Why Simplicity is the Key

In my mind's eye, I visualize how a particular... sight and feeling will appear on a print. If it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. It is an intuitive sense, an ability that comes from a lot of practice. (Ansel Adams)

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I have been working to improve my photography and produce images that I’m pleased with for the last 50+ years (if other people like them as well great but that’s not why I take photographs).

Along the way I’ve learnt (and continue to learn) a great deal from some great photographers, who have on occasions dazzled me with their insights into photography as an art and inspired me by their criticism of my work. I learn a great deal and get inspiration from look at the works of great photographers (I spend far too much money on books of their photographs) and I really enjoy working with other photographers and learning new techniques and perspectives from them, which may or may not influence my work in the future

The key fact that I’ve learned is that making great images has less to do with the camera you own, than the way that the person behind the lens sees the world around them and uses the camera to interpret that vision. Great photographers often rely on comparatively simple  cameras and good lenses. To me photography is about the way I see the world and how I interpret it not about the equipment.   

My personal philosophy is to keep things simple. I use a Fuji X-T1 with the kit 18-55mm lens. That’s it (although I do sometimes use my iPhone). This set-up suites me for pretty much everything I do. Having one camera and lens means that I use it instinctively knowing how to get the best from it, which allows me to concentrate on the image rather than the technology. It also means that I don’t have to carry a big camera bag, as it fits in the pocket of my walking jacket. I also work with 5x4 film sometimes as a change from the instantaneous world of digital imaging.

I’ve gone through phases of using DSLR’s with a full range of lenses but ended up with an empty wallet a sore back and images no better than I achieve now.

I make mainly landscape, landscape abstract, portraits and some still life images so I don’t need a wide range of lenses. I find that having a single camera/lens combination makes it easier for me to visualise what the final image will look like before I look through the viewfinder and press the shutter button.

I shoot only RAW files, as they give me much more flexibility than JPG’s for post-processing using Adobe Lightroom software on my Mac. The most important piece of equipment I own is my Epson 3880 printer. To me an image is not finished until it’s printed (see previous blog)

This set-up allows me to produce sharp prints up to A2 size which is all I want to do. They pass muster alongside images from much more expensive full frame cameras which is fine.

I spent some time calibrating my screen and printer so they produce predictable, consistent quality, colour and monochrome images with the papers that I use. Again this helps me to visualise how the final print will look when I press the shutter button.

This setup feels a bit like a comfortable old jacket. It holds no surprises and doesn’t get in the way of my image making.