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Author Topic: What makes a photo great?  (Read 7289 times)

dryanparker

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What makes a photo great?
« on: December 16, 2013, 01:37:06 PM »
We love CR, and we're here because it's fun to discuss and debate new technology, engage and speculate upon rumors, share techniques and advice...among so many other great reasons. That said, I feel like someone needs to lower the boom every once in a while to keep things in check. MTF charts, megapixels, noise and JPEG artifacts have their place!

Let's not forget what an iconic photo looks like. The reality is most of them are soft and grainy; and any one of us would be blessed to bear witness and capture such a moment just once in our lifetime.

The last thing I want in my portfolio is a bunch of perfectly-lit, ultra-sharp, mural-sized, noise-free crappy photos. I'd be happy with a single epic image that I can be proud to have captured. That search continues.

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What makes a photo great?
« on: December 16, 2013, 01:37:06 PM »

Don Haines

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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2013, 01:51:49 PM »
Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster..... two of the worst iconic photos ever taken :)

Uniqueness has a lot to do with it....
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dryanparker

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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2013, 01:55:10 PM »
Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster..... two of the worst iconic photos ever taken :)

Uniqueness has a lot to do with it....

Ha! No doubt. But as you say, they are iconic!
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Arctic Photo

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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2013, 02:31:52 PM »
I completely agree with you, not that there's a chance ever that my library would contain only perfect images. I normally bring a camera wherever I go and try to be ready. Not that the Tiananmen square events would take place where I live. But I do think, whatever equipment one has, it comes down to master it so you can handle it in a high pressure situation.

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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2013, 11:47:44 PM »
Light, subject and composition.

cid

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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2013, 04:16:32 AM »
I think this is very interesting topic and probably people will have different opinions on this.

All 4 photos posted are photo journalist stuff. Indeed they are great shots but what I think is that the moment captured is very strongly dragging them to be great. Are they better because of this than a perfectly done portrait, landscape or macro? I think they are only more spread because of the moment, because they were print in newspaper or maybe even books and that because of the moment itself if very influential for lot of people.

Light, subject and composition.

I completely agree with this, I'll add one more think - creativity (which is somehow part of composition, but let's face it, sometimes it's really missing).
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sb in ak

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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2013, 04:35:39 AM »
I'd argue that all of those photojournalism shots would still be incredible even without ANY background. They're stunning works in their own right.

A great photo make something fire in your brain and will suck you in. That's all you need.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2013, 04:41:54 AM by sb in ak »
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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2013, 04:35:39 AM »

cid

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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2013, 04:52:43 AM »
I'd argue that all of those photojournalism shots would still be incredible even without ANY background. They're stunning works in their own right.

That's why I wrote that there will be lot of different opinions and I just wrote mine ;)
I simply don't think the shot with Ali and Frazier would be so praised is there were no Ali and no Frazier but they were some unknown boxers. Yes, the photo is great, but I wouldn't call it incredible without capturing THAT moment. But that is what photo journalism is all about, so no offence.
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cid

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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2013, 05:15:39 AM »
Light, subject and composition.

I completely agree with this, I'll add one more think - creativity (which is somehow part of composition, but let's face it, sometimes it's really missing).

and one more thing to add - The Moment
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Eldar

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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2013, 05:19:13 AM »
I'd argue that all of those photojournalism shots would still be incredible even without ANY background. They're stunning works in their own right.
That's why I wrote that there will be lot of different opinions and I just wrote mine ;)
I simply don't think the shot with Ali and Frazier would be so praised is there were no Ali and no Frazier but they were some unknown boxers. Yes, the photo is great, but I wouldn't call it incredible without capturing THAT moment. But that is what photo journalism is all about, so no offence.
I think the difference of opinion here is what makes this such an interesting hobby/job and why we get so many discussions going on this forum. What catches somebody´s attention, makes somebody want to go back and have another look, stirs emotions etc. is different from person to person. Personally I have only once returned to a photography exhibition and that was Nick Brandt´s large format portraits of African animals, where he has captured that extra IT, which makes you stop at every frame. Shot with a Pentax 6x7, normal and 2xnormal focal lengths, in B&W, but still technically close to flawless.

There are numerous photographs which captured that split second happening and are great because of that. Very few of them are technically flawless and they primarily live because of the moment they captured. Architecture, portrait, landscape, sports and wildlife photographers today need to deliver near technically perfect images, unless it´s of something extraordinary like bigfoot, a plane crashed into the building or a lion ate somebody´s wife.

Our tolerance for poorly composed, low contrast and grainy images is not what it used to be. Today, I´m sure the Ali and Frazier images would have been shot with a 1DX and a 200/2 or 300/2.8, at 12 fps and after selecting the best frame and run it through PP it would be technically flawless. Considering the equipment that photographer had at the time, that image is probably close to what was technically possible.
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jwilbern

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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2013, 06:18:43 AM »
I'd argue that all of those photojournalism shots would still be incredible even without ANY background. They're stunning works in their own right.

That's why I wrote that there will be lot of different opinions and I just wrote mine ;)
I simply don't think the shot with Ali and Frazier would be so praised is there were no Ali and no Frazier but they were some unknown boxers. Yes, the photo is great, but I wouldn't call it incredible without capturing THAT moment. But that is what photo journalism is all about, so no offence.
Excellent topic. The boxing photo is actually Ali vs. Sonny Liston. Ali had just landed the famous "Phantom Punch" which was so quick that many of those in attendance didn't see it, and no photographer captured it. It's a fascinating story, and for more information, see Wikipedia Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2013, 06:22:46 AM by jwilbern »
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cid

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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2013, 06:23:23 AM »
I think the difference of opinion here is what makes this such an interesting hobby/job and why we get so many discussions going on this forum. What catches somebody´s attention, makes somebody want to go back and have another look, stirs emotions etc. is different from person to person. Personally I have only once returned to a photography exhibition and that was Nick Brandt´s large format portraits of African animals, where he has captured that extra IT, which makes you stop at every frame. Shot with a Pentax 6x7, normal and 2xnormal focal lengths, in B&W, but still technically close to flawless.

There are numerous photographs which captured that split second happening and are great because of that. Very few of them are technically flawless and they primarily live because of the moment they captured. Architecture, portrait, landscape, sports and wildlife photographers today need to deliver near technically perfect images, unless it´s of something extraordinary like bigfoot, a plane crashed into the building or a lion ate somebody´s wife.

Our tolerance for poorly composed, low contrast and grainy images is not what it used to be. Today, I´m sure the Ali and Frazier images would have been shot with a 1DX and a 200/2 or 300/2.8, at 12 fps and after selecting the best frame and run it through PP it would be technically flawless. Considering the equipment that photographer had at the time, that image is probably close to what was technically possible.

Agreed. I have to say I was not thinking about available equipment. Maybe we can say that the level of what is considered great is moving up with the technology development.
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cid

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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2013, 06:24:45 AM »
I'd argue that all of those photojournalism shots would still be incredible even without ANY background. They're stunning works in their own right.

That's why I wrote that there will be lot of different opinions and I just wrote mine ;)
I simply don't think the shot with Ali and Frazier would be so praised is there were no Ali and no Frazier but they were some unknown boxers. Yes, the photo is great, but I wouldn't call it incredible without capturing THAT moment. But that is what photo journalism is all about, so no offence.
Excellent topic. The boxing photo is actually Ali vs. Sonny Liston. Ali had just landed the famous "Phantom Punch" which was so quick that many of those in attendance didn't see it, and no photographer captured it. It's a fascinating story, and for more information, see Wikipedia Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston.
sorry, my fault  ::)
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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2013, 06:24:45 AM »

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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2013, 07:12:52 AM »
Visual impact

dryanparker

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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2013, 09:56:05 AM »
Visual impact

+1

This is what it's all about. I mean, it might be a captivating wall-sized print of an Arizona sunset captured with $80,000 in gear...or it could be a street photo made on ISO 3200 film in 1982.

I guess my point is...it doesn't matter how you capture the moment. It's about being there and recognizing the power in making images that are meaningful to YOU.
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Re: What makes a photo great?
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2013, 09:56:05 AM »