I’m not the kind usually stricken with digital photography envy, partly because I know what I need, and what I can use and manage, considering my still-limited knowledge and experience, and the other part being the not so impressive budget alloted for this hobby. The only ‘important‘ thing missing in my digital photography gear would be a telephoto zoom lens, though I don’t feel like I have a missing limb because of that, since I can only count in one hand the instances when I needed the extra reach.
And after that statement, here’s a few brave ones, on what irks me about the current crop of hobby digital photographers:
- There’s little awareness and appreciation of photography’s history. You’d probably hear someone mentioning Ansel Adams, and that’s when you’re lucky.
- Some aversion to film photography. The popular notion is: you can replicate EVERYTHING in digital photography, anyway. I hold hobby photographers who practice film photography with higher regard and respect than these DSLR-toters. Remember, your AF can fail, and your batteries can die, but when I hand you an all-mechanical, manual SLR or rangefinder, with a known-speed film, can you still shoot?
- Latest gear’s the best, and stick to your brand’s lenses, and accessories. A camera is a camera is a freaking camera. If you’re PRO, or have serious intentions to do so, this doesn’t apply to you. Anyway, the point is simple: you’re a hobby digital photographer, and you don’t make money for your output (though maybe sometimes you do), why succumb -and become inevitable slaves- to brand camera marketing? You can get camera bodies and lenses fixed, you can apply the hundreds of practical camera hacks and tips available online (e.g. yes, you’re not limited to your camera mount, there are things called adapters!), second hand accessories are totally acceptable, etc. etc.
- “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” – Robert Capa. If the mentioned quote doesn’t make sense to you, then you are the typical hobby digital photographer who’d always have his/her 200mm or so telephoto zoom lens permanently screwed to your camera. One: if you don’t know Capa, you probably don’t know the Magnum Photo agency, too, and that’s sad, really sad. Two: I’ve been to concerts and other events which don’t construct barriers to block anyone from getting any closer to their subjects, and out of the few dozen photographers, I’d only see one or two who’d have enough sense to go near whoever, whatever needs to be taken a photo of. Three: If you are aware of how traditional street photography is executed, no, its not done with a lens 2-3 feet long.
- Oh yes, the external flash, and those damn flash diffusers. (REVISED) My story on my search for an external flash can be read here, and here. Bottomline: read up on the Strobist blog, and the Strobist Flickr group, and get an entirely new, results-oriented perspective on flash photography. Also, I take issue on the current flash diffuser market, and its victims. Can’t the index card + rubber band method work? Or the more trendy, but ultimately practical ABBC (A Better Bounce Card) suffice your needs? Sto-fen Omni-bounce’s are within reason, but as for that $50 soup bowl diffuser everyon’es gone gaga about, proclaiming it as the answer to ALL lighting situations, well, IÂ thinkÂ you’dÂ getÂ aÂ hintÂ withÂ theÂ toneÂ ofÂ myÂ articleÂ already.
Special Mention: (REVISED)
One of the honest-to-goodness best ways to research photography is to watch films with great cinematography, and again, the older films offer outstanding material for this. The handful of online photography forums I frequent severely lack this appreciation. If anyone is interested in screening Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography, I have a DVD copy I’m willing to lend out.
EDIT/UPDATE: My discussion with Chayenne (ha!) re the topic had me realize that I’ve made a serious mistake of not defining what I meant by ‘hobby digital photographer‘ clearly: the reference is for those who have made that serious leap to the DSLR camera as their main photography tool, but haven’t chosen photography as a career. This doesn’t involve the point-and-shoot up to the prosumer camera market.
So there, its documented, and its off my chest. No, this isn’t revenge to those who smirk at my gear; somehow, my third-party battery grip makes my camera look more legit.
This was conceived because photography is my passion, and it annoys me to no end how someone can actually call himself/herself a photographer by treading a misleading, consumerist path, whose lack of sheer interest as to how the masters of pre-digital photography worked is proof enough that what used to be a respectable hobby for the serious enthusiast, is now in the hands of a misinformed mob. I’m giving in to feedback and will try to carry a live-and-let-live attitude towards this. Hope it lasts!
PS: There’s some discussion over at a cross-post at Multiply, so you might want to go there and read some of the feedback. Thanks!