Saturday, October 31, 2015

Limitations In Photography Are Good

Clearing Clouds Over Cummings Mountain - Stallion Springs, California
I mentioned a little over a week ago that I replaced my DSLR with a pocket camera. One reason people have a DSLR is for the interchangeable lens capability. While the camera I bought, a Sony RX100 II, has an adjustable focal length lens, the lens is permanently attached and can't be changed. I worried if the 100mm (equivalent) maximum focal length would be long enough because I occasionally like to use a longer lens.

So my family and I went for a short walk through my neighborhood in the evening just before sunset, and I brought my new camera with me. Multiple times on this outing I saw a potential photograph but needed a focal length longer than 100mm to capture the vision in my mind.

At first I was disappointed. Maybe it was a mistake to get rid of my DSLR. I would have been able to capture these photographs if I had my old camera and not the RX100 II.

But then I realized something. Most of the time I didn't have a telephoto lens attached to the DSLR. I mostly kept my standard prime lens attached, and in all likelihood I wouldn't have had the necessary lens with me. Yes, sometimes I would go out with the telephoto zoom lens, but more often than not I didn't. So, in reality, I actually had more versatility with the pocket camera, not less.
Evening Bicycle Ride - Stallion Springs, California
Besides, the smaller camera was much more pleasant to have than the bulky DSLR. There is value in the experience being enjoyable.

I decided that I needed to pay attention to what I could capture and not what I couldn't. I needed to adjust how I was seeing and interpreting the scene. And once I did that, my eyes were opened to things that I was overlooking.

Limitations in photography are good. It helps to focus your creative mind. It helps to narrow down the possibilities. It forces you to think about things differently. "Embracing the limitation can actually drive creativity," said artist Phil Hanson. "We need to first be limited in order to become limitless."

Orson Welles put it this way: "The absence of limitations is the enemy of art."
Brush In The Rocks - Stallion Springs, California
"If you have five elements available use only four," suggested Pablo Picasso. "If you have four elements use three."

Being limited by something isn't bad. In fact, in art, it's good. It will make your photographs better. It will make your photographic voice stronger. It makes the image's nonverbal communication more concise.

Not having that long telephoto zoom is to my benefit. Not having an interchangeable lens is a good thing. Not having the "best" gear makes my photographs better. The fact is that I need more limitations, not fewer.

Besides, I need to have some contentment with my gear. Photography is never about the gear, it's about the photograph. So it makes no sense to be constantly chasing new cameras. That's G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), and having G.A.S. can be painful. Embracing the limitations of my gear helps me to be content with what I have so that I'm not wasting my time thinking about the gear that I don't have but wish I had. That's time squandered.

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