#732. Monday Post (4 June 2018) – Confessions of a repentent slut

#732. Monday Post (4 June 2018) – Confessions of a repentent slut

 

First of all I have to confess, I was a slut. A bokeh slut. See post https://www.dearsusan.net/2017/05/20/596-bokeh-slut/ To the question: but why? my first 2 answers were: “because my mum taught me not to use the word w***e”, and “because I can”. A self-professed, unapologetic slut.

 

 

How times change! I am no longer a slut. Or at least I think not. But before you start singing hymns as befits the return of the black sheep to the flock, ask the question: but why? And the answer is: because I can’t… gear gone. f:1.4 lenses gone, yadda yadda yadda (notice how this last expression works just like verbal bokeh, blurred, shapeless, but nonetheless contributing to the story-telling?)

 

 

So now I am left with a 7-year old camera (Sony NEX 7) with APS-C sensor and a 28mm lens (Leica Elmarit 28mm vII), or an equivalent 42mm, and more of a nostalgia/curiosity mix than real drive to shoot.

 

 

In my slutty days, I loved shooting flowers (and bikes, mostly broken, but that is another story), and, of course, I shot them with lots and lots of bokeh. To be honest (always beware when a sentence starts like this, it rarely ends well), I always checked my pictures for sharpness before posting (100% magnification, you know the drill – more verbal bokeh -), but if any relevant part of the subject material was in focus, I deemed it posting worthy (providing it met other, minor criteria like: is it interesting/beautiful?). And I trusted the lens to gently and elegantly transition from in-focus to out-of-focus, so that how much was actually out of focus wouldn’t appear too clearly on a Net-processed picture. Nor would the fact that 90%+ of the image would be unsharp bother anyone. This is art, after all, what?

 

 

But the rhythms of nature are impervious to the twilight of my sluttiness. The time of flowers has come back including the roses and clematis of Bagatelle. Previously, I shot them with Zeiss ZM 35mm f:1.4, Zeiss Otus 55mm f:1.4, Zeiss Otus 28mm f:1.4. Mostly f:2.0, with a few wide open shots and quite a few f:2.8. Hardly any closed down beyond that.

 

 

My Leica 28 is 2 stops slower, and with less bokeh effect than the 28 Otus at identical apertures. Meaning the bokeh difference amounts to at least 3 stops. Plus the fact that my camera is not as good now as it was then. Like a slut who suddenly takes on 30 years, weย  both have to contend with, shall we say, reduced opportunities…:-) Still, viewing the flowers is a feast I couldn’t resist, and habit being what it is, I dragged my mini-bag along.

 

 

The pics you see are the results of just 3 short shoots, because the weather has not been kind this year, and flowers were few, not displaying their usual splendor. Fact is, and it is purely personal, those pics do not look inferior to me than those in the same surroundings shot with massive amounts of bokeh, and better gear. So much for the bokeh slut… Not inferior, but different.

 

 

Different for a number of reasons. First, of course, the gear. It is rather hard to shoot a f:2.8 lens at f:2.0. At least for the likes of me. I am sure that Pascal, on the other hand does it in his sleep. Oh, well…

 

 

Second, I am no longer shooting for an audience (in the sense of playing to an audience). I don’t shoot for publication, including on DS, or for participating in monthly competitions (I never won, mind…). As I shoot mostly for myself, and my long-suffering buddy Pascal, I have no interest in shooting anything in which… I have no interest. Even if the result might be nice, even very nice. If I have done it already, if it looks remotely like a postcard, if… I just don’t feel inspired, then !basta!

 

 

Third, when you can’t obliterate the background, you need to start taking note of it, and there are interesting finds, sometimes.

 

 

To a large extent, I am experimenting. Like a slut who renounces sluttiness and has to find out what is out there for him/her in her new life.

 

 

I will not get into a detailed analysis of how I like my previous pictures better -or not-. You be the judge, as this is an individual choice.

 

 

But what I can say is: I am not missing bokeh/fast lenses as much as I thought I would. Not by a long shot. That doesn’t mean that I renounce bokeh, just as a slut doesn’t have to give up s*x to stop being a slut. Just, I renounce my addiction to bokeh. To a bokeh-by default approach. In this sense, my “lesser gear” may well have made me if not a better photographer (let’s get real here!) a photographer with a broader scope.

 

 

Before you think: so what? Just think: would switching to a slower car help you become a better driver? Would using older skis or tennis racket help your skiing, or your game? Did you say: counterintuitive?

 

 

We have often written here about the indirect advantages of “slow photography”. Welcome to the world of “lesser photography”, and its well-know disease: un-GAS.

 

 

If you find this state of affairs intolerable, donations are welcome (more verbal bokeh about links through which to buy your bokeh-making gear which ends up in my pocket). But I have to say, I only accept donations of heavy lenses if I can also have a commensurate number of sherpa available 24/7. Else, don’t waste your gear and/or money…

 

 

The key question is: would these same pictures have somehow “been better” with “better gear”? Maybe, in a way, though the Leica 28mm Elmarit VII is no slouch. But they might also have worse, as I might have left too much to the gear and not enough to photographer TLC. In any case it proves one thing conclusively, to my mind at least. I was not only a slut, but a snob slut. And renouncing sluttiness may be the easier part…

 

 


Email: subscribed: 4

11 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Dallas Thomas June 04, 2018

    Ah Philippe you are the Master of the Camera/Lens combination which ever it maybe and the keyboard, enough said, said I.

    • Avatar
      philberphoto June 04, 2018

      Ah, Dallas! Such flattery unfortunately designates you as part of the conspiracy… ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Avatar
    jean pierre (pete) guaron June 04, 2018

    ROTFLMHAO – where to start? (Actually, after what I’ve done to Pascal’s last post, it might be better if I DON’T start!) Thanks for the sex education class. We have much in common, it seems – before I met my wife, Philippe, I was . . . Oh well, that’s got nothing to do with photography (I hope! – I certainly haven’t seen any pictures of it, thank God!)

    Philippe, what you’re doing is what we all should do. Grab some gear, and go out and see how good we are at taking photographs. Not how much we can spend, during an attack of GAS – but what can we do with the gear we have.

    And apart from a refreshing lack of bicycles, I have to tell you that I think you are doing just as well now, as you did before the thief struck. Taking photographs, I mean. I am sure there are discernible differences, because of the lack of the Otus lenses, for example. But is that REALLY what photography has turned into? I certainly hope not – I’ll NEVER be able to keep up with the Joneses, on that basis!

    Oh – and welcome back – and thanks for a very witty and entertaining and well written contribution to DS, Philippe. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Avatar
      philberphoto June 04, 2018

      Thanks, Pete! Well, if you liked this one, you might enjoy the next one, though it may still be a short while in coming.

  3. Avatar
    Peter Oosthuizen June 04, 2018

    Good read. Super fast lenses have sadly led to too much concentration on the OOF part of the image rather than the subject, all in the quest for perfect bokeh. As long as the background is not distracting the job is done, as you have illustrated so well.

  4. Avatar
    Cliff Whittaker June 04, 2018

    The only thing that never changes is that everything always changes. Equipment, techniques, attitudes, et al. The only thing we need to do is adapt, overcome, and move on. Results will change. Maybe better (or not), maybe worse (or not), but definitely different. Whatever the result, change helps avoid stagnation.
    I’ve been through a lot of subject concentrations in the last several years: concentration on images of our downtown area at night, morning, evening, in the rain, etc, until I burned out; and then landscapes; then flowers; and on and on.
    For the last three years I have concentrated on shooting birds. This spring I worked
    really hard until the middle of May when suddenly I just completely burned out on it. Now I’m taking a break, relaxing and wondering what the next change will be.
    I’m hoping it will be more natural light portrait work, but I don’t know…….

    • Avatar
      jean pierre (pete) guaron June 08, 2018

      One thing that struck me recently, Cliff, is that there is too much thought going into gear, and not enough into photography. Well perhaps both, but I had to say that, to make the point. I mentioned to Pascal that I had been looking at some photos by one of the greats from a generation or two back, and I was struck by the differences – analogue was NOT all that sharp, and as most of us would remember, there was grain – the lenses definitely weren’t sharp – most photographers limited themselves to B&W – except for Polaroids, mostly it was impossible to review our photos on site. And despite all of that, they took very good photos.

      So what are we missing? We have more opportunities – better gear – more technical know how – and yet? Most of the amateurs and some serious photographers have drifted – or are drifting – off to cellphones. You say you have burn out, Cliff. Philippe is threatening to abandon us – we’re going to need some strong ropes to tie him to the fence post and not let him stray. What is it that we’re not doing? – not achieving? – not seeing, not thinking?

  5. Avatar
    Kristian Wannebo June 04, 2018

    Well,
    you mention donations, but then you’ve certainly made the wrong post – it’s far too tolerable (to use your word)!
    ๐Ÿ™‚
    The (our, as you later included me too) conspiracy seems to have worked [ ๐Ÿ˜‰ ] with very nice results!
    – – –

    I remember reading about and liking the NEX 7, but then the (AF) lens choice was rather limited, so I waited. And my Fuji XF1 did what it was supposed to do quite well
    – except, of course, bokehs.

    I added a used Canon M (+ Magic Lantern!) when the price dived and a 55-250mm IS STM for reach.
    Finally bokehs again – but very cat-eyed in the corners, ๐Ÿ™ .

    A couple of added primes allow me to experiment again, but I”d rather not end up bokehing everything…

    ( I might still add a NEX 7 to get access to the Mirex tilt adapter…)

  6. Avatar
    PaulB June 05, 2018

    Philippe

    Wonderful images.

    We never really become creative until we are constrained.

    Concerning your question, would these images be better if you used better gear?

    I think not. Because you would not have made these images.

    PaulB

  7. Avatar
    Steffen June 09, 2018

    I find those “lesser gear” images actually better then your old ones because they got more depth and are more focused on the subject the the bokeh. Keep on experimenting, Philippe.

    Btw: “Would switching to a slower car help you become a better driver?” In fact, I was at Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, the Formula 1 course and had a test drive with a professional racing driver. And while we were surrounded by many super expensive Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Porsches and what not, I first found it a little bit underwhelming driving a Renault Megane R.S. However, as soon as we were on the race track, I was not only pushed back into the seat and was searching for the safety handle, we managed to outperform and and overtake many of these uber cars. Not because of their top speed on straight sections but because of the skills and decade long experience of the driver (especially in bends). In fact, while we there, the race track closed like 4 times because some Lamborghini drivers crashed their cars and needed to be pulled back to the pit lane.

    Skill > gear

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.