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Focal Point

February 9, 2010

In the midst of a repetitive pattern the eye will look for something that breaks the pattern to lock on to. The eye also gravitates towards bright spots in a scene as well. In this dense stand of fire-blackened slash pines the lone cypress tree provided exactly what I needed to break both the pattern of vertical lines and the overall darkness of the scene. Don’t forget, you can click on the images to view them larger.

15 minutes of fame: I got a brief mention in Moose Peterson’s blog. You can read his blog entry and see his photos of the eagles from our shoot last week here. You can see a few of my shots from the day here. Just for fun compare Moose’s lead image with mine.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Kathleen permalink
    February 9, 2010 12:28 pm

    Good eye, Jim! Not many would seen this.

    The eagle photos/video are incredible. Yours are just as good as those taken by Moose; especially the pair sitting side-by-side. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • February 9, 2010 6:43 pm

      Thanks Kathleen,

      At reasonable print or publication size there wouldn’t be a lot of difference in the images but at bigger print sizes Moose’s ought to have an edge. He was shooting with a $5,000 camera and a $10,000+ auto focus, stabilized 600mm lens. I was shooting with my $600 backup camera and a 35 year old manual focus, 200mm lens that I paid $150 for way back in the dark ages. That’s the interesting thing about comparing the images, I scratch my head and wonder where the point would be for me personally to justify spending 20 times more on equipment. Of course Moose has the luxury of being on the inside track with Nikon when it comes to gear acquisition.

      Now I don’t want anyone to read this and think I’m whining about anything. Exactly the opposite – I’m making the point that you shouldn’t feel outclassed or doubt your personal capabilities simply because your gear may not be in the same ball park as the big boy’s toys. When presented with an opportunity, shoot confidently with what you have and use your skills as much as possible to make up for the difference in hardware. As I stood there next to Moose’s gigantic setup with my rig that I could wield in one hand, I made it a personal challenge to myself to shoot 100% manual with it and then waited to see how my work would stand up to what Moose would post. After a while I did put the rig on a tripod but that actually hindered my reaction time. All 4 shots that I posted in my little gallery were taken hand-held.

      Truth be told, I did have my primary camera with me which is higher resolution and has a stabilization feature but once I had made the decision to turn the day into a personal challenge using it to shoot the eagles would have felt like cheating. My ornery side surfacing again I suppose. I used the better camera with a 50mm lens to take pictures of the other guys and their bazooka lenses.

      Also on a final note let me point out that there was not a single derogatory comment or snicker made by Moose, RC, Mike, or Tony that day about my diminutive setup. True professionals know what I’ve been pointing out here and act like professionals. It’s the people who are more into the gear than the results that you have to watch out for.

  2. Kathleen permalink
    February 10, 2010 7:18 am

    There would be no point at all. When you have good equipment, whatever that may be, the only thing that matters is whether you know how to get the most out of it. And that makes the photographer ….

  3. February 10, 2010 8:43 am

    What an excellent post and followup comments, Jim and Kathleen. You are both so right. As a photographer and a teacher, I feel the same way. It is definitely not the equipment that makes the image any more than it is not the oven that makes the cake.

    In all fairness, I have to say that equipment does help somewhat with the quality of the photo created, but without the photographer’s eye, no amount of costly equipment will create a beautiful photograph. It is the vision, the heart and the soul of the photographer. I have seen amazing work created with simple point-n-shoot cameras; some of it rivaling anything created with expensive DSLR, with the best glass, etc.

    Those who have what is known in the industry as “lens envy” are fooling themselves if they think better equipment means better photos. It is knowledge, experience, heart and soul that makes the image. Kathleen is 100% correct when she stated, “the only thing that matters is whether you know how to get the most out of it. And that makes the photographer ….”.

    Thank you, Jim, for showing us with your post.

  4. Frank Lamica permalink
    February 12, 2010 1:51 pm

    All that’s well and good, but, which way is the pointy end of the camera suppose to go…?

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