I have done my fair share of lurking around the online forums, following the discussions on the newly launched Nikon D800 as well as the Olympus OM-D E-M5. Everyone has something to complain about and everyone is searching for that “perfect” camera that can do everything. Camera is a tool that allows photography to happen, and having a good camera will ease the process of photography and benefit the photographer in many ways. However, true photography is not all dependent on the camera alone. All the new ground-breaking technologies of better high ISO performance, mega-resolution sensors and all other decorative specification write-ups will not instantaneously create an award winning photographer over-night. There are so many other components in photography that the camera cannot do for you. I just find it strange why so many people can lose sleep on how they wish the cameras could have been better, instead of wishing how they could improve themselves as photographers?
All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5, Zuiko Digital 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 and Sigma 30mm F1.4
Under the LRT
Find a good subject content
Your camera will not click on its own and make images happen. It all started with the photographer’s eye and vision. The photographer wishes to capture an image, hence he sees it through his eyes first, or planned the image beforehand in his mind. The camera is just equipment that the photographer uses to translate what he sees into pixels or prints. In photography, the photograph is a powerful medium of expression, to tell a story, or to convey a message. The original idea in the image must come from the photographer, who will decide the subject content to be put into his photograph. Your camera will not be able to differentiate between an ugly cockroach from the beautiful butterfly. The photographer has to decide “what” to photograph, and this is a crucial stage. Without knowing what you want to do and accomplish in the first place, how do you expect to have a good outcome at the end of your photography session? You have to decide your subject contents, and no magic cameras in the world can do that for you.
Composition is another important element in photography that will either make the shot, or break it. Your camera will not know which angle works best, or how to approach your subjects. Composition errors or failure cannot be fixed by post-processing. Being given a photography opportunity, most photographers would start to think what ISO works best, how to maximize the “bokeh” to blur the background away, or how to set the flash and diffuse the light to create that beautifully lit condition. All the concentration on controlling the camera and its settings without paying much attention to composition: something that you cannot control within the camera, will result in falling short of a stellar shot. I always, always think about composition first before everything else. Having a strong composition will draw your main subject right out of the image into your reader’s attention, and have the background to strengthen the overall story-telling. A photograph may be perfect in terms of technical execution, but it will lack the “oomph” factor if it was poorly composed.
Jalan Masjid India
Instead of worrying about how the camera fares, the photographer should worry about how he handles his camera. How to anticipate actions and how quickly can he react to the opportunity? Decisive moments usually happen very suddenly, with minimal window of opportunity for the photographer to grab the shot. Even if your camera has superbly fast and most advanced Autofocus mechanism, if you did not notice the “moment”, or react too slowly to it (pointing your camera to your subject and clicking the shutter button can take some time too, you know), you will not be able to get the shot too. That is what separates a good photographer from the rest: being alert and sensitive to his surroundings and being prepared to attack at all times. No camera, no matter how advanced it is, can save you if you did not even manage to click the shutter button in time. It is either you get the shot, or you miss it.
Working your Subject
How do you get near enough to shoot the portraits of people on the street? How do you get them to look into your camera? How do you get them to have that “natural” and friendly look in their eyes? How do you talk to them to engage that connection so that when you shoot them, they feel comfortable with you and not having that awkward reaction on their faces? Your camera cannot answer any of those questions, but you can. All this depends on the choices and actions that the photographer makes. It does not matter which approach he uses, or how he wants to approach the subject, as long as he accomplishes what he intended to do in the first place, then it works. You may have that super camera with an F0.95 portrait lens, but if you are not courageous enough to walk near and approach your subject, you wont be able to capture any good shots as well.
By the road
Knowing exactly what settings to use and how to optimize the camera controls to get the best out of a photography situation are impressive and useful to many photographers. Nonetheless, what makes the photographs work require not only technical perfection, but also good artistic sense. Photography is a form of art, and art is a creative subject. Being all technical wont bring you far in photography. Knowing what is beautiful, being able to recognize art and make art happen, are not easily trained, or learned. Artistic sense cannot be passed on from one person to another, but it has to be developed within the artist himself. It has to be nurtured and grown over the years, and it does not happen just like that. You may be able to learn all the tricks and techniques of photography by paying thousands of dollars for workshops and seminars conducted by famous photographers, but artistic sense is about a journey of self-discovery.
I admit, I too, am obsessed with all the new cameras and lenses that I can get my hands on. Nonetheless, it is prudent to remind ourselves that photography is not fully defined by the gear that we choose to shoot with. We, as photographers, should define our photography. To improve in photography, getting better cameras alone wont help us that far. There are so many things that the camera cannot do, and at the end of the day it all comes down to what you can do with your camera, rather than what the camera can do on its own.
Pork Roast for lunch. VERY NICE !!!
We need a bigger table !!
I still have a lot to work on, when it comes to composition and artistic sense. I am in no rush, and I do photography at my own pace and time.