The other day, while doing some photographic housekeeping–moving files around, making sure things were backed up, organized, etc.–I came across a folder I’d titled “Desktop Pix.” Periodically, when I have a photograph that strikes me particularly from a shoot, I set it aside, resize it for my desktop, and use it on my computer until it gets replaced by something new that I like better. Every once in awhile I go back to these folders and purge some images, and sometimes go back to ones I liked a long time ago. All of the images in this post are from that folder. They span the course of my digital photography history, from the beginning with a Nikon D70 to the current day with a Canon 5D (I don’t think there are any with the 1DmkIII, but I could be wrong–I didn’t check). There are a couple of points I want to make here, I promise. Stay with me.
Before I get started, though, I’m going to go ahead and tell you that I’m not telling which photos were taken with what cameras, both because I don’t know for all of them (remember, I didn’t look), and because part of the point is that it doesn’t really matter.
2012 is going to be a big year for photography. in 2011, there was a major earthquake in Japan that triggered a tsunami, which caused a partial core meltdown at a nuclear powerplant. As if that wasn’t hellish enough for the Japanese people and the Japanese camera makers, there was then massive flooding in Thailand, where many of our photographic bits are assembled. It’s a miracle Sony and Nikon have ANYTHING available, yet they do. Incredible things.
Because of all the 2011 calamity, most of the things that were supposed to be announced in late 2011 got pushed to 2012, and now they’re all coming in a flurry: the Canon 1Dx, Nikon D800, the Fujifilm X-pro 1, the Olympus E-M5 OM-D, just to name a small fraction of the very exciting camera announcements. This virtual flood of products and new specifications and digital envelope pushing have caused a lot of people to geek out. Like, really geek out. People are comparing all the specs of cameras that no one is actually using yet, they are arguing over which vaporware is better, they are simultaneously damning and praising 36mp sensors and retro-styling.
It’s easy to get pulled under that tsunami of information, to spend hours poring over megapixels, and ISOs, and bayer arrays, and GUI and UI and Louie. Photography is part technology, part artistry, and we all like to have new, fun stuff. I’ve even found myself blogging several times about the gear, and I’m doing it here, though in more of an anti– sort of way. And really, this blog post (and maybe a couple of others) are really just to stall and buy some time while I finish shooting a couple of rolls of film so that I can blog about that. Yeah, you read that right–I’m going to blog about film. Because my response to all of this new product noise has been to go out and shoot Tri-X with a Nikon FM2 and a Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 lens. Nothing more, not even a camera bag.
Don’t take that statement to mean more than it is. I’m not saying film is better than digital, or new cameras aren’t exciting, or that I’m better than someone else because I can go turn my back on it all and go shoot. I’m still shooting digital, too. But going through my Desktop Pix folder, and looking at these images anew, I am NOT struck by thoughts like, “oh man, I can tell THIS one was shot with a Nikon D70 at ISO400 at 18mm. No, I am struck by the memories, and by the themes, and by the surprising consistency of my photographic vision. It shouldn’t be surprising, of course–these are MY photos, composed by ME, selected and processed by ME. I used the cameras, but they didn’t make the decisions, didn’t guide my hand or my eye. And that’s the point, of course–that is the signal in all the marketing noise.
So, what am I going to do this year? I’m going to buy one of these new cameras, of course! But, only because it potentially allows me to have similar capability that I’m used to, in a more compact and ultimately less expensive system. I’m going to evaluate the X-pro 1 as soon as I can get my hands on it (yes, I’ve preordered it, and yes I’ll blog about it), and if it lives up to my expectations, there’s a very real possibility I’m going to jettison most, if not all, of my Canon gear. And then I’ll take some of that money, set it aside, and start planning my trip to Iceland in earnest.
And, I’ll try not to worry about which camera(s) I’m going to bring with me, because in the end, it doesn’t really matter.