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I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about cameras and photography as is apparent if you’ve read any of my recent postings. I so wanted to be able to leave my heavy, awkward DSLR camera behind. I wanted to switch to my easy to transport iPhone. I wanted to love this switch and to feel good about the images I shot. (more…)

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Cameras and photography have changed a lot in the last 25 years. The first big change came when digital cameras first appeared on the market. These cameras were laughable to those using even point and shoots of the time. And for those using SLRs with their interchangeable lenses that could produce razor sharp images, a digital camera wasn’t even “on the radar.”

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Change is Good

I’ve spent the last two months thinking a lot about photography: cameras, photographs, and choices. When one spends five weeks traveling to amazing places with a camera as a constant companion, it’s not surprising. I’ve also spent countless hours in the delete-delete-delete process as I removed hundreds (maybe thousands) of images that didn’t make the cut. As a result, I’ve come to some interesting conclusions about what makes a travel photograph a “keeper.” Some of the conclusions surprise me.

SONY DSCOne of the things I’ve discovered is that the images folks respond to most readily aren’t the huge ones of castles, cathedrals, and church organs. Instead they laugh at the one with the tiny car parked between two large ones, the sight of Gene in the water giving the Tech guns up hand sign, and the Pope waving to us. They admire the pretty images, but what they respond to are the people ones. And that makes me wonder about what I shoot and how.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASONY DSC

In addition to thinking about images, I’ve also had a chance to compare the results from different camera experiences. I travel with a camera body and three lenses: 100-300 mm telephoto, 18-55 closer lens, and a 50 mm prime just for fun. Together with battery charger and other essentials, these are crammed into a bag that is slung from my shoulder. In comparison to some enthusiasts, my equipment weighs less than others, but it’s still a factor.

My husband has gotten really good at holding one lens while I unscrew the one I’m using and replace it with the one he has whenever I find myself in the spot where one just won’t work in the next spot we are going to be. I love my 300 mm lens. It captures images I could never do any other way. However, if one is in a building where one wants to photograph things that are close, it just doesn’t work. I could always bite the bullet and buy a single lens that would shoot 18-300, but we are talking major bucks. I’m not inclined to take this route.

And then there are the airport issues. My camera bag must show some ugly things on x-ray because I’m always stopped for an inspection. As tightly crammed as everything is, it’s a challenge to prove that everything in there is harmless, but I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Because it’s the most precious of my traveling gear, it means that this bag, my passport, my phone, and my plane ticket are all that I carry. Everything else gets checked: drugs, jewelry, and backup clothes in case one’s luggage gets lost (I know. Kind of pointless).

On this last trip we traveled with a friend who is an ipad photographer. All us camera enthusiasts sneer at those folks who are holding up 9X11 inch pads photographing nature’s wonders. They look pretty silly at the Taj Mahal. Then there are the less conspicuous ones who are using their iphones and those tourists with their itty bitty point and shoots. Those of us with our “real” cameras know that they may have little cameras, but we will have great shots.

And then I started looking at the images captured by the ipad comparing them to mine. It was disconcerting to say the least. In a couple of cases, I had basically the same shot as the one on the ipad so I could do a close-up comparison. Some of mine were better because I had set each of the three primary functions separately: ISO, shutter speed, and f-stop. The ipad photographer had no such skills and just pushed the button. But I have to say, mine weren’t all that much better considering what I had gone through to get them both in hauling the camera around and taking time to set the camera functions.

And here’s the rub, the ipad camera is not nearly as good as the one that is on my new iphone. In addition, the camera apps available on my phone allows me to set shutter speed and ISO as well as white balance. That means it’s possible I could capture images that would likely be better than the ones I saw on the ipad.

So I’m faced with a question: do I want to learn to travel with only an iphone? Will I regret not having access to a 300 mm lens to catch those shots that bring life right up to the screen? Will I feel like I am taking the easy way out? And (smiling to myself) can I stand to be one of those tourists who travel with only a minimal camera. How big IS my ego?

So I’m experimenting. I have bought a case that lets me attach my phone to a lanyard much as one carries a camera. I have bought a tele lens that doubles the image size but not nearly as much as long telephoto. I even have a remote release to minimize movement blur. None of these pieces cost nearly as much as a single lens and I can use them even if I decide I can’t give up my “real” camera. But it’s a place to start in a possible life change. Kind of scary.

 

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