Is your camera important
Which is the best camera? I’m often asked this so let me come back with another question. How important is your camera to your photography?
The problem is, Cameras don't take pictures. I’m not saying they're unimportant. They are brilliant bits of kit made by some very clever people. But so many photographers are obsessed by which is best, which is the right one for landscapes, portraits, food, cars etc… So obsessed they spend weeks, months or years agonising over which one to buy or upgrade to.
And all that agonising is taking energy away from the bit most of us love - shooting more interesting and exciting pictures.
If you’re starting out with photography all those promises that “our camera does it best” made by manufacturers are very confusing.
In program modes cameras can change shutter speed, aperture and iso to set the exposure. - Does it ever get this wrong? Have you ever had your camera repeatedly make the photo too bright or too dark or the wrong bit of the photo too dark or bright?
Can it choose the composition? Does it know what to include or exclude in the shot? A high or low angle to shoot from? Can it arrange or align the elements in that composition to be harmonious to look at? Can it facilitate a leading line or add foreground?
Does it know which shots will work best with front to back sharpness - and which need a nice soft blurry background so the subject stands out?
Can a camera add textures in a landscape by introducing directional shadows and highlights? Can it make wrinkles on someone’s face more or less prominent by changing the light?
Are there settings for any of these on your camera?
So what do cameras actually do? Photography is the opposite way around to how many think it is. Cameras don’t take pictures. They do a fantastic job of recording light onto a sensor and storing a moment in time as an image.
But that’s all they do. Everything I just mentioned is not what the camera does; it’s what the photographer does.
Did Leonardo Da Vinci's paint brushes paint the Mona Lisa - or did Da Vinci use them to paint the Mona Lisa? There’s a big difference.
Basically, cameras capture light onto a sensor and record an image file from it. And they all do it fabulously well. There are indeed some amazing tools on a camera you can use to influence how it does that, but that’s You doing something, not the camera.
For some types of photography you may need a very high quality image file. If you need to crop heavily them more pixels will be an advantage. If you shoot low light without flash high ISO is very important. Sports photography and wildlife require long lenses with wide apertures so you can get the action closer and shutter speed fast enough to freeze it.
But none of these things will improve how good your photography is unless you upgrade yourself, the photographer as well! You have to think like a photographer and take responsibility yourself. Remember, a bad workman blames his tools!
Don’t sit behind the TV watching drivel just because it’s raining, Set yourself a challenge find 5 ways to photograph rain from the living room window. Get some cutlery out and set yourself a composition challenge using window light.
Even something as simple as this will help you upgrade yourself as a photographer. Because cameras don’t take pictures, people take pictures
Cameras Don't Take Pictures was a very enjoyable evening and something different to the usual lectures. You made it thought provoking and included the audience with your questions.
- David Huntingford -