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Robert Watcher

A little bit like Penn and Teller

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I know that when I post images that show my raw unprocessed "before shots" or "all 1800 images from a wedding" - I am really making myself vulnerable and exposing myself as not being nearly as good photographically as some might presume that I am. The mystique of my images is gone!

In some ways it's a little like Penn and Teller exposing the simplicity and trickery of magic acts - when what has kept people coming back to magic shows for years and years is the presumption that there are some special and secretive abilities or mystique that allows only certain individuals to succeed as illusionists.

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I have often wondered whether I should be exposing my abilities as a photographer by showing unfinished work or my flawed raw files - so that others who love photography might be encouraged by the fact that there is nothing magical or extraordinary about photographers abilities who appear to produce flawless work all of the time - - - and that they might learn to take the ordinary and move it into the extraordinary, without getting discouraged when they put so much effort into taking images that just don't resemble the likeness of images they admire.

It would be so much better for my ego to just let people presume that I have some special ability in creating my photographic images, or that the equipment that I use makes the difference in my producing flawless images from the camera.

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I was very encouraged today when I received an email from a photographer that I have known for many years on photography forums - a person who I respected for always being kind and supportive of my work.

The email came through my Journal Contact web page and is related to recent posts where I showed videos that included every one of the 1700 or 1800 frames that I had taken throughout a wedding day - both good and bad.

The private email was touching to me and so I asked if she minded if I post it in a forum thread (which she agreed to). It reads:

Hi Robert,

Have been following your work for "years" now. (Time sure flies when you're having
fun!) You are undoubtedly one of my all-time favorites!!

I was so incredibly blessed & blown-away by your fast-motion 1830 images wedding
video!! I sobbed... It wasn't the emotion of the wedding but the candor of the
photographer that just knocked the wind out of me... When I realized that some of
your shots are "under" or "over" I just cried... All these years I just thought that
EVERY shot you took was "perfect". I can't tell you how liberating that was for
me... sometimes my hero doesn't get it "just right"...

You are beyond generous to have been willing to share both the "winners" AND
"losers" with us. (And when I say "losers", even they are beyond beautiful!)

I can't express my gratitude enough! Many blessings on you and yours!!

Vera
Ironically, in a similar vein - I came across a couple of replies to a thread that I have posted on a few photography forums over the last few days. It had to do with a vibrant image that many felt was visually appealing.

I had been asked on a few occasions whether much post processing was involved in producing the image. And so I posted the "fairly normal looking" out of camera original and the 3 steps taken to get to the final result. On the www.fourthirds-user.com forum I also included the statement "---- Now the magic is gone right? "

The reply on the www.fourthirds-user.com forum was:

For me, Absolutely not, I love it.

Thanks for sharing the PP techniques used.
On another forum to this same post of the vibrant image, came a question:

Rob,

the colours in those pictures are really unbelievable. I specially like the second picture of the first post with that wonderful gradient from yellow to blue.

Did that come out of the camera this way or what kind of processing was added to create that kind of atmosphere?

Korman
After providing the out of camera original and subsequent steps to producing the final results, I noticed this response:

Thank you Rob,

that puts it into perspective and make me feel a little less inferior. The base image is something that looks to be achievable for me on a good day and now I at least know what a decent base image looks like and where the post processing can pick up.

So that means for me, back to learning how to process pictures and how to take them right in the first place.

Korman
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So hopefully for any who look in on my posts and wonder what in the heck I am doing posting anything but my finest - I hope that this helps provide the clue.

For about 7 years or so since first joining up with the popular but now defunct Zuga forum, any who have known me know that I am free with my knowledge and will help out wherever I can. And they also know that I am not below exposing my weaknesses and letting people get in on the process that allows me to make the images that many of them appreciate.

Under my Avatar on most forums, it reads "Alternative Viewpoint". I always explore the possibilities of ideas and concepts that are not the "Status Quo". I don't believe in perfection, but encourage "just get out and do it regardless of what equipment and abilities" one may have. I am for the passion and joy of photography far more than the technical and perceived. Photography and Music are my artistic outlets and I make good use of both of them - whether people like what I do or not.

May everyone get the same joy out their photography that I have had these last 30 years since I took up photography on a serious level, went knocking on doors and got my first paying customers in 1979.

My way of pushing my abilities and equipment to the limit and beyond and having many misses and making many mistakes each day - instead of going with the tried and true formulaic methods - - - is what allows me to still have an adrenalin rush and thrill when I see what I am able to produce, after those many years. Without mistakes and flaws, there is no progress - just stagnation.

Rob

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Updated 22nd September 2009 at 09:26 PM by Robert Watcher

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Comments

  1. Ian's Avatar
    Hi Rob - I hope a lot of people will gain a lot of hope from what you have written!
  2. John Perriment's Avatar
    Hi Rob,

    The candor of your posts on this forum don't, in my eyes, weaken your "illusion" of being an expert; quite the opposite, it makes you all the more remarkable.

    Very much like Penn and Teller - sometimes, when you know how they did a particular stunt, it makes it even more incredible. Revealing the magic increases the magic!

    John