All you need is one lens..
I am a minimalist. I like to keep things really simple. So for you who just got a camera for Christmas you may be wondering about what to do with your new device.
For those who do not yet have a camera but would like one, you might be asking, “What camera should I buy?” This is the most commonly asked question I get but the real question should be, “what lens (not lenses) should I start with”?
Before you read on, keep in mind that keeping it simple requires a little grit. I generally believe the man makes the machine. I love movies like Rocky where a hanging beef is used to train to fight the heavy weight boxing champion. I believe most people can do so much more with what they have but just don’t. Marketing has led many to believe that the power lies in the product, not in the person. Having said that, read on…
In the year 2000 I was photographing for a magazine and I bumped into a photographer who was shooting with what I considered a crappy camera. His images were amazing and I was intrigued at this veteran so I asked why he shot with such a low end camera. His answer was, “I put my money in my lenses”. Well for the last decade we have gone through a period of rapid change in digital cameras and we are at the point now where most of the new cameras take great, high quality images. Throughout this period one thing has not changed though, lenses are king. Don’t get me wrong, there are other factors to consider when buying a new camera but when it comes to quality we are getting pretty amazing stuff with prosumer cameras now days. I still shoot with a 12 megapixel camera and I prefer it to the new 24 megapixel camera that is the replacement. The “x” factor is in the lens.
I have recommended one lens specifically when people ask. It is the 50 mm 1.8 lens. It is right around $100 for both Nikon and Canon and it is a great place to start. It does not zoom but that is what legs are for right? What it will give you is some really shallow depth of field (that blurry look in the background). Mmm hmmm!! Most cameras that budding photographers buy come with a kit lens like the 18-55 3.5-4.5 for example. It is likely you will be disappointed to discover that these lenses are often not what you are hoping for. Lenses are so much more important than the hype and gimmicks that it breaks my heart to see people coming home with filters and tripods and accessories that professionals rarely use except in rare cases. A little education can go a long way.
I have not owned a zoom lens in years. There are some great zoom lenses so I cannot fault them, but I am a simple man and I travel light. I want clean, crisp, beautiful images and so I use prime lenses only. I always keep in mind that there have been photographers who came before me who have produced far better images with less than I have now. My pursuit is internal, not external. My first question is always how do I become a better photographer? Is it me or the equipment? Some times it is the equipment but often it is me. Having limitations on my equipment makes me a better photographer, more creative and resourceful. I encourage you to do the same.
All taken with either my 50 mm 1.4 or my 85 1.8, Nikon D700:
Every once in a while I check myshuttercount.com to see how many shots I have taken on my main camera. You may remember my post a year or so ago when I hit 200k on my Nikon d700. Think of it like an odometer in a car. This camera is rated and tested to 150,000 shutter actuations so this is a lot like going around 250,000 miles maybe. It has far exceeded its expectations. Imagine how many faces have been on the other side of this baby. I love this camera!!
This time my shutter rose and fell on 300,000 at Meagan and Chris’s wedding while they were cutting cake last Saturday. Couldn’t have planned it better! Such a great couple!
For the record I have a back-up camera with me every where I go just in case she decides to call it quits. I am sincerely hoping to do a blog post next year when I hit the 400k mark. Wish me luck!
The color image has not been photoshopped or enhanced in the least. I love my Nikon D700. I am proud to say that I hit over 260,000 images on this camera last week. It is hard to imagine the amount of friends and people I have photographed. In the thousands!! This might be the most attached I have ever been to a digital SLR. It has been all over the world with me. Is it too late to name it?
I have had a lot of requests to do a photo class especially this last year. So, I buckled down and designed a workshop/seminar that I think will be SWEET!! Believe it or not I will also have an Ebook titled STICK SHIFT which will be FREE for those who come to the class. This is for beginner/intermediate photographers hoping to learn simple easy to understand skills that I think will change everything for them going forward. Simplicity is the key!! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up. see you there! Bring a friend.
Bumped into Charles at Great Harvest whilst having lunch this summer. Fortunately, I had a camera on me. Taken with the Hasselblad 500C with Ilford 100 BW film. As trade for taking his picture he ran me through an impressive lesson on the real heroes of World War 2 specifically General George C. Marshall who I promised I would investigate in slower times . This dude is in his 70s and would be considered what you might call an OG or original gangsta when it comes to the biking scene. Wish I had more time to talk to him cause I love a fellow lover of history.
Check out this sweet site from National Geographic about milestones in photography. Lately I have marveled at what this little gadget has done for my life. It has unlocked doors for me and allowed me into places both literally and figuratively that I cannot believe. What blows me away is how NEW this is, photography, that is. This photograph above was taken in 1826. It wasn’t for another 15-20 years before it really revved up and changed the world. Now, in the last 10 years it has changed the world at hyper speed. I genuinely marvel at the idea that we can freeze a moment, especially using film. When I look at old photographs of people who are deceased I am amazed and wonder what was going on in that person’s life at that very second. What were they thinking, feeling, dealing with?
As a photographer since day one I imagine, “What will this picture I am taking right now mean to someone someday?” I imagine loved ones someday appreciating that some obscure photographer took a second to photograph this person.
Here are a couple things to think about. I remember reading an article in which it was stated that the average National Geographic photographer fired app. 36,000 shots of slide film (who knows how many with digital) just for one article that contains 8-12 images.
Ansel Adams said he usually ended up with 12 images a year that he felt were worth keeping. The standards have shifted slightly.
There are two things I love, finding treasures (think D.I., yard sales, antique shops) and underdogs (think Cinderella Man, Rocky) Now combine the two and it is more than I can handle. Don’t you love finding a great hole in the wall restaurant or a great musician no one knows about? You wonder, “Why doesn’t anyone know about this?” Well…
A guy out in Chicago fell into a treasure when he found thousands of undeveloped film at an estate sale not knowing who it belonged to. He soon found out that it belonged to a lady named Vivian Maier who had left it at a house she used to nanny at. He also discovered that she had died just days before. As it turns out her images are world class, I mean like she easily rivals the best photographers of her day. Awesome story!!
Check out this story about how this came about.
This image is one of my faves. Notice the reflection in the mirror. BOLD!!
Another fave. Where do you find stuff like this today?
On our family trips I think I enjoy the journey sometimes more than the destination. As a photographer everything is grist for the mill and we are like bugs, attracted to light.(Think A Bugs Life: “It’s so beautiful! Zap!”)
This is a part of a series of pictures I am gathering for art work for our home. This trip from Jackson to Logan is so much a part of me. I did it so many times as a kid and the light in the evening is always pristine. I like art that means something to me. Hate abstract!!
The pictures with the horses was taken actually in Preston right before you hit the Burger King on the north end of town. This is the last picture my wife let me take cause stopping at the tail end of a journey is not popular I have discovered.
The grain mills below are just outside of Soda Springs. Make sure and take your kids to Hooper Springs at least once while passing through so they can drink out of the springs and know what water tastes like when you mix pennies and tonic water. DELISH 🙁
Again Hasselblad and Fuji film. Love this camera!
Last night at Kristy and Dan’s wedding I clicked image number 200,000 on my Nikon D700. What an incredible camera this is!! It is truly an extension of my body. These 200,000 images were made up from somewhere between 80-100 weddings, and nearly 400 photo sessions over the last 2.5-3 years. It has been all over the country and the world with me and has taken a beating but is always reliable. It is hard to imagine the memories it has created that will be in homes and families for generations. In the past two years I have learned that over a dozen people it has photographed are sadly no longer with us.
What a miracle photography is!!
Here is image 200k