A Dawning Realisations: use what you have

Well, it’s a no-brainer, surely? And yet, one that has been eluding me in my Gear Acquisition Syndrome-induced blindness. Ever since a friend asked if I would take photos at her wedding, I have been on a journey to improve my gear to a level that might not make a pro (one of whom will also be shooting that event) look at me with scorn. So, I have been trying lots of different tools – from various camera models, formats, and lenses – and feeling like I’m spinning my wheels trying to get somewhere that I possibly need not go, especially  considering she didn’t ask me to!

I suddenly realized something quite important today, while out shooting with one prime lens: my partner has only one camera with a fixed lens and only one angle of view – an iPhone; as much as I look at it with scorn, he makes some really interesting photos with it, and I often make remarks along the lines of damn your iPhone! with bad grace and a pout. My realisation was that he has been forced, by using the tool he has, to make the most of it by harnessing its limitations to his advantage, often getting a perspective I wish I had thought of capturing.

Another realisation came only a day after the first one: if I found myself without an internet connection, I would spend more time actually practising my art, instead of reading camera reviews and comparisons to all hours. 

I’m not going to make any new year’s resolutions based on either realisation, but maybe I’ll be a bit more proactive in my practice going forward.

Panasonic Lumix DMC GX7 with 14-140mm II lens and in-camera dynamic monochrome filter, edited in Snapseed app. 

Hey, Santa Baby! What I wanted for Christmas 

Well folks, I hope Santa thought you’d been nice this year. I like to sort out my own gift from so-called Santa, and this year that was a new secondhand lens: a Panasonic 14-140 (28-280 ff equivalent) superzoom for my GX7. I gave it a whirl at Christmas lunch, knowing it’s a compromise lens, but despite it not being very fast, I’m not feeling too compromised in reasonably good light with unmoving subjects, like this Christmas table decoration. As expected, it was more of a compromise with moving people, especially during a flurry of gift unwrapping, but I’m hoping it will be my go-to general lens when light isn’t a problem. 

Bottle, Cicadas, Lake: getting something right 

As a passionate amateur photographer, I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about photography, and less time doing it. After a few years with the micro four thirds system, I have tried a number of cameras from Olympus and Panasonic, and am still trying to get the right kit together. I have a couple of nice prime lenses now – all second hand, as my cameras also are – but I still slosh about in my practise like an unconfident landlubber in a dinghy. 

Yesterday I put my 20mm pancake lens on to take photos at a social event at dusk – wide aperture for low-light capability, small lens for discretion, and an effective focal length near to ‘normal’; I thought it would go well, but I forgot that I am not comfortable being that close to the action in a social setting. Consequently, I got no photos of said action, and went home feeling sad about my own shortcomings.

At least I got a couple of photos of non-human subjects, which is much more my style anyway.

Olympus Pen E-PL5 with Panasonic 20mm f1.7 lens. Straight out of camera.

Bells Beach, Victoria: perfect on a public holiday 

It’s been over a year since I posted a series of black and white photos taken at Bells Beach on the Surf Coast, and today I got to go there again. Last time I took the Olympus OMD EM5, during our brief flirtation, and shot using the grainy black and white filter; today I took the Fujifilm X30 compact and shot using the black and white (red) filter. 

There’s such a lot to see there, between the surfers and the non-surfers.

Seeing Things Differently: developing an appreciation for curated collections 

This week I have been ‘curating’ a small collection of my photos for a tiny, handmade book project. Initially, my brief was to use photos of tiny native plants, but as I worked through a selection I started to see a theme emerge of ‘looking down’. This changed how I was seeing my own work, and both narrowed and broadened my scope. 

I ended up with quite a different collection from what I first envisaged, which included many more subjects. It was an interesting process that took me back through photos I’ve taken in the past few years, and it really was good to look back.
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact smartphone, adjustments made and border added in Snapseed app.