"Are You Ever Surprised?"

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BradleyK

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Background: The question (below) was posed to me at lunch today, when I was in the company gym working out. The conversation began when one of my office mates asked about photography after noting my Dwayne's Kodachrome T-shirt. The conversation evolved from generalities (what interests me...what interests her, etc.) into a bit of a discussion of the differences between shooting analogue and digital. She asked if I didn't find it difficult to shoot something without really knowing for sure that I had actually captured the image I wanted. She suggested (argued?) that one of the virtues of shooting digital was that one got immediate confirmation. I had to think about the question before I responded that "I generally have a pretty good idea what I have given that I have been shooting for a long time with virtually the same materials." The conversation continued on touching on a number of other photography-related matters (where do you like to shoot, how often do you go out just to shoot, etc.

After I returned to work, I thought about the question further and began to wonder if I had been completely forthright with my response. Perhaps, I should have qualified my answer? In retrospect, I would maintain that, when shooting black and white under normal circumstances (i.e. not in those cases where "existing light" conditions make the effort a bit of a crap shoot), I am seldom surprised at the results I have obtained (this assertion is based on, as I said above, using a limited number of materials, for particular applications and processing with tight control (yes, I know, accidents do happen!!). Now where I began to doubt the veracity of my response/position is in the case of shooting colour transparency film. For a normal (i.e. metered) exposure, I have a very good idea about what I have based upon the films I am currently (for three years-plus ) using for my colour work (E100G/E100VS). Where I am less certain is when I bracket (depending upon the situation, up to +/-2/3 in 1/3 increments); I have had shots that should have turned out, but ended up being a waste of film; I have had other brackets that left me astonished with how they rendered a particular scene, often in a manner far more effective/dramatic than I would have imagined.

So, let me throw the question out there: Do you always "get" the image you saw when looking through the viewfinder? Or, when shooting, in certain circumstances, do you get something that sometimes surprises/disappoints you?
 

David Allen

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I am never surprised with what I get in technical terms. However, for many years I have used just one camera, one lens, one film and one developer. The real surprise is when I get a negative that I think is not worth printing (poorly seen). Generally from the 10 exposures on medium format, I will get a minimum of 50% that I print - with the ones that I choose to not print being a combination of poorly seen images, images too much like what I already have printed and duplicates (when working at 1/30 or 1/15 hand-held I always shoot two images in case of camera shake).

Bests,

David
www.dsallen.de
 

BrianShaw

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...So, let me throw the question out there: Do you always "get" the image you saw when looking through the viewfinder? Or, when shooting, in certain circumstances, do you get something that sometimes surprises/disappoints you?

Q1: Generally but not always. Q2: Sometimes, but it is more often surprise rather than disappointment. But I've had that same discussion and understand the "opposing" viewpoint, despite being an avid film photographer.
 

analoguey

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Hmm. Seeing in viewfinder to getting the same image...? How do you define that exactly? Fairly sure that 99% time, it's me wanting certain parts more emphasised in the image and not exactly as is in the viewfinder. composition wise yes, but colours, contrast etc., are subjective to what you want -hence ' making the image'?

Sent from Tap-a-talk
 

hdeyong

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I'm surprised you went to the gym at lunch time.
Because I do the opposite to David Allen, I've had too many surprises lately, (usually unpleasant), and am paring back the number and type of cameras and film I use. So no, I haven't always got what I expected, and yes, there have been a number of disappointments.
 

MDR

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When I started out I was mostly surprised with the results I got from color film. I often forgot the changes in color temp during the course of a day from cold to warm (sunset). The surprises weren't bad in fact they were often quiet nice. Also I see neither the image coming straight from the sensor nor the image coming straight from the film as final result. The magic and final results happen at the post-shutterpress stage meaning darkroom/fauxtoshop.
The neg/file is the basis but not the whole building.
 

mauro35

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I try hard to get the image I want from the viewfinder. Most of the times I don´t like the result at all. But if I wait a few days and then look at the image again, I think I start liking it. I might have a problem with too high expectations.
 

Alan Klein

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She seems to asking a lot of questions about you. Hmmm.

That aside, and more to the point of your question, I bracket. That's my chimping. Of course I would do more corrective work immediately if I had a screen to see the shot as I'm shooting. Of course, with digital, I don't take the time to do my best compared to when I'm shooting MF film. Even with bracketing, the pictures often fail. If not with exposures, with just plain content. If I get one good shot on a roll, I'm happy.
 
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I will say to question number one that I always get what I physically see in the viewfinder. What surprises me is when my associative memories interfere with vision and I am expecting some golden quality that just wasn't stinking there in the first place.

As to content, I have not had a snowy, blue butt egret enter the scene from the side in the milliseconds that the lens is open only to be there when I am able to view TTL once more. But I am hopeful.

I do however envy you and your associates' lunchroom chatter. Though entertaining, mine generally consists of bodily sounds and odor. Rather juvenile. Suits me just fine.
 

MDR

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Hey Film can beat digital in the realm of instant gratification Polaroid/Fujiroid/Impossible 30 - 60 secs from photo to print. And you can review the final result not the in between. :smile:
 

removed account4

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no so much surprised in getting what i photographed, but surprised that i chose to photograph what i did
sometimes it takes 6months or a few years to look when i have "distance"
and then i say " huh, now i know what i was thinking "
 

markbarendt

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It is rare to get a failure when it is important, but it is also regular for me when using my 4x5 or similarly any full manual camera, to do an "analog chimp" and check to see that the lens was set properly, that right dark slide was pulled, to check the ISO setting on the meter.
 

fotch

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So, she was hitting on you, invite her over to your darkroom so you can show her your tools and how they work. :D
 

winger

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I've had this discussion before, too, though before I'd used a digital (besides a P&S anyway). With film, I nearly always have a good idea what I'll have on my film, especially if I'm shooting while thinking. If I'm just rattling off shots to finish a roll or something, then it drops to most being what I expected. I've found that I'm more likely to need to change things after looking at the screen with the digital because I don't pay quite as much attention before the first shot. I also know that what I see on the LCD is not exactly what I'll get in the computer. And I've gone out with both and had a contact sheet in my hands before getting the files off the card into the computer. Yeah, the Tri-X ones were just what I thought they'd be, too.
As long as my brain is engaged, I know what I'll have on film. (I'm still learning on 4x5, though - getting better with it)
 

Truzi

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The nice thing about open-book exams are the answers are there for you. The bad thing is you probably aren't really retaining much in that scenario. I feel the same way about LCDs on digital cameras.

I'm surprized when one of my photos comes out well, but that is more a technique issue. Keep in mind, I basically just take snapshots - I'm not like the rest of you :smile:

It is never surprizing that I get what I want on film. I don't own a digital camera, but have used friends' non-SLR digitals. No amount of staring at that LCD helps me figure out what the photo will really look like printed (or even on a computer screen) because of the constant adjustments the electronics make and the nature of the little screen. I'm not comparing film SLR to digital point-and-shoot either.

I find the LCD and viewfinders on run-of-the-mill digital cameras do not accurately represent the physical area captured as well as any film camera I've used. Thus, I _have_ to view the image after taking the picture. Even on $20 point-and-shoot film cameras with thumb-wheel film advance, what I see in the viewfinder is what I get in the picture.

As far as exposure, if I'm in a room with decent light from windows, and I don't use a flash, I get a decent picture all around; interior exposure is good and I can see through the window. I know this, and don't worry about it. With digital, even without flash, sometimes the pictures is the same, sometimes the room is too dark and the view out the window is fine, sometimes the interior is fine and the window is practically black.

What surprizes me is how, with all the modern technology and computerization, that it's more difficult for me to get what I want just by pointing and shooting without thinking about it.
 

NedL

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no so much surprised in getting what i photographed, but surprised that i chose to photograph what i did
sometimes it takes 6months or a few years to look when i have "distance"
and then i say " huh, now i know what i was thinking "
Very good!

Yes I am very often surprised. Not by what is in the photograph or the exposure but in how well or poorly my print conveys what I saw. John's answer is quite beautiful, if you stop to think about it.

I also like solargraphy and pinhole photography, where the whole point is to be surprised.
 

jwd722

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45 years of "mostly" surprises...

but I think I'm getting the hang of it!!!
 

Two23

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I shoot trains at night, using big flash set ups. Keep in mind everything is black when I am there. Let's say I took a shot as the train goes by, and then look at the LCD and see the exposure wasn't quite right or the lighting uneven. Can I simply make adjustments and ask the train to back up and run past me again? No, it has to be perfect the first time. In that regard, it doesn't matter so much if I shoot with my Nikon D7100 or my Rolleiflex.


Kent in SD
 

erikg

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I shoot trains at night, using big flash set ups. Keep in mind everything is black when I am there. Let's say I took a shot as the train goes by, and then look at the LCD and see the exposure wasn't quite right or the lighting uneven. Can I simply make adjustments and ask the train to back up and run past me again? No, it has to be perfect the first time. In that regard, it doesn't matter so much if I shoot with my Nikon D7100 or my Rolleiflex.


Kent in SD

I bet you've surprised some engine crews for sure!
 
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I am telling the truth and only truth , when I am using a Leica , I suprise how much information and qualities it puts to the image and When I use a japanese camera , I suprise how it puts terrible information and destroy the image. I used 2 IIIF and 2 IIIC , a Leicaflex with Summitar, Elmar and Summicron and I believe I spent the best time , quality time in my life. One French Champagne , Rotschild Wine and Belgium Beers and when I saw my love first time. Life was basic to me. I booght an Bolex and I am wishing a new woman.
 

Prof_Pixel

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Hey Film can beat digital in the realm of instant gratification Polaroid/Fujiroid/Impossible 30 - 60 secs from photo to print. And you can review the final result not the in between. :smile:

Actually, digital won that battle and put Polaroid out of business.
 

thegman

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Often surprised, Velvia always surprises me with how colourful it is. I can take a shot of a sunset, and think 'this will look great on Velvia', and when I get it back (even though my composition etc. might be poor) I'm always surprised by how vivid the colour is.

Long exposures often surprise me too, sometimes due to movement in the scene (planned or unplanned) or sometimes due to reciprocity characteristics of the film I'm using.

I want to try new things and be surprised.
 

pdeeh

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I just got two 4x5 sheet of Fomapan out of the tank, exposed in my pinhole camera a few days ago.

Not only do they appear reasonably well exposed, but the development seems OK too.

Every time I do this, it seems like witchcraft has taken place.
 
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