Image noise is bad! Always. And when buying your new lens, you better make sure you read all the spec sheets and tests because obviously, if your new 20mm lens shows pin cushion distortion at f1.8, it’s unusable.
I hope it’s clear, that you shouldn’t take any photos outside (that’s what studios are for!), unless you bring 250 kg of lighting gear. You need to control every aspect of the light, and I hope you brought the latest Manfrotto tripod and a level because everyone knows that pro photos are always 100% level!
perfection vs. results
I am that guy. I will check every forum post and every test before buying a new lens. And when I’m asked to take someone’s photo I will of course bring out all my studio gear to have the best starting point. So maybe I shouldn’t be the one writing this post.
But from time to time I like to force myself to abandon all those thoughts and limit myself, and I want to take you along on my thought process and my experiences with this approach.
process of imperfection
A close friend of mine made me think about this topic when she read my crystal ball post and questioned my definition of a “good” picture - and I am very thankful for that! I thought about this a lot and I found, that I actually have a non-perfect approach to photography as well, but I don’t allow me to pursue it too often.
I think my approach initially came from laziness. After a long day at work I feel that I would benefit from doing something creative. I would like to go out, capture some scenes - but it’s dark already and I really didn’t want to carry a tripod or - even worse - some light stands and battery-powered studio lights or something. So, one of those days, I just thought “Fuck it!” and went with one camera and one lens on it.
It was not even a zoom lens. But it wasn’t a random one either.
But it was just one. One lens, one camera body. The reason is not only that I’m lazy and don’t want to carry more stuff, but the focus. The focus at one pairing, one small set of one’s tools, and the opportunity to find out how it feels in that particular situation. My goal is to get to know the capabilities of the gear I chose and maybe even to be surprised what it can do, to try it out in situations it’s not especially built for, and to expand my horizon.
Having much gear can be really nice - always having the right tool for a job - but it can be overwhelming as well. It’s much more manageable to learn to master your gear piece by piece, instead of being overwhelmed by the possibilities when they are there all at once!
Imagine you’re in a studio, and you try to light your subject. You wouldn’t go ahead and surround your model with light stands and put up your main light and your fill light and a strip light for accenting the profile and a hair light and the background lights and some gobos for your strip lights and a reflector under the chin, then turn everything on and take your photo!
Uhm, you wouldn’t do that, right? Well, I hope you wouldn’t, but you would add one main light with the modifier, take a shot, see how it looks, and go on from there.
Imagine my approach, the gear I chose, as this first light. You know exactly what your gear feels like, you know where it’s limitations are, and you can go from there. Some other day. But at that day, it’s all about exploration of this one setup.
So, do you think you would enjoy trying such a journey? If so - what gear should you bring? Of course I didn’t choose the stuff I bring completely at random. First of all I bring the gear I want to learn more about. So, this time I brought my newer camera, mostly because I want to learn to operate it without looking, but also because it was really dark outside and I wanted to take advantage of the internal stabilisation.
I would suggest not to choose gear that’s obviously not suited for the lighting and the place you’re going to shoot in. So maybe if it’s really dark, your 5.6 lens would not be perfect. But don’t limit yourself too much! Even if you went to a stunning landscape with your macro lens - maybe you will find surprisingly nice results - be it a closer section of the landscape you already know too well or some details you find along the way!
By the way - I just now realize that I’m talking about camera bodies and lenses but obviously that’s true for cameras as well! Maybe go on a photo walk with only your phone camera, capture your favorite place only in tiny planets using 360° photography or take your waterproof GoPro and a flashlight and explore the underwater world of your closest creek!
It would make me very happy if I inspired some of you to go out and find inspiration in limitations and imperfections. If you want to share what you found… feel free to contact me on instagram!