not only because I find wildlife more interesting but because I can try a few different photos at different settings with landscapes and not much changes while I do that. Whereas animals are more dynamic as they move around and behave in certain ways.

Some people in the original thread said that they felt like they missed out on the overall experience because they were stuck behind the lens the entire time. I can understand this sentiment but I personally have never felt this way, I see more when I am looking for creative photos- this challenges me to see things in a new way. Additionally, I am moving slower and see more and gain an greater appreciation for the things I photograph.

All in all, if I have room on the memory card I am likely to fire off a barrage of photos at an interesting subject and I have never thought twice about it. I do try not to take the same photo twice, I will either change some settings or something; maybe a really small detail will have changed in the subject, angle, etc... What about you all, do you try to limit the number of photos you take and attempt to set up the perfect photo or are you more trigger-happy individuals like me? (I still try to set the photo up as best as I can, but I don't stop at 1) How many photos will you take of an interesting subject (landscape, herp, other wildlife)? Do you actively try to limit yourself on the amount of photos you snap?

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by fvachss » May 5th, 2013, 6:12 pm

When photographing still life (nature, architecture, products, etc.) then I'll often spend a fair bit of time preconceiving and setting up the shot. In this case I could see that there might be some kind of "aesthetic rigor" gained by limiting oneself to a few polished shots - but hey, even then I usually fire off a few just in case. For wildlife, like most here are interested in, then the case is even more clear cut: The critter in question may only pose optimally for an instant, or may do something unexpected leading to an even better shot. I'll always fire off a bunch.

Electrons are cheap and it seems silly not to take advantage of one of the biggest improvements going from film to digital. Most of us only end up displaying less than 10% (probably less than 1%) of the images we capture. This sort of parsimony would have been unreasonably expensive in film days, but it's par for the course now and is one (big) reason why I think the average technical quality of wildlife images has improved so much in the last 20 years.

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by RobertH » May 6th, 2013, 1:06 pm

I have asked myself that same question. Not because I personally tend to take a lot of shots, I don't (but then I am not really a passionate photographer), but because my 11-year old son Nicholas does.

Like many or most of you, he takes multiple shots of almost everything he sees, making adjustments in composition, lighting and settings as he goes along. If it's a really interesting subject, one that is posing well and is not frequently encountered, he may take over a hundred shots. And it all seems to happen quite naturally. He's not aiming for any particular number of shots. He's not even worried about not getting "the right shot." He mostly enjoys the process of taking pictures so much, he sees no reason to stop. And there isn't, at least not for him. In his mind, he's not missing anything. To the contrary, he's fully experiencing the animal (or whatever) through the lens. The camera is not a distraction, but an attraction to him.

So, it seems like it just comes down to a personal choice. Some (most?), like Nicholas, take as many pictures as possible because they enjoy doing so, others (like me) don't because they feel that photography becomes a burden at some point. My guess is that the former group comprises the "real" photographers and is most likely to produce the best images.

The only limiting factor I see, especially in Nicholas's case, is the work involved sorting through hundreds of shots at the end of the day. Due in large part to his age, he's less than enthusiastic about deleting stuff, which can create a hard drive space problem in the long run. But he's getting better in this regard, and is even independently managing his own Flickr album now.

Overall, I am very grateful for all the digital photography technology. In the old film days, Nicholas simply would not have been able to progress as fast as he has, nor would he have enjoyed photography as much. Chances are, he would not have gotten started until he was much older. Maybe too old (like me ;) )

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by hellihooks » May 6th, 2013, 2:54 pm

I tried something as a 'personal challenge', right along the lines of your query...
http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/vie ... =6&t=15254
I invited others to take the challenge, but to my knowledge, no one has. I found (think) that being able to only take ONE Shot... makes you pay a lot more attention to stuff beforehand... and can/should ultimately increase your learning curve exponentially... :thumb: jim

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by Kevin Price » May 6th, 2013, 8:13 pm

I learned in the days of film, and consequently I still plan my shots and want I want to achieve. I may shoot 20-40 shots of a certain animal, but it's more because I'm not getting the shot that I had preconceived before I began shooting it. Granted, a lot of times the shots present themselves as you're dealing with the subject, but I feel by already having an idea of how I want an image to look, I am saving time and frustration. For me setting up the shot, the lighting, the composition, watching my backgrounds and foregrounds, maintaining focus, and dealing with a subject who invariably DOES NOT want to cooperate is more rewarding at times than finding the subject itself. It's the photographic process and the art of pre-visualization before you even look through the viewfinder that I still find exciting.

I know of some photographers, not herp related at all, that shoot everything they see in bracket shots of three. A rock, a flower, a bee, and so on... every shot is composed of three bracketed images; one under exposed, one properly exposed, and one over exposed. I asked one of those photographers why he did that. He told me that he just wanted to make sure he got the shot right, and that was a way he was comfortable with. He said that out of those three shots, one was bound to be alright. To each his own, but I find that very limiting if perfecting, or at least improving yourself, in the art of photography is what you desire to achieve. Personally, I don't like going through 1000's of images if I don't have to. I'm not out there to shoot in a "spray and pray" mode and hope for the best. Most of the time if get one shot I really like depending on what and how I wanted to shoot it out of 100's, I'm stoked. That one shot was the result of planning, familiarity of my equipment, pre-visualization of what I wanted and its composition, and the rewarding feeling of pulling it all together. I've been on multi-day trips with one or two shots completely defining the trip for me. That's what it's all about.

Maybe I'm more old school like Jim. I can see the desire to shoot off a lot of frames, as long as you have a goal in mind and how you want to present it, but not because of a 'just in case' mentality to get one shot that may only be acceptable at best. An exception I can think of for shooting as many frames as you can would be for birds in flight. They are already moving fast and won't be there for more than 2-3 seconds max. I can't really envision a herp shoot that would require that fast of shooting; unless it was designed that way before even leaving the house to achieve a very specific goal such as shooting a basilisk lizard running across water or a rattlesnake striking showing his mouth wide open. That takes a lot of planning and research, which goes right back to getting the shot you want before you shoot it.

So... to answer the question: Self-restraint - Strategy or Pointless? Strategy, all day long.

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by chrish » May 7th, 2013, 6:30 am

I guess for those of us who started off with film, you learned to be conservative. You had better have thought it through because you only had 36 shots, at best, and you weren't going to see the results of you photos for hours, days or even weeks. Therefore you had to think about what the shot was going to look like before you took it.

Now with free film and live preview, WYSIWYG LCDs, and immediate image review, I think part of that art has been lost. Of course, a lot less crappy photos get taken (I think camera phones have taken this back a step though.).

A few years ago I took a trip to our local zoo with some non-herper members of our local camera club. I was amazed at one of the people who set her camera to its maximum shooting speed and fired off a stream of shots at each subject. She even did this for sleeping critters? She called it the machine gun approach.
Others in the group were like me, carefully watching, waiting for the perfect moment to capture the shot. Of course, "machine gun sally" got the same shot we did usually, but somehow it isn't as satisfying. I like the feeling of having thought out, planned, and timed the shot perfectly. Anybody can catch at tongue flick at 12 fps. It takes experience and some skill to catch it with a single shot.

That said, I also shoot a lot of wild bird shots. They tend to favor the "spray and pray" technique because they are always in motion. I probably shoot in a high speed multi-shot mode about 1/3 of the time I am shooting birds, but only for 3-5 shots and only when I am trying to capture a moment (like a hummer with its wings in a particular position).

I never spray and pray with herps, but for an unusual or rare photo opportunity, I might take many, many shots. I don't just shoot though, I stop between shots and think about what I'm trying to capture. Often, when I take many shots, I am interested in the process of the photography and technique rather than just getting a photo of the critter. A few years ago I shot 96 photos of this animal while playing with lighting, etc.. But I was learning something about my camera, diffuse lighting and lighting umbrellas, not just getting a photo of an adamanteus.

Image

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by Antonsrkn » May 7th, 2013, 9:42 am

Thanks for the thoughts, I appreciate hearing them. I do want to clarify and partially defend myself as a photographer haha, I'm totally with you as far as planning a shot goes and I do this as well. I certainly don't take the machine gun approach and spray and pray, it almost seems like cheating in some instances and unnecessary in most. But like others on here if I find an animal and I'm don't get the exact image I envisioned I can easily take 30-50 photos of the same subject, this especially becomes apparent with non-cooperative wildlife, however I will sometimes have what I consider an incredible find and be content after just a few photos if I get the image I wanted quickly.
Electrons are cheap and it seems silly not to take advantage of one of the biggest improvements going from film to digital. Most of us only end up displaying less than 10% (probably less than 1%) of the images we capture. This sort of parsimony would have been unreasonably expensive in film days, but it's par for the course now and is one (big) reason why I think the average technical quality of wildlife images has improved so much in the last 20 years.
Agreed, the ability to change the ISO and whatnot plays a huge role. Back in the day I always shot 400 sensitivity film which also wasn't ideal for all situations. And I felt bad wasting film just practicing and honing my skills, my parents fostered my hobby and paid for developing fees when I was young (maybe like age 8-14, before going digital) but I still remember getting chewed out for wasting a whole roll of film on seagulls, now there's no reason not to!
Like many or most of you, he takes multiple shots of almost everything he sees, making adjustments in composition, lighting and settings as he goes along. If it's a really interesting subject, one that is posing well and is not frequently encountered, he may take over a hundred shots. And it all seems to happen quite naturally. He's not aiming for any particular number of shots. He's not even worried about not getting "the right shot." He mostly enjoys the process of taking pictures so much, he sees no reason to stop. And there isn't, at least not for him. In his mind, he's not missing anything. To the contrary, he's fully experiencing the animal (or whatever) through the lens. The camera is not a distraction, but an attraction to him.
That's the right attitude, enjoying the process itself. Sometimes I get too hung up on the results and frustrated if I can't get the "right" shot. I immensely enjoy the photography process itself but I need that gratification at the end!
Due in large part to his age, he's less than enthusiastic about deleting stuff, which can create a hard drive space problem in the long run. But he's getting better in this regard, and is even independently managing his own Flickr album now.
I have some news for you, it doesn't get better (or atleast not quickly) :D. I'm 23 and I still not enthusiastic about deleting photos unless they're obviously bad. This is reinforced by the fact that at times I initially thought a photo was a "failure" due to it not turning out as planned but when I go back sometimes months later. I'll see it in a new light and actually grow to like it, I have a few photos I initially dismissed that I am quite fond of now.
In the old film days, Nicholas simply would not have been able to progress as fast as he has, nor would he have enjoyed photography as much. Chances are, he would not have gotten started until he was much older. Maybe too old (like me )
Agreed, one huge benefit of digital is that is allows a bigger room for error as you're not paying for your mistakes. It certainly makes photography more accessible for the masses. One of the reasons why many professional photographers are struggling right now, you don't have to invest as much time or money into becoming skilled so many more people can do it.
hellihooks wrote:I tried something as a 'personal challenge', right along the lines of your query...
http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/vie ... =6&t=15254
I invited others to take the challenge, but to my knowledge, no one has. I found (think) that being able to only take ONE Shot... makes you pay a lot more attention to stuff beforehand... and can/should ultimately increase your learning curve exponentially... :thumb: jim
I remember seeing that, I do like the idea/theory behind it but I don't like restricting myself to just one shot. It does force you to wait for that one special moment and really think about your photos but with wildlife photography its not as practical, you can really set everything up perfectly and plan out all the tech specs but then the animal blinks or turns away at the crucial moment and your 1 shot is ruined. It makes sure you don't just take photos to take photos but out in the field we often run across more than 1 "special" moment in a day. I am also inclined to disagree that taking 1 photo a day can exponentially expediate the learning process, I agree that putting alot of thought into the settings and trying to get that perfect shot on the first try will expedite the process but the best part of digital is you can look at the image right away and figure out how to correct the mistake. The instant results give us a chance to reflect on our mistakes instantly, whereas with film there's a fair chance I wouldn't remember what settings I was shooting with when I see the image a week later.

A while (years) ago, a Nat Geo photographer did that. He spent 90 days or something like that out in the border water canoe area in Minnesota and restricted himself to just one photo a day. I really enjoyed the article and photos he got but at the same time I have to wonder how many opportunities he missed.
I'm not out there to shoot in a "spray and pray" mode and hope for the best. Most of the time if get one shot I really like depending on what and how I wanted to shoot it out of 100's, I'm stoked. That one shot was the result of planning, familiarity of my equipment, pre-visualization of what I wanted and its composition, and the rewarding feeling of pulling it all together. I've been on multi-day trips with one or two shots completely defining the trip for me. That's what it's all about.

Maybe I'm more old school like Jim. I can see the desire to shoot off a lot of frames, as long as you have a goal in mind and how you want to present it, but not because of a 'just in case' mentality to get one shot that may only be acceptable at best.
Yes!! Exactly! You said it better than I was able to. The bracketing technique seems like too much, I won't judge other folks for using it as I'm sure they occasionally produce some phenomenal images much better than my own, but that approach is not for me.
Self-restraint - Strategy or Pointless? Strategy, all day long.
Agreed, planning is the strategy that comes first. Thinking out shots is important and I think will yield better results 99% of the time, planning is essential and then optionally can be followed by dozens of shots.
I was amazed at one of the people who set her camera to its maximum shooting speed and fired off a stream of shots at each subject. She even did this for sleeping critters? She called it the machine gun approach.
Too much! The camera I have now can fire off 6 fps, but there is rarely a need for it. With most subjects you will end up with exact replicas of the same photo.

Talking about film cameras brought me back to the old days, when my parents picked me up a cheap soviet era camera mounted on a rifle style mount from a hole in the wall store in St. Petersburg, russia. I had fun with it... It was something like this, http://www.flickr.com/photos/bwp2011/6927692211/ I definitely got some weird looks as I carried it around, can't say I miss it. Alot of the time I made mistakes and wouldn't know for days and I wouldn't know exactly what I did wrong, then again I was at the age where I wasn't too concerned with the technical aspects. But its definitely alot easier to learn with digital.

Whew that was a long reply, thanks again guys for the input!

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by jimoo742 » May 7th, 2013, 4:27 pm

This is one reason I hope I never get away from film. Yeah, there are hassles travelling with it (TSA are a pain), etc, but I'm careful and conservative with my photos. Walking the Anhinga Trail in the Everglades with one guy, he took more shots in 2hrs with his digital than I did in ten days in Cambodia. Ridiculous. Photography, like all art, isn't just about the end result, the process is key.

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by Matt Buckingham » May 8th, 2013, 6:12 am

My thoughts: The question itself is multi-faceted. For example, I wouldn't advise any kind of self restraint on a beginner who is just learning about photography. The best way to learn is through trial and error, and that means taking lots and lots of pictures. As we progress I think it's natural to show various forms of restraint. For me, I exhibit self restraint over the scenes I choose to photograph, but once I have selected a scene I will often times take many, many shots. It's hard to know which compositions work best until you see them through the viewfinder. For that reason I'll take several shots, with slight variations to the composition. On an animal this can include varying the angle, or changing the animals position relative to interesting substrate/background features. On a scenic it can include placement of main elements. I'll also often times tinker slightly with the camera's settings to see which exposure/dof combination is most impactful. The nice thing about digital is we can generally tell when we've got the image we want by looking in the viewfinder, and can call it quits then.

An example: I was recently shooting a landscape along a spring fed creek in East Texas. I was interested in including a blooming plant in the foreground as one of the main photo elements. I took dozens of shots varying only slightly the composition until I was satisfied that I had the image I wanted.

For me the process of photography is extremely fun, however the main reason I take photographs is end result driven, I think any photographer will tell you that. If we weren't interested in obtaining a high quality result from our efforts, then I think that would be reflected in the image itself.

At the end of the day I don't think either method is inherently better than the other. As far as posting images goes however, I think there should absolutely be self-restraint, especially if you are trying to generate interest in your work. Even a good photographer that posts 10 photos of the same scene or animal will lose the interest of their audience.

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by chrish » May 8th, 2013, 1:07 pm

Matt Buckingham wrote:My thoughts: The question itself is multi-faceted. For example, I wouldn't advise any kind of self restraint on a beginner who is just learning about photography. The best way to learn is through trial and error, and that means taking lots and lots of pictures.
Good point, but I think all too many beginners who start with digital use the approach that if I take a lot of photos, maybe one of them will come out. I shot with a guy a few years back who was actually bracketing between +2 and -2 in 1/2 stop increments (5 shots) on every pose, hoping that one would get him the right exposure. He wasn't really doing it to learn how to read the light and know how and when to compensate, he was just hedging his bets.

As long as you know why you are shooting a bunch of shots, it is valuable. If you are using many shots to compensate for not knowing what you are doing, I think it is a bad idea. Of course, if you learn to look at your exif data and evaluate after you take all your shots, then it is instructive.

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by Matt Buckingham » May 8th, 2013, 1:43 pm

Yeah you have to be interested in learning how to refine your craft in those early stages. Bracketing for exposure compensation is a great tool. I personally agree with you, that it should be used to teach yourself how to properly expose a given situation, but to each their own I guess. It is a bit frustrating when someone gets a great shot by chance after we might work so hard on executing a shot of similar quality, but I think those situations are pretty rare.

I think the difference between photos from the "take a lot of photos so that 1 turns out" approach, and the more carefully calculated approach makes the difference between a good photograph and a great photograph. Even with 5 shots of varying exposure, the photographer will need the eye to see which is most dramatic and works best in post processing, and choose that shot. And in the end I think one rarely just stumbles across dramatic compositions as a result of the former approach. I find that even perfectly lit shots of beautiful mountain ranges are dull if the composition is uninteresting.

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by bgorum » May 8th, 2013, 6:09 pm

While we no longer have to pay for film and processing, the pictures we take still are not free. Those pictures need to be stored somewhere and we need some system to enable us to find the shots we want when we need them. While hard drives, DVDs, and image management software is relatively cheap, my time is not! Editing, processing, cataloging, and key-wording images is time consuming. I am not wiling to dedicate hours to sitting in front of a computer sorting through a bunch of crap in hopes of finding a gem. (I really don't think that works anyhow). There are times to shoot burst of frames, but you should have some specific goal in mind that requires doing so. Now having said that, I will also say that sometimes I find I need to "shoot through" a subject. By that I mean I will compose a picture, take a shot, then think of some way in which the composition could be improved, shoot another frame, and so on, and so on. There seems to be something about the click of the shutter that sort of cements the image in my mind and allows me to see some way of improving it. Almost always when I do that the very last shot will be the one I end up keeping. Finally I'll add, (and I know I am in the minority here), that the best way to improve the craft/art of ones photographs is to get a good tripod and use it for every shot you take, unless you have some really good reason not to. (Its heavy, its bulky, I don't want to be bothered setting it up, it doesn't look cool, etc. are not good reasons by the way).

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by jamezevanz » May 20th, 2013, 8:21 pm

So...
When I have an assignment to cover an event, I shoot as much as possible. I have no problem coming back with several hundred or thousand images from a day of shooting -- my workflow is streamlined and I can pull my selects within minutes of downloading. Usually only 5 or 10 images. I know what I shot, I know what I was trying to achieve and I know whether I pulled it off or not. But it's a lot of work getting there. Most of this shooting is repetitive. I've filled my frame, controlled my background, and now I'm gunning for that perfect movement. The blink of an eye, the turn of the face, a pursing of the lips can make or break an image. If you've ever watched a White House press conference, you know what this type of shooting sounds like. Bursts of high frame rate shooting whenever the speaker gestures or exhibits an expression that emphasizes the point. And if you've ever had an unflattering picture taken of you, you know that 90% of the time, we all have an incredibly dumb look on our face. Animals are the same and with the added bonus of trying to escape constantly. Thus the need for material to edit from.

This is how pros in the photojournalism world have worked to get those money shots for as long as motor drives have existed -- and before. Look at contact sheets from pros shooting 30 years ago and folders of pros shooting today and you'll see the same thing: Dozens of images in a row of the same shot. I remember reading in the mid 90's that a National Geographic shooter would shoot tens of thousands of frames for a single story that consisted of 10 photos or less. The only difference today is nobody has to pick up the tab for film. And regardless of my nostalgic love for film, the quality of the work today is far, far, superior, partly because of improvements in imaging but MOSTLY because photographers don't hesitate to shoot MORE for a better edit. So nowadays it's probably in the hundreds of thousands (though more get used in the end for online content).

It's all about capturing what Henri Cartier-Bresson coined "The decisive moment." Every shot is pre-visualized, planned, and executed with precision. But there is a decisive moment in every scene (unless you're shooting still life) and it may be a half a second before or after you expect. Thus shooting in bursts gives you series to cull from. The difference between an awful photo, an OK photo, and a jaw-dropping photo is often a matter of a second or two and by the time you've seen it and realized it, it's over. Missed shots haunt me like big fish busted off at the boat and rare snakes lost in the bushes...

So that's how I shoot when I'm getting paid. Because at the end of the day, I'm trying to provide the best possible product to my client. And god forbid I miss something important.

But shooting for myself is a different story. First of all, if it's an event I want to PARTICIPATE in, I probably won't even bring my camera, or at least not get it out for anything but a particular photo I had planned to take. I'm really annoyed by people who insist on shooting everything when they're supposed to be engaging in the activity. I'm a decent photographer, but my memories are always better than my photos. By choosing to experience rather than to record, I can remember things the way I feel rather than necessarily how they were or how I shot them. Additionally, photography to me is an art and a profession. Having a camera in my hand turns me into a ruthless perfectionist. The beast comes out and he's no fun, just ask anyone who's ever modeled for me.

For herps and landscapes, I walk a fine line. I'm passionate about my "off duty" photography, but I try not to make it feel like work. I only subject a small fraction of the herps I find to the photo treatment. Most get off with an iphone voucher and a few minutes of gentle admiration. Seems to me a lot of folks miss seeing a lot of cool stuff because they spend 40 minutes shooting every damn critter they come across. When I do choose to do a full photo shoot with an animal, I'm usually using one or several off-camera flashes. This does not afford rapid-fire shooting and even an extended session will usually be less than 40 images.

So there's my 2,000 cents. In the end, if you want to take great photos I recommend shooting A LOT. If you want to experience something, put the camera away. I think for most of us, when we're in the field, its about deciding where to be in between.

-Jamez

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by hellihooks » May 21st, 2013, 9:38 am

Matt Buckingham wrote: It is a bit frustrating when someone gets a great shot by chance after we might work so hard on executing a shot of similar quality, but I think those situations are pretty rare.

And in the end I think one rarely just stumbles across dramatic compositions as a result of the former approach. I find that even perfectly lit shots of beautiful mountain ranges are dull if the composition is uninteresting.
Yeah... but it's great when it does happen, and makes me value the shot so much more. For this shot...I came to a stop in my car... snapped the shot out the window, and 2 seconds later the lizard was gone...
Image
Not saying it couldn't have been better... but because of the way it went down, I'm very pleased with it, and consider it one of my favorite shots. It was one of those 'in the zone' experiences... which, no matter what you're doing, are very memorable experiences. IF ONLY it were always like that... :crazyeyes: :thumb: jim

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by Rothdigga » June 24th, 2013, 2:22 pm

I wanted to chime in on this thread but finally found the time to do so. As a lot of you, I came from the world of film and I'm much more selective in the amount of shots I take. To tell the truth, I don't even know how to operate the bracketing function on my 5D Mk II nor have I ever shot anything in burst mode.
When I'm starting out the day hiking (my usual mode of travelling with my camera), I will set up the exposure to something close to what I think will be optimum for the lighting conditions. That way, if something jumps out at me I can at least get off a few decent shots in case it's something skittish (bobcat, quick snake, bear, birds...etc). I love experiencing things out in nature, but I'm also now in the OCD mindset that if I don't get a GOOD shot of it...it almost didn't happen for me.
Some of my best photos have come with only 1-2 shots because of the timing and conditions.
I went back to see an example of a photo I shot that I really like and only took a very few amount of photos. This was a perfect example. I was on a trip to Loreto and while walking with my wife and her friend back from the beach, I saw a Costa's Hummingbird feeding on some flowers near our rental property. I'm a sucker for hummingbirds so I stopped very quickly to see what I could get. I shot a total of 4 images and this was one of them. I wait and wait for shots sometimes and just select the right moment. This photo by no means was perfect. The shutter speed could have been way faster, but overall aesthetically I like it quite a bit. I probably would feel different if I had snapped 45 quick sequence shots and found this one in the middle somewhere. Maybe I'm doing it the hard way and not utilizing all the tools at my disposal, but I don't really feel like it.
Image
Costa's Hummingbird (Calypte costae) by jrothdog, on Flickr

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by Kent VanSooy » July 18th, 2013, 11:43 am

Am I the only one with impatient field companions? I constantly straddle the line between getting the shots I want, and not annoying the snot out of my fellow herpers that day. And I understand how they feel, because I've herped with excellent photographers before, and they move.....too dang slow! I want good images, but I also want to find animals when conditions are right.

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by bgorum » July 18th, 2013, 12:50 pm

Kent VanSooy wrote:Am I the only one with impatient field companions? I constantly straddle the line between getting the shots I want, and not annoying the snot out of my fellow herpers that day. And I understand how they feel, because I've herped with excellent photographers before, and they move.....too dang slow! I want good images, but I also want to find animals when conditions are right.
No you're not the only one. When I'm serious about taking pictures I go out alone. When I herp with friends I go for the companionship, conversation, etc., but I don't expect to get great pictures.

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by CCarille » July 18th, 2013, 1:14 pm

Interesting topic and some great insight after reading through it all.

I have to agree with Matt B. that the number of shots taken for an event/animal is conditional on what you're aiming to get out of the "shoot."

I never shot with film, only seriously getting into photography 6 (?) years ago. Similar to James, when I'm on a paid shoot (wedding, pet photography, portraits) I take a lot of shots, a lot of times of the same moment... usually totaling over a thousand shots. Sometimes you simply don't have enough time to capture one moment the way you want to capture it, in a single shot. Firing off a dozen shots quickly can usually help to capture the moment. I find this works for fast moving wildlife (hummingbirds) and also for shooting sports. Obviously, knowing the habits of your subject will help tremendously to lower the amount of shots you'll need to capture the perfect image since you can better predict movement in your subject (birds, lizards, sports).

I find myself being more restrained when the subject is something that isn't going to move a lot (landscape, reared-up rattler, architecture). In these situations, composing correctly and taking your time can produce a great image in only a handful of shots.

Kent, I also find myself using restraint when I'm with people. My g/f tends to not love when I bring my camera everywhere... seeming to think I don't "experience" it all from behind a lens. Here's an example of a combination of the two - restraint and firing squad. I took my time setting it all up and then used a remote trigger without looking at the scene while next to the camera. Fired a lot of shots, but was able to "experience" it all with the g/f.

Image

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by El Garia » July 18th, 2013, 2:15 pm

Kent VanSooy wrote:Am I the only one with impatient field companions?
No Kent, you're not. :D I'm one of those impatient types that thinks a 2 minute photo session, is 1 minute too long. My regular herping partner is an in-situ guy, which makes a world of difference when you're talking about not consuming others' time. I think that in-situ photography is a fair compromise, when herping with the impatient folks. But, then again, if those same people want to herp with you again, I'd doubt that they're bothered by your slowtography.

When I'm alone, it's a different story. Last week, I took 20 photos of the same individual whiptail (I'm still trying to learn the ins and outs of my new lenses and camera). Had I been using film, I probably would have been more focused, and ended up with fewer throw-away shots. So, in a way, being able to take an unlimited number of photographs, seems to have hurt my photography; at least in the short term. With time, I'm sure I'll get better with the digital stuff.

The best of my 20 whiptail pics: Image
Aspidoscelis tigris munda by Mo'o, on Flickr



@Rothdigga- excellent hummingbird pic




Edit: I should note that until recently, I've been shooting 35mm film. I have no doubt that it influences the number of shots I take (or rather, don't take). I'm accustomed to taking one shot, maybe two, even when I use my digital pocket camera. I'm not so sure I've been completely able to wrap my head around the fact, that photography is now free. I just got my first dslr last month, so who knows... my approach to photography will probably change. Heck, I just may wake up one of these mornings and realize that I've become a slowtographer, myself.


It was after reading Jim's post, below, when I realized that waiting two or three minutes for someone to get their shot, doesn't sound all that bad... lol

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by hellihooks » July 18th, 2013, 7:42 pm

Sometimes... if I've helped them find some killer herps, great photographers like Battey and Schell will let me hold their sunscreens up for them... :crazyeyes: :lol: :lol: :lol: jim

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by jimoo742 » August 13th, 2013, 7:41 am

Kent VanSooy wrote:Am I the only one with impatient field companions? I constantly straddle the line between getting the shots I want, and not annoying the snot out of my fellow herpers that day. And I understand how they feel, because I've herped with excellent photographers before, and they move.....too dang slow! I want good images, but I also want to find animals when conditions are right.

No, I can rarely go take photos with others. With having to light meter, (often) set up a tripod, (sometimes) break out the flash, (sometimes) change rolls, (often) change cameras to move from the ASA 50 to the ASA 400 film, taking time to compose shots, etc, wen I find something good the experience takes awhile. But I'm fairly impatient as well and like to keep moving, which does mean I miss the shot I want far too often.

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by PNWHerper » August 13th, 2013, 10:42 am

What a great discussion!

Its interesting to hear peoples different strategies. I think so much good stuff has been said here, that I hesitated to even post anything. Here is what came to mind for me.

Antonsrkn,

You mentioned the Nat Geo photographer who shot a single photo for over 90 days in the wilds of Minnesota. His name is Jim Brandenburg, and he is one of the most fantastic wildlife photographers in the world. Here is his galleries:

http://www.jimbrandenburg.com/

The one we are speaking about is called CHASED BY THE LIGHT.

He is one of those photographers who takes pictures of very elusive animals in difficult settings, and has won many awards. He is arguably my favorite photographer.
A while (years) ago, a Nat Geo photographer did that. He spent 90 days or something like that out in the border water canoe area in Minnesota and restricted himself to just one photo a day. I really enjoyed the article and photos he got but at the same time I have to wonder how many opportunities he missed.
I have to agree with you, and I think he would also agree with you. I read his detailed account of that experience, and he said he missed many interesting shots. But, indeed, it did encourage him to refine his skills in a dramatic and impressive way.

jamezevanz,
It's all about capturing what Henri Cartier-Bresson coined "The decisive moment." Every shot is pre-visualized, planned, and executed with precision. But there is a decisive moment in every scene (unless you're shooting still life) and it may be a half a second before or after you expect. Thus shooting in bursts gives you series to cull from. The difference between an awful photo, an OK photo, and a jaw-dropping photo is often a matter of a second or two and by the time you've seen it and realized it, it's over. Missed shots haunt me like big fish busted off at the boat and rare snakes lost in the bushes...

So that's how I shoot when I'm getting paid. Because at the end of the day, I'm trying to provide the best possible product to my client. And god forbid I miss something important.
I have to agree with this completely. Even for my own sake, some of the best (and/or my personal favorite shots) happened in a fraction of a second.

Image

This shot for instance happened so fast, I could not possibly have captured it without the motordrive going at full speed.

No doubt, same with Rothdigga's awesome hummingbird shot.

Kent,
Am I the only one with impatient field companions? I constantly straddle the line between getting the shots I want, and not annoying the snot out of my fellow herpers that day. And I understand how they feel, because I've herped with excellent photographers before, and they move.....too dang slow! I want good images, but I also want to find animals when conditions are right.
I gotta agree that its tough taking high quality photos with other field herpers. Many of my best have come from being alone in the field. It takes serious patience to get some shots. Sometimes hours of waiting or sitting still.

Image

I sat dead still for a hour waiting for a coachwhip to emerge from a burrow. And because I did, I got to capture it catching a desert spiny lizard! You can argue the photo is not spectacular by any means, but the moment was! Catching such behavior is - for me - sometimes even better than getting the perfect studio-like quality image. I guess it depends on what you are after... checking species off your list, or having a quality experience but seeing fewer species? If its quality, then it takes time. You just gotta slow down and look close...

And, regarding the actually pushing of the shutter button in this case, I definitely went with motordrive shooting as well. Initially the snake was moving so fast I could not even keep it in frame!

Anyway, great discussion. There certainly is many different approaches to wildlife photography. How lucky are we to have so many skilled photographers collected here in one place?! So much skill and so much collective knowledge. :beer:

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by dthor68 » August 14th, 2013, 12:07 pm

For me its all about making the best of my time and being in the right place at the right time. That takes planning. For planning I use the web and Google Earth. I never go out to shoot snakes or salamanders, that would be a waste of time. Unlike you guys, I never have much luck. I go out with landscapes in mind, if I find an animal great. And, I always have an out, just in case things don't work out. 9 times out of 10, its the weather that does not work out. For instance if I go out to shoot a waterfall but the sun is shining, even though the weather man said it would be rainy, I will stick around and look for some salamanders, mushrooms, etc. In time the clouds will cover the sun and I can shoot the fall and move on to the next subject. I plan things out to where I end the day photographing the sunset from a good vantage point. When the day is over I have shot 2 waterfalls, 2 rivers, plants and animals and the sunset. During the winter I can minus the plants and animals and add the sunrise. I normally come home with 350 shots a day and keep about 75-100. I try to make every photo count and always try to get different angle or perspectives, most of the time they end up in the trash, but. Most of all, I always go alone. If I plan an event with my brother it will be a single event and maybe the sunset. It takes him forever to set up. I am go, go, go, nonstop all day long. I eat and drink on the go. My wife and kids have tried it a couple of times, no restaurants or bathrooms where I go, no go.

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by TravisK » August 16th, 2013, 1:11 pm

As a baby DSLR photographer this is an interesting thread. I have actually been asking myself this question for a few months now. When I first started shooting DSLR I was like a 25 year old virgin that just got married... Quantity over quality wasn't what I was going for but that is what I got. I got my camera in Feb and now have over 7,000 actuations on it. At about the 6000 actuation mark I started freaking out a little bit because I read somewhere that my camera (Canon T4i) was only rated for 150,000 actuations. IIRC the 6000 mark was reached in April or during a feildherping trip in May. Either way, I look at that time as the honey moon period. Now I typically get many more usable shots and take about 75% less pics.

If you asking me going through 5 million pictures in a file just isn't fun no matter how good the pics turn out. Even less fun when most of the pics get sent to the recycle bin.

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by jamezevanz » August 21st, 2013, 12:35 am

PNWHerper: Thanks so much for putting a name to that Nat Geo photographer. I remember being enamored with that story when it came out and tried to emulate the approach when I was shooting 35mm. Nowadays I shoot till it looks the way I want or burn out batteries and cards trying... But I am most impressed by artists who work within self-imposed restraints and that's a great example. I've been halfassedly trying to dig up his name for years.

TravisK: Don't sweat the shutter actuations, I've exceeded them on most of the cameras I've used (Nikons covering military operations 200+ days a year). If your shutter fails (or more likely the timing will just slip a bit), it can be fixed by a repair facility fairly cheaply. What kills cameras is outright physical abuse and exposure to elements, both of which I've been guilty of. But my D700 is rated to 150,000 as well and last I checked it was approaching double that after two deployments and lots of sea spray, mud, dust, rain, beatings, etc... Basically at this point just giving me an excuse to procrastinate on an upgrade. They're tools, use them to their fullest capabilities or regret missing shots.

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Re: Self Restraint - Strategy or Pointless?

Post by hellihooks » August 21st, 2013, 10:59 am

jamezevanz wrote:PNWHerper: But I am most impressed by artists who work within self-imposed restraints and that's a great example.
This statement really resonated with me, as a poet. In poetry, I prefer writing in form, to 'freeverse'. the more constraints applied, the more difficult 'quality work' becomes, but when accomplished, MUCH more satisfying.

I think the 'art of photography' can be compared to poetry, and I hope this little (intentionally pedantic and curmudgeonesque) poem I wrote will remind you photographers (i don't count myself as one) to always consider what you do, as an 'Art Form' and inspire you to continue to produce the very best that you can do... :thumb:

Damn You Walt Whitman

Damn You Walt Whitman
For what you began.
Once Poets wrote poetry—
Now everyone can.

They scratch and they scribble,
And write what they will.
They call it ‘Free Verse’—
I call it swill.

No meter, no rhythm,
Not even a rhyme.
No talent required—
Just write for a time.

All is acceptable
And anything goes.
They call it a poem—
I call it prose.

To write unconstrained,
Where no rules apply
Anyone can do it—
Just give it a try.

No matter how bad,
It’s always called good.
Expressing themselves---
Not everyone should.

So you think you’re a ‘Poet’
Better than the norm?
Then why don’t you show it---
Try writing in form!


:D jim

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