I suppose I should preface this whole article by saying that I am a hobby photographer and I shoot currently with an Olympus Pen Lite 5, which is a great camera but honestly because the menu system is so complicated, it feels at times more like an over-glorified point and shoot with a lens screwed onto it. I do not possess the full technical vocabulary of someone whose life revolves around cameras and dials and technical specifications. I do however think I have a fairly good conceptual understanding of aperture, white balance, shutter speed and the like, but as my shooting priorities rest mainly on shooting as many pictures as possible while I’m out and about doing other things, I end up leaving my camera on automatic mode embarrassingly often.
Do I not want to improve? Of course I do. More than anything though I just want the shot. In that primal moment where I see something shiny that catches my eye, I revert to caveman mode. I revert to the abstract painter who only cares about lines and frames and focal points. I could care less in those moments about my exposure or shutter speed, because frankly due to Olympus’s excellent stabilization system, most of the time I won’t even stop walking to take a picture. Occasionally I’ll even take pictures in a bus or a car, and those moments are all about timing more than anything else. If I have to go back into Olympus’s convoluted unintuitive menu system to adjust the exposure I’ve already missed the shot.
I have my eye on the Olympus Omd 10 Mark II. It’s almost identical in specifications to my current camera, only it comes with dials to adjust controls manually. I want to make this trade because I think there are times when it’s worth it to have faster more accurate control over lighting and exposure time, especially at night.
(A few years ago I bought a UV filter for my 14-42 mm kit lens and basically never took it off for years. I’ve always been very disappointed with all my night-time photos, even the ones with longer exposures, but the other day it dawned on me that the UV filter was obstructing most existing light from entering my camera’s sensor. I’m excited to try to shoot some stars sans UV filter someday soon).
I have a study abroad friend who recently enrolled in a film class. I love the look of her pictures, but I just don’t feel like film is for me. I’d love to have a viewfinder on my camera, especially an analog one, but I do like being able to use new developments like autofocus. A few weeks ago I also realized that with my camera’s touchscreen I can select a manual focus point. Just touch the screen and the camera will lock onto your selection. You can’t do that on an analog camera, (though Leica is making some really expensive but fascinating digital hybrids like the M9 which hold onto many retro manual controls while implementing new technologies).
I don’t think it’s bad that photography is advancing in automatic functions. It kind of reminds me of the disagreements between oil painters and acrylic painters. Oil painters tend to be a bit more purist and look down on acrylics because they’re synthetic and cold and the newer pigments aren’t what the Old Masters used. I feel that if you understand the past of painting and keep it in mind in your work, you can still be considered professional even if your methods are unconventional. Similarly for photography, if you at least understand how your camera works, how light and color work you shouldn’t be regarded as an inferior artist when you use new automatic tools to assist you. Now, if the final product even after post-production isn’t good, then that’s a different story, but we all have to try out new things and fail now and then, don’t we?
Also be sure to check out my new Redbubble account to see some of my better paintings and photos.
And to see photos of my travels be sure to follow my instagram at :@colormeadri
Have a nice day,