Equipment isn’t Everything (It’s the Vision Thing)

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You hang around photographers enough, and you hear the same debates and tropes and ideas pop up over and over again. Probably the most common is a variation of “It’s the photographer, not the equipment.” But of course, it’s the photographers who are saying this. If you asked a camera, they’d probably say something different. A modern version of Aesop’s Lion and the Statue.

Of course, it all comes down to “that vision thing.” A good photographer out to be able to take decent images with just about anything, because the basic technical rules of photography and composition don’t change. I took plenty of photos I like on vacation yesterday with Wendy’s pocket-sized Powershot. But what an experienced photographer does when they pick up a piece of equipment is say “How does this see? What are the range of things I can do with it?” When I pick up a pocket camera, I know that shallow depth-of-field is out and I have to be tricky if I want it to expose the way that I want. When I grab my D3s, I know that pretty much anything my eye can see can be fairly easily photographed, but also that I have to change my attitude if I don’t want to intimidate people with it. In fact, one of the great joys of interchangeable-lens cameras is that changing a lens feels like putting on a new set of eyes. When I put on a fast 85mm, I’m seeing the world in narrow pockets, looking for backgrounds that will look good when out-of-focus. When I throw on a 35mm, I see through those eyes, etc.

I tend to prefer certain sorts of eyes. Light-sensitive, not extremely wide and not extremely telephoto … so I decided to mix it up. The Sigma 12-24mm is wacky wide and, as essentially an f/5.6 lens, extra-slow. But it was a great set of eyes for Esteban and his groomsmen and their socks.

Dennis Pike - I do love a good super wide. Great shot Ryan

Anton Chia - Nice socks. Great thoughts. Vision and gear, together works!