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Friday, February 10, 2012

Photography Snobbery & More Shots From 2007

I find that I miss the days when I could get out to Vancouver easily and take the photos that I did in 2007. With the pursuit of my wildlife photography I don't get out to Vancouver and take cityscapes like I used to. I don't take shots like everyone else. I do my own view of Vancouver. What places I find interesting. What things I find interesting. So sometimes in the course of learning, I tried new things. These were from a time that I was learning the craft of photography. Most of these shots were taken on manual with me setting the shutterspeed and the aperture. I spent two years learning what settings go with what. Why? Because I couldn't afford to go to school for it and even if I did, I wouldn't be able to keep up with the pace of the curriculum. What is a school anyway but the churning out of a mill of people who have the money to take courses? We all have to develop our own style and that comes from shooting, down and gritty experience "in the field". No school can teach you your own style.

Photography is a subjective craft. Everyone has their own opinions of what constitutes "great photography". I don't do photography to please other people. I do it because I enjoy it. I do it because I want to take photos that meet up to my harsh criteria of what I think is good. Each photograph I take is the culmination of years of self-study. I still work on developing my composition, because each photograph I take, I know that it's just not there yet. I doubt, I'll ever be satisfied with my photography.

What still gets me to this day is photographic snobs (seem to be endemic on photo forums) that look down on others because they learned through digital. That the subject of photography is somewhat tainted because we never touched silver halide, or had our hands immersed in developer or stopper. The snobbishness that comes from having spent thousands of dollars in film development costs. While the rest of us tech-peons are able to shoot off rolls of digital film through one single burst. Well...that's discounting and disparaging those of us who measure frame clicks like precious 35mm. Frankly, no matter what the medium of photography, there is wear and tear on the shutter. Those of us who waste shutter-clicks are doing ourselves a disservice because eventually, the camera is going to wear out. And burst mode is going to wear out a whole helluva lot quicker than single shot. That is why I baby my camera. I shoot single shot, even when I'm out shooting wildlife. I reserve my burst mode for shots requiring it such as "birds in flight". And even then, I'm researching how to shoot those subjects so that I can shoot them with the least amount of shutter clicks that I can inflict on my camera.

I shoot with limitations. I have a 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII as my long pro lens. I do not have extenders, I do not have filters. I did not choose to shoot this way. But saving up for the big lenses is going to take time and a whole lot of money. So I make do with what I have in the interim. That may actually mean a whole hell of a lot of cropping to bring the bird in closer or getting my lens close to the bird, thereby inciting the wrath of a lot of birders in the process. In that regards, to those who are photography snobs, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. So in that case, what exactly are you supposed to do? With birders monopolizing the typical areas that birds congregate, do you pack up and go home because you're going to piss off the birders or ignore their yapping and go for the shot? Up here in Vancouver, you end up with a lot of nature enthusiasts and a whole freaking flock of birders who won't hesitate to read you the riot act if you do something "they think" is detrimental to the emotional well-being of the bird that you're trying to take a photo of. So I have no choice but to crop and deal until September 2015 when I can get my hands on both the TC-20EIII and the 600mm f/4.

In the meantime, I'll shoot what birds I can...and take other photos of things...that maybe I'm NOT so good at shooting. Why? Because it keeps me challenged and it keeps my skills up.

And here are some birds! Branta Canadensis which seem to congregate year-round in Vancouver. Shots were taken in 2007

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