Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rediscovering old joys

One of my passions is photography, something I've done since my early teens, and have recently rediscovered and rededicated some time to. One of the most exciting birthday presents I ever received was a humble Nikon FM10 camera. It's a manual everything 35mm film camera that came with a not-particularly-amazing 35-70mm f/3.5-4.8 zoom lens. In retrospect the lens was probably the most limiting element of this camera, but at the time I cared not and had a blast playing with this camera. A few weeks ago I came across a bunch of prints of photos I took with this camera and reminisced not just about locations and events I recorded, but joy involved in the act of photographing them. A high-school photography class gave me some insight and experience in the darkroom photographing, developing, and making prints from 35mm black and white film.

My switch to the digital world was simultaneously liberating and limiting. No longer was I hampered by limited film and the costs and wait times associated with it, but at the same time the technology I had access to meant long shutter delays and generally poor, digital looking, photographs. I upgraded digital cameras along the way, but found that experience of the point-and-shoot cameras I was using was still limiting, and didn't inspire me to wander around with a camera the same way my old FM10 did. Don't get me wrong, I had plenty of fun, and took some memorable photos with these cameras, but I was still looking for something more.

The modern world of cameras is an interesting one. Increasing quality in phone cameras is leading to a decline in the point-and-shoot market on the one hand, and a push towards better quality optics and larger sensors has lead to the introduction of a new category of mirror-less cameras like the Fuji X10 and X100 on the other. All the while DSLRs have become remarkable pieces of equipment combining a long history of fine optics with increasingly powerful sensors that have very little noise and have amazing low light sensitivity.

There's not much point in me going in to the fine points of camera technology as there are many other far more authoritative sources on the topic, but the end point for me was the purchase of a Nikon D7000 with a 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 lens. For me this combination struck the right technology/price point while leaving room for future lens purchases to get even more out of the D7000 body. This camera has brought me back to much of the joy I remember from first using my FM10, only now with even more capabilities than I had at the time. I'm still learning and working on my craft as a photographer, and I have much to learn in terms of technique and extracting the best out of D7000 as well taking advantage of all that the digital darkroom can do.

As much as photography isn't about the equipment, it's about about the images that we capture, my new equipment has lead me to a place where I'm caring more and getting more out of photography, and I'm more inclined to get my camera and spend the time trying to learn and improve.

Most important though, is the sense of childlike joy that I've rediscovered.

Photos on Flickr
Photos on Google+

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