Monday, August 22, 2011

Dream Cameras and Misc Ramblings

Simplicity by Wayne-K
Simplicity, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

As I noted previously, I believe one should pursue a career that pays well. The purpose of work is to support oneself and one's family. Having said that, when assessing new job opportunities, I didn't necessarily pursue the positions that paid the most money. I factored in job satisfaction, commute distance, and work hour flexibility. For me, the last two are priceless because they allow me to attend my kids' school functions and sporting events. The bottom line is, the size of the paycheck is important, but it's not the only thing that's important.

I view my photography in much the same way. The final image is important, but for me, photography is not only about the image. I enjoy the process of capturing the image.

It's about hiking to 10,000 feet in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains and enjoying the crisp morning air, the cool, clear creeks, and the majestic granite peaks (watch this video and you'll know what I'm talking about). It's about finding an interesting subject and understanding what I liked about it. It's about evaluating the possible camera settings and determining how best to capture the final image.

It's also about the camera. While the camera is just a tool, it's an integral part of the overall experience. People don't drive '67 Corvettes because it's the fastest or best handling car on the road, they drive it for the experience. When I want to enjoy the photography experience, I shoot a Nikon FM2 film camera. The manual exposure, manual focus, and manual film advance help create a zen-like experience. It slows down my body and mind, and makes me think about every shot.

Now, when the focus is on "getting the shot," I grab my digital SLR. Shooting a high school basketball game with a manual focus camera is like trying to catch flies with chopsticks...well, unless you're Daniel-san. In cases like this, the goal is the shot, not the experience, and the better tool is my more automated DSLR.

Speaking of basketball games, my Nikon D80 doesn't do high-ISO very well, something that's important while shooting games in poorly lit gymnasiums. I have no plans on buying a new camera, but I have spent some time daydreaming about it. So, hypothetically speaking, if money grew on trees, what camera would I get? What would be my "ideal" camera? My conclusion is I don't have one ideal camera, I have two ideal cameras.

For sports and other times when I just want to get the shot, I would use a Nikon D700. It's big and heavy (as are the lenses), carrying it around all day wouldn’t be fun, and processing all those photos on my much hated computer would be torture. But, it does extremely well in low light and focuses fast. If I had a Sherpa to carry it around for me and a graphic artist to do all the post-processing on the computer, it wouldn't be half bad.

For times when I want to enjoy the experience, I think I would use a Leica M3 rangefinder, film camera (circa 1950's) and a 35mm or 50mm prime lens. Alternatively, I would just stick with my Nikon FM2. Both cameras are beautiful in its simplicity. Load the film and set the ISO, shutter speed, and f-stop, then compose the shot and press the shutter release. Simple as that, just three settings. Once the roll is done, rewind it and send it to Wolf Camera for processing and scanning. No need to spend hours on a computer processing the images, neglecting the family, and developing eye strain.

Well, since I'm just dreaming, my digital "experience" camera would be a Leica M9 digital rangefinder, paired with either a 35mm or 50mm prime lens. That would set me back $10K, but hey, I'm just dreaming, right? It would also come with a graphic artist to handle all the post-processing, freeing my time to take more pictures, play with the kids, go for a hike, and anything else that doesn't involve a computer.

Okay, enough rambling for a night. I'm a bit under the weather at the moment, but I'm looking forward to some photography tomorrow on the Pleasanton Ridge. I bet you can't guess which camera I'll be taking with me....


No comments:

Post a Comment