What a Picture!

By: Anne Corke

Jun 08 2020


Category: Photography


In spite of the widespread use of cell phones, there are those of us who will always own a camera, or in my case, several cameras. I was in my late 20s when an old boyfriend with ulterior motives generously gifted me a 35mm SLR (single lens reflex) for Christmas and I truly discovered the joys of photography. That first camera was a Minolta XG7 with a 50mm lens and it started a life-long love of cameras and photography. Of course, it wasn’t long ’til both of us had progressed well beyond the basic camera and lens to a selection of lenses, filters, flashes, tripods and so on. Before we knew it, our camera bags were bursting at the seams. On weekends, we could be found at Mosport or Watkins Glen following sportscar racing and Formula 1. Motor racing taught me the first hard lesson about why less is more where camera gear in concerned. It was a glorious autumn weekend in upper New York state. We were waiting in traffic at Watkins Glen, winding our way through the park in search of our parking area. It was Grand Prix weekend. Progress was slow. At one point, Greg asked me to take over the driving as he needed to use the washroom and he had spotted one nearby. The minute he entered the building, the traffic started to move, and rather smartly too, leaving him behind. There was nothing I could do but keep moving. When I arrived at our assigned car park, all the spaces were taken. There was no sign of Greg, so I reluctantly followed the traffic back to the park entrance and across the road into another parking lot. Unfortunately this lot was about two miles away from our grandstand seats. There was nothing for it but to make my way, along those same winding roads that I had just driven, to the seats where I was sure Greg would eventually show up. I loaded myself up with two tripods and two very large, very heavy camera bags and began the journey. I eventually made my way to the grandstand, sweating and cursing to find Greg relaxing in our seats soaking up the sun, cool as a cucumber. In that moment, I had an epiphany. If you’re going to be walking any distance, you need to be very selective about the gear you pack.

Several years later, I met and married my late husband who adopted my photography hobby. Gary always jumped into new interests with both feet, accumulating all the available gear that he could find. In short order, he had a bulging camera bag with just about every Minolta accessory under the sun. (I didn’t mind as long as he carried his own camera bag.) He was very serious about his photography. I always liked to have a camera and lens at the ready so I could grab it whenever I saw a possible photo opportunity. He, on the other hand, would spend half an hour setting up for a photo. Methodically, he would set up his tripod, weigh up the pros and cons of each lens before choosing one that he felt would yield the best result, mount the camera and lens on the tripod, adjust the tripod legs just so, try several different camera angles to best capture the photo, check the light, choose the appropriate settings for the camera, attach the cable release, recheck the camera settings, step away from the camera so as not to jostle it, and finally take the god-damned photo! Meanwhile, I had wandered away, merrily snapping photos one after another. Patience is not one of my virtues.

At the moment, I’m obsessed with my Olympus camera. I purchased it because of its sophisticated image stabilization system – most important when my own stability is not what it used to be! But then I fell in love with that retro SLR styling, the compact size and the beautifully machined controls that make it such a joy to use. And while I can no longer climb hills or clamber over rough landscapes, this little camera with a nice zoom lens allows me to capture the beauty around me and continue to enjoy my photography. So far I have managed to keep myself in check, only allowing three lenses to find their way into my camera bag. But it’s an ongoing battle. I just happened to be on the Olympus website this morning and noticed that there’s a sale on lenses. I went so far as to add one to my cart but luckily caught myself before it was too late and my Visa card escaped unscathed – for now!

2 comments on “What a Picture!”

  1. I sympathise with what you’re saying Anne – especially in the early days of my fascination in photography I too would buy all the accessories I could.
    However when my son discovered photography and his christmas present list grew ever more expensive I would preach to him the art of taking a good photo lay within the eye of the photographer and not in the extent and price of his equipment. He was never convinced and was every bit as bad as me at buying stuff – he is a good photographer though.

  2. So true. We photographers look at the world differently, always looking for a new perspective. I think we probably all went through the accumulation phase before we learned to keep it simple (and light!). Cheers, Anne

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