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Old 23-03-2008, 11:52   #1 (permalink)
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he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

A couple of days back I went and took a look at the shots from the Shell wildlife photographer of the year. I still don't know why I torture myself as I go to these things intending to learn how to improve but usually ending up contemplating just putting all my kit up on ebay in despair at how good they are.

All of the photos had a short description of how they came by the shot and here is teh point to my ramblings. How important is that? Or rather how important SHOULD that be? I have no idea on the judging criteria but I must admit having seen the image my opinion of where it should be ranked was heavily influenced by this. For example the tog who was in the water so engrossed in shooting Salmon in Siberia that he was surprised by a bear that was so close it filled the frame with a 12mm, and instead of running he snapped a couple of shots first! Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Online gallery

But there is the other side of the coin. There was an equally amazing shot of a group of Baboons at a waterhole which I loved but somehow it became less impressive to me when I read that the camera had been left set up with a trip trigger so it took a shot every time the beam was broken with no input from the photographer. Even if it had been a remote trigger that would have meant more to me somehow.
Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Online gallery

Anyway the the point of my ramblings: Is photography just about the finished product or does the way it was obtained matter when it comes to which is the best shot?
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Old 23-03-2008, 11:59   #2 (permalink)
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Re: he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

hmmmmmmmmm thats an interesting ramble vinny, I do think that it doesnt matter ..to a point.... i think that the photographer has to have some sort of input or its not personal nor individual............ i believe that every image we take we leave some sort of stamp of US the photographer on the image, in the second example i think its missing so i would be disapointed in that as well to be honest. At the end of hte day anyone with the money to buy the equipment can leave the camera set up with a trip trigger........... it doesnt make them a photographer



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Old 23-03-2008, 12:01   #3 (permalink)
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Re: he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

I remember listening to Colin Prior, a great photographer. He was happy to tell you every thing about how he took a certain picture.
So knowing exactly how to take the picture, bet your results will not be as good!.
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Old 23-03-2008, 12:13   #4 (permalink)
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Re: he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

I'm definitely a "Let me tell you the story" photographer as, more often than not, it's the reason I took the shot (the circumstances........ the story)

Anyone can get a half decent shot of, say, a lion. Just go down to the zoo! But get a lion in it's environment with a description of how it was found and the circumstances of the shot.......
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Old 23-03-2008, 12:21   #5 (permalink)
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Re: he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

I know just what you mean. I've seen pictures of bats and flying insects taken automatically with a camera set up in a specifically designed confined space that 'encourages' the subjects to fly through the trigger beam to escape.

Now that is to me a very valid way of recording the blighters in flight, as there is probably no other easy/reliable way of doing it, but to then prop the resulting images up as examples of great photographs, I'm with you, I'm not so sure.

It is easy to think that any shot where the 'tog has had the camera in his/her hands and has released the shutter must be the 'better' shot, but we are not out of the woods yet. In the days of film I used to pride myself on capturing the moment in action shots. Well, with only a manual single frame advance and the cost of film, you had to be accurate! I used to think that the pros with their motor drives and changing film after every shot were somehow not playing the game as they were relying more on luck to get that special shot rather than skill.

In your example of the guy and the bear, I suspect (understandably) the shots had no thought of composition or exposure control, and yet due to the lens and situation I bet the shots were great. Which brings me back to the luck factor. Advances in technology have given us the ability to shoot at three frames per second on average, and not many now really think about settings either. So are the great pictures that are out there just luck, a result of the law of averages or down to skill? In truth I suspect there is a combination of all of these factors.

Anyone attending an event where there is some action, or just taking a shot where action is involved ought to try sticking to single shot mode and just take one shot at a time. That will sharpen your anticipation and reflexes!
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Old 23-03-2008, 12:47   #6 (permalink)
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Re: he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

very good points Vinny. But having just looked at the shots in question I am disappointed at how over-processed they appear to be. They do not look natural at all which seems to bely the term Natural History.
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Old 23-03-2008, 15:34   #7 (permalink)
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Re: he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

I agree with everything said, although I have to admit I didn't think it was so impressive as last year's offering. Also, and I know I might be sounding a little like a hypocrite, I was a little disappointed to see the winners of the 14 year old (or thereabouts) category almost all owning 1D-MKIIs etc. which I thought was a bit of a shame.
I know I have a good camera, but that is a considerably younger age, and perhaps this is a reflection of how the gear can improve your chances of winning a comp / getting a good shot.
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Old 23-03-2008, 18:10   #8 (permalink)
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Re: he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JMitchell View Post
......... I was a little disappointed to see the winners of the 14 year old (or thereabouts) category almost all owning 1D-MKIIs etc. which I thought was a bit of a shame.
OK, "only" Highly Commended but.......

Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Online gallery

Quote:
Originally Posted by JMitchell View Post
I know I have a good camera, but that is a considerably younger age, and perhaps this is a reflection of how the gear can improve your chances of winning a comp / getting a good shot.
Right place, right time is more like it, I think (ironically except for the one above which could be anytime! LOL!). Keep practicing, your time will come!
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Old 23-03-2008, 18:23   #9 (permalink)
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Re: he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

I wonder if the old golf adage of "the more I practice, the luckier I get" applies to photography?
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Old 23-03-2008, 21:34   #10 (permalink)
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Re: he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VinnyP View Post
... Anyway the the point of my ramblings: Is photography just about the finished product or does the way it was obtained matter when it comes to which is the best shot?
I'm going to respond to this question before I go + look at the photo's ...

I think there's room for both approaches, depending on the purpose or usage of the shot. You have to have a bit of skill in order to set up a shot that is triggered remotely, so I wouldn't say that a photographer that does is has no skill.

But on the other side of the coin, I think we are warmed to a shot which is accompanied by a heart-warming or shocking or other kind of story which stirs our emotions, even though it may not be technically 'correct'.

I think it's a technical -vs- feelings issue, and one that affects our emotional reaction to a photograph. i.e. a technically 'perfect' shot may stir minimal emotional response compared to a technically 'imperfect' shot that comes with a story, where the story is more appealing than the photograph itself. Or rather the photograph becomes appealing not because of the shot itself, but because of the story attached to it.

I've ended up rambling myself but it's quite an involved question, and a good question Vinny

Right, off to view the photo's ...
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Old 23-03-2008, 21:47   #11 (permalink)
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Re: he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

Bear shot:
Eyes are not sharp at all, the most prominent thing to me is its nostrils, yet it's entitled "Bear Glare". The bear doesn't look particularly manacing or anything interesting. Sky is distracting - it's an impressive sky (from the wide-angle lens effect) but the bear is s'posed to be the main subject, whereas the sky steals it's thunder IMO. Overprocessed. Like the story, but not the photo. The photo is what's in the competition, so I'm not particularly impressed that it won.

Baboon shot:
Excellent! Should've won. The compo is great for an auto-triggered shot, I have no probs with a skill issue here. Technically a good shot + I like the story behind it as well. So the guy didn't press the shutter release button, but he couldn't have got close enough to get this shot himself, so the fact that it was auto-triggered doesn't make me like the shot any less.

PS If the bear shot had motion blur, was in mid-roar, or something interesting like that, then I'd agree that the story behind it meant more than a technically good shot, but this bear shot is static + uninteresting to me.

Last edited by Charlotte; 23-03-2008 at 21:54.
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Old 23-03-2008, 22:53   #12 (permalink)
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Re: he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

In my earliest days at photo college one of the key messages/lessons given to us was; it doesn't matter how hard or how complicated or how dangerous or how technical or whatever... it was to get the shot - all that matters is the final result; in the end you can put whatever 'story' you like to an image it doesn't make the image any better, it simply influences the viewer.

This is really the problem with current trends in Art and Photography, too many flippin' words and not enough quality imagery. If it needs a 'story' you can bet it's a crap image!

Let the flippin flood gates open wide...I'm a waitin'...

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Old 23-03-2008, 23:04   #13 (permalink)
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Re: he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JMitchell View Post
I agree with everything said, although I have to admit I didn't think it was so impressive as last year's offering. Also, and I know I might be sounding a little like a hypocrite, I was a little disappointed to see the winners of the 14 year old (or thereabouts) category almost all owning 1D-MKIIs etc. which I thought was a bit of a shame.
I know I have a good camera, but that is a considerably younger age, and perhaps this is a reflection of how the gear can improve your chances of winning a comp / getting a good shot.
what gets me is how the hell they can afford to have these cameras,......... it really DOES go to show that money does get you everywhere, i cant understand the parents to be honest, even if i had the moeny i wouldnt be placing one of those cameras in the hands of ANY 14 year old, no matter how responsible they are. at the end of the day kids will be kids........... or maybe im being cynical! lol i still wont give my son anything other than the old point and shoot 2 mp olympus which he is disgusted with.

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Old 24-03-2008, 13:13   #14 (permalink)
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Re: he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

Fi i have to disagree, when i was 10 my dad used to let me use his camera and i hung it proudly around my neck i think it was a Nikon but regardless of its price at the time dad would let me use it because he knew i loved to take pictures, im glad he didnt have the attitude that it costs to much so im not using it. Perhaps these parents feel the same way about their kids and yes they are lucky enough to be able to afford it and so why not use the best. Dont get me wrong im so jealous those kids have better equpiment than i do but im glad the parents are doing what they are doing instead of giving them say a cheap point and shoot 2 mp olympus if they could afford better.

i doubt i would be doing what im doing today if my dad had given me the old 110 to play with because i was to young to hang his Nikon around my neck. Its great to see some parents taking an interest in their childrens hobbies. As for my opinion on the topic i think i agree with Charlotte (again) there has to be some sort of skill and keeness to first think of the shot and set up the equipment to do it, just because the guys finger didnt hit the shutter button i dont think the credit for the photographs should be taken away or mean anything less.

Photoraphy IS an art and the artist is the person who creates the shot as they see it no matter how they take it imho.

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Old 24-03-2008, 14:30   #15 (permalink)
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Re: he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

My parents were not poor and I was spoilt only child. Usually I got what I wanted ridiculously expensive bicycles motorcycles skateboards keyboards computers etc. They also encouraged my photography but they did it by talking to the teacher who ran the photography club. That was why I didn't get the Canon AE1 I wanted I got an all manual Pentax K1000 and a 50mm Lens. That was the best thing they could have done for me and I kept that for a good few years. In fact had a medium format camera before I had an Auto SLR. (Canon A1)

I have to disagree with you Fiona if I had a child interested in photography I would want them to have an SLR if I could afford it. In fact I'd I'd be tempted to get them a K1000 as that would be cheaper than the compact and no danger of them getting robbed either . If they must have digital then I'd be tempted to get them a Leica M8 rangefinder. If they learn with a compact or a bridge camera then chances are they will never bother to learn very much about Manual focus DOF etc. And will struggle to shoot a landscape if the shooting dial hasn't got a picture of a mountain on it. Yes of course seeing the picture and composition are the same for any camera but if it slows you down and makes you think about the process you naturally stop and think about the picture.
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Old 30-03-2008, 09:00   #16 (permalink)
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Re: he Shell Wildlife photographer musings from a jealous man.

Children should not have "everything" as when they get older they dont appreciate things. A member of my family has a very high profile job, he is very down to earth, yet sadly the OH and offspring all seem to think they are above everyone else at times. causes a very uneasy atmosphere at times.
Im not saying feed them bread and water etc or send them down mines, but just dont throw thousands at them cos believe me it dont always work
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