Saturday Evening Post #123; It doesn’t Matter

David Hume Kennerly, was at one time in his career the unofficial White House photographer.  This was, it must be said, at a much more laid back time at the presidential domicile, than has been the case in the past few years.
Photographers shot filum, and a professional purchased a camera and then used it for many years. Changing perhaps lenses and accessories to meet the demands of the job at hand.  They chose a short telephoto lens for portraits, a macro lens for some studio shots, a longer lens for sports, and for the cut and thrust of news stories, a short wide angle lens to get into the heart of the action.
Swapping out a camera and lenses just because a new one was on the market was not even considered.
A studio I worked with used 120 Twin Lens Reflex cameras for everything but commercial studio shots and had done so for many years, one of the Rollies was at least twenty years old.

David Hume Kennerly was at that stage the ‘unofficial’ photographer, because, perhaps security and press requirements were far easier than the complexity that press photographers currently face.

He was once asked, the story is told, by a student, in a carpark as it is also told, “Mr Kennerly, what camera do you shoot with?”

“It doesn’t matter,” he repeated emphatically, “it doesn’t matter.” That’s the way the majority of photographers in those day felt about it. It was actually actively uncool to care too much about gear.
What mattered was what you did with it.
Source: TOP Mike Johnston

Just recently a photographic acquaintance has purchased a shiny new Canon R5 and a few lenses.
He told me, “It’s a Game Changer”, but to be honest I didn’t quite understand what the ‘game’ was.
For those that who not hardware aficionados, among its many attributes the R5 sports, “Eye Recognition Auto Focus”, which enables it to lock on to an eye and hold focus. And especially bird’s eyes.
See a bird in a tree, camera locks focus on the eye. There’s a pelican flying past, the camera unerringly grabs focus on the eye.
How cool is that. (Except the coolness requires as I read the instructions about 4 or 5 major setting changes, and a button press (or two) to get it to begin to work its magic.
Let it be known that Canon is not the only black box with such amazing “Eye Recognition” Now I haven’t had time to read all the psuedo-expert sites that extol the virtues of the magic so can’t or won’t comment further.

Just to have full disclosure, I’m not an equipment luddite, still clinging to my 3 megapixel handfone to spite the changes in hardware going on apace.

But, what I do note, having seen some results, is, “It doesn’t Matter!”  What matters is what is being done with the camera.  Are the images telling a ‘game changing’ story?
Time I suppose will tell.

I found this Reed Warbler out in the open, and quite confident about posing for a moment or two.
I couldn’t help but ponder, how much better a ‘game changer’ piece of equipment would have been. Would it have taken the photo while I looked the other way?  If it was put it on a motorised trolley, would it tenaciously track down the Reed Warbler and get that prize winning shot?

Or perhaps it might just take the fun out of finding, and working with the bird to get the best pose and with a single spot Autofocus (on my old antiquated D500), just about getting the best eye focus I could.

David Hume Kennerly might well be right, “It doesn’t Matter!”


12 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post #123; It doesn’t Matter

  1. Game changers? First, let me mention how much I enjoy your images and comments. I really look forward to them. And, I agree with you about gear. But sometimes, new gear comes with real advantages. When I was teaching, I would help the yearbook moderator at our school by shooting sports. But high school gyms and hockey rinks at the time were poorly lit and being able to shoot at adequate shutter speeds was difficult. Also, in football, sometimes, on a long play, shooting to capture the action and capture that “special moment” required a large buffer. On the scene comes the Nikon D500. You know how good that camera is and it solved both my problems. Now that I am retired, I still use the D500 but with my other “game changer” – the Nikor 500mm PF lens. I, too, like bird photography and had gear that required a large tripod, Wimberly head, etc. But with the PF lens I shoot hand-held and love it. So were these “game changers”? I don’t know but they have sure made my photographic life a lot more pleasant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. G’day David,
      Thanks for dropping by, and I appreciate your sharing your insight.
      I’m not so fussed about the gear, long ago I learned to use what ever was on hand for the job. As each new iteration of camera/lens has leapfrogged the previous one(s), our options for use have also increased. Who would have thought in the days of Tri-X that we’d ever shoot higher than 800 ISO.
      Having lugged heavy duty lenses and paraphernalia through rainforest and desert, and just about everywhere in between, the sweetness of the 500mm PF is something that I enjoy.
      Like you its my go-to piece of kit for nearly every birding outing. Game changer, or just evolution, certainly not revolution.
      I don’t do gear reviews on this site, but I did a field report on the 500mm PF.
      The sheer brilliance of the D500 AF, was obvious to me the first time out. Took a little work to learn the changes from the older AF system. Now the sheer speed makes for some interesting opportunities. Will I relent and go the eye-recognition route. Time, as I said, will tell.
      In the meantime, enjoy the moment of the chase, being the field and delighting in the lives of birds will top technology for me every time.


  2. it all comes down to the photographer/sound engineer. A poor operator won’t necessarily take better photos/produce better sound with the game changing gear. And some new gear almost takes the operator out of the process, and I find that rather sad!
    A lovely image of the Warbler, nice of it to sit for you in the open!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi David, I guess that is what Mike was trying to explain in his article. David DuChemin say, “Gear is Good, but, Vision is Better.”
      It’s great being a gearhead. Much to see, much to compare, much to pontificate about.
      Out in the field, (onsite venues for soundies), its where the rubber meets the road. Not how clever the gear is, but how cleverly it’s used. Creatives will always amaze us.


  3. I must admit I really like the Ansel Adams quote: “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” But of course it does help to have good lenses in particular, and to benefit from the improvements that the various companies are making.

    A beautiful image of the Warbler – such great detail and a most attractive perch as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Eleanor, I was pretty excited about find the Warbler out in the open, it seemed to have little concern about my presence. I guess nesting is over and the need for furtiveness is past for the moment.
      Good glass is always a wise investment. I have a few lenses that have gone through a number of iterations of camera, and three that have made the transition from Filum to digital.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well spoken David and so true, after all the fun and delight is in how we work with the birds and capture the amazing shot using our own skill and endurance, that is the true ‘game’ which we enjoy, as the early rifle shoots would have called their ‘game’ as they shot birds out of the sky willy nilly. So true about these eye recognition devices, they are just more technical fiddling which I personally find as a non professional too much. I have enough trouble adjusting the switches on my canon lens and remembering which setting I am on each time. Have missed many great moments because I have forgotten the setting I am on. Lovely shot of the Warbler, it is rare to get them to stay still long enough or even in a reasonable position to get such a lovely shot. Have a great week !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello AB, I guess the real direction for the improving technology is in cases like your work, where the need to nail a sharp shot for id and other purposes far out weighs the expressive need of creative photography. The increase in AF speed on my Nikon D500 has certainly offered opportunities that I’d probably have missed.
      Eye recognition, and I believe, noise and sharpening AI, being incorporated in cameras is going to give non-photographers the ability to succeed with remarkably detailed shots.

      But, and I think I’m clarifying my own point, bushcraft and patience with the birds is still going to be needed to bring out the character shots of the birds

      have a goodun

      Liked by 1 person

G'day, Please feel free to Leave a Reply. Now auto approved

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s