I seem destined to learn the same photographic lessons over and over again. And subsequently forget them.

Taken and enormous number of years ago 
with a Canon TX and an ancient 
Vivitar 135mm f2.8 lens. 

I owned one light at the time.....

I had another re-satori exercise happen to me this week. By that I mean I re-learned something that I already knew but the knowledge of which had been pushed down by my rampant consumerism. I've been very busy lately and that usually means there's a higher than usual cash flow which, sadly, generally means an increase in overall gear lust. 

I was about to embark on yet another wonderful and well paying job and I headed to my favorite consumer electronics "candy shop", Precision Camera, to buy a needed three stop neutral density filter. Of course, while I was there I just had to take a look at the used equipment (which seems to be flying into their door quickly and in bulk). Knowing I was in the middle of a lukewarm flirtation with Nikon gear my sales associate put two interesting, low mileage, cameras on the counter in front of me. One was a Nikon D800 and the other a Nikon D610. Both were in amazing shape and both were priced at almost half their original selling prices. Overwhelming temptation! I had the store put one on hold for me while I sorted out my feelings overnight. 

That's one part of the universe speaking to me through gear. But here's the other half....

I was asked by Craftsy.com and a website called, Pixoto, to judge a portrait photography contest. All I had to do was pick the grand prize winner and to write  short few paragraphs about why I had selected the winner. I looked through about 5,000 images over the course of a day or two. One image kept jumping out at me, over and over again. It was well seen. It wasn't processed to death. The expression of the subject was perfect and riveting. I went through the exercise of narrowing down images into a folder of selects but every time I opened the computer up and started looking again the same image drew me in. It was an easy choice. And writing the "whys" of selection helped me understand (again) what was important in a portrait.

So here we mix the two events....

Once the judging was done I went back to my weightier problem: trying to convince myself that a D610 or D800 full frame camera with a spiffy-ass sensor would hugely improve my portraits or, conversely, talking myself out of spending yet more money on yet another placebo camera.

Since the portrait of the contest winner was fresh in my mind I decided to go back to the site and see what marvelous camera and what spectacular (certainly German) lens had be used to channel that image into existence. I did. I went back and looked at the camera info (and I'm a bit ashamed that with my age and experience that I would still do that). Well, the universe seems to enjoy balancing stuff.

The camera used was an EOS 600D. In U.S. parlance that's a Canon Rebel T3i. And the focal length is listed as a 90mm which I assume is the actual focal length on a zoom. Not a prime (although he could have used a 90mm tilt/shift....). So, here I am thinking this is a wonderful image: http://www.pixoto.com/images-photography/babies-and-children/child-portraits/raphael-5592685093060608 and I have to also understand that it was done with mundane tools and a total regards for, or an appreciation of, the subject. Not the camera.

Yes, yes, I abandoned any thought of getting the new camera(s). It's amazing in this situation just how quickly the universe came back around to correct my thinking.

Now....I am packing for another daylong portrait shooting assignment/adventure and I noticed that a certain big name fashion shooter does a really nice job with Broncolor strobes. Maybe I should look at picking up a set of those lights. It might really help my work.   Right. Not.

To bring it all the way around I love the image I posted of Belinda at the top of this blog post. I did it back in the late 1970's with a camera that only had shutter speeds to 1/500th, sync'd at 1/60th and had a creaky, used lens on the front. I owned one particularly nasty Novatron electronic flash and a photographic umbrella that I found in the trash behind an old studio in downtown (don't ask!). But I love everything about that portrait. Could it be that our skills become inversely proportional to our abilities to buy gear? I'm beginning to think so....