Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

The Nikon/Canon/Sony Cost Penalty

I promise, this blog will get back to focusing on other aspects of photography soon, but my recent camera brand switch has brought so many realizations that I think warrant sharing before I move on. Among them, perhaps chief among them, is the realization that all brands are not created equal when it comes to cost vs. performance analysis. You might be tempted to say, “Duh!”, but for me, this was a realization of how successfully I had been marketed to as a Nikon shooter in the past, as much as it was a recognition that I have been paying a “penalty” for shooting that line, and increasingly so over recent years. I’ll explain further below.

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My Go-To Equipment in 2018

Last year, I started sharing a version of the lens and camera stats that I collect every year to observe how I am using or not using my equipment. These are based on the images from my Best Of posts, which tend to be a great microcosm for how I use equipment on the whole. This data also includes the documentary “snapshots” that wind up in those posts, and this explains why the iPhone 7+ stat is so high.

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My Best of 2018 (part 2)

16. Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Current River

Part 1 of this year’s Best Of, may have ended a bit sour, and granted, those feelings aren’t gone, but I’d rather at least steer the start of this one into another direction. Let’s begin with some artistic and business accomplishments that I had in 2018.

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My Go-To Equipment in 2017

Understanding what cameras and lenses you use most often provides all sorts of data, and is something that I always think is pretty interesting and can be very helpful. For instance, in the pie chart above (based upon the images I selected for My Best of 2017 posts 1 and 2), I know that I leave the bigger, heavier cameras at home at least 25% of the time (or at the very least, I use the iPhone 7+ to document things that I don’t feel warrant the use of a DSLR- I included documentary images in this metric). What’s more, my second backup body, the D200, makes an appearance because my primary body, the D7200, had to be sent in for repair this year.  Also, knowing my stats from last year, I can see that I am using the D300 less and less often, which means that I greatly prefer the images that the D7200 makes, even though it has been a problem-prone camera for me (if it is worth putting down for posterity, I am going to try to do that with the best quality equipment that I own).

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Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D Lens

Lenses, like cameras, are purchased for a variety of reasons:

1. There are lenses out there that are impeccable, that deliver maximum image quality (loads of sharpness, great contrast, minimum distortion and excellent color reproduction) and are lighting fast (generally f/2.8 is considered fast, though with primes sometimes f/1.8 is considered sluggish), but those lenses tend to come with a few caveats also: they are heavy and expensive.  These lenses are specialists’ tools; their purpose is to be the best in the game for the pros that need them.

2. There are lenses that are the optical equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife, they cut, they saw, they open cans, but they’re often clunky and inefficient when compared to tools dedicated to those tasks.  They are your 18-400’s of the world.  These zoom lenses are generalists’ tools; their purpose is utility and convenience for the enthusiast.

3. There are lenses that you form an emotional attachment to.  These lenses can be zooms or primes, slow or fast, cheap or expensive, but they are always at your side.  These lenses are the ones you pick up when you are going out to take pictures for the day when there is no pressure on you for what you’ll bring back.  They make photography fun. They get out of your way, and let you think about composition and subject.  These lenses are seldom the first ones photographers buy. In fact, they almost always come into the bag after years of shooting, when you realize finally that what is truly missing from your kit isn’t its ability to cover fisheye to super telephoto or to be able to pixel peep every shot at 100%.

The Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D is this third category of lenses for me.

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Road Trip!

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I am getting ready for a 5-day trip to the Great Smoky Mountains with my wife and first-born son, later this month.  The travel itinerary that I have made will take us to both Louisville and Nashville, up to the second highest peak in the Appalachians, to a pond full of salamanders, into a cave that’s been haunted for two hundred years, behind the curtain of a waterfall, and more.

This will be the first adventure where all three of us will have a camera.  I’m excited, and can’t wait to share the pictures!

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On Photography

On Artists

General

Hitchcock’s Rear Window and the Spectacle in Photography

Posted in art, awareness, film, impressionism, perception, photography, psychology by Jason Gray on March 12, 2012

We live in a world that might best be described as a panoply of gestures. Contemporary culture is so given over to experiencing multiple things at once, that a gesture is merely the limit of what a person in this context can comprehend. Through social media, we are exposed to innumerable status updates, news feeds, and images. The rapidity with which this information comes to us causes the individual receiving it to search for what they think is intrinsic and discard the rest. Regarding the images that people place on their social media profiles, the person reviewing the images instantaneously resolves the questions raised by their viewership; ie. person at a bar, person entertaining friends, person meeting someone famous, person’s new artwork, etc. The quick resolution of this rather large dataset means that the mind is compressing what it receives, or rather, is making assumptions. The effect is two-fold, the image-makers must distill what they want to say into a carefully curated presentation so that the viewers make the right assumptions about the message being relayed. Nothing in this correspondence is experiential in the traditional sense because there is no physical interaction between the message bearers and the message receivers. In fact, the message receivers generally have no direct attachment to the message bearers other than occasionally having met them firsthand. For instance, the person viewing the photo of the people in the bar is usually not one of the people photographed, nor were they in the bar at the time, and oftentimes, they don’t know anyone in the photograph at all. This is the nature of the Spectacle: a detached observation of an event that you have no connection to, which you perceive of through an oddly metaphysical window that subverts the real world onto an imaginary plane.

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