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Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade

Modern technology, such a wonderful thing. I was in Cornwall at the weekend when my iphone pinged to tell me – you guessed it, that I was in Cornwall! If only it would obtain enough signal to make a telephone call, but let’s not go there. Technology moves on. It seems that almost every week there is a new camera; lighter, smaller better than the previous incarnation. I was at a camera club the other day and there were two large DSLR kits for sale, one a pro body. Both owners wished to ‘progress’ to the Panasonic micro four thirds systems. For the past few years, most enthusiast photographers have lusted after the big brick cameras we pros use, such as the 1DSmk111 or D3. Such cameras are built to do a job, in tough climes, with excellent reliability – good solid workhorses, but at a price. Not only are they expensive, but they are heavy. Add in a spare camera body just in case, a few F2.8 lenses and all the other paraphernalia we need, plus the tripod of course, and you’re getting near to 30lb on your back. On my desk sits a manual Nikon FE2 with a fast F1.4 lens. Superb quality. Small enough to fit in your pocket and fast enough to shoot in dark Tuscan alleyways if need be, given a suitable film. No problem with battery power, always reliable. For me it seems the ideal size, especially for town work. We could all harp on about the good old days and indeed, the older I get, the more frequently the topic crops up! But we have moved on and need to keep evolving as do the tools we use. Many regular workshop clients here my mantra that cameras are only tools of the trade. One such client recently said he was going to upgrade his camera. I asked him why? He could not give me a valid answer to justify the need to change. His camera was working efficiently, able to produce images to a quality perfectly acceptable to his needs and purpose. He swore at me for ruining his fun but nevertheless didn’t upgrade. Until now. He came on another workshop over New Year sporting a new Canon 60D. The live view was a benefit in focusing. The swivel monitor helped his knees. He was pleased with his purchase. Were his pictures any better? Maybe, but that was probably down to his improving technique as much as anything. Yes, if a better tool comes onto the market which will help us take better pictures then it may be worthwhile upgrading. If there is a particular need, say for lighter weight or a brighter viewfinder to compensate for our physical deterioration then it may be worth upgrading. But, and here’s the thing, your technique, your skill at composition, your art in seeing the picture and visualising the finished image matters far, far more. Remember it’s you that has the eyes. The camera is only the tool with which to capture the information and enable you to produce the image you visualise.

Keep practising

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