New Year, New Resolution


I’m not usually one to take a new year resolution too seriously as I have a long history of being resolutely inconsistent when it comes to them. But this year is different. No, really.

Actually, I have more than one. Here they are:

  • I will always carry a camera with me
  • I am going to focus more on projects than single images
  • I am going to get out of my comfort zone when photographing strangers
  • I am going to blog more often

I don’t know how successful I will be at these things but I’m sure that number 2 and 3 will be necessary to progress further in my work.

This post, therefore, represents procrastination as it is about item number 1.

I’ve never been keen about carrying a camera as I felt that when I was shooting I was hyper-focused and observant in a way that was a completely different from my usual day to day demeanor, where I am more in my head.  But I think this was just an excuse to justify brooding unnecessarily.  I am now thinking very differently about the idea. Now, carrying a camera seems to me more like an extension of my commitment to photography - and not carrying it a kind of passive self-sabotage (see Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art for more on this common malady).



Some Thoughts on Gear (and buying less of it)

When I decided I was going to start carrying a camera with me I wondered if I should buy a new camera dedicated to the task. I already have too many cameras so I knew this was a bad idea but it took some time for me to accept this. 

With the release of new full-frame - and medium format - mirrorless cameras it has been an exciting time for photography. Of course, like everyone else I wanted to upgrade my gear to the latest generation but instead I did something else: I upgraded my lenses. I’ve come to appreciate that lenses are the most important piece of gear you can buy and that spending on them is worth it.

To keep this post somewhat focused I’ll just mention the lens I purchased for my everyday carry camera, the Panasonic 20mm pancake. The images in this post were taken with it and my, till now, unloved Olympus Em5 mkii.

To say that I am late to this lens is an understatement. I first became aware of it several years ago from the work of Mike Peters, who has done interesting work with small cameras. To make a long story short, I’ve never bonded with my Em5 mkii and it occurred to me that a) maybe I was expecting too much from it and b) maybe I hadn’t found the right lens  (let’s just say my affair with manual and adapted lenses is over). 

I found a pristine used copy of the Panny 20mm and pulled the trigger. The camera, which is small and has been uncomfortable to use, really comes into its own with a pancake lens. With it, the camera feels right. And the lens itself lives up to the many stellar reviews it has received. Yes, it is a bit noisy and the focus isn’t instant - but these things are relative. I’m glad I didn’t buy a new camera as I’m just getting comfortable with this one and learning a new camera is actually more challenging than it seems it will be. 

 

Note To Self

So, there we have it, a few shots from my first week of carrying. Beauty is ever-present, waiting for you to observe it and make an impression. 

A camera is a mindfulness machine. Be patient and let it work its magic.


Update 2/5/19

Today the power button on my EM5 mkii broke. Nothing unusual happened. I turned it off but the camera didn’t power down. A little googling suggests that this was a problem with the first batch of copies, which I have.  This camera was used very gently so it’s quite disappointing. Don’t think I’ll be replacing it with another Olympus body.

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