Which Comes First … Camera or Image?

On the Edge

Generally we find what kind of pictures we like to make and then buy cameras and lenses that best fit our interests, but what if we reverse this process?

The above picture was taken with a 50 mm (effective 75 mm) prime lens on my Pentax K-5.  I have used this combination a lot lately.  For most of the summer I walked around with my 55 – 300 mm lens on my K-5, but not lately.  It hasn’t been because I don’t like the 55 – 300 mm lens.  I actually like it a lot, particularly the focal lengths.  The problem has been the weight and size of the camera-lens combination.

Those who have followed my website for a while know that I replaced my first K-5 and lenses with several micro 4/3 cameras and lenses to reduce the size and weight … and then went back to the K-5 because of the ergonomics and image quality.  Now I’m revisiting the situation.  No, I am not going back to micro 4/3 cameras.   I’m trying a different solution.  I have used a prime lens, the Pentax 50 mm on the K-5.  Since I miss having the long zoom capability, I have done a lot of zoom-cropping.  I can’t recover the same capability but cropping helps.  The above picture was taken while out walking with the 50 mm lens.  I had to do some heavy cropping to get the above image.

I also have a Fujifilm X-100 camera which has a fixed 35 mm (effective) lens.  This is a nice small camera that I love and have used mostly for indoor work or for when I want a small camera under my jacket just in case an image pops up.

The above is an introduction to my current issue.  Do I end up making pictures based upon cameras and lenses I prefer to carry, or do I make other changes?  This issue is of particular interest to those of us aging photographers.  If our physical or economic conditions change, how should we adapt?  Can we change the style and type of pictures we make based on other limitations?

There is a classic recommendation that one should shoot with one prime lens to improve his or her photography.  One of the ideas behind this is that if you shoot long enough with a single focal length you learn to visualize the image before you put the camera up to your eye.  You improve your ability to see and recognize images suitable for your camera and whichever prime lens you have chosen.  I have tried this, and while it’s probably true, it isn’t easy to change, especially if you have been mostly using zoom lenses.  I’m not there yet, but I’m getting there; but, I still do a lot of cropping since most of my shots are wider than the final composition as displayed in my web site.

The primary issue for me is whether I really can make this change.  Will I be able to give up shots of wildlife and other scenes taken with a 300 mm lens?  Can I change the type of pictures I take so that they are more suitable to be made with a smaller and lighter system … maybe just with the X-100 with its’ 35 mm (e) lens?  If the answer is yes I can change my photography, and I enjoy the change, I will then put off thinking about another lens or camera until I really need to replace one that I have, or until after I make major changes in my photography and decide I need something different.

Before I make this change, or try to make it, I need to find other things to photograph.  New subjects are difficult for me to find.  I still haven’t been able to find a ready supply of images, that I can and want to make, close at hand.  The answer depends upon what is available to shoot as well as my interest in the subject and the appropriate style of photography.  I probably picked the wrong time of the year to try this experiment.  Everything is dark and dreary.  It’s like no color exists anymore.  The leaves have turned and blown away and all the flowers have died and departed.  The only color that exists is the occasional lovely sunrise.

It looks like it is going to be a long cold winter with little opportunity to practice photography so don’t be surprised if my pictures become farther apart, less interesting, and fewer in number.

One comment

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you for the smile this morning, my mind went immediately to the chicken or the egg. I know that you will find some interesting things to photograph. I have some photo’s of blown glass by the artist Chihuly taken in Dallas that I would love to share with you. I keep thinking how much better they may have been if you had taken them, I am not very good about the composition of pics, I just snap the pic.