Is it all about the magic camera? Naw....

The single most important parameter in the success of a photograph is, without a doubt, how interested you are in the subject.  The second is the way you look at or consider the subject. Then it's all down to how you incorporate that consideration or emotional point of view with your lighting.

From a technical point of view the success of an image is so much more dependent on the quality, direction and motivation of the lighting than the camera will ever be. Honest.

If you've been chasing cameras and lenses for a while and you feel constantly frustrated it may eventually dawn on you that you may have been chasing the wrong things. Learning to light well takes a lot of time and experience. Learning to use a new cameras well (not the initial learning curve of photography and camera use in general) takes an evening to read the manual and about a week of shooting to get used to the controls. Lighting? Much longer. Lighting well? A life time.

We talk about cameras here because they are like the lunch of the photography world. Should we go out for a burger? Are we celebrating with steaks? How about that romantic little French place. But lighting is like breathing and meditating. It's what the real masters had to master.

People have chided me for having no allegiance to cameras but really, I consider them now, in the digital age, like the Tic-Tacs of photography. A temporary Pez dispenser of imaging. It's the lights and the lighting and the subjects I'm really interested in. A new camera just gives you something fun and novel to play with while you are waiting for your real subject to show up or when you are waiting patiently for the light to get neat.

Making your own light well is hardly ever about the brand no matter  how hard we try to make it that way. Give me twenty different flashes of equal power and decent color consistency and once I put them through a modifier or a diffuser (or even a bed sheet) I defy you to tell me which one was a Nikon Speedlight, which one was a Yongnuo 560 and which one was a Broncolor Mobil. Just flat out don't believe you can tell a different.

So, magic cameras? Naw. Magic lenses? Maybe for certain stuff. There aren't any magic lighting units. But the ability to mold the lighting to your vision-----that's where your magic starts to happen.

For Henry White it's all about the light....


billstormont said...

Your first sentence…how interested you are in the subject…says it all. Emotion. The box is mostly irrelevant, although we do love our lenses!

Anonymous said...

"From a technical point of view the success of an image is so much more dependent on the quality, direction and motivation of the lighting than the camera will ever be. Honest."

Good luck trying to convince all the pedantic pixel peepers about that. From today's nerdified technical point of view, gadget geekery is the absolute value of photography. Lighting and the end result are redundant.

Case in point, almost any photo/videography oriented online forum. It's getting hard not to become a grumpy cynic out there.

Nevertheless, we all love to geek out at least a little bit every now and then, even in the VSL, don't we. Suppose the trick is to stay focused and maintain a healthy balance without becoming a gadget nerd in GAS heat.