A little less tech a little more art

A personal rant. Running around all these National Parks here in the US with a camera and tripod one meets and talks to a lot of other photographers. I guess as in all things life, some are great people and fascinating and inspiring…some not so much.

At Momument Valley I met 3 guys absolutely packed with very expensive gear complete with camera vests and survival gear. They couldn’t spot a composition if it was bended in neon for them so they spent all their time trying to outdo each other with gear talk boring me to tears. No, I simply do not care how much headroom RAW has nor do I care how much you are bracketing, HDR processing it, genuine fractals blowing it up etc. etc. 

It boils down to: it’s the photographer never the camera. Why are you shooting this? What are you trying to express? What made you choose that composition? How are you using the light, foreground, middle ground, background, leading lines, colours, contrast? What do you want your viewers to feel when viewing this? What are your favourite locations? The artistic not the technical side is the interesting part for me.

Monument Valley Totem Pole - blog Better post an image as well, this is what I shot while some of the gearheads in Monument Valley discussed bracketing and RAW headroom. Of course, they might have shot something much better, I hardly broke the world record for best composition (actually it’s stolen from Art Wolfe). But I at least kept quiet and enjoyed the sunrise while shooting.

Somewhat ironical this post comes right after I wrote a post on mirror lock up, purely technical – Not saying I am any better myself, just as boring! Still the next person to ask "what camera are you using" I’ll reply "Polaroid. It’s a polaroid!"

26 Comments on “A little less tech a little more art”

  1. Nice post, Flemming. I totally agree. Beautiful light in the photo you posted, too. The lines are brilliant, and the finer details like the trails left from the small animal(?) top it off.

  2. All very true what you have said here Bo and great image to boot!

    Some crew cover their lack of talent with technical jargin eh!

    have fun mate!

  3. First nice pic. Strong leading lines.

    Secondly while I agree with the camera statement and that it's totally true, it is not helpful for beginners.

    Everything everyone sees in one form or another is processed now days. Magazine images movies posters, everything. These are also taken on good cameras.

    Everyone that makes this statement, and I have done so many times, is using good gear and processing their images. I have fun with my iPhone but there is no way I'd use it for serious photos.

    I guess what I'm saying is the camera does not matter, for composition, but if you want a high or professional standard of photos, you need a good camera, good processing and the thing that's forgotten alot today, good printing.

    1. Good point James, yes the tech aspects have to be learned though and are an important part. Very important part. My statement is a bit black and white as my statements tend to be. But the tech aspects should never become the most important part, I think that is still a valid lesson for the beginner.

  4. Alberto,

    I bet there names were Steve and travelling from marble Bar, coz he was really good and sounded very technical… Nice shot mate, your making me jealous mate ! !

  5. Hi Flemming,

    I agree with what you're saying in that one hopes that the tech part becomes 'transparent', then one can focus on the critical artistic issues that are a lot more important. However, having said that, art and craft are always very linked and you are an excellent technician. To have the tech part become transparent or disappear requires a level of mastery.

    1. Hi Zane, thanks for your input. Right you are indeed and mastering the artistic side is probably a lifelong quest. Back in the dpreview.com forum days I think you taught me more about composition than anyone else!

  6. Nice photo, great composition, if only you had Fletch's Phase One! Then you'd have had to focus stack to get an image like this. A well composed 3.2MP photo beats a badly composed 25MP photo any day. The animal tracks and shadow give this one a lot of zing.

  7. Hi Flemming,

    Coming from one who is financially challenged and as such, possessor of mostly entry level equipment, I appreciate your point of view. On the other hand, I know all too well that what James wrote is true. I know because of this my ability to produce higher pixel images on top line lenses is out of my reach so I try to compensate by making better composed photos. This works some times but in the end it does not keep up with the need to upgrade my equipment. For me, I have to chose between upgrading and traveling so for me I sacrifice with my equipment because I cannot live without travel. Case in point, I just booked a ticket to Sydney for June!

    BTW Love the pic!

  8. well for starters… thats a f*cking awesome photo Flem! i caught it briefly the other day but didn't have time to comment- and it's been in my head ever since. the lines and contrast is fantastic- prefect composition. then you open it up big and… there's some freekin tracks in it too! awesome 🙂

    secondly it's a very valid point you have made, and everyone else has added very nicely to it and i reckon it's pretty spot on all round.

    as someone with a 40D, and 2 kit lenses it's something I face everyday. i'm forever having to listen to some people going on about how they are buying a new lens, worth more then my entire kit, and how it lets in bla bla bla amount of light, has bla bla bla amount of distortions etc etc. they know all the facts about it because they read it on the review- but do you think they know how to use it?? no.

    I fall asleep while this is all going on, then as I don't have any knowledge on that side of things they look at you all high and mighty which I actually find amusing when you see their images haha.

    and in saying that I also get the other side of things that was covered above- that being for nearly every query I get asked if I can blow my images up to Fletcher's (or other top photogs/fine art photogs etc) sizes. which obviously I can't do by a long shot.
    so I do also see where it is important to have top line stuff.

    the comment above about the travel versus equipment is something I know very well. and I also know what will always win until I feel I am not able to get the most out of my ability, using whatever equipment it is i'm using- then i'll go out and upgrade.

    1. Thanks heaps for your comment Stephen, always like your writings! I will always respect the people who get out there, get to locations, get shots like you than the ones who buy the most expensive stuff, shoot photos of walls and post on forum's about sharpness and distortion etc. GET OUT THERE 🙂

  9. WOW – amazing image and scene Flemming ! I love the contrast of the smooth lines to the rocky spires with their textures. Gear-heads…. *yawn* just enjoy the experience 🙂


  10. Terrific perspective in both the photo and the commentary! You have done a great job getting this image. I'm glad you got this shot before it was traipsed over by humans in the latest greatest hi-tech sand walkers or whatever.

    1. Cheers Muzz. This is the closed off part of Monument Valley, so fortunately the only way to get out here is with a Navajo guide and they make sure to keep people off the dunes etc.

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