Using What You Have

It doesn’t take too long once you start working for a living before you begin saying, “If only I earned just this much more, things would be great !” It is probably from this we move on to telling ourselves “If only I had this, car, house, went on these holidays…” whatever we will be totally sorted but of course, none of this is true, we will never be satisfied. The reason being that these “wants” rather than “needs” are based upon material circumstances and external events which are largely outside of our control.

When it comes to photography it is less the particular camera that counts and always the person behind the camera who makes the difference because as in anything creative, you just can’t ‘buy’ an end result. We need to focus on what we could achieve by using the resources that we already have to hand and fully develop whatever talents we already have through practice, trial and error if you like.

As a Canon camera user, I enjoyed the launch of the Canon R5 and R6 bodies, they both look technically interesting and the latest “development announcement” of the forthcoming R3 promises it to be a “break through” product but none of these are for me at this time even if I could afford them. The reality is that it is the lenses that are more important than the bodies plus a new camera and camera system would not make me any better a photographer than I am with what kit I already have.

Creating Opportunities

I am fortunate in having a range of cameras and lenses to hand for me to use and each camera brings something slightly different to the party. However, perhaps the most important element is not the particular photographic gear I choose each morning but the fact that very bad weather apart, I always go out for a cycle ride every day.

In other words “I put myself at the risk of finding something to photograph” and this is key because it really doesn’t matter what camera you have, if you don’t use it frequently it is just a piece of useless junk and you really don’t have a hobby.

Buying Lenses

Probably the first telephoto lens that most people will buy is the 70-300mm zoom lens because they are very good value for money and highly versatile. I certainly did and on a Canon APS C camera with it’s x1.6 crop that gave me an effective focal length of 480mm at the long end which as I was interested in wildlife photography was pretty useful. However after a few years I started to question whether it was right for me starting with it being a zoom lens which was something else you had to fiddle with whilst taking a picture plus the f stop rarely remains constant throughout the range.

This led me to getting rid of my 70-300 zoom and replacing it with an f4 300mm prime instead, heavier yes but far more effective and especially when I realised that when using the 70-300 zoom I mainly had it on the 300 end of the range anyway. I can remember in the past that I wondered just why anybody would pay that amount of money for Canon’s L series lenses however once you have used them, that is a question that answers itself.

The results were pretty instantaneous as the gallery below shows of a sequence of a startled Heron taking off. In fact I shot these pictures using my 7D MkII with my f4 300mm L series lens and these are selected images from a continuous burst of 41 frames all of which are in sharp focus but, putting all of them in the gallery would have been a bit much.

Software Too

Because of my background in computing, I have bought and used many different types of software especially in the field of computer graphics but in the end I have gradually uninstalled most to leave just a handful of programs that it is worth knowing intimately and which serve my specific objectives.

Like most people I started with Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop which are excellent tools but we parted company when they went subscription only as opposed to buying a particular version of their products. I had no problem with the ‘subscription model’ my objection was/is that if you stop paying you don’t even keep the last version you were paying for.

My view was that if at some point in the future I would have to ‘learn’ a new software package, I may just as well start now. However and to put that into perspective whilst some software packages have their own quirks and so on, at heart they are all pretty much the same in terms of the way they work so it really doesn’t take that much effort to switch.

My two main photographic editors are ON1 RAW and Affinity Photo but you really don’t have to pay for software, you can use Open Source products such as GIMP and RawTherapee which are free though donations are very appreciated. What makes all of these products even more attractive are the sheer volume of on-line tutorials available on platforms like YouTube.

In short, when it comes to both hardware and software, all you need are those ‘tools’ that serve to enhance your talent and ability to express your ideas and not one thing more.