In a slump

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Jan 18, 2011
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Lately I have been feeling like I am in a slump with photography. The reason is I haven't been that happy with my results and don't feel like I have been getting the pictures how I am seeing them in my head before I click the shutter.

Some background: I'm 21 and have only been really starting to get into photography for a little under a year and just upgraded to a D90. I love going out and getting some exercise and seeing new places that I wouldn't have without photography and capturing the places I go.

To all of you more experienced photographers what did you do to get out of your slumps when you haven't been happy with your results. Also What do you like about photography that keeps you going out shooting.

With this tread I would like to hear everyone's responses and also get to know each other on the cafe some more. And to end it off a picture from today enjoying the nice weather.
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DSC_0805.jpg by bry1865, on Flickr


Sort Version: What do you do to get out of a photography slump and what makes you keep going out to take pictures.
 
Joined
Jan 2, 2011
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Well this is going to be a thread that I'm going to keep a close eye on. I go through slumps all the time. What has helped me lately is a purchase of an older manual focus lens, an "el-cheapo" Nikkor 28mm f/ 3.5 Ai. It's fun to use just by forcing me to slow down. Looking forward to hearing from others.
 
Joined
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Miami, Florida, USA.
You are not alone. Those slumps are common and when they happen people tend to loose interest in photography.
When we stop looking and begin seeing and analyzing our subjects, all of a sudden we experience a significant change in our photography. To give you an example, do you find plenty to photograph around your house? If you do not, you are not seeing. Familiar things tend to make us bored simply because they are familiar but, have you really paid attention when you look to something familiar at what the light is doing to the subject? Even better, have you noticed what the light does to the subject as the day goes by? Have you noticed that light in early morning, mid-day and late afternoon has a different quality?
If you are photographing everything in front of you the same way you are doing something wrong. Begin by setting your camera in the manual mode and notice your camera has three different exposure meters. Do you know how to use them and when to use each one? If you photograph the majority of your subjects with the camera in an auto mode and matrix metering you are missing the point. Matrix will give you a good proportion of well exposed photographs but in those critical cases where metering the subject right is of paramount importance to your creativity, matrix will not help you.
Do you use a tripod? A tripod will slow you down, especially using the manual mode and if the subject is in focus it will make your shot sharper. It will make you observe your subjects better. Most subjects look different when seen at different angles. Explore that. Learn your camera and lenses. Make sure of what they are capable of. Nobody needs a professional camera and exotic lenses to make good photographs but good photography is impossible without seeing. Your mind makes the photograph before your finger squeezes the shutter! Explore composition.
If you are already familiar to basic photography and have learned to use the capabilities of your exposure meters begin by looking more carefully at your subjects. No need to use the camera, just observe the subject, ask yourself what is it that attracts you to photograph it and most important, look carefully at what the light is doing to it. When you take the picture try to compose the shot the way it makes you feel about it.
Your beautiful shot of the skyline could make you think that perhaps it could look even better after sunset, when the lights are out and there is still light in the sky. A simple observation and quite surely a different, most pleasing result.
Learn to see photographically. Observe the light and your subject. Slow down and photograph asking yourself what is it that has attracted you to make the photograph in the first place. Try different angles, do not photograph always at eye level because all of your photographs will be the same and boring. Add variety and make your pictures interesting to the viewer. If you show a photograph to a viewer and you have to explain what you did, you are doing something wrong. Your picture should "talk" to the viewer.
Freeman Patterson, famous Canadian photographer living in New Brunswick, has many excellent books written on photography and one of his best is "Photography and the Art of Seeing." I highly recommend this book, especially if you already know basic photography. It will open your eyes! The following is an example of "seeing differently." I hope it serves to stimulate your creativity.


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If you train yourself to see photographically very soon you will be amazed at the quality of your photography, regardless of the camera or lens in use.
Good luck!

William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.
 
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Dec 29, 2005
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Bournemouth, UK
anything worthwhile takes time to master (there are very few 'masters' in photography!) and what you likely see is the gap between what you are doing / results and what others get in the way of results

a year is no time and after 10 years you will likely still see a gap (or you are not looking hard enough),. go out and take more pictures and perhaps find someone you can go shoot with - it's always good fun to see how others photograph the same thing in different ways
 
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Oct 17, 2007
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Orland Park, Illinois
Every so often, I experience a "slump." I think I'm in a bit of a slump right now.

The thing that usually initiates a slump for me is when I return from a trip! I'll visit a brand new place and see all sorts of photographic opportunities all around me. Then, when I return to the familiar sites of home, things don't appear nearly as interesting as they did before I went on the trip!

For me, testing the limits of how I see with various lenses and techniques helps break a slump. For example, I went out the other day with just my 105 VR and looked at everything from a macro point of view. It opens up a whole new world. Another day I went out with just the 500 VR--and there again it opens up a brand new way of viewing the world. Same with the super wide angle.

Then, I'll shoot long exposures for a while. It's interesting to me to take pictures that one can't see with ordinary vision...long exposures, blurs, zooms, etc. Or, I'll concentrate on panoramics or HDR images for a while.

Anyway, those are some of the things that I do to break a slump. The other thing I'll do is make sure to visit certain events: a baseball game, an air show, a birthday party, etc. Events like that certainly provide numerous opportunities to keep shooting--and keep practicing.

Here's a recent image using a long exposure to blur the pianist:

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Glenn
 
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As mentioned by William Rodriguez, "seeing" is one of the most important skills we can learn to improve our photography. You can buy books of this subject to to pick up some techniques. Another approach is studying your pictures. Also study pictures of photographers you admire, and find out why their pictures are better than yours. My belief is that if you can articulate why one picture is better than another, you possess the skill to take a picture similar to the better one (in some cases you may need better equipment but that's beside the point).

I am a sports photographer and I study pictures in Sports Illustrated regularly, especially in the Leading Off section. I will find out where the photographer is located relative to the action and do they use a low or high angle view. What will happen if the shot is taken a fraction of a second earlier or later? Will the impact be cut down significantly? Do they use a wide angle or telephoto lens? Does it make sense to include more background information to tell the story?

Also post pictures in the cafe for critique. The members are very nice here and tend to give compliments only, but you can label your posts as requesting critique.

As an example, you may want to cut down the amount of sky in your picture. If there are interesting cloud patterns in the sky, that may be more acceptable. Also, the trees in the foreground does not complement the focal point (buildings at the back). Can you move to a different vantage point?
 
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Sep 4, 2007
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Fairfax, VA
I'm a hobbyist and have been in a Nikon equipment slump for a few months. I recently upgraded to a Blackberry Bold with camera/video, used my daughter's Lumix P&S for a trip to NYC 2 months ago and brought but took 10 pics of my visit to Okinawa 2 weeks ago with my D300. For both trips, I did not want to be bothered with carry around a D300 with 17-35.

Now that it's warm and relatively dry in NVa, the kids and I are more active and have varied interests. I felt guilty about having over $10K in equipment doing nothing but I won't ever get to the point of selling my D300 unless it's to finance a FX body. :eek:

I lost the guilt because it's there and if and when I want to tinker or even go shoot an event, I can and will. Life is too short to worry, go outside, soak up the sun and enjoy. The urge and NAS will strike again. :smile:

If you are a pro and in a slump, I suggest finding another line of business or change to Canon for a mind-altering jilt.
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2006
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Paris, France
Be grateful to be a hobbyist and to actually be allowed to be in a slump from time to time.

You're shooting for fun, don't stress yourself. Shoot if you want to or feel like shooting. Otherwise don't. It's as easy as that, or should be as easy as that. :wink:
 
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Freeman Patterson, famous Canadian photographer living in New Brunswick, has many excellent books written on photography and one of his best is "Photography and the Art of Seeing." I highly recommend this book, especially if you already know basic photography. It will open your eyes! The following is an example of "seeing differently." I hope it serves to stimulate your creativity.

William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.


Ha, I recently found this book in my shelf. It seems I bought it a long time ago and never got around to reading it. It's an excellent book, and exactly what I need to bumpstart my shooting. I've also been feeling a little dull as of late.

To the OP, I try to switch lenses, or restrict myself to one lens for a period and see what new and interesting shots I can get with it. I also try to visit new places. And Explore Flickr and Fave several things, and then proceed on dissecting it and see if I can figure out how the shot is made. I then try and replicate the technique.
 
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Be grateful to be a hobbyist and to actually be allowed to be in a slump from time to time.

You're shooting for fun, don't stress yourself. Shoot if you want to or feel like shooting. Otherwise don't. It's as easy as that, or should be as easy as that. :wink:


I try to follow this. Thankfully this is nothing but a hobby to me and start and stop as I please.

Try doing something new and take your camera with you.

However, there are times where I leave the camera at home and just enjoy the moment without having to worry about capturing it.
 
Joined
Jan 18, 2011
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Thanks everyone for well thought out replies. It was nice to read through after a day of work. I tried to give everyone a response without making one to hard to read. I have read and reread everyone's replies and will keep coming back for ideas. Keep the ideas coming for other members who may be experiencing the same thing.

Camerapapi: Seeing is one thing that after giving it some though that I need to work on. Slowing down and looking deeper into the other angles is something that would most likely improve many shots. The book sounds like it is well worth a read and will most likely pick it up soon.

Silver: I would like to find another photographer around my area but haven't had much luck so far but am always on the lookout.

Gnagel: I recently got a 12-24 and have been trying to use that lens as of late. I will be going to Las Vegas in a few weeks and my friends want me to shoot them skating and doing a few concerts so I will have something new to look forward to and go outside my comfort zone a little.

Mkemd21. Thanks for the critique on the sky, when I went that day there was about 3 party buses with kids getting prom in all my usual places. I only carried my 12-24 that day so I tried my best with what I had.

mdnativ: This is a hobby and one that I love that I can do when I feel like it and not have to rely on for income. The warm weather is making me get out a lot more as well. I will be sticking to Nikon for a long time, I like the feel of their cameras a lot better.

Ryan_T: Trying to get a technique from a photo or set is something I have never really though of that much and will spend more time doing.

JGI: With photography I feel like there is so many forms and unique ways of doing things that I will always feel like a beginner and be able to learn and evolve.
 
Joined
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If you are going to Las Vegas your slump will be over. There is endless of opportunity to shoot there. Have fun.

I have been looking at a lot of pictures and it seems that way. I only fear that once I get back is when I will feel like I have nothing to shoot.
 
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