Insatiable appetite for more gear

August 27, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

SunriseFirst rays of the sunGlorious sunrise at St. Michael's Mount, Cornwall

Situation:

You were going on a holiday and planned your photographic assignment very thoughtfully. And seriously.

You made sure that you had scoured every scrap of information available about the place, very diligently. You looked at various sites, for photos taken at the place, the time of the day, time of the year, and begun forming an idea in your head. You thought about how different you would like your images to be, from the ones you had seen online, and what adjustment were needed, in your own techniques, to make them possible. 

You then started to think about the gear you already have in your arsenal, and made assessments on whether your plan is workable, and considered their adequacy for the task at hand - camera, lens, filters, speed lights, tripod, bags, hoods, , grey card, loupes - and the list goes on!

And you came with an absolute straight-faced honest opinion, in a heartbeat, that your gear is inadequate to meet with the demands of your photographic plans. 

Invariably, you made one of two choices

01. You started to make up a list of things to buy and went ahead and bought them - sometimes buying them online - and often paying a premium shipping charge for faster delivery. 

OR

02. You adjusted your plans, in line with the gear already in possession and started rewriting a more realistic goal to achieve given the strengths and limitations of the gear at hand.

End of Situation:

Does this sound familiar? Many of us, over the years, have made a healthy mix of aforesaid choices and will continue to make these choices in the future too. We have looked at various travel magazines, National Geographic and such and told ourselves, if only we had access to the gear the photographer in the magazine was using.

It was always about the gear and never once about ourselves. 

We have all had a fairly "shaky" start in our photographic endeavours - the pun was not intended - when as a child, we all were taught to put the subject right in the centre of the frame - within the circle and mash the shutter button. We would then take the completed film roll to the nearest photo studio and ensured that they developed all the 36 prints in the roll - never minding the cost associated with it, in the hope that all 36 turned out to be "keepers." It would then have been our inner resolve to accept that only four or five from the lot looked presentable and the rest were used as an excuse to have a good laugh - when, in truth, the four or five good ones were meant to be achieving that purpose.

Then we carried on with our bad habits into digital photography with even less of a balance, as we now started putting the camera about a feet away and looked through the screen and shot, instead of the viewfinder. The results were instantaneous and so was the disappointment. We did better than our film days not because we got better at making mistakes but because the cameras had gotten better and better. 

Photography is an interesting pursuit in that it is both an art and a craft. In order to excel in the art form, you have to be fairly proficient in the craft which includes, but not limited to, exposure, metering, White Balance, Colour Management, controls on your camera,  post-processing etc. But being completely proficient in the craft would mean you are a technician and not an artist unless you also have a strong sense of composition, simplicity in your approach, balance in your framing, ability to view the scene from various perspectives, in short, aesthetics. 

The bitter truth about photography is, people remember you by your images and not by the gear you used. Up to this point of this blog being published, on this website, all my images were shot with either a Point and Shoot - a Nikon Coolpix or with a Canon Kit Lens 18-55mm f/3.5 - 5.6. Click here for an interesting article on your kit lens. The famous painter, Bob Ross, who taught the world about wet-on-wet oil painting technique through his series The Joy of Painting, kept saying throughout his series, that talent is a pursued interest. If you are willing to practice, you then become good at it. 

 There will be a set of loyal customers who have taken to your style of photography and are even willing to pay for your work. Or, there are corporate houses who are willing to pay you a licensing fee in exchange for usage of your images on their commercials or their corporate presentations or style-guides. And they will do that only because your images evoked an emotional response rather than the choice of gear you used. 

Stripping away all technological advancements in the field, photography in it's simplest forms has not changed in over a century. It is about light and shadows, contrast, colour, tone, form, shape, texture, pattern. So, the next time you plan to go on that holiday, start to plan your photographic quests around the gear you already have and put them to their best use and let your emotion/ impulse guide you to that "keeper" shot.

Picture: St. Michael's Mount at Sunrise

                   


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