My photo blog (shameless plug: lightproofbox.com) has been getting some traffic from StumbleUpon lately which brings with it little waves of attention. 99% of it is positive. But invariably there are a few people who don’t seem to have anything better to do than to say trite, mean things (anonymously, natch).

Hey, I’ve been around long enough to know there are jackasses out there who, while not doing anything risky or creative of their own, will always be willing to bash what everyone else is doing. I let it roll off my back.

But the one that makes me laugh is when they claim a photograph has been “photoshopped.” Well, duh. That’s like looking at the ocean and denouncing it by saying, “Wet.” Photoshopped? Let me think… Um, yes, please!

I modify 99% of my published photos. Of the thousand I’ve posted to Flickr there are maybe a half-dozen that I posted as-is from the camera. My earliest photos had the least “work done.” Later, as I became more experienced with digital post-processing, I edited quite heavily (probably too heavily in many cases).

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Do you hate it when people say “cheese”?

Continuing on my journey towards total photo snobbery, I’ve come to realize that my friends and family and I have different ideas about what makes a “good” photo. I’ve actually gotten exasperated requests at Christmas to “just send regular pictures.”

I prefer a documentary style approach to photographing my family and friends. I prefer more reality in my photos, capturing people doing stuff besides posing, looking natural and relaxed. But many people prefer smiling mug shots. I don’t go all prima donna and refuse to take requests. No, I just bury my pain deep inside of me where it can fester and create raging internal conflict and turmoil useful for artistic endeavors, smile, and say, “Say cheese!”

They like but I prefer

They like but I prefer

They like but I prefer

They like but I prefer

I give them both. Once in a while,

Continue reading Do you hate it when people say “cheese”?

Photographers are visual liars

Maybe not all of them and maybe not intentionally (in some cases) but, more or less, almost every photograph is a lie of sorts. I’m not even talking about post-processing. We portray what we want the world to see. Each one is a view of the world from the photographer’s viewpoint. The only photos I can think of that might be totally honest are documentary and clinical in nature like, perhaps, crime scene photos. But I even wonder about those.

Bachelor pad

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Learning Photoshop

For more than a year, Photoshop was the bane of my photographic world. I wanted to learn it, but each time I tried, I came away feeling frazzled, inept, and not too bright. I just wanted to master the basics. Perhaps I could learn to remove small distractions from an image or brighten a dark spot. For example, I took a picture of a couple with their dog, and an upturned chair in the background made it appear as if the dog had horns.

Picture before PhotoshopPicture before Photoshop
Many of my friends could use this program, so I began with optimism. First, I took a class. The instructor cheerfully zipped though his list of topics, while I watched, listened, took notes, and tried to follow the steps on my laptop. That didn’t work, though, because while I took notes, I missed details, and while I was trying to find a tool or command, he was often moving on the next topic. I finished the class but recognized that I needed to find another way to learn the program.

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Mastering a Subject

daisy showerDo you take the same types of pictures over and over again? You know what I mean—hundreds of flower images (or cars or cats or whatever) fill your photo albums, but no portraits, buildings, action shots, or street scenes. One school of thought urges you to push yourself to shoot what does not come naturally. However, I have another suggestions: stick with what you love, but work to perfect that subject.

There is a vast difference between lacking the imagination to try new subjects and deliberately working on one subject to develop skills. The first is a type of laziness; the second is a path to mastery. I like to think that I’m following the second path, but I’m too close to tell, so I’m going to use another example, flickr photographer Steve Wall.

Now, I’ve never met Steve; I know nothing about his life; he isn’t even an online correspondent, or at least he wasn’t until I asked permission to use his photos. But I have been following his photography on flickr for a few years because I saw some pictures of his that I liked and marked him as a contact.

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Does the camera change the way we behave?

Clip from This American Life (Showtime)

The clip above relates the story of a group of school children who pretend to film a schoolmate being beaten up rather than help him. Sure, young kids will do that sort of thing. But it reminded me of the story of Chinese pothole photographer Liu Tao, tabloid photography in general, and exploitive photo journalism.

Sadly, I think a lot of people today are more likely to take pictures first and help second. Now that cameras are ubiquitous the problem is worse than ever. Is it the camera changing the way people behave or is bad human behavior just finding a new outlet? Probably a little of both.

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The Zen of Letting the Image Find You

[Please welcome Jim Crotty to Photodoto. Jim is a pro photographer with a studio in Dayton, Ohio, called Picture Ohio, LLC. He shoots using Canon EOS digital, both the 5D and 1D Mark II, as well as Canon L lenses. His personal and stock work involves nature, landscapes and wildlife. Like many photographers, he started young, developing prints in a black and white darkroom. His work can be viewed on his site at ohiophoto.org or on his Flickr account under username jimcrotty.com. — JW]

I have finally gotten around to writing my first article for photodoto.com. I’m thrilled to be part of such a talented online community of photographers.

Rather than starting-off with an article that has to do with the more technical aspects of photography, I thought I’d talk a little bit about artistic approach.

Nature and landscape photography is the type of work that I find most enjoyable and represents the foundation of my photographic career—a foundation that I still try to stay actively involved with while becoming more involved in commercial photography.

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Photo sharing and the future of photography

As Flickr has grown in both size and popularity, it is increasingly becoming a “go to” source for photographs and photographers. Photo editors, galleries, newspapers, magazines, authors, ad agencies, artists, and more are all browsing Flickr every day looking for interesting photos, photographers, and inspiration.

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The difference between taking and making

“To take photographs means to recognize—simultaneously and within a fraction of a second—both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis.” — Henri Cartier-Bresson

You’ve probably heard people say they make photographs. Maybe you thought nothing of it. But making a photograph is a distinctly different approach to photography than taking. Taking implies coming upon or discovering something, lying in wait, to grab or trap. When you take photos, you go into the world and you find scenes to capture. Making implies building a scene from parts. Creating something from nothing. Choosing which elements to include and which to exclude.

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A visit to the county fair

There’s something fascinating about a county fair. I’d never been much of a fan of the whole concept until after I’d gotten hooked on photography. And then, one Summer, I went to the fair and brought my camera along. Maybe it was because photography had taught me how to see again. How to see the wonder and grotesquerie that abounds at a county fair. There are more photo opportunities per square meter than almost anyplace I can think of.

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