Serene Life

by garik

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Chimping - the act of reviewing the picture you just took on the camera's LCD, is used as a way to disparage shooters.

I heard that chimping might refer to proudly showing off a shot after you taken it with a nice vocal accompaniment of ooh-ooh-aah, but I have also heard that just bothering to look at the LCD after you shoot is also chimping. Why is either a big deal?

I review the histogram of nearly every shot I take. Admittedly, I rarely shoot anything in motion, so there is NIL chance that I will miss the shot (perhaps the Eiffle Tower might get up and walk away, but I somehow doubt it). Usually after the first time I review the shot, I will not look at it again until it's on my computer but there was one image that I couldn't help but look at, again and again through out the evening.

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Chimping has nothing to do with showing off a photo. It's the process of reviewing photos, particularly when it's after every shot just to see if you got it. If you know how to set up your camera why bother checking after every shot? The camera will do what you said, so after the first few shots, if the exposures are right, concentrate on shooting and check the rest of the photos only periodically. I've seen fools... um... photographers, come close to getting seriously hurt because they were too busy chimping to pay attention to action around them, and almost be run over. Trust the settings. –  Greg Mar 24 '11 at 4:16
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@Greg: You've confirmed my suspicion. Chimping is a term used by photographers who are bitter because high quality cameras are now affordable by the masses. They're threatened by all the joe-blows out there and have to take an elitist view and disparage other people. My gut-feel is, the better the photographer, the less they care what other photographers do. –  Alan Mar 24 '11 at 17:48
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your suspicions are not correct. Chimping is a term used in humor and, semi-derisively of our peers who aren't paying attention when they should be. It has nothing to do with camera cost, or who is doing the shooting. The photographers I know who are experienced and know how to use their cameras spend a lot less time looking at the LCD than those who have no confidence in their ability, because they know they set the camera correctly and they can concentrate on the job at hand. If they change a setting they'll check, otherwise they trust the equipment. –  Greg Mar 24 '11 at 19:32

6 Answers 6

up vote 14 down vote accepted

I believe it mocks photographers who spend more time fiddling with their equipment than making photographs.

It's not always derogatory. I used it a few questions ago and there it was just matter of fact, a concise and appropriate verb.

Other interesting jargon includes:

  • measurebation - becoming too caught up in data and measurements at the expense of making photographs
  • pixel-peeping - using 100% crops and similar techniques to identify flaws that have no effect on the photograph under real-world conditions
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Also "Gear Head" :D –  Alan Jul 21 '10 at 5:11
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+1 @Reid. If I need a derogatory term I have plenty of other words to choose from. Everyone chimps - it's how long and often they do it that becomes a matter of ridicule, especially when its all-consuming or causes lost shots or, worse, could lead to bodily harm because of being in dangerous conditions. Shooting rodeo for many years, inside the arena, gave me plenty of opportunities to see the near misses and collisions that occur from chimping. –  Greg Mar 24 '11 at 19:40

Here's a video from SportShooter.com with some sports photographers giving their views on chimping.

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It's a quicktime vid, so I'll need to use my mac to view it. –  Alan Jul 21 '10 at 5:10
    
@Alan, you probably already know this, but there is software to view it on Windows and Linux as well. (I don't own a Mac myself.) –  Oddthinking Jul 21 '10 at 5:17
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It's called QuickTime, Alan. Apple made it for Windows too. Years ago. –  Nick Bedford Aug 20 '10 at 3:54
    
+1. I forgot about those videos, and they made me laugh. Bert Hanishiro, who took the video, is an awesome photographer who's done so much for the photography world. I've met him a couple times and he's the greatest. –  Greg Mar 24 '11 at 19:54

Chimping seems to have two definitions.

1) To look over your photos while on the camera to see how they turned out.

2) To show off or excessive admire said photos.

I am not opposed to 1. I am not much interested in 2.

In the early days of digital photography, I noticed a uninterested-in-photography friend and I had completely different approaches to taking photos at a party or group setting.

I prefer candid portraits, and will try to subtly take photos of people interacting without them being distracted by me.

She would get her friends together to pose, take the photo with a crappy little camera that fit in her handbag, and coo with them over the result (i.e. the second definition of chimping, above.) What I realised was that, for her, the act of taking the photo itself was the social bonding event. Once the photo was taken, it may as well be deleted; it was no longer of much interest.

Perhaps it is a reaction to this sort of photographer - for whom the quality of the results is an irrelevant by-product, compared with the act of bonding - which triggers the poo-pooing of chimping?

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I never just take one shot.

I usually shoot on manual with spot metering. I adjust shutter speed and aperture based on the scene and then I take a few snaps.

When shooting digital

Of course I'm going to look at the first few shots, mostly for exposure. Then I just go back to shooting, which is why I'm out and about with my camera in the first place. I may check again if I notice a change in light, especially if it causes me to adjust the aperture more than 1/3 stop (in which case I'm interested in keeping the same DoF that I had).

When shooting film

You obviously don't have the ability to check 'test shots' prior to burning up a roll. But, you do typically have much better metering, a brighter and fuller view finder as well as a better preview when it comes to hyperfocal length. You also learn, quickly when to bracket a shot that you simply can't 'do over' again.

I think its just a question of making the most out of the tools that are available to you when using any given camera.

Then again, I don't like cameras that get in my way, or fellow photogs that keep interrupting me to show me the back of their camera. I would classify either as just annoying. You won't see people in a press pit showing off their awesomeness while other photographers get all the pictures that news agencies actually want to pay for.

Then again, the same could be said about people who spend more time worrying about what other people are doing than anything else.

In either event, its just another way of saying "You take better pictures when the camera is in front of your face".

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+1. Well said, and my feelings exactly. –  Greg Mar 24 '11 at 19:47

When taking pictures of people I think a quick chimp is a good idea but I have some tips:

  • Don't grimace! If you stuffed up the photo by getting your exposure wrong or lighting them like Frankenstein, don't cringe when you see the image. Always smile when you chimp even if you don't mean it becasue your subject will be watching you. If you show a face like the photo is bad they aren't going to to be smiling for the next one.
  • Lie! Chimp then say "Wow, that is great, you look amazing!". It doesn't matter if it's true or not, when you take the next picture, it really will be amazing. People are suckers for compliments.

-Matt

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If you have a big DSLR, people will think you must know what you're doing and trust you more too :-P That's the theory anyhoo –  Nick Bedford Aug 20 '10 at 3:53
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If you are doing portraits, and chimp after every shot, your subject will quickly become impatient if they are busy, or bored, and you'll lose the mood. –  Greg Mar 24 '11 at 19:46
    
I've found that if I always react to the screen as if I've just seen a beautiful photo, the subject only becomes more engaged and happy / flattered / coy etc... –  matt burns Mar 27 '11 at 3:01

For some reason people needed to come up with new terms when digital came along. For instance even though all photographic methods require processing, and it's always done post-exposure, suddenly people are calling processing "post-processing". Chimping used to be called "using Polaroid", and most pros and masters took advantage of it if they had the resources to do so, because there is a huge advantage to using vision when creating visual art.

Another one is "crop factor". Multiple formats have been around since the beginning, and they didn't seem all that confusing until someone decided to call it crop factor. maybe it was troublesome to have a size format and format the memory card?

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