Still Photography

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Adam_S, May 18, 2003.

  1. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    One of my goals this summer is to teach myself the rudiments and jargon of still photography, I'd like to work on pretty much any and all aspects of knowledge of it, and am more than willing to do lots of reading. I'm hoping to spend about half the summer reading up on the subject and looking at cameras, and by then hopefully have about 300 saved up to sink into a basic camera and lens set up. I'm not looking at anything extremely fancy right now, I just want to practice and work out all my beginner's mistakes before I step up to something really nice (if I do so). I adore black and white but want to be able to work in color as well, and I figure I'll photograph either depending on how that particular one feels it should be shot.

    What I'm looking for is any helpful suggestions of books, journals, or magazines on the subject, or I suppose online support as well (though I'm trying to wean myself off the computer and would prefer to work offline).

    On books, a mixture of gallery stuff along with the technical hows and whys of lighting, composition, framing, shooting, lens, cameras etc and gallery books of examples (anyone know of a single really outstanding Ansel Adams book that's better than any other collection [basically everything I've seen of his I've liked though]).

    Would a subscription to popular photography be worthwhile? is there a better magazine to get?

    Right now I'm thinking I'll browse through for anything worthwhile at the public library and then attack the university libraries and I"m more than willing to make use of interlibrary loan, so getting just about any book will not be a problem (I think).

    Thanks in advance to anyone that helps me out!
     
  2. Cam S

    Cam S Screenwriter

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    Adam, by the sounds of it, a digital camera might be the best thing for you. With the right camera, say a Canon S45/50 or Canon G3 (just to name a brands high end camera) you can shoot all the pictures you want, and it will cost you nothing, other than the cost of the camera. It's a great way of learning, and it's how I've learned all of my photography skills. I used a Pentax MX 35mm camera from the late 70's for a year before I got into digital with a Canon G3, and I spent well over 500 dollars (Canadian) in one year on film and getting it developed. When your learning, ALOT of those pictures will be garbage and a waste of money. I guess it all depends on preference though.

    Photo.net is great for film info, but most of it also applies to digital. A great site though.

    DPreview is a good site for anything digital. It has great reviews, lots of info on the forums, but is mostly geared towards digital photography.
     
  3. Dominik Droscher

    Dominik Droscher Supporting Actor

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    Adam, like Cam I'd also suggest going the digital way for your first steps. You'll do a lot of trial and error in the beginning and being able to see the result immediately rather than waiting for the film to get developed, speeds up the learning process tremendously and is a lot cheaper.

    Here is another recommendation for Canon's G3. I bought mine last week with the same intentions like you and love it!
     
  4. Josh Lowe

    Josh Lowe Screenwriter

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    I'm going to go differ and suggest an inexpensive SLR body camera that uses 35mm film to start off with. I love digital photography and I currently own only a digital camera, but I think for truly learning the ropes of photography as an artform that starting off w/ film is the way to go. It teaches you more of the process..
     
  5. Mark Sherman

    Mark Sherman Supporting Actor

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    Stay the F$%^ away from Digital. Get a Nice Manual Camera Maybe a Nikon F1 with a 50 1.8 Lens. The Good thing about Nikon is that the lens mount has not Changed on the F Mount so a Lens For an N will fit on a New F. There is no Digital camera on the market that will let you adjust Shutter and F stop for under a grand.


    Shoot Using Slide Film it is less expensive then Print Film Since you only have to pay for the developing and not the prints. That way you know its the camera and not the lab doing any Touching up.


    make sure that you right down all the info on each shot Time of day Cloudy sunny (Overcast day is the best Since you will have less hot spots and less contrast then a Sunny day) Shutter speed and F stop. so when you get the film back you know what you did right and what you did wrong.


    Example Picture of my house. Sunday 2:25 Pm Slight Cloud Cover. Film Speed ASA 100, (when Shooting outside use 100 DO NOT use 200 under any Circumstances it sucks) Shutter 125 F stop 5.6.


    Good luck


    Mark C Sherman CPC (Certified Photographic Consultant) and thats no BS I am a CPC


    One more thing Adam i noticed that you Live in Trojan Cental would that be USC? If so Fight On
     
  6. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i'll side with the 35mm camp. can you even do stuff like shutter speed, f-stops, etc with a digital?

    you just can't beat the feel of a true 35mm camera in your hand. i really feel it would be the way to go for you.

    you may also want to check out your local camera shops. they often have classes that you can take. also, try a community college or (i think they're called) "outreach" classes. basically you sign up for a one day type thing - they usually don't cost more than about 30-50 bucks.

    btw - i've been thinking about selling my gear for about your budget. if you're curious just send me a pm or email.
     
  7. Cam S

    Cam S Screenwriter

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  8. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    thx for the info on digital cam. i guess i need to do some reading. in all seriousness....how do you feel the final picture quality is compared to film? do you feel the digital gets every little bit of oomph out of the pic?

    i'm still not so sure digital is that good yet. if so, i would think we'd see it used more professionally? again, just guessing here.

    oh yeah...one other aspect i thought about is the ability to develop your own film. not sure if that's an issue for adam, but i found it an enjoyable aspect of photography.
     
  9. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I am also looking to get into photography, and from the little I have read, there is absolutely nothing wrong with starting off (STARTING OFF!!!) with digital.

    --
    Holadem
     
  10. Cam S

    Cam S Screenwriter

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  11. Mark Sherman

    Mark Sherman Supporting Actor

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    Pardon me Cam. But It's Better to learn on a real camera that opens a real shutter and aperture and puts Light on to a piece of acetate then a CCD. that way you know what the picture looks like and you can then make the proper Lighting adjustments based on what the film looks like.


    I here to many people say Oh I want to do Photography they Buy a digital camera FUCK up the shot and Fix it in Photo shop That is not Photographer.
     
  12. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    The digital vs. film thing:

    1) digital is not as good as film if you are looking for a good-sized enlargement and spending the same kind of money on the camera. Yes, you can get very nice 8x10s from a variety of digital cameras in the under $1000 range, but you can also get gorgeous 24x36s from a good 35mm neg from a $100 used SLR kit. What's your target?

    2) digital solutions with interchangeable lenses are pricey. If you are interested in using a wide variety of focal lengths and especially fast lenses (I agree that you should pick up a fast 50mm, a 1.8 or 1.4, as a starter lens, unbelievably flexible), 35mm is still the way to go, especially if you are on a budget. Some people pooh-pooh Pentax gear as "student" cameras, but their optics, especially from the mid to late '70s up to now are first rate, and can be had quite inexpensively. Of course, changing with the times, Pentax have announced a sub-$1000 digital SLR body that should hit the market at the end of this summer, which would be an excellent starting camera, if it is within your budget.

    3) if you are processing your own b&w, it is very cheap. Here are the prices (in Canadian dollars, so shave 30% off of them if you are in the US) right off of the shelf here in my lab --

    Agfapan APX 100, 36 exposures: $3.49 a roll, $2.99 a roll in quantities of 10

    Agfa Rodinal film developer: $7.99 for 125mL. You use 5 mL per roll for processing, so this bottle will process 25 rolls.

    Edwal or Kodak stop bath: $10.99 for 500mL. You mix this 1:32, so you can use this one bottle for more than 60 rolls of film, and even more since you can re-use it.

    Agfa Agefix Fixer: $8.99 for enough to process 14 rolls, or $24.99 for enough to process 140 rolls. No joke -- the 5L jug from Agfa is the best bargain out there.

    So, including all those costs, you're looking at less than $3.70 per roll. Plus, you have the flexibility of processing your own film.

    Equipment-wise, all you need to process negatives are a couple of measuring cups or graduates that are appropriately marked and a tank and reel. AP make a nice tank with two reels for $20 (again CDN), and the graduates can be found at a kitchen store or dollar store.

    4) digital totally rules for printing. The darkroom of the new century is a digital darkroom, and that's not hyperbole. Last year I shut down our colour darkroom in favour of a digital solution, and not because of convenience or cost (in fact, a digital 8x10 in colour is significantly more expensive in terms of raw materials than a chemical 8x10), but because of quality. If you are interested, let me know and I can give you a rundown of what we were using and what we've switched to, and the associated costs.


    As to good photographic books and magazines, I have to say that most of the mass-market magazines are all advertising and no substance. Their "reviews" are not critical, and therefore hold virtually no value.

    Books, though...if you are going to shoot b&w film, I heartily recommend Ansel Adams' The Negative. My personal favourite photographic reference is The Ilford Manual of Photography. My own copy dates from the late 1950s, and it was out of print for a number of years but I hear that it has recently been updated and republished as just The Manual of Photography. I have no experience with this new edition, but if it's anything like the old one, it's great.

    I've heard good things about John Hedgecoe's beginning b&w books.

    Cam -- I was going to note that your subjective evaluation of your chemical vs. digital 8x10s will also depend a lot on how they have been made: a razor-sharp digital print made on a modern inkjet printer will thoroughly thump a fuzzy, blocky, crappy 8x10 turned out at one of those cheap, speedy minilabs. Good labs are harder and harder to find these days. This is another area where digital has the upper hand -- if you are making the prints, you're a lot less likely to do a bad job than some part-time minimum wage slave who isn't necessarily into photography at all. Of course, this also holds true in a good old-fashioned home darkroom.

    This is all really simplified, of course. It's too long as it is, so I'm not going to get into contrast controls or comparing optics or why your enlarger isn't giving you as sharp a print as your scanner...but just like the traditional darkroom, you have to spend some money to get the good stuff.
     
  13. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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  14. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    well said aaron...
     
  15. Lance Nichols

    Lance Nichols Supporting Actor

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    If you are looking to learn how to take photographs, get a good quality, older MANUAL film camera. Stay way from a newer SLR, or digi-cam. They are way too automated, and make it too easy to just look thought the viewer and press the button.

    As for books, Ansel Adams' three are still the best, IMHO. Between them and a copy of the photographer's pocket reference you should be set.

    $300 US should get you a good used 35mm and a couple of lenses. It could also be put into getting a nice Yashicamat 124G (medium format 6x6) unit. No interchangeable lenses, but the larger negative makes for TACK sharp images. The square format and restriction to one focal length can make you really think about the composition of the image as well.

    I took "OK" work with my 35 but found I really started to improve when I thought each frame out on my Yashica.

    Oh, I agree with 'cromes (slides) as well. It's what I learned to shoot on and although it has less exposure latitude then print film, typically it has much better saturation.

    Finally check out Photo.net
     
  16. Josh Lowe

    Josh Lowe Screenwriter

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  17. Mark Sherman

    Mark Sherman Supporting Actor

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    Josh I do realize that some shots are Touched Up. Whether its a smudge or a zit something that you really did not see first hand. But when you take a shot Knowing that no matter what you can always "FIX" it is no way to become a Better Photographer. Like Shooting under Fluorescent lights Knowing that if you have Daylight balanced film it will come out green so instead of doing the old easy Fix in Photo shop Put a Green Filter on. Thats what a good Photographer would do Knowing how the shot is going to look even before he/she hits the shutter.


    Going Digital is good as soon as you cover the basics of Regular Photography
     
  18. Jay Heyl

    Jay Heyl Stunt Coordinator

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    I shot a lot of film when I was in high school and college. I moved away from the hobby after I got out of college. Last year I bought a digital camera and got back into taking photos in a pretty big way.

    There are a lot of things about film and digital that are essentially the same and a few things that are significantly different. If you get a good enough digital camera -- one that allows manual adjustment of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO setting -- the basic skills of camera management will be similar if not identical. The things you learn about lighting and composition will also be fundamentally the same with both types of cameras. There are also, of course, some things that are significantly different with the two formats.

    My suggestion would be to start with digital for one reason: instant feedback. I don't know how many rolls of film I wasted doing experimental things and really didn't learn from because of the time between taking the photos and seeing the results. With digital you can get some idea of the results immediately and get full feedback as soon as you can download the images and check them on a large display. (The little display on the back of the camera is inadequate for checking much beside the facts that you took a picture and got the intended subject in the frame.) I've done a bit of experimental work with the digital camera in my "studio" (more commonly known as my garage) and kept the camera hooked up to my laptop so I could check each image immediately and make adjustments. I found this instant feedback invaluable.

    The other big plus for digital, particularly when learning, is that there's no marginal cost for each photo. There's no film to buy or develop. It costs the same to take one shot or a dozen of a particular subject. You can experiment with camera angles, distance to subject, shutter speed, aperture speed... pretty much all the settings and it costs you nothing. I find this no additional cost situation encourages me to experiment. Last year during the solar eclipse I set up outside and took one shot every 10 seconds during the whole event. It ended up being over 350 shots. I would have never dreamed of doing something like that with film. (Okay, the shots didn't turn out all that interesting, but the point concerning experimentation is still valid.)
     
  19. Cam S

    Cam S Screenwriter

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  20. Josh Lowe

    Josh Lowe Screenwriter

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    I think the instant feedback of digital is actually a good reason not to start off with it as it promotes "spray and pray" photography vs. taking time to compose and think through your shot. I suppose it comes down to what you want to do: If you just want to take snapshots of friends and family, then I suppose it doesn't matter. But if you're looking to use photography as a means of self expression or as artistic expression, then starting off with film may be a better choice as it forces you to be more thoughtful about what you're doing. I started off with film because digital simply didn't exist when I first picked up a camera..
     

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