End of the year…. finally

2010, Photography

The year 2010 has almost ended. I usually try to avoid resolutions for new years, but I had hoped to intensify my photography this year. More street, more portraits, starting new projects and keep continuing my long-term project of my son. The first half year I wasn’t really that productive, although I had a second chance to try the Ricoh GXR. I wrote an article about my photography for a Dutch photography magazine and I was interviewed by Mookio for her Ricoh GRD book. I am still honored and grateful that I could collaborate with them both. I became a member of local photography club which gave me a good opportunity to meet other photographers. We photographed in the Dutch city Deventer with a couple of good company photographers (see the three images below).

Camera used: Ricoh GR Digital III

Last summer I broke my back which kept me from shooting a couple of months. I lost many of my photographs when my hard drive felt on the floor, but it also gave me a chance to change my back up scheme. I sort of lost my inspiration, but gave it all a rest. In the meantime I have done the typical “dpreview” thing thinking about a new camera and elaborating what I really need for my photography.

I want to continue with street photography, since that is what I have always wanted to do since the mid Nineties. I also want to focus on more portraits, probably mostly environmental portraits. Therefore I figured out that I still want a camera with a smaller form factor and either a 35 or 40mm lens. Although I really love the perspective of the 50mm I still prefer a 35 or 40mm for practicality.

Currently I am testing the Ricoh GXR again with both the A12 50mm macro lens and the new A12 28mm lens. Not too long ago Steve Huff gave a raving “real world” review of this combo, which you can read here. And I will posting another article about this camera early next year. Partly ´cause Ricoh introduced the new A12 28mm lens, but also since they introduced a new firmware which reportedly improved the AF of the A12 50mm lens. I won´t spoil the outcome yet, but I do want to share some first images from the new A12 28mm lens.

And this all brings me to my last 2010 rambling. Gear, you love it or you hate it. But I guess everyone does have an opinion about it. Even those who never talk about it know very well what serves them best. We all know too well if we have gear that we master or that we are slaves of the master. I always smile when I read a pro doing it with less, although they are usually comfortable with some of the best stuff around. And they should have the best. They need reliability and want happy customers anytime. They have bills to pay. But we? Do we really need that Canon EOS 1D-Mark IV or Nikon D3S?

You know, with digital photography we have all witnessed an incredible increase in above average photographers. Nowadays it becomes very common that uncle Joe takes his 5D-Mark II with L-glass to his sister´s wedding and is just as well equipped as the official photographer. I know of some forums where amateur photographers have truly expensive medium format cameras and all they care is the resolution and huge size of their images (be warned, large images!). Yeah sure, if you can afford it, spent it, be happy you know, whatever. But come on, be realistic sometimes too. If they can spent all that money on gear, why don´t they take some proper lessons first, a workshop, some books. The thing is, that it can become a norm too. Take a look at some of those fun image threads. Those who share their images have often good gear. You won´t see any images taken with a Nikon D60 or Canon EOS 550D, but look on Flickr for instance and you will see a lot of competent photographers with these less expensive cameras.

Most photography related websites and forums rely on gear talk and nothing else. Photography seems irrelevant and that worries me. People are worried that you are only taken serious when you have the right and best gear. Even at the photography club we make jokes that when someone took a good photograph it must have been taken with a Canon. Some photographers just drive more traffic to their websites because they use a particular top notch camera. We are concerned about something the rest of the world just don´t care. They don´t buy a Frans Lanting book, because he uses Nikon cameras. They don´t visit a Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibition, because he used Leica most of his career.  They want to see the photographs, they want to experience their view of our world. And that is what matters with photography. The power of photography is the expression of our emotions, our visions, of beauty, and horror.

I wish you all a Happy New Year and a great photographic 2011.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

22 thoughts on “End of the year…. finally

  1. Wish you a very happy and prosperous new year!

    So true about the gear thing. From the experience I did get into that loop only talking and wanting great cameras not much bothering about improving photography itself. Somehow I stumpled upon Ricoh photographers’ blogs/flickr pages (like you, Mitch and others) that opened my eyes. Now I am also a ricoh GRD owner (still some time lusting about GXR, old habits die hard.) and trying to get back to photography.

  2. I love the colour photo of your daughter 🙂

    I hope you have a better year than this one. I’ve got the feeling (rightly or not) that you haven’t been enjoying taking photos for a while.


    1. It sure sounds like a very interesting camera. In fact I have decided to wait until the camera is launched. In the mid Nineties when I sold my SLR and bought the GR1 I actually really wanted the Konica Hexar AF. The 35mm lens, silent mode, a large viewfinder, and very accurate AF. It was however an expensive and decided the buy the GR1 instead. The X100, at least on paper, feels like an incarnation to me.

  3. Again a very nice read Wouter, as always. And very, very nice photos.
    The one in the metro and the girl especally.
    Looking forward to your ‘new’ view of the gxr, the 28mm looks promising.
    But moreso I look forward to the pictures the gxr will bring 😉

  4. So true, so true. It is such a shame (for our sake) you do not publish your shots and writings more, they are truly spectacular. I find it painful at best when someone praises a photo and promptly follows it with “what kind of camera do you use”? Really takes the talent wind out of the sails.

  5. Nice post. Thank you. Sites where people talk endlessly about cameras while taking boring pictures are not interesting to me. I love cameras, but I also like the challenge of taking good photos. Your blog is a good combination of both. Thank goodness you are recovering from your back injury and that you are interested in photography again. I like your blog, and it is good to see you writing more. Best wishes for a very happy new year!

  6. Having noticed a certain sense of despondency in your recent postings, I am all the more delighted to read that you are once again motivated and indeed excited about your projects for 2011. Splendid news!!
    I particularly like the 3rd picture (tea room?) great lighting!
    Wishing you and yours all the very best for the new year and look forward to some more of your super photos!
    best regards Vic

  7. If I used the same pencils as Shakespeare I would write excellent plays. The same golf clubs as Tiger Woods would win me some PGA’s. Actually for the latter the reverse is true, pro clubs are even worse for amateurs than forgiving clubs.

    The gear should not hold your creativity back, it can even be that gear limitations even increase creativity (lomo or pinhole anyone).

    All the best for 2011! (photos I mean not gear 🙂 )

    Regards Remko (don’t have pro DSLR nor L glass, but do read about that stuff)

  8. Hi Wouter

    a slightly late happy new year to you, I hope it brings all you wish for.

    Another interesting post and the much debated gear argument…my thoughts for what they are worth, I love the GRD3 which I got after reading your wonderful review, admittedly I was a confirmed Ricohphile (a new word?) before the decision to get it but I’,m so glad I did.

    I have lost the flexibility the zoom on the gx100 but the reward is in the new sensor, it is stellar, I love it and have been overjoyed with the results so far, there is a lot more to come from this my favourite carry any where camera.

    I liken it to the old leica rangefinders the original variants not the new M9 et al it is discreet, pocket-able very quick especially with snap focus, people don’t react to it, as you always look like a tourist.

    On the slr front I’ve just switched to Pentax the K5 my reasons being the quality of the camera given its price, the cost of its DA* lenses and lastly and certainly as important the fact I can use the old K lenses without adaptors,.. the added bonus being the price you can still pick up these for, so far i don’t regret the switch. The improvement over the Olympus is very evident especially at high iso, I have been astounded by the quality.

    I managed to find a 50mm 1.7 as well as a 35 f2 and the results are to die for the bokeh is buttery smooth, another positive I almost forgot is the shutter, it is exquisite, so quiet, it’s almost rangefinder like.

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