Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Well! The First 365 Days Has Passed. Happy New Year - and Where DMC-365 Is Going This Year

Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pizarroshipbuilding.jpg
I made a commitment to focus on Panasonic Lumix cameras in 2012. That was fun, but I found it limiting to try to focus on one camera maker, or even on Micro 4/3. At this point, I have not dropped any of my other formats (which include Nikon DSLR, Leica rangefinder, Micro 4/3, and various film cameras), have added a Leica M9 to my list of favorites, and still enjoy writing my blog every day. So, I think I'll shift gears a little, still including Micro 4/3 to a large extent, but not excluding anything. In fact, what I want to write about is the interface between equipment and creativity. I don't believe they're independent, and know for a fact that certain equipment choices work best for specific applications. I'd hate to try to shoot eagles in flight with my rangefinder camera.
So, I thought I'd explain my direction for 2013 with an analogy.
Let's say I'm working on building an enormous boat. There are lots of other people out there building their own boats, so I don't have to worry about making mine fit every usage. I will use the skills and tools that I have to make exactly the boat that I think I want to build.
Now here's the deal. It is not clear that this boat of mine will be a success, or that it will set sail during my lifetime. Some of that depends on how good a job I do. The job ahead is so big, possible assignments on any given day are numerous.
One way of determining what I'll do to build the boat on a given day is to head to a particular section that needs work. If for example, I wander over to work in the engine room, I will need a particular set of tools. If instead, I decide to finish the woodwork in the captain's quarters, I'll need another. So, I choose the right tools for the job at hand that day.
The Engine Room, by Reed A. George
Leica M4-2, 50mm Summicron f2 Dual Range Lens
There is also another way to decide. Rather than picking an area or duty, I can pick up the tools I feel like using that day and wander around until I find a section that needs work that I can do with them. Sometimes this may mean that I take my most flexible tools, in order to increase the probability of finding a productive assignment. On other days, I may pick a tool that I really want to work with and search until I find an assignment. Each appraoch is different in efficiency (how much work I complete in a given time) and effectiveness (how important and beautiful that work is).
One thing is for sure. I will not be finishing work on this boat for a very long time. There's plenty of work to do. I don't have to take every assignment. I do have to go do good work on any assignment I take on.
So. That brings me to what my second year of building DMC-365 will consist of. I will use a broader set of tools than in my first year. I have used the first year to get my feet wet, and I've made at least somewhat of a name for myself on the job. I've also bought some lovely specialist tools during the year, and plan to increase my skill in using them. Taking the approach that I don't have to do it all (no wedding photography here, most likely), and that effectiveness - making sure that what I do take on is done to the very best of my ability - is more important than efficiency, I will share the tools, processes, and results with my readers. I will certainly focus on specific tools, cameras, techniques, and types of photography. My goal will not be to get every possible good image, but to ensure that those I do get are very well-done.

Tools that I know I'll use include Leica, Lumix, other Micro 4/3 gear, film cameras of the past, and even a few toy cameras, which I believe allow me to focus on technique, rather than the quality of the equipment. I want to be like the ping pong champion who wins his matches, even if he's forced to use a heavy iron skillet instead of a paddle (I know someone who can actually do this).
During the first year, I began a couple of projects; the one that grew legs is photographing live music performances. I will continue that project in 2013, as well as pursuing my other photographic interests, which include wildlife, field science, travel, and street photography.
So, I hope you'll enjoy watching me continue to build my boat. I'm sure that I'll make some mistakes along the way, and that my goals (the boat design) will change as we move forward. Of course, I also hope to meet some of the other people out there building their own boats of their own designs. We can compare notes.
Happy New Year!