Technique > Gear and consumerism at it’s finest!


As I write this, about one week ago I produced a short video clip of my bike in which I also made some still photographs of and incorporated it in the video. This video was created for a few different reasons. The main reason is that I just wanted to document my bike in which I had just got back into bike riding after many years of being away from it. At the time I was itching to do something creative and figured I would combine the two reasons. The third reason is so that I could practice my video skillset as I have become more and more interested in video lately.

After the video was shot and during the post processing process, I noticed that some of the panning from left to right and right to left was not smooth. It was rather quite “jerky.” I ended up posting in a few social media groups on how I could improve so that my movements, or panning rather, were not so jerky. I got several comments of various kinds and out of all of the comments only one was most relevant to the intent of the post, yet was still not what I was looking for. All of the comments were gear related. Every one of them stated that I needed to get some sort of new gear.  The one that was closest to the question at hand was that the comment stated that I needed a tripod with a fluid head. At the time, I was not quite sure what that was but after some quick research I found out what a fluid head was. I also found out that a fluid head is what I actually have and used for the video. All of the other comments suggested me buying completely different gear.

It seems as though over the last 5 to 10 years new gear recommendations have really skyrocketed. It seems as though it’s so much more so than it was 15 to 20 years ago, even during the early days of digital photography. I am not sure why this is. I don’t know if it’s a lack of education. I don’t know if it is because of all of the photographic companies such as Sony, Canon, Nikon, and Fuji and they was they are advertising. I don’t know if its because how frequent these companies are coming out with newer and “better” cameras. And it may be a combination of all of the above.

Recently a young photographer posted in a group and stated that they were unhappy with the results they were getting with their camera. That photographer was using an entry level DSLR with a crop sensor and some relatively good glass. Glass that was better than entry level glass. As soon as that photographer posted people started bombarding here with answers that were all about getting new gear. 90% of the comments were about getting new gear. “Get a full frame” they said. “Get a D series” they said. “Get a different brand…” altogether they said. Not one person asked any questions. Not one person asked what their goal was in photography. Not one person asked what type of photography they shoot. Not one person asked what their budget was. Do you know how frustrating this could be for a relatively new photographer? I think this mentality has gotten contagious and has taken over most of the photography community, or at least it seems that way. New photographers feel that they are not good enough unless they have this or that piece of kit. They think how good their photography is or is not is directly related to how good, new, or expensive their gear is. While I believe it’s great for professionals to ‘sport professional gear, this is a lie sold to us by the photography retailers and manufacturers. PERIOD!

After my comments on their post, this photographer started messaging me. I told this photographer that they did not need a new camera or any new lenses. I explained to this photographer what they could do technically to improve their images. Within a few days this photographer was messaging me with new images. This photographer was excited. This photographer was happy with their new work. All this photographer did was stop down a stop or two from the widest aperture and incorporate off camera flash. This photographer had a fresh new excitement about photography!

I started doing my own research and came across some very helpful videos that really inspired me. While I don’t have a gimbal or any of that other gear I came across a video of a young man showing how he hand holds his camera a certain way and post processes a certain way in order to achieve smooth movement throughout his video. I came across another video that explained different techniques to use on the exact type of tripod and tripod head I have in order to achieve the results I was looking for.

While I don’t have much experience in video, I have twenty plus years of experience in photography. I have enough experience to know that new gear was not the answer. I had enough experience to know there was an answer out there that would get me to were I wanted to go with my video without having to spend a dime. I found my answers. But not everyone, especially young photographers will find the right, better, or most wise answer on their own. And we have plenty of people out there preaching “SPEND MORE MONEY!” in an indirect way and they might not even know any different themselves. It’s sad.

All of this to say, that I encourage you, before listen to someone who’s telling you to buy more gear, search for yourselves. Seek the answers you want without making excuses to buy gear you don’t NEED. Always put value in technique over new gear.

Gear is good. Gear is important. None of that gear matters without the right technique. Without the right technique the best gear in the world does not meant squat!

There’s an old saying that goes “Amateurs talk about gear. Professionals talk about technique.”

The One-Two Punch In Photography


We all like to purchase new gear. I think that is something that every photographer goes through at some point during the years while doing their hobby or business. And over the years I’ve seen so many people question what lens should they buy for this or that. During the last year and a half or so I have tried to practice minimalism to an extent. I’ve thinned out everything from the clothes that I own, to books, to my photography gear. While I like gear I’ve come to learn what I need and what I don’t need. After some thought I’ve come up with a photography minimalist gear list and there are only three items on the most basic list. I will compare my list to a more common list of what a lot of people end up with.

The minimalist photography gear list consists of the camera and two lenses which is as follows: (The One-Two Punch)
Camera – I won’t list a cost here because, one, there are many different bodies that can be used for many different reasons. Some might think they need a full frame body while others may want to take advantage of a body that houses an aps-c sized sensor and can shoot 12 frames per second. Plus this article is supposed to be about lenses.

Lens: Canon 24 – 70 F2.8L = $1699.00
Lens: Canon 70 – 200 F2.8L = $1799.00
Total = 3498

Compared to option 2 which covers the same focal range:

Canon 24mm f2.8 = $549.00
Canon 35mm f1.4L = $1699.00
Canon 40mm f2.8 = $179.00
Canon 50mm f1.8 = $125.00
Canon 85mm F1.4L = $1599.00
Canon 100mm f2 = $499.00
Canon 135mm f2L = $$999.00
Canon 200mm f2.8 = $749.00
total = $6398.00

The difference here is that option 1 allows one to carry around only two lenses and it covers all focal ranges between 24mm and 200mm. This focal range is useful from portraits, to weddings and events, to some sports, to documentary photography, and product photography, landscapes, and other types. Compare the costs and option 1 is almost half of what option 2 is. Many people would argue that prime lenses are lighter than the zooms, which is true, however, if one is shooting a wedding, event, or even portraits and decided to bring multiple lenses, I would bet that the weight difference ends up being very minimal if anything. Another argument would be that primes are sharper than zooms. While this is also true, while viewing the end product which would be an image on a screen or a print, no one would be able to tell that the image was made with a zoom lens rather than a prime.

I would like to note that during this quick research, I did not include all L glass throughout the primes. If I did the cost different would even be greater. I decided to go with Canon when comparing, but the difference would be about the same if comparing Nikon lenses. No matter what option one ends up choosing to go with, I’d strongly suggest buying used from Used Photo Pro or KEH and saving. In my personal and professional opinion one could build solid photography career with just one camera (it’d be wise to have a back up) and two lenses, the 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8.

Tools and The Level Of Importance In Photography

There are a number of things that have their level of importance in photography. Below I will list and explain each thing.

  1. Your Brain. Knowing what you want to photograph and how you want to photograph it is the first and most import step in the process of making an image. Knowing what kind of light you’ll need, knowing what king of lens you’ll need are all precursors to the end result.
  2. The Light. Light is the single most important tool in photography. The word “Photography” itself means to write with light or to light write. Just as important as light is good light or knowing how to use light. There are many difference sources of light such as the sun, street lights, lamps and interior lights, and flashes and strobes. Knowing how to use each one of these is beneficial to making great photographs. There are also modifiers such as umbrellas, soft boxes, grids, and gobos that help modify and direct the light as the photographer sees fit.
  3.  The Lens. There are many many many lenses made by many different lens manufacturers. Some lenses are “better” than others, however, it all depends on what the photographer is looking to do with the lens. There are even cheap plastic lenses used on Holgas, and Diana cameras that can make magical images with the right…… LIGHT (which is why light is number one “tool” on the list).
  4. The camera. The camera is important but definitely not the most important on the list. The camera is more than a sensor. The digital camera is made up of firmware and processors that help create the image we see on the back of the screen or on the computer.
  5. Post Processing Software. This is at the bottom of the list, however, for a lot of inexperienced photographers this seems to be more important than it really is. Software such as Lightroom and Photoshop are tool to help enhance or put the finishing touches to create the final product. Many images made by professional photographers actually need very little done to make the image they client may want. However, this is all dependent upon what the final result will be.

*Many people still shoot film. I would put film at number 4 on the list just as important as the camera. The reason being is because in film photography the type of film used will tremendously dictate the end result.

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