Not to judge, but let’s face it, photographers can be divided into opposing camps, those who shoot and those who collect. No doubt there is a bit of geek and a bit of artist in every shooter, but many tend to favor one over the other. Like most dichotomies, it’s challenging for the true partisan to understand the other point of view.
Gear heads are enamored with form and precision of cameras and rarely take their toys far from home for fear of the inevitable blemish or scar. Satisfied to own the best copies of a lens and the highest resolution sensor, these folks will gladly shoot targets and tree bark just for the bragging rights. At the other extreme is the abuser for whom dents and scratches are worn like badges of honor. Astonished by the resilience of the tools, these photographers push their gear towards the breaking point.
As I get older and work harder to convey my vision through photography, I have abandoned my fear of loss. These days I think about the shots I’ve missed and the ones I want rather than the equipment I use. The precision of fine optics continues to fascinate, but it is the product of this precision that I now choose to celebrate.
The accompanying image was photographed near Rincón de la Vieja National Park in Costa Rica. I used my tripod to get a low, a cable release to minimize vibration and a variable neutral density filter to create a long exposure. I began my hike down to the river floor at 5:30 a.m. where I positioned the camera and lens in the darkness of the morning. I waited 30 minutes for the sun to move just high enough to produce a bit of reflected light. Careful framing and pre-planning allowed me to take only three pictures before catching this “keeper.”
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