Welcome to One Camera One Len’s Photographers Spotlight Series, where we discover other photographers who you may find extremely interesting. They share their love for photography, their stories and a selection of their images. In this article, which is part two of a two part article, Bill Stace looks at the photography compromises you have to take when you get older.
In this second article I have tried to describe the compromisesI have examined and decided that I must make if I want to continue to enjoy my photography into my 80’s.
They seem to fall under four main categories:
– The equipment I use and carry with me
– Any potential physical risk to me where I want to photograph
– What subjects can I expect to photograph in the future
– The time spent photographing per session
The equipment I now carry with me is where the major photographic compromise has happened. At one stage I had 3 Nikon DSLRs (all APS-C), 8 lenses, 3 compact cameras and a tripod and a monopod with various heads. The combined weight of these and other bits and pieces I had accumulated was ridiculous and made a day out photographing with it all akin to carrying full kit on an army assault course rather than a relaxing day taking photos.
So I compromised and started leaving bits behind at home. But “sods law” always prevailed and the lens that had been left behind was just the one I needed!. As a result I have had to teach myself that when I am out photographing there are some things I just cannot/must not try to photograph because I don’t have the equipment with me to do it and never will have. On the other hand with Artificial Intelligence being adopted more in programs like Photoshop and other post processing software we are now able to crop into areas of interest in an image and expand that area with only a limited decrease in quality. More experimentation on this is required.
At one stage I thought a compact camera might help – they have long lenses and were light and could fill in for the heavy lenses with considerable weight saving. But what about picture quality – are they up to DSLR standard? – the answer is no. So this is where the next compromise came in and I would have to learn to put up with the reduced image quality for the compacts small sensor. But there again if Panasonic Compacts were the basis of similar Leica cameras using Leica Lenses why not use them? I was prepared to accept a (relatively small) reduced image quality in exchange for a huge reduction in weight.
The image below was taken last week with a 10 year old compact Panasonic LX3 camera. If I pixel peep, the definition on the branches is more than adequate. Using Lightroom I have analysed my pictures of the last 3 years and now find that a good 50% have been taken with a compact camera of one type or another.
However more recently my attention has returned to the DSLR’s. I still like using it and the quality of the image and the flexibility of the camera is better than the compact cameras and to me its a “proper” camera. I’m one of the few people who don’t carry a mobile phone.
I now have only one DSLR body bought 2 years ago. It is a Nikon D7500 and for me the image quality and meets all of my expectations and more. But it is a tad heavy. But at about the same time Nikon introduced the AF-P series of lenses. I bought the 18-55 which is extremely light but it focusses quickly and the image quality is quite adequate for me. It is a great combination weighing just over 2 lbs. And who cares what technophobes say about kit lenses. Recently I took a series of pictures indoors with this combination (ambient light only) and the picture below had an ISO of 14000 ! Yes there is limited noise but PP reduces it to an acceptable level and I can print quite happily at A3 and am unlikely to want to go to A2 or bigger.
I have bought a holster-style bag and the DSLR camera/lens combination fits well and is comfortable and readily accessible – I use this most of the time. I don’t like camera neck straps so I have fitted a wrist strap to the camera.
If the weather looks to be a bit iffy or we are likely to be away from the car for some time I will use a backpack for which I have bought an insert to protect the camera and lens from the wet weather clothing etc.
I certainly will be using this combination more in the future. (As Mark says OneCameraOneLens).
Very simply, if there is a perceived physical risk to me, I just don’t go there any more – a photograph is really not worth potential injury especially as I have a balance problem. So walking on snow and ice are a no-no. Downhill uneven surfaces are out, as are steps without a rail or narrow areas to walk along. Hazardous areas are not necessarily restricted to the countryside. The photo below was taken in Helsinki during our golden wedding anniversary cruise in 2016. There are a lot of steps! I managed to climb them, but Alison had to help me down!
I have also recognised that not all of the hazards may be visible at the start of a days photography, so my monopod is now a constant companion to act in its dual role of camera steadier and walking stick.
I watch Nigel Danson, Thomas Heaton and Gary Gough on You Tube and whilst I admire what they do with their landscape photography there is no way on this earth I will ever climb mountains while it is still dark to photograph a sunrise or rough camp overnight on the edge of a cliff.
So what do I anticipate I will photograph in the future.
Over this winter I made myself a list of what subjects I would like to take and then compared the list to what I have been taking over the last 5 to 10 years and quite frankly there is minimal difference.
So really there is no need to dramatically change my photography, but I have to accept there will be times when my range of photos opportunities will be restricted because of my limited equipment and lack of mobility.
I’m a big admirer of the Photo Location Guidebooks and for each location covered there is usually a section explaining how to get to it, where to park and most important accessibility. So I will take more notice of these in the future when Alison and I are free to travel around more.
On the other hand because of my unwillingness to venture out during the cold part of the winter I have just bought a small (1ft) tripod and I will experiment more with close ups and macro images taken indoors and find out just what this camera/lens combination is capable of when pushed.
I will also use the time indoors to discover and experiment with more post processing gems hidden (to me) in Lightroom and Photoshop. I have developed an interest in Impressionist Images (take a look at Steven LePrevost’s work) so I have a lot to learn about this.
Time spent photographing outside per session
In the past on our single day trips Alison and I usually leave home at 09.30 ish after the morning “rush” has died down and usually leave the place where we are photographing by 3.30pm at the latest to once again avoid the rush hour. We want a peaceful day not traffic hassle.
This usually gives us 3 to 4 hours photographing time on site and we find this is more than enough. It’s adequate to photograph whatever we are there for, but at the same time it doesn’t tire us out and we can happily drive home.
Even when we are away for a few days, we tend to stick to this timescale. It’s comfortable.
Just one main conclusion – If I am sensible then continuing to take photographs into my 80’s should be no great problem provided I stay physically fit. The biggest problem is that little voice inside me that encourages to go beyond my capabilities. I must learn not to listen to him – he is dangerous.
This concludes the initial two part article from Bill. He has promised a third part in the future which we will more than happily share with you, so stay tuned for that! If you would like to have a feature published, then please feel free to contact me and we will get you live on One Camera One Lens.