We're All Thinking Aloud

House, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

This was not taken with the latest in Canon’s L series glass. This image was not taken using a camera with a full-frame sensor. The latest in hardcore strobist equipment? Nope, not that either. Expensive fashion models? Do you seen any? (There’s not even another person around.) Exotic locations? Nope, didn’t go there. Taken using only the finest in carbon fiber tripods? Sorry, don’t think so. Fancy GPS locating systems? Wireless flash units or storage devices? No and no again. Not any of those. (It’s not any of that.)

How about…ah, don’t bother asking, because, whatever you might say, the answer is still probably going to be a resounding “No.” This image was not taken using the most expensive camera, the best available lens or, heck, even the most expensive lensbaby.

Is this a good image? Was it worth all of that “non trouble” I went to in making it? I don’t know.

What I do know is that it’s a bit sloppy on the right edge (should have been more careful in composing it) but that I kind of like it a bit. I think it (somewhat) conveys the mood I was going for-solitude with a sense of mystery-a bit of a puzzle maybe. Maybe it makes you wonder where it was taken, what you’re looking at, how it got there, or what’s with that little house out in the middle of nowhere. Maybe it asks more questions than it answers and that, that alone, makes it a good (or a bad?) image. Maybe it’s all of that and more (or, you know, less?) Does it “embrace the blur?” Meh, a bit, yes, but, frankly, it could even be blurrier. (Would that make it better? Or worse?)

I do know that, to make this image better, I could have done a few things differently. I could have watched my composition a bit more (ah, that pesky right edge) and I could have clarified that emotional impact I wanted it to make a bit better. Was I going for solitude and solitude alone? If so, why all of the questions? I could have made the sky a bit darker and given the image a bit more expanse, to really highlight, “drive home” that bit about the solitude. Could I have emphasized the space to highlight the emotion a bit better? Maybe so. (And maybe, just maybe, these are the “real” questions we should be asking when evaluating if an image is “good” or not.)

There’s one other really interesting thing about this image. I would like to meet one photographer (just one) out there in the big expanse of the “camera club” world, who can look me in the eye and honestly (honestly!) tell me that I could have taken this image without the sloppy right edge and with the concept a bit clearer, if only I had one of the following objects: L series glass, a full-frame sensor, some better strobist equipment, an expensive fashion model, a more exotic location, a carbon fiber tripod, a GPS, a wireless flash a wireless storage device, or, in fact, any piece of camera equipment known to mankind.

Without the idea, without the creativity, without the spark, without the vision, all of the gear in the entire known universe boils down to nothing but a useless pile of expensive crap. You need to see to be a photographer but, unfortunately (as we sometimes forget) you need to think before you can see. Photography is thinking. And thinking? Sorry to say, but there’s not one item in the B&H catalog that can make you do that any better.

Want to improve your photography? Don’t buy L series glass or a full frame sensor. Skip the exotic locations and the fancy GPS devices. Do whatever it is you have to do to make yourself think more clearly and spark the vision. Solidify the concept. Make the image in your head and make it clear, so you know what it’s about and it’s everything you want it to be, before you even pick up the camera. Once you have the idea, the vision, that old creative spark, you can probably use any camera you want to take the picture anyway. But, lack the thought? Don’t have a clue as to what your viewer is going to think or feel when looking at your next frame or capture? Oh man, you’re really lost now. No camera in the world is going to help you take a better picture.

Cameras and gear don’t matter. People do. Expensive gear is nice but it’s just that, nice. It’s not inspiring. We have to work for inspiration. We have to think.

Photography is really thinking aloud. Anything else is just a pile of crap B&H will gladly sell you given sufficient markup. And, if you don’t believe that, in your heart of hearts, you need to think again.

Until next time…

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