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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Photographic Assignments Index & discussion
    Posted: 01 January 2008 at 19:26


Photographic Assignments


Photographic Assignments is an advanced course of challenging tasks that you have to complete one by one. They are meant to be hard and each one of them requires thinking and careful planning on your side. The difficulties you face in the way of completing an assignment are added to your photographic knowledge as valuble experiences. Your attempts are evaluated by our moderators, who are very strict about the rules of assignments and have high expectations from you. Sometimes even more than what you expect from yourself. If your entry is not accepted, you must retry until you do well enough to be accepted! It is a given that the camera used will be an A-mount digital or film SLR, and not any other type.

Rules

~ No previously shot pictures. You must shoot exclusively for the assignment, with the assignment in your mind. In other words, no lucky shots that just happen to fit the topic already.
~ Read your assignment carefully. Some of them might be hard to understand. It's your responsibility to comprehend the given set of rules and come up with a correct interpretation of it.
~ Take your lessons. When you fail, make sure you understand the given reason. If it's not clear, discuss it.
~ Discuss. Ask questions about our evaluations, leave your comments about other dyxumers' attempts. Photography related discussions are always welcome in assignment topics.
~ Follow other attempts as well. See how people interpret the assignment. Learn why attempts get accepted or refused. If you are not in agreement with our decision, jump in and tell your opinion.


Assignments

These can now be taken in any order, rather than consecutively. But if you want to set yourself a personal challenge, you can still do them in the numbered order -- the prizemoney does not increase, but the satisfaction when finished will be greater.


1. Rule of Thirds and Golden Mean
2. Getting Closer
3. High Key
4. Softness
5. Perspective
6. Decisive Moments
7. Macro Without Macro



* If you have a suggestion to improve the Assignments, you can post it here.
* We hope to add some more asignments in the near future which will be suitable for those who consider themelves in the "newbie" category (whether or not that is your current status).

Edited by brettania - 20 May 2008 at 11:27
 



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pauljg View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 February 2008 at 16:37
As a suggestion as meant in the previous post the following:

In this post, which certainly is somewhat longer than most posts I
like to discuss Assignment #6: Decisive Moments. This is not meant as
criticism but as a question and this is: Is Assignment #6 a valid
assignment? I now try to say what I mean with this.

All assignments mean that the participant has to make one or more
pictures under some constraints, the first one being that these
pictures must be specially made for that assignment and that you must have passed previous assignments first. In #1 the picture
must have a composition conforming to the rule of thirds or the golden
rule, in #2 the camera must be close to the subject, in #3 the
lighting must be such that a high-key photo is obtained, in #4 the
photo must be soft and in #5 a number of different focal lengths and
positions must be used. However, in all cases the object or subject
can be freely chosen, as is also the case for the time when and the place where the photograph is made.

On the other hand in #6 this is no longer the case under the
definition or "Decisive moments" as an unexpected occurrence which may
not be influenced or arranged by the photographer: it must be as
Turerkan states be: "natural" and I think that this means "spontaneous".
This is stressed by the rule that sports photos are only acceptable if
there is something special and not just of any occurrence which might
be decisive in the sport.

But this means that the possibility of making such a photograph is
strongly influenced by chance, the photographer must be on the right
spot at the right time and have her/his camera ready to shoot
just when and where the decisive moment happens! There is in fact
under these conditions no possibility for the participant to choose.
This is the reason that in my opinion this is not a valid assignment.
Of course it is a great challenge to recognize such a moment and act
on it by making a photo, but it is not possible to choose such a
moment, it just has to happen!

Therefor I think the second rule mentioned above namely that previous
assignments have to be passed first cannot be used in this case as it
might well happen that the participant of these assignments does not
meet such a moment at all (just as it may happen that someone playing
in the lottery never wins anything in his whole life). For example the
only post in this assignment has been the picture by Bob J on 6
november (nearly 3 months ago!) which shows a scene on a pedestrian
crossing. Even though I live in a reasonably busy city where I crossed
pedestrian crossings many thousands of times I never saw anything like
this!

I do not propose to change or remove this assignment but to let it
always stay as the last assignment. That is the case now, but when the
need is felt to add a seventh assignment I think it would be necessary
to move the present assignment #6 to #7 and to add the new assignment as the new #6.

I still have to submit my posts for #5 but I thought it best to post this now, before starting on #6 in order to avoid giving the impression that I want to change something on which I have already started.

Of course this is my view and this may well differ from that of others
and I welcome all discussion about this.

Edited by pauljg - 03 February 2008 at 16:43
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Turerkan View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 February 2008 at 19:04
thanks for your very thoughtful post. i'll try to address all the issues you have pointed out:

...in all cases the object or subject can be freely chosen, as is also the case for the time when and the place where the photograph is made...

As you know many styles of photography involved careful selection of the subject, composition, light and all other details. Assignments aim to improve your command over those shooting conditions by enforcing you to concentrate on them one by one. After the first four assignments, the photographer will find out he can quickly plan the shot and visualize the outcome before shooting. This behaviour will make him a better photographer.

an unexpected occurrence which may
not be influenced or arranged by the photographer ... "spontaneous" ... such a photograph is strongly influenced by chance ... no possibility for the participant to choose.
I disagree here. This my style, i'm a street photographer! I know what you mean, but it's not all black and white. Usually you can choose a lot, plan ahead and achieve what you want. But at your first tries you'll be too slow to respond to the 'incoming' moments. This is the main challenge here, all what you did in the previous assignments, you have to learn to do them all in an instant for #6.

Let aside that you can come up with creative interpretations of the rules, let's assume you are tasked with street photography. Let's see how many choices you have in making a street photograph:

~ Location: you can choose where you will shoot. you can know the texture, people, architecture, life, events etc you will face in that location. You can have several plans for shooting this or that event/composition/emotion in case the oppurtunity turns out. You can do this planning even before going there.

~ Walking around: in the session location, you can scout freely and hunt for oppurtunities, or even just possibilities of oppurtunities. add those to your mentally planned shots.

~ anticipate: in case you are very close to your possible oppurtunity, sort out your composition, take your position and pray with your finger on the shutter.

~ explore: go into buildings, alleys, any kind of places that looks promising. sometimes you'll be wrong, sometimes the location will bless you with more possibilities than you had imagined.

~ use your equipment well: be prepared only for one thing: you might need to shoot suddenly at any moment. If your lens has a distant scale, make use of prefocusing: hyperfocal is your friend. When in good light, my camera is set to ISO200 F8 MF at infinity. If i have to react fast, i dont bother focusing, most will be in DOF anyway. Improving your manual focusing skill will also help. I keep the camera on my neck with lens open all the time, ready to shoot. When i spot a moment coming, i think i can grab the camera, compose, focus and shoot at sub 2 seconds. of course this is the most extreme case and the result might be OOF :P

~
I do not propose to change or remove this assignment but to let it
always stay as the last assignment. That is the case now, but when the
need is felt to add a seventh assignment I think it would be necessary
to move the present assignment #6 to #7 and to add the new assignment as the new #6.
That is a good idea.. especially since i have #7 prepared in my mind, it makes sense to swab them. The #7 will be about telling a fiction story in a single picture with all setup subjects. shortly, its the total reverse of street photography, like studio photography.

-----
all that said, whats your opinion on the matter now?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 February 2008 at 19:50
I also think that "decisive moment" is a valid assignment, and usually not a matter of luck.

Such shots are usually anticipated by the street photographer. If good street photographers are able to produce many "decisive moment" pictures, it's not a matter of extraordinary luck, but a matter of strong training and a lot of practice. Turerkan pretty much explained why.

HOWEVER...
I also think that we must remember that for a lot of people, street photography is not something "natural" at first. We initially have to overcome a natural shyness, and this could be a substantial work to do. Only once we feel at ease when doing "casual" street photography, we can focus on composition and decisive moments, and try to produce "good street shots" instead of just "street shots".
Considering that getting used and become at ease with street photography can be a lot of work for some people (probably for most people), I would suggest to insert a plain street photography assignment first before this one.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 February 2008 at 19:53
gabriel: hmm.. i knew i needed to ease it down but i took another path: i widened the scope of the rules. the photographers can come up with their creative interpretations (which can wildly vary from street photography) instead of suddenly jumping into street photography (if they are not used to it already)
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 February 2008 at 22:26
Of course there are many things which can be said on this subject and I only mentioned some of them. In the first place I like to stress that I did not talk about "luck" but about chance and that is something quite different. I've read Cartier Bresson himself too and he understands under decisive moment for example also that you make the picture when a cloud is just in the right position with respect to the other things (trees, buildings, persons, etc.) in the picture. But if I understand the rules this type of "decisive moment" is not acceptable!

Originally posted by Turerkan Turerkan wrote:

As you know many styles of photography involved careful selection of the subject, composition, light and all other details. Assignments aim to improve your command over those shooting conditions by enforcing you to concentrate on them one by one. After the first four assignments, the photographer will find out he can quickly plan the shot and visualize the outcome before shooting. This behaviour will make him a better photographer.


Of course I am in complete agreement with this but when you say
I disagree here. This my style, i'm a street photographer! I know what you mean, but it's not all black and white. Usually you can choose a lot, plan ahead and achieve what you want.

the expression "it's not all black and white" already indicates that there is some influence of chance here.

~ Location: you can choose where you will shoot. you can know the texture, people, architecture, life, events etc you will face in that location. You can have several plans for shooting this or that event/composition/emotion in case the opportunity turns out. You can do this planning even before going there.
~ Walking around: in the session location, you can scout freely and hunt for opportunities, or even just possibilities of opportunities. add those to your mentally planned shots.
~ anticipate: in case you are very close to your possible oppurtunity, sort out your composition, take your position and pray with your finger on the shutter.
~ explore: go into buildings, alleys, any kind of places that looks promising. sometimes you'll be wrong, sometimes the location will bless you with more possibilities than you had imagined.
~ use your equipment well: be prepared only for one thing: you might need to shoot suddenly at any moment. If your lens has a distant scale, make use of prefocusing: hyperfocal is your friend. When in good light, my camera is set to ISO200 F8 MF at infinity. If i have to react fast, i dont bother focusing, most will be in DOF anyway. Improving your manual focusing skill will also help. I keep the camera on my neck with lens open all the time, ready to shoot. When i spot a moment coming, i think i can grab the camera, compose, focus and shoot at sub 2 seconds. of course this is the most extreme case and the result might be OOF :P


I do not disagree with these points but what I like to stress that there you also talk about hunting for possibilities and opportunities and this means that there will be many times when these opportunities do not arise because they lie outside the influence of the photographer. You may be confident that you will meet these opportunities but there is no certainty.

Also a problem is that maybe a DSLR is not the most suitable type of camera for this type of work and certainly not with a zoom lens because then some of the preparations you talk of are usually not possible. I also did some street photography but then I used a Leica IIIf or a Leica M2 with a simple Elmar 50 mm 1:3.5 lens. Then you can easily do as you describe and moreover the camera is much less obtrusive than a DSLR. But the Dyxum site states on its home page

home of the Minolta / Alpha-mount dSLR photographer

and that presumably also applies to the assignments.

I am glad with your decision:
That is a good idea.. especially since i have #7 prepared in my mind, it makes sense to swap them. The #7 will be about telling a fiction story in a single picture with all setup subjects. shortly, its the total reverse of street photography, like studio photography.

-----
As I said originally it is not my idea to scrap this assignment but that the element of chance in my opinion makes application of the rule that you must complete this first before tackling the next assignment undesirable and as you agree with this the other differences in viewpoint do not matter: I still think this is a good challenge

Edited by pauljg - 03 February 2008 at 22:32
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 February 2008 at 23:08
imho you are a little too way concerned with the chance element.. photography is about chance this way or that way. Only in a well equipped studio environment you can get close to total control. Besides, i set the quality bar according to previous entries. If it turns out too hard for everyone (which i doubt, those are the guys who went thru #4 and #5!) then i'll lower my expectations.

I seriously don't see photography as an artistic medium of freedom or creativity... you should paint or compose for that type of pleasure. it is a good thing that photography is about chance, it fights back the ambitious side of our souls. you can't be a psycho who shoot 24/7 and finally make the perfect shot that is so unreachible by us the human beings! photography is the only art medium where cold and edgy perfection does not overcome the simple and the happy... please let it be that way:)
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 February 2008 at 10:43
Of course I know that in photography chance always plays an important role and I'm not denying that. The only thing is that when it is stated beforehand that only photographs of unexpected happenings are acceptable in this assignment then the influence of chance is much greater than usual: otherwise the term unexpected would not be appropriate!

But I think that we agree on the purpose of this assignment but differ in our estimate of the measure of success which can be obtained. So let's just wait and see how this develops.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 February 2008 at 10:49
i never said 'unexpected happenings'.. may be you are misinterpreting the assignment rules. care to read again?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 February 2008 at 12:34
In the rules it says:
Originally posted by Turerkan Turerkan wrote:

This one is going to be hard, and will heavily depend on interpretation.

Evidently there may be a difference of opinion in regard to interpretation. Somewhat further the following is stated:
- the ultimate subject of a 'decisive moment' photo is not an object, its a happening, a motion, a change, an evolution. (of course those happen to objects or by their interaction). From now on, all these verbs will be referred with just 'evolution'.
- of such an evolution, there may be a single moment that can describe the progress of evolution perfectly. The constant image of that moment may be able to deliver the feelings of the entire event to the viewer.
- if such a moment exists, we will call it the 'decisive moment'. whether HCB would like this definition or not should be discussed, but seperately.

My interpretation is that the subject is indeed something which happens, and may be called an event. Then you go on with:
Here are the special rules (on top of the rules defined in assignment #1)
- very slowly happening actions are not accepted. eg: blooming of a flower.
-Edited: in sports/action/performance events where an action is anticipated, just merely getting the moment is not enough (eg. touch-down moment, or goal moment) it will be accepted only if that moment has a uniqueness that sets it apart from other similar moments.


In particular the special rule applying to sports/action/performance events that only "unique events" are acceptable is interpreted by me as intended to relating to "unexpected events" because the normally expected events are clearly not sufficient to fulfill the rules.

If this interpretation is wrong please let me know and indicate what your interpretation of these rules is so that we know what we are talking about.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 May 2008 at 12:44
Please note that the current moderator for Assignments is RosieA100. Some of the issues raised by pauljg and Turerkan (who is no longer active) are as yet not fully resolved.

Edited by RosieA100 - 19 May 2008 at 14:19
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 May 2008 at 13:26
The following are some posts which were originally in Asignment #6 following the announcment of the rule change.



Originally posted by brettania brettania wrote:

From this point those taking part in our Assignments can choose their own sequence of completion, but a pass in your "current" assignment is needed before moving to your next choice.


This means that I cannot go on with the next assignment because I have not obtained a pass in assignment#6 which is my current assignment. So this ruling is not clear because it depends on the definition of current assignment and once you have started this is always the assignment you've reached and that in fact means that the rule has not been changed.

Edited by brettania - 20 May 2008 at 11:18
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 May 2008 at 13:33
@pauljg - I think the rule is quite fair: "touched it? then finish it"
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 May 2008 at 14:23
Originally posted by mipr mipr wrote:

@pauljg - I think the rule is quite fair: "touched it? then finish it"


I did not say or imply that the rule was not fair and stated clearly that I will try again in assignment #6. I only said that it is not clear: the use of the expression of current assignment suggests that after doing #x, which is the current assignment, the next one is still #(x+1).

Moreover the suggestion of Rosie was to go on with the next assignment and then come back to #6 and that is not in agreement with the new rule anyway so that I will not do that and shall try #6 as long as necessary to obtain a pass.

Edited by pauljg - 19 May 2008 at 14:26
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