Here's a thought

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HT1794 - The Arrogance of Photography

Have you ever stopped to think how arrogant photographers are? Essentially, the fundamental act of sharing our photographs is the assertion that the viewer should see the world the way we do! Our photographs assert that our vision is somehow more sensitive, skilled, informative, or aesthetically pleasing, than the viewer's natural vision. But is any of that true, or is it just a presumptuous game?

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HT1795 - The Humility of Photography

Yesterday I was talking about the arrogance of photography, but the opposite side of that coin is its inherent humility, particularly if we follow the advice of Anais Nin to "not speak unless spoken through."

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HT1796 - Defining Your Personal Standard of Excellence

We each produce our work to our own personal standards of excellence. Do you know what yours is? As an exercise, can you write down 10 qualities of a photograph that define your standard of excellence?

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HT1797 - Artificial Motivations

The world of photography includes a lot of artificial motivations to produce our work. Contests, deadlines, club meetings, workshops, and review sessions come to mind. These are good, and they are not so good. Here's my experience with artificial motivations.

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HT1798 - A Flourish, a Dash of Spice, a Jot of Sparkle

For decades now, the presentation of a photograph in the fine art world has been codified to the white, bevel-cut mat board. Is that the limit of our creativity? Would it be awful if we were to jazz up the presentation of our photographs to something more exotic?

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HT1799 - Why Beauty?

Photo Karma. You don't make the world a better place by perpetuating ugliness. Understanding is a kind of beauty. Beauty is not the same as pretty.

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HT1800 - Older Cameras

When I purchased my first digital camera in 2002, it was very primitive technology and therefore had pretty severe limitations in terms of its capabilities. But it appears to me that the technology reached a comfortable plateau about 2018 and any digital camera after that date likely has just about everything you might need. Said another way, today's expensive cameras may not be necessary if you can achieve your results with far less expensive used gear.

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HT1801 - Retrospectives

For as long as I can remember, one of my favorite types of photo books has been the lifetime retrospective from a master photographer. Here in the third decade of the 21st century, I'm beginning to wonder if the idea of retrospectives has any place in today's photo publishing.

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HT1802 - JPGs vs RAW, Again

The flexibility of a RAW file has always seemed such a better strategy that I've never given JPEGs out of the camera a second thought. I recently had an chance to see Gordon Laing's book touting the virtues of shooting JPEGs out of the camera. I understand the challenge, and have to admit that Laing's images are terrific. I thought that maybe I need to try this, just for fun. Until, that is, I remembered Adobe's Enhanced DeNoise and Super Sharpen, newly introduced software solutions that only work on RAW files.

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HT1803 - 11 to 1 Shooting Ratio

Here is a possibly meaningless statistic. In looking through my Lightroom catalog, find that I statistically need eleven shots in the field for every shot I end up using in a finished project. That ratio can be a lot higher. I found many examples as high as 40:1, but it is a rare exception that results in a used image when there is only a single capture in the field. It seems that working a scene intensely is a better strategy for me than run and gun.

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HT1804 - Blown Highlights

As a general rule of thumb, I avoid blown highlights at all cost. But like any general rule of thumb, there are exceptions. A recent project photographing indoors using table lamps as the only source of illumination created images that always had blown highlights which I was perfectly happy to accept. I tried to think of another example where I'm comfortable with blown highlights and could only think of one - - reflections of the sun on chrome automobile trim.

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HT1805 - Small Stories

So much of fine art photography these days is supposed to be GRAND. The Grand Landscape, for example, is usually about big and sweeping vistas. I much prefer the small stories. I'm sure that's because they are more experiential. I can only witness a grand landscape, but I can live in a small story.

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HT1806 - Where Are the Photographs?

Last week I was staying at the house of some friends in Florida who are avid scholars and art people. I counted 83 framed pieces of artwork hanging on the walls of their very large home. Curiously enough, there was not a single photograph other than a few family snapshots.

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HT1807 - They Will Come

Do you remember that scene in the movie Field of Dreams when Ray is assured that if he builds it, they will come. I believe this very strongly when it comes to finishing a photography project. It's as though there is some law of nature that a finished project invariably attracts and audience. We may not be able to predict the size or scope of the audience, but they will come.

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HT1808 - The Perfect Lens

We all want flawless, optically perfect lenses. What if I were to ask you for a quantitative measure of the sharpness you need? How sharp is sharp enough? Is sharpness a constant across all genres of images? Or is acceptable for one subject overkill for another? To complicate this further, this fails to take into account such variables as viewing distance and print size. Enough is as good as a feast.

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HT1809 - Reasons for Techniques

Last weekend, I was involved in a big workshop with dozens of photographers discussing their images in an educational setting. It's always fun to see how someone accomplishes a photograph, but I can't remember a single instance where the photographer explained why they wanted to create the effect they were demonstrating. They would say something like, "I want a darken this corner, so I did this," but they never explained why they wanted to darken the corner.

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HT1810 - A Camera for the Car

How many times have I been out and about when I unexpectedly see a terrific image with gorgeous sunlight, but I'm frustrated because my camera is at home on the shelf? The most expensive and capable camera is useless if it's home on the shelf. I finally learned that lesson and now have a camera that I keep in the car at all times.

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HT1811 - Connect the Dots, um, Images

In the early stages of developing a project, the search is for images that connect to one another without repeating. I like to think of this as similar to the child's game of connect the dots. Only when the dots are connected in the correct sequence will the bigger picture become apparent.

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HT1812 - Suffering Is Not a Measure of Excellence

How much you have to endure is not in the least related to the excellence of your photographs. The minute a photographer starts to tell me their capture story, I get suspicious. Besides, if an image is easy and falls into your lap, does that mean it's an inferior image?

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HT1813 - Electronic Shutters

Growing up in the era before digital photography, it never occurred to me that there was any other way to construct a shutter than a mechanical one. Even when I adopted digital means, I still used the mechanical shutter exclusively. I've now changed that philosophy and use electronic shutters for almost everything. My images are sharper, my camera is quieter, and there is less wear and tear on my expensive machine. The two most important exceptions are fast panning and indoors under artificial light.

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HT1814 - ISO 12,800 Revisited

In my film days, I shot mostly using ASA 25 film for the finest grain possible. To this day, my natural reflex is to shoot at the lowest ISO on my digital camera. Recently, I shot an entire project using ISO 6400 and ISO 12,800, processed using Lightroom's new DeNoise tool. Wow. A full 9 stop improvement over my film days!

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HT1815 - Learning by Looking and Listening

A major turning point in my photographic life began when I started attending workshops. You might think that the most valuable part of a workshop is having your own work critiqued by those who are more talented than you. That's important, but the best part for me was listening to the workshop instructors talk about their images. Every image included a tidbit that I absorbed for use in my own learning curve. This is precisely why I do the series "Every Picture Is a Compromise" over at Brooks Jensen Arts — my way of paying it forward.

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