We all know how quickly the technology market can change, it seems every year a £3000 DSLR is released, only for its super duper big brother to be announced six months later, knowing what to buy and when is a tough task. I remember my first camera, an Olympus OM10, “borrowed” from my dad for use in my art work at school. Dear Art Teacher (Mrs.Smith) you may not know this, but your dislike for my conceptual surrealist paintings drove me toward the most true depiction of reality, and at that time, I saw photography as the answer. I guess I have you to thank in an obscure way for my current position, Yours Gratefully, Liam. A nifty little camera complete with a 50mm f1.8 lens it was a brilliant thing, I even still have it (thanks dad).
However at the early naive stage of my photographic journey, I had it in my head that zoom was the thing, I needed a zoom lens to make great photographs. So I got a job, paid my parents no rent and bought a Canon EOS 3 with a 150-500mm sigma lens. Now this thing looked colossal, I even put a flashgun on the top of it to send it truly into beast mode. Did my pictures get better? in a word…no. I wasnt getting better, what did I need I asked myself? A digital SLR! insert Canon 10D
My next longing was for frame rate, “cant be a good photographer without a fast frame rate” so I was taking landscape images of my travels on a 1D MK2, you know the one that shoots at 8.5fps…for landscapes…you know…for fast moving clouds or something. What was Ansel Adams’ frame rate, one frame every 20 minutes?
This drive for gear seemed to be a recurring theme, better pictures were always at the next piece of gear, keep buying, keep getting better was the mantra. Fast forward to early twenties, my final year of my photography degree and I realised, I was an idiot (“I’ve been telling you that for years” chimes my partner – charming) Only by reading Barthes, Lacann and Burgin did it all suddenly become so clear, photography and art has always been about making work for a purpose, truly understanding the medium of light and what your photographs represented. I had found my problem, I had no purpose. I had been shooting restaurant interiors to make money, but my creative lust wasn’t satisfied, and that is where weddings come in, my life changed the day I shot my first.
My gear now primarily consists of digital SLR’s and prime lenses, my favourites being the canon 28mm f1.8 and the sigma A series f1.4, two lenses which fit the way I see the world and help me document it. A whole world of possibilities has been opened by reducing my kit to just two cameras and two lenses.
One thing that I have always embraced is change, it is inevitable and you have to just roll with it. I’m a massive fan of people such as Ryan Brenizer and Sam Hurd, pioneering and experimenting to create unique imagery, often with pieces of equipment that cost less than £10. Sam Hurd’s chimping technique has forever changed how I shoot the first dance, using a separate lens element to blur and distort light can clean up distracting backgrounds and create beutiful and controlled flaring. To the left of the couple was the DJ’s rig, with the lens element trick, he is thrown into obscurity and left with a nice highlight to balance the image.
Experience has taught me that no equipment can make you a better photographer, like most things in life, you have to pick the right tool for the job, be patient and wait for the moment. To hone the art of patience I purchased a large format Horseman 4×5 camera, I’ve loved wet plate images for as long as I can remember. I think my initial interest in historical photographic techniques was piqued when I first laid eyes on the back cover of the Eagles album Desperado. Since then I’ve discovered the truly stunning work of Victoria Will and Ed Drew – but part of me still wants to dress up as a cowboy, and be in The Eagles. This has entirely reshaped the direction of my personal work, there is something incredibly therapeutic about working with wet plate. Each shot takes time and care, it focuses you like no other process and produces truly stunning results.
So where do we go next? If I could I’d shoot a wedding with wet plate, but considering the plate is the equivalent of ISO 1 and you need 4800W lights, I’m not sure that would work out. Sure the next round of 5D’s will have more pixels, better grain at high ISO’s, but there has to be more, and that’s where Light and their new camera technology comes in…
This little chap claims to condense most of your camera bag into one neat package. 52 megapixels, optical zoom from 35mm-150mm etc. etc. but…and this is a huge but, this camera is different, mighty different. It takes several photographs at multiple different apertures. This ladies and gentlemen, is a game changer, you can effectively choose your focal point after taking the image. No more ‘slightly soft’ images, depth of field is yours to control during processing. crazy. A 5″ screen, lightweight and fits in your pocket, this truly has to be the future of digital photography. Will it replace SLR’s? I doubt it, more than likely the technology will be integrated into mirrorless systems to make cameras lighter with more control in post production. This in its purist form is probably destined for your mobile phone, but for travel this could be a real winner. The long and the short of it is I want one. Expect to see it on many 2016 Christmas lists.
Check out Light for more information.