Lens Envy

As I’ve gotten deeper and deeper into photography I’ve seen the gap that exists between my equipment and the equipment the top photographers are using. Almost all serious photographers I’ve talked to are using Canon D20’s and using faster 400mm lenses than I have, most considerably faster, and considerably more expensive.

They’ve also steered me to some top-level websites that feature shots taken by other photographers in the Northwest. It’s hard not be intimidated by some of the shots I’ve seen. I’ve never even seen Great Blue Herons as beautiful as the ones pictured, and none of my lenses would allow me to get the kind of crystal clear close-ups they’ve taken.

I’ve had to re-examine my own values and goals in taking photographs. While admitting a fondness of “trophy shots,? that’s not really what I’m attempting to do in my photographs. I’m trying to convey the natural high that I get from being out in nature experiencing nature at its fullest.

Sometimes I think pictures like this

do a better job of conveying that feeling then a spectacular close-up of the same heron would do.

While my shot of a Cedar Waxwing

is not as spectacular or technically outstanding as a shot of two Osprey attacking each other or of a Bald Eagle scooping up a salmon, watching the Waxwings fly back and forth in front of me while feasting on plentiful berries was a highlight of my day.

In fact, I think this rather fuzzy shot of an all-too-common crow shot through layers of branches and leaves is my favorite shot of the day

because I love crows and have no idea why. Born a city boy who spent most of his life shut up in a classroom, my a warm-fuzzy view of nature sometimes seems little more than a romantic longing, but it has served as a constant source of strength throughout my life.

6 thoughts on “Lens Envy”

  1. As suggested, I took a look at some of the photos by the people with the expensive cameras. Sure, they may be in sharper focus, but I haven’t gone back to those sites to look again.

  2. I recently read a book not to long ago by Alain de Botton called Status Anxiety. In it he states: “Up until a certain age, no one minds much what we do, existence alone is enough to earn us unconditional affection. We can burp up our food, scream at the top of our voice, throw the cutlery on the floor, spend the day gazing blankly out the window, relieve ourselves in the flower pot-and still know that someone will come and stroke our hair, change our clothes and sing us songs. We begin our time on earth in the hands of a mother, who asks little more of us than that we continue to live…But this idyllic state is fated not to endure. By the time we have finished our education, we are forced to take our place in a world dominated by a new kind of person, a person as different from a mother as it is possible to be and whose behavior lies at the heart of our status anxieties; the snob. (Like it or not) we are forced to subsist on a diet of the highly conditional attention of snobs.?

    Amanda is right, I too have not gone back to the other sites (being the particular type of snob I am). They are concerned more about texture, not substance.


  3. Thanks for the comments. I am literally thinking out loud here as I try to figure out for myself where I am going.

    I like the fact that this new hobby expands my awareness, another facet of my life I am currently working on. I like that it draws me out of myself to new places I haven’t visited before.

    I’ve spent too much of the last two years just sitting at home since I lost my hiking partner, and it feels good to just go thirty miles away from home.

    Unfortunately, I am both a perfectionist and obsessive so it’s hard to take something up without letting it consume me. I’m working on it.

    Meanwhile, I’m taking a few days off and heading for the beach, too see new birds, of course, but also to look at other people’s art and try to expand my narrow world one more degree.

  4. Sigh, I wish I could afford even what you have Loren. I’m deeply dissapointed with the quality of shots my Canon A70 takes (although I shouldn’t be – after all I knew in advance the lens was only so-so). If my eyesight was better I’d go back to using my Canon T90 and get a slide/negative scanner.

    You’re doing a hell of a good job with what you have. If the photo says what you want it to say then that’s really all that matters. Lacking a little crispness is not the end of the world 🙂

  5. Hmmm … status anxiety. Then there are those of us who didn’t experience unconditional love from our mothers or fathers. As a result, I can be either my worst critic or (and this happens more and more as I get older) I can give myself unconditional love and acceptance. I have also felt unconditional love and acceptance from certain places. I know I am not the only one who has had this experience. I have felt most loved and accepted when I have been alone in what we refer to as “nature.” The other thing that came to mind in this context is the story of Zushya (I think that is how you spell his name). God did not ask, “Why were you not Moses?” God asked, “Why were you not Zushya?”

  6. I should start by stating that the quote by Botton was used in a speech given by Barrett Dorko, a brilliant PT, although I did read the book and digest its meaning prior to the speech being delivered so I think I gave the appropriate citation.
    I don’t think the unconditional love part lasts long with any parent. They are grooming us, as they’ve been groomed, to exist in a world where we judge others. From the moment we’re told to sit still or stand up straight, we begin to learn that our instinctive way of being is insufficient for the snob our culture is.

    Amanda, I’m sorry to hear of your upbringing. I have to say though, that being your own worst critic may not be the result of not experiencing any unconditional love as I’m quite sure that there are those who have experienced such love at some point in their upbringing and yet are also their own worst critic. Good for you on being able to transcend that unhelpful tendency. It does seem to be a mark of maturity of sorts.
    I too prefer to be alone or in the company of those that do not judge my way of being. Hard to find such places isn’t it?


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