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Doug Sundseth
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There's certainly an element of truth in what Mr. Molitor says, but let me offer another side: "Every recipe contains tacit assumptions, without which it will not work" Good photographic recipes are complete enough to specify a situation in which they work. They do not, and are not intended to, work in other situations. Fortunately, it is the nature of photographic recipes that they are usually simple, so it's not too difficult to create many. And bad recipes are, well, bad. "Recipes tend to suppress learning" Recipes can show photographers that there are amazing things that their cameras can do that they did not previously realize and offer a path to that result. To use a different analogy, if you've never heard the richness added to music by a well-done vibrato, it's fairly likely that you'll never try to figure out how to do it, to the detriment of your music. Further, recipes form a solid foundation on which to build style and art. Photography, like most arts, must be firmly grounded in craft. Until the craft is understood, the art cannot stand except by chance. And the easiest method to learn craft is to follow instructions, ideally from a master of the craft, but failing that, recipes work. "Recipes tend to dictate results, which tend in turn to dictate taste" Recipes tend to reflect taste, which in turn dictates results. Sure, there are faddish results (overcooked HDR, blown out and hazed shots into the sun, or pick your own pet peeve if you happen to like those), but most popular recipes are aimed at getting a result that is pleasing. E.g.: Moving the subject off the center point works well for most photos, because most viewers are attracted to that sort of minor dynamic tension. Shooting landscapes at dawn or sunset with a small aperture gives pleasing lighting and nice detail. And if you should want the photographic equivalent of a recipe for deep-fried grasshopper, it's a good thing that somebody else has done the experimenting and published a suggestion. Would you really like to be the first down that road? Repeatably achieving the desired result means happy customers (both formal and informal). And happy customers mean a happy photographer.
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Aug 5, 2013