Change photography, change camera

2009, Photography

Recently I have frequently adressed my issues with purchasing new cameras and how I think about improving photographic skills. I have raised my concerns that changing cameras (and in particular for those who do so very often) might not at all improve their photography. Adopting a new camera takes time too.
Thoughts by Wouter Brandsma
But there is another thing with changing cameras. It will change your photography, whether you like it or not. If you did portraits with a MF camera, your photographs won’t be the same when you pick up a dSLR. The format (1:1, 6:7, 3:2, 4:3, etc.), size of film or sensor, different lenses, experience, all add up to that.

It used to be simple in the past. You were glad to have the money for one camera. You hoped the camera would last as long as possible (and they often did), and replacing the camera was only done when necessary. But now, people have more money to spent and they are trying more gear. Getting Canon gear and later replacing it with Nikon or whatever. Some replace their cameras now every year. Every camera has something distinctive and it will influence your photography.

When the loan DP1 arrived earlier this year I had a very good creative moment with the GX200. I tried to use the DP1 in the same way, but it was a very different camera. I had to change pace, find the flow again, and it affected my creativity.
Thoughts by Wouter Brandsma
Earlier this year I had some interest in a dSLR with a prime lens. When the DP1 came in the spring I kind of lost that interest for a while, but I have currently a new interest again. But the requirements are tough. The camera still needs to be small, I want to use a prime lens, and it should have a viewfinder. Autofocus is no priority, but the price should be low and the camera should still be rugid. Therefore I will try to work now with different focal lengths on my Ricoh. Instead of 35mm I will try something like 40 and 50mm lens.

A different camera often means different lenses too. It will change your entire view. So I need to be ready for it to make such a transistion a success. I often think it is much better to stick to your current camera. Make it work for you, grow into it, and explore your current creativity with the camera you have. And only switch or add another camera when you are really up to it.
Thoughts by Wouter Brandsma
Probably the most important criteria to change a camera, is because you want to make different photographs. I believe when you take photography serious you don’t need to replace cameras. I like it when a camera blends in with my photography. In fact you hardly realize how the camera looks like, it all feels natural.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

Rear signs & some more…..

2009, Photography

Rear Sign by Wouter Brandsma

Rear Sign by Wouter Brandsma

Rear Sign by Wouter Brandsma

Rear Sign by Wouter Brandsma

Rear Sign by Wouter Brandsma

Rear Sign by Wouter Brandsma

Rear Sign by Wouter Brandsma
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

Some more…..
Now I should be really enthusiastic about todays announcement of some new Canon cameras, including the S90 and the G11. Mostly I can’t be bothered with it. Hardly any changes with regard to the G11, but the S90 comes with this excellent manual focus lensring. The other good thing is fast lens of the S90 that starts at f/2.0, but the most important thing is the end of the megapixel race so it seems. What started with the Panasonic LX3, now continues with the Ricoh GR Digital III, the Canon PowerShot G11 and S90. But still no larger sensor in one of these cameras.

Personal shorebreak

2009, Photography

My next photo series is a set of photographs I made today while visiting the Dutch coastal town of Zandvoort. There is so much going on and so much to see at beaches and the’re great stages for photography in my opinion. I think of the beach as showing off, many people being a swagger, being beautiful or thinking being beautiful. Somehow many of these coastal towns aren’t that pretty, some are like almost vulgar, some try to remain mondain, but they still bring lots of enjoyment to visiting people. The combination can be strong and compelling to me.
Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma

Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma
A young guy carries a chiwawa dog.
Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma

Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma

Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma

Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma
Try reading a newspaper on the beach with at least windforce 5.
Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma

Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma

Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma

Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma
Some racing at the nearby race circuit.
Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma
Google the comment on the chair!
Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma

Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma

Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma

Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma

Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma

Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma

Zandvoort by Wouter Brandsma

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

Temporary art

2009, Flickr, Photography

Considering all the technical improvements in photography, of course purely gear related, I would almost presume that the photographic art is getting lost. My dear reader Chris commented in my previous post about a fictional scene where a camera would talk against the camera operator (used to be photographer) to frame slightly different to get a better/more perfect composition. You might laugh now, but it could well happen. Remember the great Henri Cartier-Bresson? In his book ‘The Decisive Moment’ he wrote that he hoped that no compositional grid would ever be supplied to attach to the viewfinder, because you had to feel the moment and not think about it. There was time enough to study the photograph after it was taken. Unfortunately for him though, almost every digital camera now comes with these compositional grids.
Amsterdam by Wouter Brandsma
He continues to write in his essay about the essence of composition, but mostly in relation to be able to feel it. There is this split second where you make the decision to press the shutter. A moment when everything comes together as a unity of form and action, the moment that feels right, which he magically described as ‘the decisive moment’. I really do agree with him that he suggests not to think when you frame your final composition. There is enough time to understand what you are doing when you are reviewing your photographs at home.

I guess it is easier to change gear in a hope to improve your photography, because it makes you less vulnerable for critics. We often do not see the things. Don’t we all have that situation where you see someone elses photograph and you think: “I should have seen that one too” or “When you look at it, it is actually quite simple”. Is it true that your photography will improve when you buy a new camera? Of course not. It is absolutely not the camera. It might affect the image quality, but I am not talking about that. I am talking about better compositions, the bare and simple essence of photography in my opinion. I believe the only reason why people think a new camera improves their photography is because they photograph more often with a new camera.
Amsterdam by Wouter Brandsma
And there I said it: “photograph more often”. These three words are probably the most important thing related to getting better. When you replace photograph for practising, than you realize that it works for just about everything. Whether it is photography, soccer, playing guitar or your job. Not everyone is gifted with a lot of talent. Remember athletes preparing for the Olympic Games? They train as much as possible to become really good.

And to become better you do not need more in my opinion. Less is often better. A basic camera without bells and whizzles is easier to learn. All the options don’t become an obstruction for your photography. You don’t learn photography from a technical point of view when you select a scene mode. Learn exposing appropriately, how to achieve shallow or huge depth of field, and learn how you can use these skills to improve your intended compositions.
Amsterdam by Wouter Brandsma
There is no decisive moment digicam or ‘DMD’ on the market as some ask for, there will never be one. I believe the decisive moment is in your head, it really is. In my opinion a camera with many features is a camera with too many features. I personally disagree that every technical ongoing development is there to improve the photographic experience. Using a simple and small camera can be very liberating. Daido Moriyama for instance started using compact cameras more then 10 years ago, because it made him less obtrusive. HCB didn’t start using a Leica, because it was a …. Leica. No, he started using it, because it was one of the smallest cameras around at that time. It helped him realize the photographs he envisioned, because he didn’t become noticed.

More than 10 years ago when Nikon introduced the F5, it was a camera, I believed, that consisted of a small database of some 50,000 photographic light situations to help meter the framed scene as good and accurate as possible. Maybe within 10 years they will introduce a camera with a large database of trully well composed photographs to assist you. But by than all the produced work will be all the same. No new insights, no new visions. Photographic art will than be killed. Than photography will absolutely be temporary and won’t last for ever.

Maybe I am old-fashioned. Yes, I often use the LCD for framing, but I still prefer optical viewfinders. I use the camera in manual mode and don’t need a P, A, or S mode. I like to keep it simple, because I want to concentrate on my photography. I want to come home with pleasing photographs, I want to feel the joy and excitement of capturing light. I see the camera as just a part of my photography that consists of a larger process.
Amsterdam by Wouter Brandsma
Instead of learning how to handle your camera, spent more time learning about art. I think it helps to study paintings or drawings. See how they used light to emphasize subjects or pencil strikes to show only the necessary objects freed of unimportant details. You don’t need to be arty to see that. You don’t have to speek art intellectually to prove your importance and knowledge (I personally almost never understand what they say anyway), unless of course when you want to cover your own mediocre photography. It doesn’t matter what craftsmen used to produce their art, it matters how they used it.
Rui Fernandes in Amsterdam
Today’s photographs were made in Amsterdam while having a trully wonderful day with Rui and Dora from Portugal. Thank you both for this glorious day and opportunity to meet each other.
Rui and Dora

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma