Monday, 14 June 2010

What's missing from your DSLR?

Today’s digital SLR cameras are amazingly clever things, but turn the clock back 25 years or so and you’d find me using a Praktica MTL-5B. It’s feature list was pretty slim. Things like aperture priority, TTL flash and even a motor drive we’re luxuries I could only dream about.

A few years later I blew all of my first pay cheque on a Minolta 7000i, one of the most advanced cameras of it’s day. Now I had everything that was missing on the Pentax. The Minolta even had an auto focus that actually worked… as long as you weren’t in a hurry.

By today’s standards both the Praktica and the Minolta are technological dinosaurs, but despite all our new fancy “digital” technology there’s one thing our DSLR’s are no better at then my old Pentax. Can you guess what it is?

OK, I’ll put you out of you misery. The answer is YOU, or in my case me.

No amount of digital wizardry has yet solved the problem that only you can decide what will make a great shot and what won’t. You need to train you eyes to see photographs and the only way to do that is to get out there and take to photos.

Have a look at these three images. They were all taken last weekend on a family walk along the Bluebell Railway in Sussex. All three images were taken from exactly the same spot. In other words I didn’t have to move my feet to take the images, I just had to look for them. Of course Photoshop, or in this case Lightroom, played it's part, but far less then you might imaginge.

Great pictures are all around you. The hard part is point the camera at them.


Rainbow rider said...

Hi Gavin, I am very touched by your post. Frankly speaking, I have been mostly taking very average photos despite the fact that I am using a couple of near top-tier dslrs (Olympus E520& E3) with some pricey lenses (by a college student's standards). I used to blame my equipments, like high ISOs suck on Olympus or the 4/3 system can offer very limited features close to what the full frame dose. However, I gradually realize that it's more important and effective to "upgrade" myself rather than the equipments. To learn the compositions, the lightings, and to improve the ability of appreciating beautiful scenes are all what I should work on.

Thanks for your post again, I learned so much from your blog posts and videos, not only about photography techniques, but how to live like a photographer!

Alan Li @ Vancouver

Gavin Hoey Training said...

Hi Alan, thanks for the comment. At some point every photographer has thought "I'd be a better photographer if I just had..." I catch myself doing the same from time to time.

Bart said...

If that train image isn't a postcard shot I don't know what it.

Old cameras can be fun though. Limited number of shots, no immediate feedback, basic functionality...make you slow down and think about each shot.

Before I leave I'll add my little quip that I keep saying to myself..."I'd be a better photographer if I got out and used my camera more"

Gavin Hoey Training said...

Thanks for the comment Bart.

Just for the record, when I said I took all three photos without moving my feet, I wasn't standing in front of the post card rack ☺

Aidas said...

Thanks for the inspirational post Gavin :)

Regards from Lithuania :)


powernumpty said...

So was it a MTL5B (Praktica) or a Pentax?
Or was that just a ruse to explain just how irrelevant the kit really was?

People who used the Praktica could identify a MTL5B shutter sound from 50 yards.

Good blog by the way, thanks for the insights.

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