Thursday, July 24, 2014

If Only I Had a Better...

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If only I had a better (pick one or more) camera, lens, trigger, lighting device, modifier...

We've all thought that. We've all, at one time or another, blamed the less-than-amazing results of our photos on our gear, i.e., lack of gear, not the right gear, or what we consider to be inferior gear.

I've come up with a cycle most photographers go through. It definitely has a beginning but not always an end. It's like auto-repeating a song with your CD player, iPod, computer, whatever. Here's a description of the cycle as I see it:

First, when you start out shooting photos, the content of your photos, what you're pointing your camera at, is everything.

Then, as you become more confident -- and probably more selective about what you shoot -- your gear and the tech stuff becomes almost everything, i.e., your highest priority.  Example: No longer satisfied with merely lighting a portrait in a basic and competent manner, you want to light your portraits with real drama! And that takes more/better/new gear as well as learning new techniques.

Later still, the content becomes everything again. That's because you've become even more comfortable with your gear, the tech stuff, lighting and more.  But then, just as you think you've completed the cycle, just when you think you've gotten over your extra-special love affair with new and better gear and technologies and you've moved back to being more of a selective, content-driven shooter, you again turn your attention back to gear and technology. Why? Because your world, your personal world of photography, has expanded. It's sort of like how the universe continues expanding. Suddenly, the stuff you now want to shoot as an even more experienced and accomplished photographer requires, in your mind, new, better, or more specialized gear... again.

It's a vicious, auto-repeating, cycle this being a photographer thing. One that many, if not most, fall into... myself included.

A Facebook friend, hobby photographer Matt Doogle, recently authored his first (of many, I hope) blog entries. Matt's only been a photographer for about three years now but it's obvious he has remained focused on the content of his photos, rather than on gear.  You should read Matt's blog. I highly recommend doing so. It's not only encouraging for newer photographers, it recounts what someone can achieve with relatively inexpensive gear by mostly remaining focused on the content of one's images, rather than one's gear and how new, better, expensive that gear might be. Matt recounts what can be achieved, photo wise, but also what the rewards can be beyond personal satisfaction and enhancements to a photographer's ego.

CLICK HERE for Matt's blog article. It's titled, "You Don't Need Expensive Camera Equipment to Take Competition Winning Photos."  Apparently, it's a subject Matt knows something about. He's won a number of photo contests! One of his recent contest wins awarded him (and his family) a trip to Greece! How's that for a photo contest prize?

I love Matt's closing bit of advice for his blog entry:
  • Buy a cheap camera
  • Learn it inside and out
  • Stop comparing yourself to Professional Photographers
  • Be inspired
  • Dare to be different
But most of allBelieve in yourself’ and you will go far.

From the archives: The pretty girl at the top is Sofia. I snapped it about 5 years ago in the living room of my friend's house in Las Vegas.  ISO 100, f/5.6, 125th with a Canon 28-135 IS USM f/3.5-5.6 on my 5D1.  The 28-135 is a fairly inexpensive yet terrific, all-purpose, utility lens. I used three, modified, light sources plus a reflector: 5' Photoflex Octo for my main, camera left, with a white, collapsible, reflector set camera right for some subtle fill. On either side from slightly behind I set a pair of medium-size strip boxes for highlight accents; pretty much my standard, glamour, lighting setup.

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