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Saturday, 14 November 2009


1) Sadly right now I am looking to buy a developing tank and reels so I can shoot B&W of my 21-month-old daughter before she grows more. I'm a newbie to photography so I'm aiming really low.

2) Time for experience, time to save up money for chemicals, a darkroom, and film, and time for my daughter to grow so I can take pictures along the way.

3) Either a mentor to guide me with what I need to know about exposure, developing, darkroom work and to help motivate me OR lots more self-confidence to go and learn these things on my own without fear of failure or worrying about what people think (huge problems for me). Honestly, I have no idea what I'm doing. A densitometer sounds like too much but I'll take the view camera since I enjoy the act of taking pictures and that includes using manual focus. Where's the inexpensive, manual-focus digital? Plus, I spend way too much time in front of a computer at work so I don't want to stare at a computer editing pictures too.

Much like others, here's my three:

1. A creative vision.
2. An outlet for expressing that vision.
3. An audience.

We all can create, but is that creation artistically unique or inspiring?

An outlet can be a physical print, an internet web gallery, or even just showing someone the screen on the back of your camera, but you have to be able to show your work.

Lastly, art by its nature cannot exist in a vacuum. Someone must be there to view it beyond the creator, to otherwise "appreciate" the work. Without the eventual sharing of a creative work, it may as well only exist in the artist head...

Camera (4x5 or Mamiya 7) and film
Spot meter
Darkroom and supplies

I can certainly do without my densitometer.

There are far too many to just limit to three, some of the following comes to mind; Light, Technique, film, darkroom, paper (the real photographic kind), oh and i can't forget, Viewers. Afterall what good is a photo if there is no one to look at it.

Good pair of shoes *waves at n murray*
Computer - (storage + photoshop + internet access)
Guidebooks (so I can locate/identify what I've photographed)

1. Digital Camera
2. "digital darkroom"
3. Internet connection

(I´m taking the computer itself for granted here).

I've recently realised that an audience isn't essential to me. The reason why "art" is worth making is the change that it can make within myself. Not exactly a new idea :-)

I'd count my Eye-One Display (or similar) as essential for fending off the "have you calibrated your monitor" that is the inevitable knee-jerk response to *any* digital photography question. I've heard of people buying densitometers, back in the days, for similar reasons.

A good printer or enlarger is important because *for me* a photograph isn't a photograph until it's on paper. Nice paper.


... assuming as you say some mechanism to produce the image

Nikkormat with working light meter, good, local film lab, interesting stuff to photograph

(Yes, I'm a luddite - I have a digital camera, but it bores me)

I have oddly been thinking about this alot lately. I came to the conclusion that at minimum, I needed:

1) Print making gear - For digital, a computer and software (could be the manufacturer's bundled software if it supports some pretty basic functionality) with an ink-jet printer capable of outputting quality 8"x12"(or so) prints. At least 8"x10". Format could be larger, if you want. For film, a darkroom with an enlarger and supporting tools to make the same size prints, including some way to dispose of the spent chemistry safely.

2) Image capture gear - For digital, something with a resolution roughly appropriate for the printer. In other words, something that can, using the complete image, print at about 250ppi to the full output size of the printer from #1. So, a 5MP to 8MP camera for 8x10s, with an appropriately sized memory card and batteries. If it's a DSLR, a good lens of some sort, minimally a single focal length in 24mm to 40mm focal length for APS-C or 35mm to 60mm for 35mm full-frame. For film, something similar. As far as camera features go, you need at least manual focus and manual exposure modes that can be operated reasonably.

3) Time enough to develop skills with and more opportunity use the above gear. I need this more than I need a camera upgrade. Way more.

I have more than the minimum for #1 and #2 but my desire for more gear has died down somewhat lately, while my desire for more of #3 has increased.

One of the things that has helped is that I realized that as a hobbyist, I'm the only person that needs to like one of my photographs. This realization has made the hobby its most gratifying for me when I manage the rare accomplishment of an creating an image that I really like.

The side effect of this realization is that it's also eased the need for equipment, because I don't generally consider equipment the hurdle, it's more my own ability (or lack thereof) that holds me back. Ego-wise, it was a difficult pill to swallow (I suppose I always hoped I was better than I actually am), but probably a better route to improvement for me than a google-pixel camera with a 10-1000mm f/1.075 EG-TOP ISF SSKUR zoom on it.

Do you think less equipment helps? Does more equipment hurt?

In my experience, it is not what you have, but what you don't have that increases your creativity. For example would anyone call the New York Yankees style of baseball "creative"? So to that end what is required:
A budget - to put a limit on the money you throw at the project
A deadline - to put a limit on the time you spend
A critic - to put a limit on your imangination

I photograph people. Here's my list.

- Empathy, and the will to make a connection with the subject in a deep, meaningful way.

- The ability to concentrate on the "why" rather than the "how".

- An eye for light, and the ability to use it to communicate mood.

a genuine love of people
a steady hand
a laptop and an internet connection.


1. Inspiration.
2. Good shoes.
3. All the low noise / high ISO goodness I can get.

1. rangefinder
2. good weather
3. passport & appropriate visa

  1. The ability to stop worrying about equipment completely - what you have now (whatever you have) is good enough, get over it;
  2. plenty of time;
  3. really, stop thinking about kit.

I just noticed that the first responder to this entry listed "good eyesight" as a necessity, and had to comment. I have unbelievably terrible eyesight (estimated at 20/6000, correctable only enough to barely pass a DMV vision test, if my eyes are well-rested and I've just put in eye drops.) I actually consider that an asset to my work. It helps me be less literal, and to concentrate on how an image feels rather than how it looks.

My poor eyesight was one reason I started diffusing my work and shooting through plastic bags; the world is actually a simpler, more beautiful place when the distracting details are stripped away.

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