Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Pentax 35mm SLR and my Fender "Strat" guitar teaches me to be a better DSLR photographer.

Hi Pentaxian friends,

This Month has brought many new great DSLRs to the market. I would have liked to see a new Full Frame Pentax DSLR, with video capability, faster FPS, true live view, etc. Would I be a better photographer if Pentax had introduced such DSLR? I don't think so.

If I could buy a camera that took perfect pictures, with perfect composition, with perfect High Dynamic Range, in a nutshell, THE PERFECT CAMERA, I wouldn't be able to use it, as I'm an imperfect photographer. What would be the point of photography? Yet, everybody is wishing for better and better DSLR cameras. Photography, in my book anyway, is about adventure, discovery, feelings, fantasy, art, and so on.

It's similar to a guitarist playing a blues song by reading from a songbook, note for note, perfectly in sync with the annotations in the songbook. It's good, it takes a lot of discipline, but it doesn't have any feel to it. Now imagine another guitarist playing the same blues song, not by the book, but from his artistic instinct. He bends the strings, slides his fingers smoothly along the fret board, and adds a few notes here and there. It's like a whole different song. You could sit there and listen for hours. By the way, as Miserere reminded me in the comments below, give them both a new guitar, and I bet their their playing will not improve. If you want the perfect guitar music, buy a CD. It's not the guitar, it's the guitarist!

Well, I think that being a photographer is very similar. It's not the camera, It's the photographer! I know, I know, you heard that a million times, but it's still true. I too, tend to rely on the gadgetry side of my DSLR from time to time. This is when I go back to my 35mm camera and go shoot a roll of Kodak Gold 100. You see, I know that when I shoot film, it’s going to be more costly per print and I cannot waste frames. That slows me down and makes me really think about my composition, my settings, my lens choice, etc. I also still like the process of putting the film inside the camera, the winding to the first frame; I think there is even a certain smell to film. I get calmer and really search for the right moment. The ratio of keepers/duds when I shoot film is much better than when I shoot digital. I love digital and I wouldn’t go back to film, but once in a while, film cameras reminds me that I should rely on my artistic side more often and rely on gadgets and technology a little less. No matter how we look at it, photography is still about light, aperture, and lenses made of real glass.


Get your film camera and go shoot a roll of Kodak Gold 24 or 36. Take your time and re-learn how to compose. I Got to go now; I'm glad I have an imperfect Pentax K20D and I'm going to pick my Fender "Strat" and play some blues, with feelings.

Thank you for reading,

Yvon Bourque

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