I just can’t help myself.
I’m sure you’ve done the same thing as me. You buy your favourite photography magazine, browse, and there, on a double page spread is this amazing landscape. The composition is perfect, the shadow is perfect, the colour is perfect and that light! I would die for that light!. The image is amazing. And you go “I want to make a picture like THAT!”.
Well, that is a perfectly normal response. The trouble is you have a mortgage, a full time job, you’re married and have a couple of children. Oh yeah! This particular picture is also in Iceland. Yet, you still think “what gear do I need to make a picture like that?”. You just can’t help yourself.
You look at your existing camera, lenses and kit, it now looks crummy and pathetic and you think “well, that all has to go”. Whilst thinking this you have forgotten, of course, why you bought that gear in the first place. You will now sell it for the exact same reason your existing kit replaced the last lot: Because new kit will carry your photography forward and by spending even more hundreds (or thousands) your photographs will suddenly yield dynamic compositions and colours that just glow. If only I buy that Canon 5D marque III with a bunch of “L” lenses!
You are now deluding yourself as I have done for years.
But you’ll ignore me because your delusion is so strong it has you in its pernicious vice-like grip. Photography magazines are designed and written to fuel your delusion. Tantalisingly they parade in front of your very own eyes a series of amazing photographs. You pay particular attention to the camera model and make that is in small print in the far lower right corner. “I could make prints like that if I had…” If only you could hear yourself! The delusion is running at full throttle. Mix in an obsessive persona and you are in big trouble. The more your delusion is fuelled the more money magazines and manufacturers will make from you. It is an addict/drug-dealer relationship. Eventually, you’ll end up spending thousands as I have done and the results will be just the same. You’ll end up a lot poorer, more frustrated and ever more demoralised that spending all that money hasn’t yielded the results you want. I mean, what is WRONG with my Canon 17-40mm “L” lens, I MUST have a bad copy.
If this is YOU, then do not worry. The problem is actually right in front of you. It’s you!
The reason why someone else’s photography appears on a double page spread in an international magazine and ours don’t is because the photographer KNOWS how to use their equipment. They put in the effort to be in the right place at the right time often camping overnight. They are at location at 5am on a remote Scottish peak to get the light. And that’s IF the conditions are right. (It’s worth repeating) Amazing photos happen because the photographer is in the right place at the right time in the right conditions and he/she knows how to get the best from their equipment. They probably will get the same results from your equipment. Your equipment doesn’t matter! With advancing technology you can get great results from quite modest equipment nowadays! Pro kit from a few years ago is also as cheap as chips. Instead of obsessively and slavishly thinking that to get great pictures you have to spend thousands on great gear (this is what the camera companies and their sycophantic horde of amateur magazines want you to believe) the answer is actually the making of great pictures is free.
Yes! Free! The secret of great photographs does not rest in equipment, technology or software. Great photographs come from the photographer. From inside and that can be developed for free.
All this time and money wasted obsessing about specifications and this and that when all the time the cause of bad pictures was ME and NOT my equipment. So, I am not buying into the digital delusion any more. I am not buying any more cameras and equipment. I am not buying any more software, filters or plug-ins. I am not buying the next gimmick camera manufacturers have to conjure up to sell their wares. I’ve finished! I have had enough chasing Scotch mist and magic silver bullets. I have been totally STUPID.
Read part two next week: Recovery! And how on Earth am I going to even attempt to make good pictures let alone great ones.