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Author Topic: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?  (Read 10990 times)

niccyboy

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2011, 12:17:27 AM »
Definitely a good point. Clients especially in my world of marketing and advertising know a lot about cameras. The hipster art directors have their XXXd's and XXd's , they research and have their own little photo blogs/tumblrs etc.... the industry is full of hobbyists, and turning up with gear that is out of date compared to their stuff (even if they have a crop), really can reflect negatively on you from a business image perspective.

As much as we all hate to admit it, it's part of some of our industries.

I don't think that's what the OP was referring to though....

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2011, 12:17:27 AM »

Forceflow

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2011, 03:14:17 AM »
Seems this is the hot topic for the month. This is the third place I have come across that particular argument within a week or so.

Basically the question is what you compare to what. Are we comparing the impact between a pinhole camera and a 1D? Or are we comparing the 60D to the 7D? Don't tell me the first doesn't make a huge difference, whereas the second one might be completely irrelevant.
But you also have to define the 'skill' part. Are we talking about the artist whose purpose it is to create interesting and pleasing photographs, or are we talking about a hired photographer whose job it is to produce exactly what the client ordered? A skilled artist with vision can take just about any camera there is and create wonderful pieces of art. But if you try to use that Mickey Mouse camera to shoot high speed sports action for a magazine you might be in for a rude awakening.

Skill and equipment both play a role. How much? That depends on what you want to do, simple as that.

Yet those first eight frames on the Mickey Mouse with it's plastic lens, flare, aberrations and bad exposures definitely had the most magic about them from the whole six days.

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But that is the perfect example of how important equipment is. (And I do not mean that I bet the client took the pictures from the Hasselblad) The Mickey Mouse camera was the important equipment here. Had he pulled out a P&S (technically just as ridiculous as the MM) it would most likely not have worked. At best the models would have been confused. But the fact that he used that visually ridiculous camera put everybody in a good mood. Setting the stage for a good shoot and also producing some unique and great photos with the MM. But then of course it takes skill to realize this, and to work with it. Having the right equipment does not always equal having the most expensive equipment!
« Last Edit: October 03, 2011, 03:32:53 AM by Forceflow »
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mortadella

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2011, 10:57:21 AM »

Picsfor

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2011, 01:37:18 PM »
Skill is the opening gambit with photography. Seeing the picture can be taught to a certain extent, but generally it is within the eye of the shutter operator.

Kit is what allows you the opportunity to get the picture you've seen, the new and more powerful kit tend to make the job of getting the more difficult shots a less difficult exercise.

I'm currently in Vegas where I've as yet to see anything more than a Nikon D90 or Canon 50D used by the pro togs.
Does that mean they're not up to the job? Judging by the business they are getting in - not all all.

However, using a D3s, D700, 5D2 or 1D4 would have helped them immensely in the low light shots such as the Casino shoots that really do want you to go beyond iso 3200 or use multiple lighting sources.

Skill first, supported by kit needed to achieve the shot (and a through knowledge of the kit being used) is my take.

LetTheRightLensIn

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2011, 01:43:21 PM »
We spend allot of time here comparing equipment and extensively analyzing the pros and cons of bodies, lenses, etc.

However - many people say, that the real ingredient for producing special pictures - is the skill of the photographer. Many all time famous monumental photographs where taken black and white with "simple" equipment. The special part of those photos is often the content and meaning of the picture - much less the "sharpness" or other tech features.

How important is our equipment ? Would you agree that it more like 85% skill and 15% equipment ?

It depends.

And it's more a question of what things you can take amazing pics of. If you want to capture a scene with 14-15 stops of DR and motion going on you can be the greatest talent in the world and yet without the right equipment forget it. You can be a great sports photographer or a beginner and poor one and yet both with instantly get a lot more keepers using a 1D4 instead of a 20D or suddenly miss a lot more shots, maybe critical ones, if forced from a 1D4 to a 20D.

If you shoot sports on a dark college field at night and only have a 300 f/4 you will do a lot worse than if you have a 300 2.8.

Lesser equipment CAN radically lower take and sometimes to a degree where it matters even more than who is behind the camera.

But if you just tell someone to go get amazing pics, not of a very specific type, sure the person with the eye and/or drive to get to the right place with the right light or sit there for three weeks for the perfect wildlife shot might get a lot better take with a 10D than someone with poor talent and/or lack of time/drive with a 5D2/D3s/D3/D700/1D4 kit.


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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #20 on: October 03, 2011, 01:44:28 PM »
99% skill 1% camera

If you are told to just go out and bring back some amazing shots, then maybe.

If you are told to come back with specific sorts of sorts it may be that equipment is suddenly incredibly critical.

K-amps

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #21 on: October 03, 2011, 02:18:16 PM »
99% skill 1% camera

If you are told to just go out and bring back some amazing shots, then maybe.

If you are told to come back with specific sorts of sorts it may be that equipment is suddenly incredibly critical.

+1

There is no one criteria that makes a great shot. Many of them are skill based, a few equipment based. If you use the adage, a camera wont go and shoot itself then it is 100% skill 0% equipment.

But I think the OP had some reasonable assumptions... being a rookie myself, I'd say, 80% skill, 20% equipment.
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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #21 on: October 03, 2011, 02:18:16 PM »

Cornershot

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #22 on: October 03, 2011, 02:24:21 PM »
There is a world full of skillful photographers. They know how to use the gear and shoot competently. But most will never be great or even good photographers. Skill is something you can learn. Really good photography comes from talent and that can't be learned. Just like you can't learn to be a great painter. Good gear is a distant third.

Orangutan

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #23 on: October 03, 2011, 08:36:27 PM »
Really good photography comes from talent and that can't be learned. Just like you can't learn to be a great painter.

Sorry, pet peeve: I have to respond to this nonsense.

  • Would you care to provide some proof of this?  Show me some well-designed scientific studies to show that people cannot "learn" or "develop" ability as artists.
  • Define "talent."  If you consider it innate, please explain how degrees of talent can be distinguished in newborns or toddlers, and how early identification of talent can be correlated to great work later in life.
  • How would you classify someone who started painting only late in life (as my great-grandmother did in her 70's)?  Would you say that was latent talent or developed skill?  How could you tell the difference?  Or would you simply manipulate your definitions to suit?

While it is certainly true that people are born with inherent differences, it is the height of arrogance to proclaim that some are gifted with the golden touch, while others are forever doomed to live the mediocre and drab life of the non-artist.

DJL329

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #24 on: October 03, 2011, 11:11:58 PM »
Quote from: Grand Moff Tarkin
This bickering is pointless!

Every photographer has a different level of expertise and will therefore have different requirements from their equipment.  For a "true artist," the camera is probably no more than a canvas and the lens, their brush and paint.

Trying to explain the relationship via percentages is like ... trying to explain why the sky is blue.

Quote from: The 6 O'Clock News
This just in!  Scientists discover why the sky is blue.  Film at 11.

D@MMIT!

Fine, here's a percentage.  It's 100% Art.   ;)
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Cornershot

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #25 on: October 11, 2011, 01:43:39 PM »
It's not arrogance or nonsense and it's not something you can spell out in a formula. Just apply this same idea to any art form and art history. Are you saying that anybody can pick up a camera and learn to be Ansel Adams or Henri Cartier Bresson? That anybody can eventually become Beethoven or Bach? That anybody can learn to become Albert Einstein? That is the golden touch. Call it a random mutation or a gift from the gods. Whether undiscovered or developed late in life, some have it and some don't but, of course and obviously, there's also a spectrum of artists and ability in-between.





Sorry, pet peeve: I have to respond to this nonsense.

  • Would you care to provide some proof of this?  Show me some well-designed scientific studies to show that people cannot "learn" or "develop" ability as artists.
  • Define "talent."  If you consider it innate, please explain how degrees of talent can be distinguished in newborns or toddlers, and how early identification of talent can be correlated to great work later in life.
  • How would you classify someone who started painting only late in life (as my great-grandmother did in her 70's)?  Would you say that was latent talent or developed skill?  How could you tell the difference?  Or would you simply manipulate your definitions to suit?

While it is certainly true that people are born with inherent differences, it is the height of arrogance to proclaim that some are gifted with the golden touch, while others are forever doomed to live the mediocre and drab life of the non-artist.
[/quote]
« Last Edit: October 11, 2011, 02:05:31 PM by Cornershot »

archangelrichard

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #26 on: October 11, 2011, 11:50:15 PM »
sort of a 50 - 50

If you don't have the equipment you won't get the picture

If you don't have the skills you won't get the picture

if you don't have the artistry you won't know what the picture IS if it bit you on the asphalt

If you don't have the motivation you won't go looking for any pictures

I would say the skills and the equipment go hand in hand; the equipment is a tool and the skills are in using that tool

DJL329

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2011, 01:37:48 AM »
It's not arrogance or nonsense and it's not something you can spell out in a formula. Just apply this same idea to any art form and art history. Are you saying that anybody can pick up a camera and learn to be Ansel Adams or Henri Cartier Bresson? That anybody can eventually become Beethoven or Bach? That anybody can learn to become Albert Einstein? That is the golden touch. Call it a random mutation or a gift from the gods. Whether undiscovered or developed late in life, some have it and some don't but, of course and obviously, there's also a spectrum of artists and ability in-between.

Quote from: Orangutan
Sorry, pet peeve: I have to respond to this nonsense.

  • Would you care to provide some proof of this?  Show me some well-designed scientific studies to show that people cannot "learn" or "develop" ability as artists.
  • Define "talent."  If you consider it innate, please explain how degrees of talent can be distinguished in newborns or toddlers, and how early identification of talent can be correlated to great work later in life.
  • How would you classify someone who started painting only late in life (as my great-grandmother did in her 70's)?  Would you say that was latent talent or developed skill?  How could you tell the difference?  Or would you simply manipulate your definitions to suit?

While it is certainly true that people are born with inherent differences, it is the height of arrogance to proclaim that some are gifted with the golden touch, while others are forever doomed to live the mediocre and drab life of the non-artist.

Being great at something doesn't require being a prodigy, it simply takes more time and effort.  No, not everyone can be a Beethoven composing symphonies at the age of 5, but if you have the desire and passion for something, you can learn how to be great.  As for Ansel Adams, it was his passion for nature that led him to learn photography.  It's not as if he was "great" overnight, but don't take my word for it:

"My photographs have now reached a stage when they are worthy of the world's critical examination. I have suddenly come upon a new style which I believe will place my work equal to anything of its kind."
-- Ansel Adams, 1927 (6 years after his first photographs were published).

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2011, 01:37:48 AM »

torger

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2011, 01:45:08 AM »
Noone likes to say it, but photography is actually rather easy way to make art when you compare to other art forms like painting and music. Even the moderately gifted amateur can make great pictures, not just as often as the very talented person. It also depends on style, some styles are simpler to shoot and require less creative artistic talent than others. But that's what is great about photography, almost anyone can do it.

When it comes to equipment it depends on the type of photography how important it is. It is much easier to shoot good wildlife pictures with if you have those super-expensive tele lenses and responsive auto-focus. Making fantastic large prints is easier when you have a high resolution system. But camera won't take the pictures for you.

Photography is today technically simpler than it was in the film era. Both when taking the picture and when doing post-processing.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2011, 01:52:40 AM by torger »

Hillsilly

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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #29 on: October 12, 2011, 03:28:31 AM »

While it is certainly true that people are born with inherent differences, it is the height of arrogance to proclaim that some are gifted with the golden touch, while others are forever doomed to live the mediocre and drab life of the non-artist.

Agree 100%.  I take a lot of interest in sports, sports psychology and junior sports development.  In a lot of ways, sports ability is seen to be similar to artistic ability. Many people think that you've either got it or you don't.  While some people do have a natural edge (and admittedly, you need a bit of this to make it to No. 1), the ones who make it to the top are invariably the ones who dedicate the time and effort, show up to training, enjoy what they are doing and have the desire to succeed.

Don't be fooled by the world's best who make things look easy.  Was Tiger Wood's success due to natural ability, or because he’s up at 6.00am, takes a four-kilometre run followed by gym stretches, then half-an-hour for breakfast, two hours on the driving range, nine holes of golf, lunch, two more hours on the range, another nine holes, some pitching, dinner and bed?  Despite all of his natural ability, look at how a few disruptions has impacted on him at the elite level.  Natural ability, while important, isn't as crucial as most people think.  But it gives everyone a good excuse for not being pro golfers, footballers, soccer players, worlds best photographer etc...

One of the contributors above asked the question about scientific studies and whether people can learn or develop ability as artists.  Another interesting exercise would be to round up the world's leading photographers and ask how much time they dedicate and the lengths they go to capture THE shot.  Pressing the shutter button is probably the easiest part of the process.  The hard part is the 3am wake up to get into position before dawn, the weeks on end in hides, the treks into remote locations, the trips to dangerous places (such as warzones), getting up close with deadly wildlife etc etc is 95% of the effort.  The reality is, virtually anyone could do this if they wanted to.  The person who you think has "artistic ability" in most cases is simple the one who just gets out there and does it.  Most of us don't want to to go outside our comfort zone (eg I hate early mornings and would rather be snug in bed than outside pushing the limits of photography), which is why most of us linger in the realms of mediocrity.
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Re: Photography - Equipment or Skill ?
« Reply #29 on: October 12, 2011, 03:28:31 AM »