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Reality Check

Tuesday 1 December 2009

I just read an unbelievable post on dpReview…

Format Wars?: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1022&message=33831269

Here is my response… (also found on dpReview):

——-

I know I’m going to take a lot of heat over my post below, but here goes…

Jim Stirling’s post is well thought out and certainly is all true, but the reality of history and context are completely missing.

I can’t believe his original “Format Wars?” post – how did we ever take photos before this guy came along? Three camera systems needed to do photography? – give me a break! I want to say “More money than brains” except that he can probably write off his equipment against income.

Before digital…

  • * How did National Geographic ever produce the kind of images they did with just one system and numerous bodies. It’s a rhetorical question because I know how they did it: some of it was supreme darkroom work, but really, the photographers (not he cameras) were the basis of the great images they produced. Yes, they used specialised equipment for some of the well-publicised shots, but for the vast majority they were using out-of-the-box film cameras and lenses.
  • How did Karsh or Adams ever cope with an 8×10 camera and glass negatives whether it was in front of dignitaries or up a mountainside?
  • How did any one of a thousand photojournalists ever capture such amazing images of momentous occasions? Not to mention the legion of wedding photographers who worked for years creating truly memorable images.

You would think that this would all be impossible with what Jim Stirling has written.

I realise I’m referring to days gone by, but we need to stop and think that if they could do amazing work with simple, manual mechanical film equipment then maybe it’s not the equipment, but the photographer! IQ has more to do with capture technique (exposure!) and post-capture processes than the sensor. And even more importantly, its being in the right place at the right time with the right knowledge to take advantage of the situation – equipment actually comes secondary – unless you are of the techno ilk that thinks equipment is supreme; then your photos will be technically perfect but still not be compelling.

Bottom Line: The vast majority of people reading these posts are not cutting edge professionals who can write off their expenses against income – they are regular people on a limited budget who just want to learn and improve upon their photography. To get great pictures buy any dSLR system and get out there and shoot. Then spend some time analysing not just your images, but those of others. Ignore what system was used and concentrate on what focal length was used and why and how the photographer made use of visual design elements and “the moment” to create a compelling image.

In fact, if posters spent less time posting and more time photographing and looking at, really analysing and discussing compelling photographs , we would all be better photographers!

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