POTD: Seeing the wood from the trees

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Fog. La Tania, Les Trois Vallees, France.

As ever, there’s a moral to this story. Look at the above image.

Suppose I tagged it ‘shot with the first preproduction Leica M10’ – there would be soaring traffic, minute discussion, questions over grain and image quality, people wondering why I didn’t upload a full size image, others gushing over the lens sharpness…etc.

Now suppose I left it as is, i.e. with caption only and no camera info – it would be seen as an image only, and merits judged accordingly – commensurate to the subject, composition and technique. (I like the image very much, but then again I clearly suffer from personal bias.)

Consider a third scenario. The truth: the image was shot in 2005, with a Nikon D2H – a camera that was already perceived as being under-specced noisy technology at the time of its release, with a mere 4MP and ISO 1600 that had to be used with extreme caution. Does it make it any less of an image? I should think not; if anything, the fact that it was possible to capture this tough scene – it was dark, extremely foggy and low in contrast – the camera focused cleanly on the trees at f2, with one of Nikon’s sharp but frequently miscalibrated DC lenses (in the days before AF fine tune) – should say something. The tonal range was also pretty challenging; frankly, at the time I remember being amazed that there was anything there at all, other than a white mess. If I reshot this today with a D800, would it be better? Better technically, yes. Better compositionally, I doubt it. The camera doesn’t influence that part of the image making process.

Forget what other people think: what would you think of the image in each one of those three scenarios?

Moral of the story: it really doesn’t matter what camera you use. Get over the gear lust: cameras are tools; some work better than others for a given purpose – know your tools, select the right ones, and that should be the end of equipment masturbation. Ultimately, it’s the sack of meat behind the viewfinder that makes the difference, not the metal. MT

Print announcement

Starting today, all of the current and past POTD images will be available as a limited edition (maximum 20) 13×19″ numbered and signed fine art print at US$300 delivered by courier anywhere in the world; please contact me for details.