I never shot a brick wall

By Martin Joergensen | June 16, 2008 2:16 PM | Permalink | Comments ( 0)


Pixel peeping and analyzing dull images of walls shot head on have never been my idea of assessing images or equipment.

I know that some photographers will welcome any new piece of equipment by bolting it to a tripod, setting it up perpendicular to an evenly lit wall and fill a memory card with meticulously bracketed images of bricks. The best walls seem to be basement walls in your own house, but other walls will do. Outdoors walls are not really popular, and if the wall in question requires a walk through reality, it's almost ruled out.

Ok, ok...

I know I may be unfair, and I know that I'm exaggerating, but when browsing photo web sites and discussion forums I sometimes get the impression that way too may photographers forget why they buy new gear: to take "real" photos. And not of brick walls or of back of books in the bookshelf across from the couch. No, real pictures of real things!

I get sooo tired of reading posts about light-falloff, aberration and all sorts of technical issues with high-end professional gear posted by people, whose galleries are full of helpless snapshots, which my teenage kids could do better with a point&shoot. Many of the issues are either hypothetical or based on test shots of the famed brick wall, test charts or color reference cards. I know that such issues are not trivial, and I know that you are fully entitled to demand the best possible results when you have spent lots of money on new gear.

But there are better ways of celebrating your new high-end lens than taking pictures of brick walls and spending hours at the computer looking at 100% crops of images shot at different apertures.

Go out and take pictures!

I am guilty of having sat in my comfy chair and shot pictures of my TV and the wall behind it but that has only been because it has been dark, windy and wet outdoors. As soon as I have the chance, I will grab the newly acquired equipment at get out and take the pictures that I intended to take in the first place. I want to handle the gear, use it, get to know it.

The feeling of shutter release, the efficiency of the autofocus, zoom and focus rings, the placement of switches.

And when I get home I don't look at small crops in 100% and 200% magnification on the monitor. No, I look at the photographic results, and judge the quality of the images as captures of the scene I shot and representations of what I envisioned.

I do like (technically) good images

Of course I enjoy when an image is crisp and sharp, and I get thrilled by good color and precise definition, and I can certainly see the difference between good gear and bad. But I usually try to get the best out out of what I have in order to capture real images, and I know that I can get good images with even the most humble equipment. I usually tell people that I have landed a few full page illustrations taken with my first digital point&shoot camera - a Nikon CoolPix 775 with an impressing 2 megapixels resolution and a less than optimal and very small plastic lens.

Many of the best and most classical shots taken through the history of photography were not shot by people who worried about chromatic aberration, vignetting or geometrical distortion. They were shot by people who just went out there to capture the world around them and in that process got some fantastic images.


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