Wisbech car boot sale. Looking down. Olympus XA2 50p camera. Ilford HP5+ film. Scanned with a V500.

Online photography forums can be hazardous places.  Although you can find great advice and support there, you’ll also witness plenty of disagreements.  Indeed, those threads are usually the fattest, as different posters rip into each other over such merits as “is photography art?”.

I’m not that a good forumite, indeed, I’m a bit off them much of the time.  However, I think that I’ve observed a common root to many of the disagreements.  It’s simple.  There are many types of photography and photographer.  None are better or worse, however, their equipment, aspirations, and techniques are very dissimilar.  A nature photographer will be able to benefit from the longest and fastest of lenses for their bird shots, or incredibly expensive macro set ups for their micro-life.  A sports photographer will benefit from not only fast lenses, but from the latest cutting edge digital sensor with it’s low light performance – as would the concert or gig photographer.  The street photographer needs a small, un-threatening camera.  They might even be happy to use film for a medium.  The professional wedding photographer – well, they’ll need quite different gear.

The problem is that what is best for one type of photographer is not best for the next.  That’s where the arguments start, when they fail to appreciate that simple reality.

For myself.  I have little value of sharpness.  I don’t need the latest cutting edge gear.  I don’t need technical perfection.  My photographs are not (at least in my eyes) less valuable for lacking sharpness and detail in perfect exposure.  What suits my aspirations may not suit yours.

Rants and discussions

Cheapskate Film Photography – the Research

The Reader. Reading Class Chapter 1. Taken with a Sony DSLR A200 and Sony AF DT 35mm f/1.8 SAM lens. B&W conversion in UFRaw open source software.

I have posted before in protest at the glossy photography magazines in newsagents.  All dedicated to spanking new D-SLR cameras, particularly Nikon and Canon (the unholy war), and Adobe software products.  As though these three capitalist giants have a divine right to control the minds, aspirations, and bank accounts of the photographic masses.  Laced with articles, features, and advertisements promoting the absolute necessity of buying and consuming their products, if we are to enjoy photography.  How could a 21st Century photographer be taken seriously, unless he or she owns an expensive Adobe software product licence, and swings his or her big black plastic all singing, all dancing, space age technology digital SLR, from a designer Canikon branded strap or camera bag?

Can you tell that I have a chip on my shoulder?  Seriously though, these magazines are clearly controlled by their commercial sponsors.  They are designed to make us feel inadequate if we don’t spend our hard earned wages on new products.  I’m not a Luddite, I’m not a film snob – I’ve taken the above photo with a DSLR.  Digital is great, it gives fast instant and sometimes cheap results.  A digital SLR is a great tool to learn from.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Canon nor Nikon either.  They make some great products.  It’s just that their overbearing advertising campaigns have fed a materialist, brand fan base of consumers hell bent on supporting their ‘brand’.  Here’s a secret, some of the best, and also the most expensive cameras in the World are neither Canon nor Nikon manufactured.  Shock.  Here’s another secret, an enthusiast can produce great results, and more importantly, have great fun, using old technologies and cheap cameras.  There is nothing shameful in being an amateur.  An amateur is an enthusiast with a passion for their interest.

But moving back to the theme of the above photo.  I’ve found a compensation for the lack of magazines catering for us tight fisted photographers.  We have access to oodles of cheap used books, published before the rise of the digital sensor.  We can buy great books, that cater for our 1930s – 1990s contemporary film photography technologies at car boot sales, charity shops, and thrift stalls.  How much do you pay for your glossy magazine?  We buy cracking good books for between GBP £0.20p and £2.00.

Tight fisted cheapskate photography.  Beat the system.