Technical Excellence
It used to be that when I see a beautiful or memorable scene, all I could do was wish that I could’ve captured it.  When I got my Nokia phones with cameras, I was thrilled that I was able to do just that.  Then came the DSLR that was supposed to augment this part of my phototaking experience.  But as many of us would know, a DSLR, with its bells and whistles, often distracts from the process of image-making.  Almost from the outset, I was determined to use the camera to its fullest potential, and instead of using the “Program” or so-called “Scene” modes, I dived straight into Av, Tv and M modes.  Now, while this was, in and of itself, not a bad thing, I forgot about the image taking part.  For the longest time, I would fuss over camera settings, and because I was so new at it, I often ended up missing shots (or rather, not looking out for them at all).  I was also preoccupied with the technical details (calculating f-stops-DOF relations, etc).  Perhaps this was a necessary evil; case-in-point: my sister, who used “Program” mode from the outset, still does not know how to use a camera in any other mode, despite having had her DSLR for almost 6 years (though, as she puts it, she is more interested in the composition, which I guess is a valid pursuit).

I mentioned in one of the previous posts that I went through several phases, and one of the most significant was the so-called “strobist” phase.  I bought two flashes (a Canon 540-EZ and a Sigma 500DG Super) and started taking pictures of ordinary objects, often elaborately lit.  The end-result is often a normal-looking picture in an otherwise impossible-to-photograph location.

Strobist Lit Bottle

A glass bottle backlit with gridded flash

While it is heartening to know that one can manage difficult lighting situations, it was also rather anti-climactic.  Nonetheless, the skills I picked up there was useful in my understanding of light in general, and in a photobook that my wife and I put together right before our wedding.

Photo of the two of us in front of a church

8 weeks before our wedding and our wedding bands make a cameo appearance.

The pursuit of technical excellence is a useful thing for perhaps the first couple of years of “serious” photography, but it can really get in the way of one’s self-expression.  At some point, each of us has to realize that he/she has acquired enough technical skills, and start looking at other parts of photography.  I would like to think that this is, in fact, the soul of one’s craft.

P.S. The colors are a little off since they were color-corrected for a particular printer.

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