Nice shot! What kind of camera do you use!!
My favorite photography joke goes like this…. you go to someone’s house for dinner. You eat one of the most amazing meals of your life. When you are finished, you say “That was great! What kind of stove do you use?!”
Photography is like this. We often show a photo to someone and after they let out that ‘wow’ or ‘ohhhh,’ (the sound that we want to hear when show off our work) and they then say, “Nice shot! What kind of camera do you use?!”
We live in the age of the camera blindness. We didn’t get to this point easily. It took decades of brainwashing by camera makers. For years Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony, etc. etc. etc. have been telling us how smart cameras are. They have been telling us that having a camera with more buttons and more menus…more technology will make us better photographers. Nope. Not.
The truth? It’s not really about the camera. It goes like this…the first camera was just a room with a hole in the wall and the image of the outside world would be projected inside the room. There was no film so the image had to be traced. It was called a Camera Obscura.
Then someone though it would be a good idea to be able to focus the image so they put a lens in the hole in the wall. Then film was invented and the guy didn’t need to draw anymore. He could show the picture to his wife. Or the landlord, to explain why he was drawing on the wall.
Cameras changed from being rooms to boxes and then boxes you could move around on a tripod and then a guy named Eastman invented a camera called The Kodak Brownie. It was small and portable. It was easy to use. All people had to do was point and shoot. Easy, they advertised…
They sold millions. The camera was now something everyone could use!!
After the Brownie cameras got smaller and camera makers focused (pardon the pun) on putting new features in like autofocus and metering and then portrait and landscape modes and then depth of field preview, and a diopter and continuous mode so you could blow through a $20 roll of film in the time it takes push and release the button. And then they put a flash on top. Year after year since the 1980s camera companies have added more and more buttons. Then when they had no more space for buttons they made menus. Then cameras went digital and the problem got worse.
Short story: Camera makers have brainwashed us to think the key to great photography is a great camera. The truth is...the key to great photography is mostly about seeing a great photo opportunity and then having the right lens. What’s the right lens?
Really, all cameras are just boxes with holes in them. They all pretty much work the same way- they can adjust depth of field, metering and shutter speed. And…you can focus the lens. Like the first Camera Obscura- the lens is what made it work well.
Note to self: Photography is mostly about lenses…lenses and seeing.
See (another pun) as homo sapiens we are stuck with the way we see. We all see in video mode. We all see infinite depth of field. We all see the same focal length- around the same as a 35mm lens. About the same as your smartphone.
Different lenses allow us to take photos different than the way we see. So, if we all see from the same perspective- 35mm, as soon as we shoot with a different lens we create something different than we are used to seeing.
DIFFERENT = WOW!
Then…when we show the WOW! we hear…” Nice shot! What kind of camera do you use!”
Most of the WOWs we get when people see are pictures is because we created a photo different than the way the human eye sees. We use shallow depth of field, we blur the action, we make a silhouette of our husband on the beach in Cancun. Different. The other big WOW comes from the lenses we use. Change the lens. Change the perspective. Get the WOW!
Lenses are the cameras eyes. They allow the camera to see farther away and a lot closer than we can see. They can make a distant mountain look closer or allow us to see all the detail on a lady bug. The lens can be binoculars and it can be a magnifying glass.
So, if it’s all about lenses then why did I pay so much for my DSLR? you ask.
DSLR cameras are good. They have been the standard by how we measure a quality camera for a long time. They give us a lot of creative control. They allow us to meter different tones of light and dark. We can change the shutter speeds: blur and freeze. We can shoot one photo at a time or many; machine gun mode. They have a big sensor that can give us a big image. And…. we can put on different lenses.
So, the best camera is the one you have. Buy new lenses. Change the way you see.
PART 2 Smartphone Revolution…..