11/26/20: Does What Kind of Camera You Use Really Matter?
So here we are in another Holiday Season of unbridled Materialism and Consumerism, and a lot of us photographers start thinking about what new toys we can get to thrill and challenge us along our respective journeys to photo-nirvana! This being my first installment of "My PhotoBlog", I wanted to harp on one of my favorite subjects: new toys--er--photo equipment.
I'll be the first to admit that I love all my photo equipment, and that it actually inspires me to shoot more photos. I'll use any excuse to get out and make an image from a new perspective, especially if it involves the literal perspective changes offered by a new lens or new photography format. One of my friends used to joke about me going out to make "tests" of new equipment, when all I would come back with were great new photos. So being an equipment geek can actually enhance creativity. That said, I really don't think, that within limits, what kind of equipment you have actually makes much difference for your images, both technically and creatively, especially if you're not shooting sports.
People (especially fellow photo-geeks) will routinely ask me, "what camera did you use?" for any particular shot. And while I am more than happy to engage them in this conversation, I would like to point out that the most important determining factor of any of my work is where I stood with my camera, and what lighting was available at the time. The above photo is a case in point. I could have shot this with any number of lenses and techniques, two of which I will now describe.
A.) It could be that I shot it with an APS-C Nikon DSLR with a standard 18-70mm/4.0 kit zoom at its wide setting and then cropped the hell out of it to yield a lovely panorama.
B.) It could be that I shot it with a full-frame Nikon DSLR with a 1985 vintage 50mm/1.4 manual lens, mounted on a calibrated, panoramic device and made at least 7 exposures from left to right that were then "stitched" together in post-processing.
What do you think? And if it doesn't really matter to you, that's OK. Because it really doesn't.
What matters is the experience, which was exhilarating to say the least! My wife and I went out to the levee on the west bank of the Mississippi at Baton Rouge (otherwise known as Port Allen), and watched for the Moon to rise above the city by the river. While we were waiting, I shot a series of other pictures, featuring tow boats, the ferry landing and other interesting features. But when the Moon rose and finally peaked out of the clouds, I knew this was "the shot", and I was right! I only was able to let off a few rounds before the rapidly changing scene was completely gone. I don't think I had any more than a few minutes before the magic disappeared, but I came away satisfied that I had a good shot in the can.
Never again would the lighting be the same, with the post-sunset deep shock of blue, featuring the wisps of clouds floating by that lead the eyes to the State Capitol, then to the levee in the foreground, then to the reflection of the Moon, and back to the Moon itself in a never-ending triangle of fascination.
But I'm sure you geeks out there are still wondering whether I used technique "A" or technique "B". If you have read other parts of this website, or if you know me, you know that I indeed used a Nikon DSLR. In fact, I use two. Technique "A" would yield fine quality results, but not as clear as technique "B", which would be the result of numerous shots "stitched" together in post. Either would have ultimately been printed on 12" X 36" canvas, and would have sold nicely at the shows and fairs where I exhibit. You "pixel-peepers" would be extremely gratified to know it had been done with technique "B", but alas, having very little time to make the shot, technique "A" was the only viable option. And indeed, it has been a best-seller, despite its technical shortcomings!
As one of my biggest fans and dearest photographic associates always keeps pestering me, "Paul, you gotta work with what you got!".
Right on, Mae.