Rants and discussions

Happiness and photography gear

Caught on a car boot sale camera (Kodak Retinette II) and poundland film.

An old gripe of mine.  Allow me to express it again, as a warning to others.

Don’t be sucked into spending money on gear that doesn’t have value in terms of your happiness.  Most of us are enthusiasts and amateurs.  There is nothing inferior about that.  Our enthusiasm can be based on either photographic technology, or on photographic images.  In truth, most of our enthusiasm lays somewhere between those two poles – some more by the technology, some more by photographs.  Either way, what really is important – or should be, to us enthusiasts, is happiness.

It is all so easy, and very common, for novices to be drawn towards spending more money, in the pursuit of happiness.  However, they do not always get what they wanted.  They may find, that their photography doesn’t really improve much.  They might find that spending another grand, allows them to capture some images in slightly poorer light, perhaps slightly closer, perhaps slightly further away, or perhaps with slightly more resolution.  No doubt there is a short lived gratification “I couldn’t have caught that on my last lens / body”.  Wow, look at that moon surface / macro of a bug / etc.  Cool images.  However, does this expensive imagery really enhance your creativity or skill base?  Once you’ve got closer to the moon, what is next?  How much did that image cost in monetary terms?  Has it been done before?  Is someone doing it better with even more expensive, or newer gear?

How much happiness do you think that I’ve had out of the 50p camera project?  Compare it to the purchase of a new upgrade DSLR camera.  The DSLR might have cost you around £500.00.  My XA2 snapshot camera cost £00.50.  Okay, I’ve also used film, but mainly budget or home developed.  Still, how much happiness do you think that the DSLR gives you in comparison?  I’m quite proud of some of the photographs that I’ve got out of the XA2.  They may be lo-fi but some are pretty cool and even unique.  I’ve tried to be creative.  Not always an easy thing for me.  There are no attachments or upgrades for it.  For the DSLR, you bet that you are going to desire new lenses, extensions, flashlights, bags, battery grips, etc.

That is the chief message of this blog.  Think, don’t just spend.

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Film Dark Room, Film, 35mm, and scans, Pentax ME Super 35mm film SLR

It’s about technique.

Arrrgh, Geee, Beee. Pentax ME Super camera. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film from Poundland. Developed in Rollei Digibase C-41 chemistry. Stitched together post negative scan with open source Gimp software.

Another day of nothing to do but demolish Poundland 35mm film.  Actually, it really is getting easier with practice.  I had a technique that worked yesterday.  Even managed to avoid running into the kitchen screaming “I need the kettle now!  I need temperature!!”.  No spilling of jugs of developer.  No chemicals poured into wrong containers (I’ve carefully numbered my storage drums and measuring jugs to match now).  Now I understand it (until some swot corrects me), the critical 38 C temeperature only really applies to the developing stage – so as long as I pre-soak in water at 38C (or slightly above), and develop at 38 C -/+ 0.3 tolerance, then I don’t need to worry too much about lower temperatures (30 C to 38 C) for all of the following baths – and I can use the water that I heat my jugs of chemicals in, for rinse.  The three scanned Poundland film negatives in this post, were all taken in the Pentax ME Super, using 35mm Poundland film (AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200), and were developed in Rollei Digibase chemistry.  The top image has been stitched from three exposures, post digital scan, using the free open source Gimp software package.  All taken in the last few days and quickly processed at home.

Colour test. As above image.

This will probably be my last post for a week or so, as my ISP wants paying and they are going to have to wait.  Maybe I should rename this blog The Broke Photographer.  Will catch up at the end of the month.  Take care.

I tell yer. I left my hard hat in here! As top image.

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Monochrome, Pentax K110D DSLR and SMC Pentax-M 50mm F/1.7 prime lens, Rants and discussions

Aspiring to become a professional photographer

G20 – the Photographer. Trying to rise above the crowds. Pentax K110D DSLR. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens.

I’ve ranted on this subject before.  I guess that I should keep away from Yahoo Answers, as it winds me up.  Why do so many young new photographers aspire to, want to be, expect to fast-track to … becoming a professional photographer.  A ‘Pro-Tog’.  Why do many young people also expect to, or desire to make money by selling photos?  Why do they see a DSLR, of any level, as a professional type camera.  You can buy an entry level Canikon brand new for less than two hundred and fifty quid (GBP £250).  You think that’s expensive?  Then try forking out for a new digital medium format Hasselblad for £45,000.  Now that’s professional, or maybe insane.

The crusty old Marxist in me sees it as the value system that Capitalism breeds.  If you don’t make money at it, you aren’t no good.  Money equals success equals status equals happiness.  Poor things though don’t understand.  Everyone has a Canikon now.  Everyone has a cheapo cut down Photoshop.  You need to be real good, and real skilled to make a decent living from a lens.  The sort of good that a proper training or apprenticeship creates – not picking up a lump of black plastic and being told that you’re “a natural” by friends and family.  Suddenly everyone is a Pro-tog.  Everyone has a Facebook page for their photography business.  I’ve even noticed a new magazine in the newagent stands, aimed at the aspiring professional, that is becoming professional!  There are that many that they have magazines for them in every little town?

The real Professionals are under pressure like never before.  Why hire their services when someone in the family has a professional camera and is a natural?  They’ll photo the wedding, or make family portraits.  Look, what wonderful HDR and color splash!  The bride might appear to have three arms but what the hell.  Still, not my problem, I’m not in that business.  Poor beggars.

So lets raise a toast to the humble amateur, who is happy to be an amateur, an enthusiast, that captures light for the love of it – not for the worship of Mammon.  Let us enjoy our creativity. NOT FOR SALE!

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