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Roger Hicks
09-02-2009, 12:06
...I care more about the picture, and less about the process, be it equipment, film or developer.

In my 20s I used to get really angry with this viewpoint. "It's all right for them." I used to say, "They already have top-quality kit." Well, yes. They were older, and had been doing it longer. And sure, I'm happier with Leica or Alpa than with my Pentax SV or Dawes Press.

But mostly, I reckon I can now get decent pics with most kit that is above a (very low) 'quality plateau'; a level at which my skill, or lack of it, matters more than the kit I use. The big difference is that I enjoy using an MP or a 12WA more than an SV.

How separate is enjoyment from quality? And how far do we get better pictures from equipment we enjoy using? Or for that matter, equipment with which we are familiar?

Cheers,

R.

Pickett Wilson
09-02-2009, 12:24
I think the connection between enjoyment and quality are at a premium on RFF. Most of us have far better gear than our skill as photographers, choice of subject matter or ultimate use of the photo could explain in a utilitarian way. We carry around $10 grand of Leica gear to shoot grainy photos in the dark and post on the Internet.

The advantage I've found in getting older and having used a lot of gear over the years is that I understand that my photos look like my photos, regardless of what gear I'm using, and can no longer claim to believe that better gear will make me a better photographer. :)

Matus
09-02-2009, 13:04
How separate is enjoyment from quality? And how far do we get better pictures from equipment we enjoy using? Or for that matter,equipment with which we are familiar?

Cheers,

R.

Well, I can hardly imagine quality without enjoyment. But the enjoyment does not guarantee the quality ...

I still do enjoy trying new equipment, though I call it a "Quest to find the camera that best fits my needs" rather than a "Quest after the best camera". I know - it is only a small step, but hey - I will be only 30 this autumn ;) Frankly speaking - I fully realize that more time/money I spent to search for "the one" (I mean camera, I am married already), the less goes into photography itself, but I have not settled yet. But I do hope I will converge within next few years. Once I will accept the point where my photography is and start from there - the gear will become just second order (so I hope).

On a similar note - I am wondering - how often we just try to heal our own frustration of not being able to produce images we are after with new gear - but even without realizing it !! ... :(

Oh, and just to remain in the main stream, I do not think that the M9 will ... but maybe ... :angel:

Lilserenity
09-02-2009, 13:17
It's a good question and one I feel that I am not qualified (I'm one of those young-uns with wide beady eyes or something...)

Yes, I have to enjoy the equipment I am using to get my best work, but I've taken about 2 good photos on a disposable camera that I bartered off of a salesman in a Tunisian medina so there are occassions where I find I can get a picture from most things. A case in point however back on track is my now sold EOS 3, excellent camera, technically brilliant, just about all the camera anyone needs out of film SLRs yet it never ever excited me. It was a bit dull and predictable, sort of like that suit you know looks smart but you feel like a sack of spuds in and would rather be slumming it in jeans and slightly quirky t-shirt. Anyway enough of my attitudes towards the corporate machine... Since I got my M2 and by extension of OM2n, I have never ever been happier with my pictures. It's really working for me now. Maybe its coincidence that in 2009, I have (from my standpoint) become a better photographer but I think liking the kit I now use has helped.

However, first and foremost for me is the picture, so long as I have a camera and some film, I'm not all too bothered. I'd be very happy to go on holiday with some Kodak Gold and my XA and I'd still get the odd good snap and photo.

The way I see it is the greats in my book Henri Cartier-Bresson, Kersetz, Robert Frank, W. Eugene Smith, Elliott Erwitt (etc. etc.) all technically had more primitive cameras, not as good film technically etc. etc. and more etc.'s but they still turned out stunning work. So really, what I use is neither here or there largely, it's the composition and subject -- but I do feel that I am more able to catch that moment with my Leica M or Olympus OM than any other camera I have owned.

Sure I enjoy using the M/OM, but its the result I get my pleasure from.

So maybe when I'm older, I'll just buck the trend and get into stockpiling equipment or something :D

Vicky

Al Kaplan
09-02-2009, 13:52
The latest new equipment adventure for me was several years ago, getting a used 15mm Heliar which came with a free very sophisticated rear lenscap incorporating a shutter and film transport system. The other (more expensive) alternative was to buy a LTM adapter and a deep rear lenscap.

I've also resurected a dead Minolta Autocord.

I got rid of a a couple of Leicaflex SL bodies, an R4 body, assorted 'flex and R lenses to 180mm, a Century Graphic, two RH-10 roll holders, 47, 65, 101, and 180mm lenses, a 4x5 Graphic View II with several lenses, a Hasselblad 500-C with an extra back and 50, 80 and 120mm lenses, and a few monolights. I also sold an M2 body with a 50/2.8 Elmarit. There is nothing I'm lusting after. I'm still living.

shadowfox
09-02-2009, 14:12
Roger, I'm not young, nor am I old.
This year is my 4th year in getting serious with photography.

My latest breakthroughs are:

- Realizing that there is a difference between "top-notch equipments" and "equipments that suit me." That those two are most often not one and the same.

- Learning how to print (darkroom) also have taught me a bunch about how-to's and different processes.

So I guess you can say that I'm still fixated about different processes, but less obsessed about equipments, and have hopefully acquired a more refined taste when it comes to the pictures.

Thanks for a thought-provoking question.

Sanders McNew
09-02-2009, 14:12
Charlie Parker once played at Massey
Hall in Toronto as part of an ensemble
that included Roach and Dizzy and Bud
Powell. And when he got to Toronto he
realized he was missing his saxophone.
So he played the concert with a white
plastic student sax. And the recording
of that gig is memorable. If you didn't
see Bird on the cover holding a white
sax and laughing (billed as "Charlie
Chan" because his recording contract
forbade him from appearing on the LP)
you'd never know the difference.

I like to shoot Brownies when I'm
feeling oppressed.

wgerrard
09-02-2009, 14:15
Bad or annoying equipment will get in a photographer's way, just as bad or annoying equipment will get in an athlete's way. And, certainly, if someone is trying to learn or enhance a technique, he needs equipment that does not stand in the way. Most of us, though, move up the gear ladder long before our skill has exhausted the potential of our currently possessed gear, whether in photography or any other venture. The real problem, I suspect, is in our inability or unwillingness to accurately assess our skills, diagnose our mistakes, and determine the appropriate remedies.

[EDIT: To get to Roger's point, I think that as we grow older most of us are more able to discern when the gear that needs upgrading is us.]

Dave Wilkinson
09-02-2009, 14:24
I've been using this little outfit since the early seventies, and it still gives me so much pleasure!...put it in the Avotar for a while:)....but staying on topic - as I get older, I'm no longer really disappointed when I return home from an outing - having shot little, or nothing, I'm just fortunate to be still out and about!:)
Dave.http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3123/3882265224_6938f2dc1f.jpg

rover
09-02-2009, 14:30
Recently I value the free time to go out and actually spend time shooting most. So much that kit matters not, and good results are just an added bonus.

FrankS
09-02-2009, 14:49
Ahhh, but there is still pleasure in the process when using a well designed and well built tool appropriate for the job. By way of analogy: a board will still stay as fixed when fastened by a screw bashed in with a hammer, but the job (process and end result) is more satisfying when done with an appropriate screwdriver, don't you think? Another one: the man eating steak mangled to pieces with a butter knife is as satiated as the man using a sharpened cutting knife, but not as satisfied/happy with the process.

John Kozy
09-02-2009, 15:04
For decades I shot with only my Pentax SLR and one or two lenses and did very well . Then came the digital age and my photographic world exploded . Whether it's a reversed lens Brownie or a D 300 or my Canonet , I am in heaven . Oh , how fortunate we are today and I don't feel guilty about it . But the real value for me is to see the picture ; to see the world and it's beauty . The equipment and the photo are a blessing but it's connecting my soul to the world I live in that counts most .

And , by the way Sanders ... did you hear the story of when Bird and Diz are crossing the country on the train to LA and Parker wanders off at some short stop in the desert looking for a fix . Diz sees him walking outside as he sits in the train until he "rescues" him . Later he goes into Camarillo Psyche Hospital to dry out ; and later still we have " Relaxin' at Camarillo " to enjoy . Hey , where's the Jazz blog ? I'm in !!!

DougFord
09-02-2009, 15:06
Charlie Parker once played at Massey
Hall in Toronto as part of an ensemble
that included Roach and Dizzy and Bud
Powell. And when he got to Toronto he
realized he was missing his saxophone.
So he played the concert with a white
plastic student sax.


Heroin will make ya forget your sax or make ya forget that you pawned it, to buy some more heroin. :rolleyes:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grafton_saxophone

sojournerphoto
09-02-2009, 15:41
I'm old enough to know that my limitations are me. I still like nice kit, and at least it doesn't stop me doing my best, but I'm not really hankering after anything else at the moment. In fact I keep tinking of sticking some bits on the bay, but haven't worried about that yet either. I have a Canon 5D that in theory I shouldn't use, but it sits on my desk wearing a 50 and often gets picked up to grab a picture of the children or my wife, or whatever.

Mike

sepiareverb
09-02-2009, 16:01
I'm pretty darn satisfied by the stuff I'm shooting with, I can get nice big prints when I don't screw up along the way, and know my materials well enough to not screw up too often anymore. What I'd like most of all is several unencumbered weeks to spend in the darkroom.

marke
09-02-2009, 16:08
This past year, I've been discovering the joys of shooting older glass, and the unique characteristics it can carry, such as my 1946 Summitar 50/f2, or my 1958 Elmar 50/f2.8. The Elmar makes my already a joy-to-shoot M3 an even greater pleasure. And then there's all the rolls of Kodachrome sitting in my freezer, each one waiting it's turn to be a part of that colorful icon's swan song. Ah yes, we live in wonderful age of this craft we call photography. :)

BillBingham2
09-02-2009, 16:20
While I’ve been very lucky to use and in a few cases own some of the best stuff (some times at its prime, others after) I find myself being just as happy with what some think are less than the best and still being able to capture some stuff that makes me happy. My GRD I is not the perfect pocket camera I still have a blast with it. The SP-1 or D3 will produce technically better pictures, I’m really happy with what I get from her. While the GRD III sings a hard song to resist, I must.

I think over the years I shot enough to know the limitations of most equipment and can think through how to get a good shot. I think that really is the difference, understanding the basics and knowing when you want/need to override what the tool you are using then is telling you to do.

I like the way I work and so look for equipment or approaches that will allow me to continue. I can adapt to using an auto everything camera, but for me it’s not as much fun. I do think that in some cases you need to look up-market (higher price and often higher quality) to find tools that work a particular way. Much of the photography market these days is focused on the PHD (Press Here Dummy) approach to photography which is not the way I like to work. Give me basic auto focus that is fast not facial recognition on of up to 15 faces in the picture. Cameras are taking the same marketing approach as Microsoft does with Office, he who has the most features wins, UGH.

B2 (;->

charjohncarter
09-02-2009, 16:28
Enjoyment: Pentax Spotmatic and Leica IIIf
Going for Quality: RolleiflexT and Pentax 6x7
Fun: Brownie Hawkeye Flash and Balda Hapo 66e
Too be weird (and below the quality kit level): First Six, Hollywood Reflex, and Kodak Duaflex
Vacation: Konica C35, Olympus 35RC, Nikonos II, Olympus Stylus Infinity

Other than that I obsess about negative quality.

Mcary
09-02-2009, 16:33
Cameras are taking the same marketing approach as Microsoft does with Office, he who has the most features wins, UGH.

B2 (;->

If Microsoft designed and sold camera's

Ring Ring Welcome to the Microsoft XYZ-1 helpline. Press 1 if you're calling for instructions for activating and using the manual controls on the XYZ-1. Beep: All line are busy please hold for the next available operator. Beep: All line are busy please hold for the next available operator. Beep: All line are busy please hold for the next available operator. Current wait time 9999 hours and 15 minutes.

andredossantos
09-02-2009, 17:10
There is always grey area. It's true that better gear "gets out of the way" and also true that a good photographer doesn't need good equipment to take a great photo.

However, I am more inclined to think for the most part gear doesn't matter all that much. One's personal and creative limitations, and everyone has them no matter how talented, have a much greater impact on a photograph. "Better gear" will make your photos marginally better but once you pass a certain price point or threshold you get some pretty steep diminishing returns. Comfort is a personal thing but again, a greatly "seen" image can surely be taken by camera one may not he totally comfortable with. That is, unless you miss the shot but in reality how likely is it that that exact situation occurs?Comfort is also a luxury. Would you rather be doomed to take photos with a camera you are not entirely comfortable with for the rest of your life or be doomed to take no photos at all? After 20 years using this camera would you become "comfortable with it eventually? Again, we are back in a grey area.

I don't think there is anythig wrong with liking and valuing well engineered, beautifully designed, techinically masterful cameras regardless if they make you better, save you time, whatever.

Certainly, someone with different interests might think your nuts
for spending a good amount of money on a 20 year old leica. In
the end, everyone is free to spend their money on whatever makes
them happy. I get the feeling that sometimes people are simply rationalizing the spending of large sums of money when this topic is discussed.

ferider
09-02-2009, 17:37
1.) Quality and monetary value are not the same, obviously. It would be hard for me to defend my Leica M6 having higher quality than my OM-1 or Nikon F, with a factor 10 difference in value on the used market.

2.) Perceived quality is like other luxuries. One get's used to them and it's much harder to down- than to upgrade.

Photography is a bit like working out - you got to go out and do it, work for it, to enjoy. Of course it's nice to have good sneakers - makes it easier but doesn't really change the basics.

I sometimes get the feeling that sometime people are simply rationalizing the spending of large sums of money when this topic is discussed.

Agreed.

newspaperguy
09-02-2009, 17:37
Well, in principle I agree...

but I love trying new 'stuff.'

as in new to me, not really new.

Now if I could only learn to get rid of the old stuff... :(

robklurfield
09-02-2009, 18:40
following up on Sanders's Bird, Diz, Bud, Max story... Charles Mingus was the bassist on the recording, which was reissued over the years as "The Greatest Jazz Concert..." of all time. Anyway, on several cuts, Mingus didn't like the way his playing came out so he actually overdubbed himself with some of his own re-recorded playing in a studio after the fact. This was issued on his own record label, Debut Records (the co was co-founded with Roach). So, the recording, in addition to white plastic alto in Bird's hands, also includes Mingus's version of photoshopping a live performance for recorded release.
Charlie Parker once played at Massey
Hall in Toronto as part of an ensemble
that included Roach and Dizzy and Bud
Powell. And when he got to Toronto he
realized he was missing his saxophone.
So he played the concert with a white
plastic student sax. And the recording
of that gig is memorable. If you didn't
see Bird on the cover holding a white
sax and laughing (billed as "Charlie
Chan" because his recording contract
forbade him from appearing on the LP)
you'd never know the difference.

I like to shoot Brownies when I'm
feeling oppressed.

robklurfield
09-02-2009, 18:50
Back on the issue of Bird, I personally think his most brilliant performances were those where he was bound by the limitations of what would fit on a three-minute 78 side. Much like using a manual rangefinder with an external meter or no meter, he was forced to make the most of what he had, whereas the luxury of spreading out on the longer recordings of the LP era, as brilliant as they are, allowed him and everyone else to use less self-editing, sometimes playing a lot more notes without necessarily making more meaningful music. To get this back on topic, think about a powerful photo you've seen -- some of Lee Miller's Nazi concentration camp images come to mind -- where the visual power overwhelms what the heck it was shot with... it's all about capturing something with strong meaning in a spare space. A better camera or glass wouldn't have improved the reason this images still startle.

scottwallick
09-02-2009, 19:03
Does this explain why I have a refridgerator stuff with undeveloped film? After it comes out out of the camera, the fun part is long over.

amateriat
09-02-2009, 19:09
For me, I supposed I reached the age, some years back, where I actually understood (1) what my technical standards were (more or less); (2) the level of equipment which would help to this end (emphasis on "help"...to quote Uncle Duke from Doonesbury, technology won't chew the food for you); and (3) exactly what sort of equipment, regardless of the thing we call "quality", I prefer to work with. No more Musical Chairs, in other words.

To me, it's not about the equipment mattering less, but simply knowing what works for you, which tends to lead to less obsessing over gear out of some kind of insecurity. You have your go-to cameras/lenses, your go-to film (where applicable), and you simply grab them and go. Some are lucky enough to reach this point earlier than others.

Then, too, there really isn't anything wrong with technical curiosity, is there? I haven't bought a new camera in the better part of a decade, but that's largely on account of my not liking much of what's around now (the new Panasonic GF-1 is the first digital camera that's truly interested me in a long time, for example). But, once in a while, it's nice to stretch the eye and mind differently with something different. Just saying. :)


- Barrett

Al Kaplan
09-02-2009, 20:05
Hopefully I'll get caught up on the fridge full of 1 gallon ziplock bags filled with undeveloped film this weekend. I decided the hell with it, picked up some one-size-fits-all Diafine, and bought some two liter screw top Riubbermaid cannisters for the A and B, fix, and hypo clear. I'll put the reels on a lift rod and do it in the dark. No tedious pouring in and out of SS tanks.

The Leicas and Bessa are on holiday. I'm shooting with my Rolleiflex T for normal pictures and my Minolta Autocord which is fitted with a stop of about f/128.

selloutboy
09-02-2009, 20:52
when I was just starting (which was last year), I always dreamed of having the best instruments for photography (especially a Leica). I know it's not going to make my pictures better but holding a camera that has a history and a reputation of giving the user the ability to produce pictures was exciting for me and something that I want to have.

Until recently, when senior members (I don't really want to use the word "Older" :D) of the Photo organization i'm in told me that they chose those instruments because it isn't the history or the most expensive or whatnot, its because the camera they chose is the one that suits their vision and it is what works best for their style.

I maybe young and starting out now but I'm thankful that I realized early on that gear has to suit my vision and style and not my gear dictating what I can do. With that in mind, I'm forcing myself to learn the processes, better composition, and story telling through my photos but make gear and technique second nature to me :)

JohnTF
09-02-2009, 22:33
Roger,

What you need is stuff that is "good enough", and stuff that you can be comfortable with enough to concentrate on seeing and obtaining an image with sufficient technical quality to become a good presentation.

Equipment difficult to use can be one distraction too many.

That said, you can do worse things than chase gear, but it is best if that does not interfere with seeing and shooting good images.

After more than a few years and a lot of gear, I think I know what I want to shoot with, and refinements in necessary new gear become smaller.

I have enough gear so that if I do not get a good image, the gear is not to blame.

Newer post exposure technology is still not altogether my friend, but even though I made notes in the darkroom, and I began making sets of duplicate prints during those darkroom sessions in which I obtained prints to my satisfaction, it did not mean it would be printed exactly the same the next time around.

More than likely, my next photographic purchase will be a faster computer with more memory to make post exposure adjustments more productive.

I believe future prints of mine will be put on paper by technicians, hopefully a reflection of what I shot, regardless of the camera in my hand at the time of exposure.

This is to some degree a progression of technology, and to some degree a progression of my limitations physically.


Regards, John

Roger Hicks
09-02-2009, 23:02
Thanks everyone for your responses, especialy Shane on the nature of 'enjoyment'. A couple of days ago I wrote a piece on something similar to this for my AP column -- I must get around to sending it in today -- about how I've got some of my best pictures when I've been uncomfortable, for example in a place I don't like such as Bejing or Istanbul. If I'm too comfortable, e.g. in Hungary, the pictures are too comfortable too. Though equally, I suppose, I've taken pictures I'm very happy with in Greece and Malta, both of which I love.

John's point about kit being 'good enough' is also very important. Almost any half-decent camera is 'good enough' in a technical sense, but you also have to be comfortable with it (another kind of comfort). Thus I could use my old Nikkormats or Nikon Fs instead of Leicas; I could just about use my Exakta Varex IIa; but I'd far rather use my old Kowa/SIX, inherited from my late father-in-law, than any Rollei TLR, despite the Rollei being a 'better' camera.

So maybe you need to be comfortable with the kit, but to face some sort of challenge with the subject matter. For example I'm really looking forward to the return of a friend's daughter next year, because I can apply the lessons I learned photographing her when she and her parents came to stay in late July/early August. The challenge was that I've never really photographed girls her age before: there are three pictures of her in the 24 Summilux review, http://www.rogerandfrances.com/subscription/reviews%20summilux%2024.html. Of course she'll be a year older...

To return to Shane's point, though, I've always liked Edward Bulwer-Lytton's view that talent does what it can, while genius does what it must. I don't think he was using 'genius' in the modern sense of 'exceptional talent' but rather in the much older sense of 'a tutelary or controlling spirit'.

Cheers,

R.

Turtle
09-02-2009, 23:29
... What I'd like most of all is several unencumbered weeks to spend in the darkroom.

I need about six months, so decided to outsource to a pro printer due to lack of time :(

Back on topic, the more I shoot the happier I am with less, because I am learning more about doing more with less. Make sense? Doing more with less is faster, has a few compromises, but also real advantages. The more my vision grows, the less I feel constrained by the technical characteristics of an image. Its hard to describe really, but my images have more soul the more I shoot and it has nothing to do with kit, but everything to do with me and how I relate to whatever i am pointing my camera at. Another part of it is relating to how others see my images and understanding their impact. I don't shoot for others, but it has helped me to shoot with a better understanding of what has a chance of making the leap outside of my own head and into others.

Using my RF kit as an example, it has grown considerably in the last few years, but most of the additional kit is used occasioanlly (i.e when one must have 21mm) or is there as back up. I have more bodies, for different film speeds or affixed to a different Fl permanently; however I only use two body types: Mamiya 7 II and Leica M (old type with small shutter dial).

As I acquired FLs I had little experience with I used to use the new ones quite a lot to get accustomed to them. Having used them a lot i know where they fit into my usage patterns so I either dont take them at all, or pluck them only when I know I must use them. The rest of the time I am shooting with a 65mm on the mamiya 7 or 35/28mm on the Ms.

Most of my experimentation has been in film, developers (and to a degree lenses) to get different looks. This has been fairly rewarding, though most of the time I shoot bod standard stuff: neopan 400 in Xtol

charjohncarter
09-03-2009, 16:56
Roger,

What you need is stuff that is "good enough", and stuff that you can be comfortable with enough to concentrate on seeing and obtaining an image with sufficient technical quality to become a good presentation.

Equipment difficult to use can be one distraction too many.

That said, you can do worse things than chase gear, but it is best if that does not interfere with seeing and shooting good images.

After more than a few years and a lot of gear, I think I know what I want to shoot with, and refinements in necessary new gear become smaller.

I have enough gear so that if I do not get a good image, the gear is not to blame.

Newer post exposure technology is still not altogether my friend, but even though I made notes in the darkroom, and I began making sets of duplicate prints during those darkroom sessions in which I obtained prints to my satisfaction, it did not mean it would be printed exactly the same the next time around.

More than likely, my next photographic purchase will be a faster computer with more memory to make post exposure adjustments more productive.

I believe future prints of mine will be put on paper by technicians, hopefully a reflection of what I shot, regardless of the camera in my hand at the time of exposure.

This is to some degree a progression of technology, and to some degree a progression of my limitations physically.


Regards, John


I, also think, you should have 'stuff' that isn't good enough. How else are you going to be different.

AND that is what makes us artists, well some of us, probably not me, but...........

JohnTF
09-03-2009, 23:17
I, also think, you should have 'stuff' that isn't good enough. How else are you going to be different.

AND that is what makes us artists, well some of us, probably not me, but...........

Even if we were all trying to be the same, we are all different.

What I was saying was that gear has evolved to the point that the differences we seek are sufficiently under our control using a great variety of products capable of producing quality images.

Or are you suggesting that we seek out equipment that is significantly flawed to produce creatively defective images, controlled in some way known to an artist?

I feel there is, perhaps, enough variety within well constructed gear to provide a myriad of choices, but you are always free to introduce further variables, though it may take some time to understand the idiosyncrasies of poor equipment to utilize it in a controlled fashion.

If, in an uncontrolled fashion is the goal, I am not so sure I agree in general to seek out "accidental" art in images. If you are seeking it only as a random occurrence, it is not intentional, so what is your part? Are you then just the editor of random events?

Does this follow from your comment? Or did I misread it? I am not seeking to be critical or negative, just to understand better what you said.

Regards, John

charjohncarter
09-04-2009, 07:02
Even if we were all trying to be the same, we are all different.

What I was saying was that gear has evolved to the point that the differences we seek are sufficiently under our control using a great variety of products capable of producing quality images.

Or are you suggesting that we seek out equipment that is significantly flawed to produce creatively defective images, controlled in some way known to an artist?

I feel there is, perhaps, enough variety within well constructed gear to provide a myriad of choices, but you are always free to introduce further variables, though it may take some time to understand the idiosyncrasies of poor equipment to utilize it in a controlled fashion.

If, in an uncontrolled fashion is the goal, I am not so sure I agree in general to seek out "accidental" art in images. If you are seeking it only as a random occurrence, it is not intentional, so what is your part? Are you then just the editor of random events?

Does this follow from your comment? Or did I misread it? I am not seeking to be critical or negative, just to understand better what you said.

Regards, John

John, I really agree with you I just like sometimes those little differences that maybe first rate equipment does not bring. Example, I really like the way my Polaroid Automatic 100 does portraits, and I finally fixed it so I can use electronic strobe for fill in and balanced flash. The other side of the coin is digital (not to start that argument,) to me doesn't provide enough differences between cameras. In other words, they all look the same. I even have gone as far as mounting a flipped Brownie Hawkeye lens on a K-mount lens cap to use on my DSLR. I think that these differences offer some uniqueness, AND I still can control the photograph. Like you I don't really like the Jackson Pollock style of art.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2442/3838478114_0078eebf65.jpg

giellaleafapmu
09-04-2009, 07:31
For me (not old not young) equipment has nothing to do with enjoyment or quality of image (above the famous minimum quality plateau) but with reliability. I give an example. You think a picture, say you want to picture a bottle of perfume and you think that it would be nice to have it half trapped into a block of ice, find some place where you can actually produce a big block of ice with your bottle inside and make several blocks with the bottle trapped in several positions, try light combinations in a location where you can actually put the ice blocks and start the session. At that point you have just a few minutes before the ice starts melting and have maybe just a few try for any state of melting of your block, so you don't want that, say, a drop of water kill your flashes or that a little more glare from the ice spoils your image. Usually, top quality equipment helps being (almost) sure things like that don't happen, lesser equipment most of the time produce the same picture (almost) but you run into much higher risk of failure of something. And in my example that was a theoretically reproducible image even worst if you are taking pictures of a wedding or a sport event...

GLF

Keith
09-04-2009, 07:47
I started photography at a fair age ... in my early to mid fifties in fact. I've progressed through a collection of quite expensive cameras before settling for the majority of my shooting on what seemed easy to ignore initially ... my OM kit!

I don't need a black paint MP to take photographs with and I certainly don't feel the need for a cupboard full of expensive Leica glass to ceate the look and feel I want with my work.

A steep short learning curve has evolved as a matter of course ... because there ain't really that much time left to be honest.

Dave Wilkinson
09-04-2009, 07:57
A steep short learning curve has evolved as a matter of course ... because there ain't really that much time left to be honest. Where ya goin Keith? - Mars?, there's a few here from another planet!:D
Dave.

JohnTF
09-04-2009, 09:05
John, I really agree with you I just like sometimes those little differences that maybe first rate equipment does not brings. Example, I really like the way my Polaroid Automatic 100 does portraits, and I finally fixed it so I can use electronic strobe for fill in and balanced flash. The other side of the coin is digital (not to start that argument,) to me doesn't provide enough differences between cameras. In other words, they all look the same. I even have gone as far as mounting a flipped Brownie Hawkeye lens on a K-mount lens cap to use on my DSLR. I think that these differences offer some uniqueness, AND I still can control the photograph. Like you I don't really like the Jackson Pollock style of art.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2442/3838478114_0078eebf65.jpg

OK, I read you are sometimes looking for flexibility in choosing equipment that may provide a particular creative look.

I was reading the thread to refer to the possibility of new gear driven technology which may or may not truly affect, to a great extent, improvements in an individual's photographic vision.

Certainly there has existed for some time very well designed and produced equipment that does not limit the ability to produce excellent images, which very well might fail to be improved significantly by small technological advances.

I still do the occasional photogram, but I may use an LED flashlight to make the exposure. ;-)

I really enjoy and admire the look and feel of classic equipment, but it does not prevent me from using an M8, and I appreciate the number of classic lenses I can fit to it, though I do not feel I know precisely which of those classic lenses I "need" in every situation. Sometimes I need to just fit the newest glass I have in the focal length useful at the moment and get on with the task at hand.

I can very well, (hopefully) produce work to the limits of my ability with any good camera and glass from say the late 60's. I may well be more comfortable carrying something more recent, and enjoy AF, AE and Digital convenience, but I would prefer to think the evolution of what I do is not derived solely from an improvement in technology.

If that were true, then I should perhaps just wait for the latest and greatest before I shoot anything more.

Liking and needing technology/equipment are interesting sets, which overlap to a degree and are by no means mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive.

I also have a Canon G9, and am somewhere over page 200 in the manual. The G15 may well be marketed by the time I absorb as much of the manual as I feel the author of the manual has intended, so, some of its technical "advantages" are lying fallow for the moment.

From what I have seen of Pollock, he did control techniques which appeared uncontrolled, though few could do so I believe.

I have seen images from the manipulation of SX 70 Polaroid images that I admire, and I imagine that the artist's trash had a number of images on the way to controlling that medium.

Technique can be found in any technology, new or old, regardless of the intent of the developers, but if you are shooting a particular subject and your goal is to capture what you see, you can do so with remarkable technology that might well be 30 years or 30 days "outdated" in the eyes of the guys flogging new stuff.

It can be a bit daunting to decide which paradigm shifts in technology are the ones that truly change the art of the image.

Roger, might be a good time to list what you think are the most significant and useful technological changes?

My usual apologies for the long post.

Regards, John

shadowfox
09-04-2009, 10:24
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2442/3838478114_0078eebf65.jpg

John, I like that photo a lot, whimsical and cheerful attitude at the same time. A classic! :)

charjohncarter
09-04-2009, 10:38
Thanks, Will.

It's tough to get them to stand still.

John, yes, I have to agree Pollock was the best at throwing paint. Jose' Guerrero, a 'modern' artist was related to my mother-in-law. She had a few of his paintings at her house. I liked them but I often wondered if I couldn't do it. One day bored at her house I found a biography of Jose' Guerrero. His early work which was more realistic was unbelievably accurate and good. So maybe there is something behind throwing paint.

Roger Hicks
09-04-2009, 10:59
I'm not sure Pollock could control it. I'm told (though I have not verified) that curators in some museums have every morning to pick up the bits of Pollock paintings that have fallen off overnight.

This does not negate the genius of his paintings: I love 'pure paint'. But it does argue that durability is not a necessary attribute of great art.

Cheers,

R.

Roger Hicks
09-04-2009, 11:02
Roger, might be a good time to list what you think are the most significant and useful technological changes?


Dear John,

Whichever ones ANYONE finds useful!

(And I reserve the right, to myself or anyone else, to be suspicious or even curmudgeonly about their findings.)

Cheers,

R.

Roger Hicks
09-04-2009, 11:06
For me (not old not young) equipment has nothing to do with enjoyment or quality of image (above the famous minimum quality plateau) but with reliability. I give an example. You think a picture, say you want to picture a bottle of perfume and you think that it would be nice to have it half trapped into a block of ice, find some place where you can actually produce a big block of ice with your bottle inside and make several blocks with the bottle trapped in several positions, try light combinations in a location where you can actually put the ice blocks and start the session. At that point you have just a few minutes before the ice starts melting and have maybe just a few try for any state of melting of your block, so you don't want that, say, a drop of water kill your flashes or that a little more glare from the ice spoils your image. Usually, top quality equipment helps being (almost) sure things like that don't happen, lesser equipment most of the time produce the same picture (almost) but you run into much higher risk of failure of something. And in my example that was a theoretically reproducible image even worst if you are taking pictures of a wedding or a sport event...

GLF

Dear GLF,

Absolutely.

If there's money involved, and you're not being paid some kind of retainer (e.g. as an academic or Artist in Residence) and you are not 'flavour of the month' (in which case you might care to contemplate next month) then predictability is very welcome indeed.

Cheers,

R.

Mcary
09-04-2009, 11:54
Thanks, Will.

It's tough to get them to stand still.

John, yes, I have to agree Pollock was the best at throwing paint. Jose' Guerrero, a 'modern' artist was related to my mother-in-law. She had a few of his paintings at her house. I liked them but I often wondered if I couldn't do it. One day bored at her house I found a biography of Jose' Guerrero. His early work which was more realistic was unbelievably accurate and good. So maybe there is something behind throwing paint.

If nothing else throwing paint can make for a very interesting, creative and fun shoot :)
http://www.mcaryphoto.net/2007/Paint06/index.htm (Not work Safe)

giellaleafapmu
09-04-2009, 12:20
Dear GLF,

Absolutely.

If there's money involved, and you're not being paid some kind of retainer (e.g. as an academic or Artist in Residence) and you are not 'flavour of the month' (in which case you might care to contemplate next month) then predictability is very welcome indeed.

Cheers,

R.

Actually there is no longer money involved in my case, or at least not in the form of "money paid to me" (I have never been a "real" pro and I now don't even try to be an "semi-pro" as I did for some time) but there is my own time and that's more than enough for me. In fact, since I don't have that much time and much of what I do I pay from my own pocket in order to do and I do this for my own pleasure I now ate even more than when I still had some assignment when a failure happens. I just want 100% of the time I dedicate to my hobby to be about pictures not technical issues.

GLF

Roger Hicks
09-04-2009, 12:27
Actually there is no longer money involved in my case, or at least not in the form of "money paid to me" (I have never been a "real" pro and I now don't even try to be an "semi-pro" as I did for some time) but there is my own time and that's more than enough for me. In fact, since I don't have that much time and much of what I do I pay from my own pocket in order to do and I do this for my own pleasure I now ate even more than when I still had some assignment when a failure happens. I just want 100% of the time I dedicate to my hobby to be about pictures not technical issues.

GLF

Fair point. But there's still money involved!

Cheers,

R.

charjohncarter
09-04-2009, 13:12
If nothing else throwing paint can make for a very interesting, creative and fun shoot :)
http://www.mcaryphoto.net/2007/Paint06/index.htm (Not work Safe)

I like those better than Pollock's

johannielscom
09-04-2009, 13:17
Funny,

after starting out six years ago shooting whatever I could get my hands on (goal was to earn me some cash and to try as much gear as I possibly could, most was bought and sold with a profit within three months time), I have recently again started shooting anything I feel like.

Currently loaded:
M8, M5, Mamiya Super Deluxe, Chinon Memotron CE-II, Yashica GS, Zeiss Ikon Box Tengor, Konica C35, FED-S and Olympus XA1. I enjoy the difference between the technically sharp and well toned negative on one hand and the moody flawed shot on the other. And the challenge it provides to make these images fit together.

charjohncarter
09-05-2009, 06:48
Funny,

after starting out six years ago shooting whatever I could get my hands on (goal was to earn me some cash and to try as much gear as I possibly could, most was bought and sold with a profit within three months time), I have recently again started shooting anything I feel like.

Currently loaded:
M8, M5, Mamiya Super Deluxe, Chinon Memotron CE-II, Yashica GS, Zeiss Ikon Box Tengor, Konica C35, FED-S and Olympus XA1. I enjoy the difference between the technically sharp and well toned negative on one hand and the moody flawed shot on the other. And the challenge it provides to make these images fit together.

Well stated, that is as great way of saying what would like to have said.

Roger Hicks
09-05-2009, 11:25
Funny,

after starting out six years ago shooting whatever I could get my hands on (goal was to earn me some cash and to try as much gear as I possibly could, most was bought and sold with a profit within three months time), I have recently again started shooting anything I feel like.


Yeah.... An interesting dilemma.

You need to shoot what others want, if you want to sell what you shoot.

If you only shoot what others want, and not what you want to shoot, it probably won't sell...

Cheers,

R.

35mmdelux
09-05-2009, 11:57
Keith wrote:
"I don't need a black paint MP to take photographs with and I certainly don't feel the need for a cupboard full of expensive Leica glass to ceate the look and feel I want with my work."

In 1998 I sold off my M4-P/35mm Cron after my divorce and pretty much seized to take pictures until my son's 1st birthday 6 years later. I bought a M6 (silver) and another 35Cron. It came back to me how much fun I had in the 90's taking snaps and getting about town with the little camera. The RF focusing meant more of my pictures were in focus!!

Ive traded alot and gone thru my learning curve in more than one way. I've got a couple Leicas, a few lenses, and a MF I like taking portraits with (Mamiya 6).

I want to move on and set as much attention to taking photos as I did to putting my kit together.

Brian Sweeney
09-05-2009, 13:54
As I get older, I want others -especially the younger generation- to enjoy the hobby that has given me so much delight.

From the last recipient of an old camera taking up space in my closet, a 16-year old. he wrote this on his Blog. Sent him a Nikon N6000 with Vivitar 35~105 zoom.

"Today is the day that it actually arrived in the mail though! :D I'm so psyched out and happy! I've got a roll of film ready to go for it. Forgot to mention that. It is a film camera. Not digital. But that's the best part about it! Film photos have a different look to them that I really enjoy. Can't wait to get her up and running.
We'll freeze the world within film frames."

wgerrard
09-05-2009, 17:45
Well done, Brian, well done.

amateriat
09-05-2009, 19:27
Brian: Lovely.


- Barrett

dee
09-15-2009, 03:33
There seems to be chat here about ' Compression ' ... when limited film , tight dealines , one lens , etc , create a new focus and deliberation .

As an illustrator and ' dee'screte design tweaker ' working with Office Designers , I have a day , maybe two , to help tell the story - and assist the team to win the profject , which can mean great profits .

Sometimes I leave my pens , favourite pencil behind , they have the wrong tracing paper , etc ... but the final result should never be compromised by the tools used .
Indeed , those tools should be invisible - it must always seem easy [ usually too easy LOL ]
Why ? Because I am only as good as the last project , and it's what I do .
[ Unfortunately , with ASdee , almost all I can ' do ' ]

I try and bring this to snapshots , but admit that digital gives me a problem , because it can be too prolific - even when staying with one lens , or the 28 / 100 zoom on the DSLR .

It's great when the card is full and I have to be ruthless and scrap stuff - and have to be more selective .

I like these threads 'cos they help me focus on the how and why of my picture taking - especially as I am now having to cut out all the c..p in I-photo 'cos my Mac is complaining !

JohnTF
09-16-2009, 14:42
I like those better than Pollock's

I am guessing that paying for clean up was gratis. ;-)

Nicely done, not easy to make that interesting.

Not one question so far as to camera, lens, full frame, etc. ?

Regards, John

watchyourbackgrounds
09-16-2009, 20:14
There is a relationship btw fun and quality, but there are lots of ways to go about it. It can be fun to shoot "above" your gear, or to squeeze every drop out of it. A good pinhole photo is an extreme example, but it works with other stuff, too.
Then there's the fun of trying to shoot above your level because you've got the same gear as the super-pros.
The thing is, when your hobby is important to you, and I mean really, ultra-important to you, then it's nice to use gear made with fewer compromises. It makes you (well, me) think the camera maker cared as much about the quality of the camera as I care about the quality of my experience, and my photos.
I don't know what goes on in the head of Mr. Leica or Mr. Zeiss, but I know (I have been lead to believe) that they don't make camera and lens decisions lightly, and this makes me think they have high standards, which...makes me feel better 'bout spending more loot. Like I'm rewarding the effort, or something, and at the least, I get a good widget that inspires me to do better.
Of course, I don't actually own anything Leica, but that's just because I can't afford it. I love my Bessas, and I see the same in them. Mr. Kobayashi knows a lot and cares a lot.

pvdhaar
09-16-2009, 23:00
... How separate is enjoyment from quality? ...

Isn't the question rather 'how separate is enjoyment from quantity'..

About 30 years ago, I bought a Zenit-E with money from a summertime job. That clunker was all I had for about 20 years.. and photography was always 100% pure fun. But then came the internet, and with it the realisation that there were cameras out there that had all these features the Zenit didn't. Over a couple of years, the number of cameras and lenses I had skyrocketed to bizarre proportions. But the joy of photography vanished; constantly doubting whether you've taken the right gear along is a sure way to take away the pleasure in picture taking.

It took a long while to consciously register, and I'm still recovering, but for me, the less equipment there is to choose from, and the simpler it is to operate, the more I can focus on photography and get that feeling of joy back again..

Roger Hicks
09-16-2009, 23:46
Dear Peter,

Yes, 'coming out of the other side' of gear mania was important for me too, with one qualification: the limited range of gear has to be the right gear: I'm far happier with Leicas than with Nikons, and I expect to be happier with an M9 + MP than with an M8.2 + MP because of the equivalent focal lengths.

The range needn't be that limited, either. The important thing for me is not to have twenty or thirty second-rate cameras that all do the same things -- fixed-lens rangefinders, for example, or SLRs or DSLRs -- but different systems for different applications: Alpa, obviously, Linhof or Gandolfi for movements, De Vere 8x10 in the studio for Hollywood-style portraits -- but I seldom have to think too much about what I need for where. At least three quarters of the cameras I own could go, without my photography being any the poorer.

If that sounds like a ridiculous number, well, it is, but I've been doing it for 40+ years and (more importantly) earning a living at it to a greater or lesser extent for over 30 years, and I can justify a lot on the business, so (for example) I have a lot of cameras I bought just to write up for collector articles and haven't yet got around to selling because they're more hassle to sell than to keep. Then there are the ones I inherited and the ones I've been given -- most recently a Contaflex BC with the interchangeable back -- and so forth.

Cheers,

R.

Roger Hicks
09-16-2009, 23:56
Then there's the fun of trying to shoot above your level because you've got the same gear as the super-pros. . . . The thing is, when your hobby is important to you, and I mean really, ultra-important to you, then it's nice to use gear made with fewer compromises. . . . Mr. Kobayashi knows a lot and cares a lot.

Yes. I find it cheeering to know that if I screw up, I can't blame it on my gear. It's a powerful incentive to try harder and to be honest with yourself.

As for 'ultra important', again, yes. When people say, "You have a choice," they're only half right. If it's that important to you, you don't. "Talet does what it can. Genius does what it must." Genius in this sense, I think, is a tutelary spirit.

And finally, yes, Hirofumi Kobayashi REALLY cares. That's why I dedicated The Rangefinder Book to him. Cosina only started the Voigtländer and Zeiss side of things because he cares. As Garry Coward-Williams (fromer AP editor) said, "You get the feeling he's on our side". As indeed are the key people at Leica and Zeiss: the accountants are servants, not masters.

Cheers,

R.

Turtle
09-17-2009, 02:19
you have to do a lot of shooting to know what really matters to you, rather than what someone else thinks matters to them. Often that results is an unexpected kit emphasis because we are all different. while cameras are important, I can say with certainty that although I would happily use a fair range of cameras, decent bags are much more of a dilemma. The more I shoot the more certain I am about certain cameras and lenses I own (and that I could use any on a short list), but the more frustrated I am with bags.... I used to wonder what the fuss was with bags, but now I know. If there is one thing (apart from me) that once I have cameras and lenses I am happy with really affects things for better or worse, it is equipment carriage. I would honestly rather shoot a project with a good bag or pouches with a Bessa R kit with CV lenses than with full Leica dream kit and a nasty bag that serves to obstruct me.

lightshot
09-17-2009, 04:16
...I care more about the picture, and less about the process, be it equipment, film or developer.

How separate is enjoyment from quality? And how far do we get better pictures from equipment we enjoy using? Or for that matter, equipment with which we are familiar?

Cheers,

R.

Enjoyment and quality are two very separate things in my mind. So far the pictures I enjoy the most are the ones I shot with the Holgaroid. They are what others might perceive as being of poor quality, but I certainly do enjoy taking them.

I'm young enough and new enough for the process to make a large difference to me. Because I care about the process I went to film. For me quality - either of equipment or of the finished product - is not as important as the time and care it took to "make" the photo.

Mcary
09-17-2009, 09:28
I am guessing that paying for clean up was gratis. ;-)

Nicely done, not easy to make that interesting.

Not one question so far as to camera, lens, full frame, etc. ?

Regards, John

Actually the set-up was pretty simple, two sheets of 52"wide seamless paper tape to the wall of the model's unfinished basement. When we finished she went up stair to shower off the water based paint and I simple rolled everything up in ball stuck it in the trash :) For the most part the shoot consisted of throwing/squirting paint, shooting, throwing/squirting more paint, shooting repeat.
Gear used was a 20D *Can't remember the lens* + 2 AB800 strobes, but of course pretty much any camera, lens and strobe combination would of worked.

JohnTF
09-17-2009, 13:46
Dear Peter,

Yes, 'coming out of the other side' of gear mania was important for me too, with one qualification: the limited range of gear has to be the right gear: I'm far happier with Leicas than with Nikons, and I expect to be happier with an M9 + MP than with an M8.2 + MP because of the equivalent focal lengths.

The range needn't be that limited, either. The important thing for me is not to have twenty or thirty second-rate cameras that all do the same things -- fixed-lens rangefinders, for example, or SLRs or DSLRs -- but different systems for different applications: Alpa, obviously, Linhof or Gandolfi for movements, De Vere 8x10 in the studio for Hollywood-style portraits -- but I seldom have to think too much about what I need for where. At least three quarters of the cameras I own could go, without my photography being any the poorer.

If that sounds like a ridiculous number, well, it is, but I've been doing it for 40+ years and (more importantly) earning a living at it to a greater or lesser extent for over 30 years, and I can justify a lot on the business, so (for example) I have a lot of cameras I bought just to write up for collector articles and haven't yet got around to selling because they're more hassle to sell than to keep. Then there are the ones I inherited and the ones I've been given -- most recently a Contaflex BC with the interchangeable back -- and so forth.

Cheers,

R.

Roger,

You can do a lot worse than hanging on to a few cameras you just like. I really don't think I will ever use my Minox B, or my Pentax 110 SLR kit.

I never had much of an obsession with gear early on, I traded a bicycle for a "press" camera, and we just did not have the family attitude (read - raised by people raised during the depression), coupled with a huge canyon when I was young between a lot of very marginal cameras and the "good" stuff.

I did know people from the shop where I worked, who really did not shoot, but appreciated the mechanical beauty in cameras I would have used. We had kind of a couple of lounge chairs in front of a low display case where these guys could hang out.

I suppose you could call these guys, (with no offense) social photographers, snap shooters with Leicas, Hasselblads, Rolleis and Linhofs -- absolutely nothing wrong with it.

I was in the shop and immediately snapped up a used Rolleiflex TLR, with accessories given to me by my boss as they appeared with other trade ins, which I used for years. (BTW, I never took a paycheck as I was paid in film, paper, equipment).

Times change, and even low cost (relative to income) equipment can adequately support talent now, it is a great time to make photographs.

I do not feel driven to criticize people who obsess a bit on equipment, as long as they have that favorite bag of equipment packed up that they can toss over the shoulder and get on with the task at hand, good for them. The kit you have in your hand is the most important. The other stuff, is, well, other stuff.

I know you do not look for validation, but I could easily eliminate 95% of my cameras and still do pretty much what I need to image wise, so perhaps I lead you in the shameful acquisition department. ;-) OTOH, a few items are on consignment, perhaps "step one"?

And there is one bag with a couple of bodies, some lenses, a backup G9, sitting ready to go.

Regards, John

JohnTF
09-17-2009, 13:52
Actually the set-up was pretty simple, two sheets of 52"wide seamless paper tape to the wall of the model's unfinished basement. When we finished she went up stair to shower off the water based paint and I simple rolled everything up in ball stuck it in the trash :) For the most part the shoot consisted of throwing/squirting paint, shooting, throwing/squirting more paint, shooting repeat.
Gear used was a 20D *Can't remember the lens* + 2 AB800 strobes, but of course pretty much any camera, lens and strobe combination would of worked.

I did imagine the paint was not oil based. ;-)

Shots of the clean up might be of interest.

J