I hope you’ll excuse the remodel of an old post… I’m a little tied up today, but as I was once again asked what camera I use, I thought I’d share this from a couple of years ago…
My camera, its constant presence over my shoulder, has become something of a standing joke… it is true that I seldom move without it. You just never know what you will see, and the when and where are even less predictable. You might expect photographs when you are going somewhere specific, like a stone circle. You may even expect them on a frosty morning when the world is limned in crystal. You don’t always think to take the camera to the pub or the supermarket, let alone to work pretty much every day, yet it is at such moments that the opportunistic photograph will present itself… even if, nine times out of ten, there is nowhere to park the car and you end up using words that would shock your sons.
Several people have asked what camera I use… I would thoroughly recommend either the Lumix DMC FZ72, my current camera with a superb inbuilt zoom, or its predecessor, the Lumix FZ200, which has less zoom but makes up for it with a really nice Leica lens and takes pictures with a greater richness. Both have been dropped, drowned in wine or mud-slid down hills (inadvertently, I might add) and generally subjected to the kind of accidental misuse no camera should have to put up with. The FZ200 even jumped out of the car and into a deep and muddy puddle. Every time, they have survived. They are simple point and shoot cameras that do a lot of fancy stuff, including excellent video, if you know what to ask of them. The problem is, I don’t as a rule…I just play around sometimes and see what happens.
I have the utmost admiration for real photographers. They can capture the most incredible moments in nature… set up their kit and wait hours for ‘that’ shot, bringing all their technical and artistic expertise to the perfection of a single image. You have only to look around some of the amazing photography blogs to see what can be done with a photographer’s gift, the right equipment and the patience and understanding of how to use it.
Over the past few years I have taken thousands of photos and posted hundreds of them on the blog. I have had some wonderful compliments, yet I always feel a bit of a fraud, as I am not what I would call a photographer. I know very little of the ‘how to’ side of things and most of the technical stuff I have learned, my son taught me in the vain hope I might use it before I forgot about it. Most of the time though, I just point and press the shutter. I spend almost no time processing pictures, most are just resized to take up less online storage space. I do have decent software, donated by my son in a last ditch attempt to get me to use the camera to its full potential. It allows me to process RAW files… but as I’m not one for spending much time on processing pictures, and RAW takes up so much space on the hard drive, it seldom gets used. I usually shoot in .jpg and prefer a free, online programme that does what I need in the time it takes the posh programme to load.
If there is any skill involved, it lies in seeing the picture in the first place. The trouble with that is the constant choice between being there to experience the time, place and atmosphere and clicking the button. Over the past couple of years, as we have travelled around researching for the books, I have become fairly good at taking pictures with no fuss to document the places we have visited as we have followed the trail the land has given us, without allowing the camera to intrude on the feel of the place. Learning to see the world through the lens, instead of, as you might think, hiding it behind technology, actually seems to focus the mind, teaching it to be more aware of details that would otherwise have been lost in the wider experience, missed as part of the whole.
You learn to really see the light shining through a pile of boiled sweets at the market, or the peacock-blue sheen on the back of a fly. The luminescent, ever-changing sky and the shifting reflections of light on a rain-drenched path. You notice the frozen cobweb, the ant carrying a cut leaf and the crumpled veins of a rose-petal. Through the lens, you learn to see the world again with a child’s wonder… and with a child’s eagerness to share. I am not a photographer… I take photographs. The love-affair with the camera has given me the gift of being able to see what was always there before my eyes…the beauty in the images is not of my creation, it belongs to the earth, wind and sky that is there for each one of us.