Equipment Lust


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zaren

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Oct 27, 2003
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#1
by Ellen Anon in Apple Aperture

Today I’m going to take a step back and share some thoughts about the process of our art rather than specific techniques. Photography attracts a lot of people who love gear (including me). Impassioned discussions of which is better, and suggestions for what someone should buy are common. Many folks eagerly search the web for hints of the next great product and are anxious to be the first to get the latest/greatest. Lively discussions follow as to what’s best - the latest camera from Canon or Nikon? Aperture or Lightroom (…those of us here know the answer to that one don’t we?) Anyway, I readily admit that I love my gear and at times have “equipment lust.”

Equipment lust isn’t a problem per se, but I suspect it diverts energy away from the art of photography, focusing it more on the acquisition of gear and less on ability, technique, and ultimate expression. I began thinking about this last week when someone sent me a forward about Itzhak Perlman, the great concert violinist. I won’t quote the entire email, but the gist of it is that Perlman, who had polio as a child, walks with great difficulty using crutches and braces. At one concert he had just begun playing when a string broke on his violin. Rather than getting up and going off stage to get more equipment - a new string or a different violin - he simply paused, closed his eyes a moment and then nodded for the conductor and orchestra to continue. He played the entire symphonic piece using only three strings, with “…such passion, power and purity as they had never heard… You could see him modulating, changing, recomposing the piece in his head. At one point it sounded like he detuned the strings to get new sounds from them that they had never made before. When he finished there was an awesome silence in the room. And then people rose and cheered … He (Perlman) smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised his bow to quiet us, and then he said - not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone - ‘You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.’ ”

The author of the email concluded by commenting, “So, perhaps our task in this shaky, fast-changing, bewildering world in which we live is to make music, at first with all that we have, and then, when that is no longer possible, to make music with what we have left.”

There is great wisdom in that. Perhaps we need to spend a little more energy focusing on understanding our equipment inside and out and improving our abilities, as well as knowing just what it is that we’re trying to express in each image we make. Then we too can make magic happen with what we have. The latest/greatest gear may make it technologically easier to do something or enable us to do something we currently can’t do with what we have. But the soul of our images comes from within. Sometimes having less makes us work smarter and better.

Don’t misunderstand - I’m still eagerly anticipating the rumored Canon 1DsMKIII- but I suspect that what will matter more to my photography is ensuring that I use the tools that I have not only to their full potential, but even creatively to meet the demands of a situation. We need to understand the nuances of the equipment we already have - both hardware and software - and then exploit those tools to create images that express our passion and vision.

© 2008, O'Reilly Media, Inc.
 

shunzi

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Nov 14, 2008
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#2
this is what will happen with technology. the whole industry is moving way too fast. :think:

good read.
 

Jan 31, 2007
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Hi

I agree completely. While I was scrutinizing the latest lens with their creamy bokeh, I begin to wonder, is it always we want so much bokeh... Some1 introduced me to the concept of aperture control through aperture ring and the pictures I saw was real cool.. (my point is not creamier bokeh means better)

The other additional thing I wanna point out is that sometimes we are so engrossed in the technique that we forgot the artistic aspects...... I showed a non photographer some pics and asked her some questions on some basic technical question (which I could obviously had done better). She could only see the feelings in the pic and assure me technically, there is nothing wrong. I later showed her another pic which was technically more correct and she pointed out, its just another nice picture.

We are always blinded by technology and sometimes perfecting the techniques. When we level up in terms of techniques, we should try to at least sustain our artistic capabilities.

We always remind ourselves, the latest equipment is an aid to camera techniques. But photographic technique is merely a tool in artistic expressions.. :)
 

HHenrYY

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Mar 18, 2009
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#4
Hi

I agree completely. While I was scrutinizing the latest lens with their creamy bokeh, I begin to wonder, is it always we want so much bokeh... Some1 introduced me to the concept of aperture control through aperture ring and the pictures I saw was real cool.. (my point is not creamier bokeh means better)

The other additional thing I wanna point out is that sometimes we are so engrossed in the technique that we forgot the artistic aspects...... I showed a non photographer some pics and asked her some questions on some basic technical question (which I could obviously had done better). She could only see the feelings in the pic and assure me technically, there is nothing wrong. I later showed her another pic which was technically more correct and she pointed out, its just another nice picture.

We are always blinded by technology and sometimes perfecting the techniques. When we level up in terms of techniques, we should try to at least sustain our artistic capabilities.

We always remind ourselves, the latest equipment is an aid to camera techniques. But photographic technique is merely a tool in artistic expressions.. :)


To an "untrained" eye, all the pictures looks the same.
even if high ISO and noisy, they'll think its ok .
even if motion blur, they will still think its okay/special effect.

so to us, we want bokeh, we want sharp lens .
its all in our mind lor. =/ :think:
 

Xtol19

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Dec 13, 2008
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#5
Let me take a counter view-- that some equipment lust is healthy, esp. by those who actually know how to use equipment.

Photography is not exactly like music, equipment can make one's pictures better, esp when one is already skilled. Indeed, sometimes it can make the difference between getting the picture, or getting scooped.

Hi

I agree completely. While I was scrutinizing the latest lens with their creamy bokeh, I begin to wonder, is it always we want so much bokeh... Some1 introduced me to the concept of aperture control through aperture ring and the pictures I saw was real cool.. (my point is not creamier bokeh means better)

The other additional thing I wanna point out is that sometimes we are so engrossed in the technique that we forgot the artistic aspects...... I showed a non photographer some pics and asked her some questions on some basic technical question (which I could obviously had done better). She could only see the feelings in the pic and assure me technically, there is nothing wrong. I later showed her another pic which was technically more correct and she pointed out, its just another nice picture.

We are always blinded by technology and sometimes perfecting the techniques. When we level up in terms of techniques, we should try to at least sustain our artistic capabilities.

We always remind ourselves, the latest equipment is an aid to camera techniques. But photographic technique is merely a tool in artistic expressions.. :)
 

KY1977

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Jan 3, 2008
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#7
I have a feeling zaren is going to say a long "hai........" after reading the replies here. :bheart:
 

calebk

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Jul 25, 2006
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Clementi
#8
Let me take a counter view-- that some equipment lust is healthy, esp. by those who actually know how to use equipment.

Photography is not exactly like music, equipment can make one's pictures better, esp when one is already skilled. Indeed, sometimes it can make the difference between getting the picture, or getting scooped.
In music, getting a better instrument can also give you a better tone. A skilled musician also must know how to get the best tone out of his instrument. Again, like in the other article, this article does not necessarily say that wanting equipment is bad. If you read through the article thoroughly, I'm sure you wouldn't have missed this line:

"Equipment lust isn’t a problem per se, but I suspect it diverts energy away from the art of photography, focusing it more on the acquisition of gear and less on ability, technique, and ultimate expression."
 

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ed9119

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Mar 11, 2002
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#9
how true..... after a good 12-5 months absence from the Peninsula area, I just dropped by TCW yesterday to pick up a humble lens cap to replace a broken one.

One of the old timers noticed me and called out 'wah long time no see..... stopped shooting is it?'

Not visiting a camera store DOES NOT mean one has moved on to another passion
 

hongsien

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Mar 11, 2002
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#10
There is an old saying which goes like this (loosely translated) "In the limitation, the Master will arise"

HS
 

thenomad

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Nov 17, 2008
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#11
i guess there are times when you do need better equipment to capture a particular shot

but when talking about quality, how much quality does one really need? going after quality endlessly may direct energy towards this lust

this energy may be better directed at other things, like techniques, composition, getting to know our gear, etc, like what people mention. things that are largely unaffected by acquiring more and more equipment
 

flipfreak

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Nov 26, 2007
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#12
how true..... after a good 12-5 months absence from the Peninsula area, I just dropped by TCW yesterday to pick up a humble lens cap to replace a broken one.

One of the old timers noticed me and called out 'wah long time no see..... stopped shooting is it?'

Not visiting a camera store DOES NOT mean one has moved on to another passion
haha. ouch! :bsmilie:
 

T.A.

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Oct 30, 2004
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#13
My gf also did say to me "I would understand if that's your job but it's only a hobby ... , my ring must cost more than your lens:devil:".:sweat:
 

Zeddy

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Apr 5, 2007
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#14
I only have equipment lust when the equipment is limiting me.
 

ed9119

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#15
without using a broad brush.......... there are lazy and complacent people out there who would throw money instead of sweat and hardwork at a problem.
 

Goondoo

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Nov 17, 2003
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#17
I am pondering..... when we purchase an photography equipment for a particular purpose. Are we limiting it, or is it limiting us.
Look at pictures taken in competitions 20-30 yrs ago, they are still as good as they were.

If the Digital Technology didn't come into place, will Photography be as popular as they are today? My guess is that we will lose at least 95% of "photographers" in this forum.
My elder brother used to tell me proudly he shot 30 rolls of slides films during his two weeks trip in China. Today, people are shooting as much or even more pictures in a one day trip.

Personally, the value of photography as an art has plunge. Its just a matter of how much battery juice you have to replicate the image, as long as you can afford the same equipments....

That said, the only difference is the individual's creativity that makes one stand out from others, but as long as he share the techniques/gears, it will soon be cloned for the same or different subjects.....
 

morticia

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Aug 16, 2008
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#18
guess for some newbies(like me..lol) ,probably lusting over gd equipmment/lens thinking that they will help produce gd quality pics..(w/o maximising or fully understanding the equipment) :p
 

Lost Dog

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Apr 11, 2008
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#19
That's why I'm never amazed with all those signatures blabbering what lens and equipment they have.
it's pure Blah, Blah, Blah for me.

On the other note, proud to those who publish their works of art by posting their picture collection links.
Now those are looking through photography as an art and not by how much equipment they have.
 

Jan 28, 2009
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#20
Personally, the value of photography as an art has plunge. Its just a matter of how much battery juice you have to replicate the image, as long as you can afford the same equipments....

That said, the only difference is the individual's creativity that makes one stand out from others, but as long as he share the techniques/gears, it will soon be cloned for the same or different subjects.....
IMHO you've left out the importance of experience. Being at the right place at the right time, knowing it, and knowing how to capture it. No amount of gear can replace that.
 

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