One Step Forward, Two Steps back

I write a lot on these pages about the amazing images that are being created today with the latest camera equipment and software. I share many of those images with you. Even average photos become visual treasures with much of the current equipment available. It’s when you add great equipment and excellent photography, you have a recipe for spectacular pictures. Those of you who know me, know that whenever something “seems” to be working, I will inevitably find the flaws. There is too much “perfection” happening right now. Immaculate perfection if you will. We went through the stage where all the really good photographers, amateur and professional, experimented and found their groove with the new equipment, and now many of them wallow in that groove. They are stuck there. Everything is beginning to look-alike.

I need to regress. I was a stock photographer for many years. I sent in film transparencies (later digital), to editors for consideration. I tried to weed out my sentimental favorites, and create a nice tight submission. Sometimes I failed, but I knew what worked. I understand the desire to share only pictures that everyone will love. Take no risks, feel no pain.

When the internet became “the” means of sharing whatever pictures I wanted, with the entire world, I became a lot less choosy. I would (and will) share a wildlife photo because I think you may want to see the animal, even if my picture is not perfect. I not only share straight forward landscapes and macros. I share the “odd” photos that I made because I wanted to try something different. Since my first website, the viewers of my imagery have been free to enjoy what they like, and discard the rest. I have always preferred treating each picture I made, as an individual exercise. I want people who view my images, to have an interesting journey, with roads that travel in different directions. As equipment levels go up, I am seeing less and less of those different roads. Every picture made and shared, does not have to be edited ruthlessly, and agonized over for a couple of weeks, before it is presented to the world, and it doesn’t have to depend on technical quality alone to be considered a fine photograph.

There are of course, those who refuse to drive the same road every day. I often share the work of Guy Tal on these pages. His work would be inspiring with any camera of any era. There is an old friend and shooting buddy of mine, that shares the pictures she made only yesterday, and searches out subjects that nobody else shoots, and continually looks for new ways to look at all subjects. There are a few macro photographers around who look for different ways to interpret the same subject (one of my favorite things in the world), and share them, win, lose or draw. These photographers know that they need the current equipment, to be a top photographer, but they don’t depend on it to make great images. Great photos need great technical quality, but they need vision and imagination even more.

Take care that when you make one step forward with camera equipment, that you don’t take two steps back in photographic vision.


There are about as many ways to look at sunrise/sunset as any photographic subject. The quality of your equipment can matter here, just like with anything you photograph. Just the same, your personal vision matters too. Finding one traditional way to photograph the sunrise/sunset, and letting your cameras and software “wow” future viewers, would be boring to say the least. At times in my career, I showed off my equipment via the images I made, but mostly I made the pictures that fulfilled my vision at the moment that everything “came together”.

All of the images below were made with older cameras with decidedly less quality than the best that are available today.

The image below is a straight forward picture made some time ago. It is abstracted because of the bright rising sun (a series of gasses), my selection of a 500mm lens, and the visual compression of atmosphere produced by that combination.SwallowsHawthorn 010

Sunrise/sunset is a great subject to show off how you see the world. Composition via lens choice, where you make the picture from, and what part of the scene you record as mid-toned, are all a part of the language you can use to translate to the world, what you saw, and how you felt at the moment you tripped the shutter. Don’t be afraid to use this subject to put on display your most unique compositional insights.



KemperSR 017



Did you know that there are almost 800 posts here at Earth Images?  From November 21, 2011 we have The Gift.

Have an inspiring day,                                                                                                                      Wayne

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