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Old Oct 26, 2010, 6:00 PM   #11
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1) Start with a fixed focus camera. My old 1mpx Sony DSC-P20 was ideal. Old Mavicas work too. You can get them off the bay cheap. Don't worry about DOF or exposure of focus or anything, just compose pictures and shoot. Get an editor like PaintShopPro5 (or any early edition) and learn how to fix the stuff you've shot.

2) Move on to a film rangefinder. An old Yashica or Canon or Konica with a fast, fairly wide lens (45/1.8 or so) would be great. Learn how to hyperfocus for DOF, how to judge and adjust exposure, how to avoid parallax errors, etc. Use good film, and a good lab, or build your own darkroom. You must pay for your mistakes, for them to really teach you the value of seeing.

3) Now you have the background to get a Pentax Kx and a basic kit: DA18-55 zoom, SMC A50/1.7 prime, Vivitar Series 1 90/2.5 macro. Those will keep you busy awhile. And be sure to follow Tom Lehrer's advise for nature photographers:

"You just stand there, looking cute
And if something moves, you shoot!"
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Old Oct 28, 2010, 5:25 AM   #12
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If you buy a dSLR and come to understand how to work it fully - shutter speeds, ISOs, aperture, lenses.. and have something you're GENUINELY passionate about shooting..

You will soon enough gain the expertise to know how to take great photos, and how not to take bad photos, just by being able to tell what is wrong with a photo you come by.

Of course, going down to B&H and talking to professionals every day for two weeks helps too.
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Old Oct 28, 2010, 6:18 AM   #13
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pro photographers with the best kit still take bad photos
just not nearly so many
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Old Oct 31, 2010, 10:02 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kazuya View Post
pro photographers with the best kit still take bad photos
just not nearly so many
Actually, they shoot many many many more bad pictures. They just throw away 99.99% of them. That machine-gun sound at press conferences and sports events comes from FF cams firing away at 5 fps or whatever. And this isn't a dSLR phenomenon. If film days it was common for pros to shoot many 135 carts in order to get one profitable (or even usable) image.

What comes to mind is a proof sheet by Alfred Eisenstaedt of a political rally in Britain 60-odd years ago. Eisie has the best gear available then, and he blows a cart or three on the bored headliners. But then there's a shout, and Winston Churchill snaps out of his nap and flashes a big grin and a V FOR VICTORY sign, and that's the iconic image that goes into all the history books and documentaries. The 1-in-100 shot pays off! On the proof sheet, just that one picture is circled.

And the moral of the story is: Ya gotta kiss a lotta frogs to find a prince(ss).
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Last edited by RioRico; Oct 31, 2010 at 10:04 AM.
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Old Oct 31, 2010, 10:15 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RioRico View Post
Actually, they shoot many many many more bad pictures. They just throw away 99.99% of them. That machine-gun sound at press conferences and sports events comes from FF cams firing away at 5 fps or whatever. And this isn't a dSLR phenomenon. If film days it was common for pros to shoot many 135 carts in order to get one profitable (or even usable) image.
It all depends on the situation and the subject. What you typically will find at a press conferance is photogs taking a half dozen shots at a time during several key points. The reason they take 1/2 dozen or so is you can't predict a facial expression or gesture. That's completely different than a wedding - you're not taking a 6 shot burst of the bride & groom posing. The skill comes in posing them and getting the light properly with as few shots as possible.

In sports shooting, you won't see a lot of pros machine gunning - again you'll see them taking 3-5 shot bursts at peak action time. The difference between the experienced sports photog and non experienced is the non experienced does the whole spray-and-pray technique - if they take 2000 shots something is bound to turn out good. Experienced shooters will shoot in bursts but those bursts take place around peak action. The reason for the burst is the same as with presser's - you can't predict an expression, arm movement or leg position.

What I've found as I got more experienced as a sports shooter: my keeper rate didn't really get better, my standards did. So I now throw away shots I would have been thrilled with when I first started. I do take less shots by far though.

So, while the professional may have the same keeper rate, it's simply because the definition of "bad" has changed.
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