LIMITATIONS OF EQUIPMENT—(ARTICLE 2)
ARTICLE PREPARED BY OTTAWA/KANATA PROFESSIONAL PORTRAIT STUDIO PHOTOGRAPHER, JEFF RYAN/RYAN STUDIO OF PHOTOGRAPHY SERVING
THE REGIONS OF OTTAWA/KANATA/STITTSVILLE/ORLEANS 2018.
Many years ago when I became interested in photography, I started with an instamatic point and shoot camera that housed a cartridge of film that was accompanied by flash cubes should the need for flash photography arise. This camera produced prints or slides in square format, and all that was required on behalf of the user was to aim it at the subject matter and shoot. What could be easier? No fussing with exposure, lenses or tripods. This is many a beginner photographer’s dream. I was satisfied with these images for a few years, until one day when viewing my prints which had recently been returned from the lab, I realized that the images presented to me did not accurately represent the subject matter I had photographed. At this point, I started making a series of tests with my camera to determine if it was defective and not operating properly. A few rolls/cartridges of film later, the same problems occurred. These included: improper colour balance and density of each image, over and underexposure, lack of sharpness, etc. I then made a trip to my local camera store presenting a question that many of my students to this day ask me particularly during this digital state of photography which is: “why do these prints not look like the scene or person at the time I made the exposure?” Does this sound familiar to you?
After conversing with the store clerk and unfortunately obtaining indirect and rather vague answers to my questions, I began reviewing several publications regarding exposure, film, paper characteristics, various lenses and processing procedures. Approximately six months went by and I realized at this point that my camera wasn’t defective at all, but there were twofold issues that presented themselves. The first was that I was asking too much from such a limited piece of equipment and it no longer would represent my needs. Secondly, there are so many steps involved between creating the image and printing it. The additional steps I am referring to involved the people who at that time were responsible for processing the film and printing it. Having worked in a camera store that housed a processing lab, I can unfortunately attest to inaccuracy in the automatic printing equipment, using chemistry pasted the expiration date and somewhat limited knowledge on behalf of the technicians pertaining to manual override exposure controls during the print making process. These comments obviously do not pertain to the majority of photographic outlets but the reader should make efforts to direct their films (if they are still utilizing film products), to “qualified” photo labs with good reputations and accredited staff members. Many novice photographers viewing dissatisfied photographs feel frustrated and tend to give up on photography when their cameras do not perform as they expect them to. However, if you have a good understanding of exactly what your camera is doing for you when you depress the shutter release, you can rest assured that even the novice will be well on his/her way to producing exceptional images with a limited amount of photographic equipment.
In my opinion, equipment can essentially be broken down into two categories: 1) levels of necessity, and 2) levels of convenience. The more time you invest behind a camera, the more sophisticated products you are most likely going to acquire in the future. The reason behind this simply stated is that you, a photographer, are maturing in your methods particularly when referring to pre-visualization of your subject matter and consequently, developing your own style of shooting/picture making. At this point, you may discover that you will no longer be satisfied with the limitations of your present equipment, and be forced to upgrade equipment to produce imagery which more accurately reflects what you see in your mind’s eye before the shutter is released. On our next get-together, we will cover basic equipment that will deliver fine results at a moderate price range, and I’ll also touch on the second-hand market.
With Good Wishes……Jeff Ryan.
JEFF RYAN PHOTOGRAPHER/ RYAN STUDIO OF PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY, OTTAWA/KANATA, ONTARIO. 2018