Gear is something we all think about quite often. In fact, you’ve probably seen me mention it quite a lot. Cameras, lenses, lighting equipment, filters, all the rest—these are the tools of our trade, which means it’s natural that it’s something that we’d think about a lot.
The problem is when these thoughts of the kinds of gear we could have turn into an obsession. The quest for new and better equipment? It turns into something of a rat race. If we let it consume us too much, it really is an endless treadmill that we’ll find ourselves running. If you think about it, what happens if you go out and buy the latest and greatest cameras and lenses each year? The following year, manufacturers will simply release the next round of latest and greatest pieces of equipment. It just never stops. Every year, even better things are released for us to buy.
It's a trap for photographers. So easy for us to get caught up in this race, to be constantly spending money in an effort to keep up with technology. It’s not only detrimental to our finances, but to our creativity, too. How much time do we spend trying to keep up with all the latest pieces of equipment? That’s time we could be spending creating art.
The thing about technology, though? At a certain point, it reaches the “good enough” level. It just isn’t necessary to always be chasing those latest and greatest gadgets. The most important idea to remember in all of this is simple: No matter what equipment we buy, no matter how technologically advanced it is, it will always have limitations of some kind. That’s just the nature of photography. You could buy the longest lens available to you, and you’ll still encounter vantages where you’d need an even longer lens to zoom in on some faraway object clearly. Even the best sensors can’t see in the dark as well as the human eye can. No matter what, there will always be some sort of limitation.
It all comes back to creativity. When we think of what it means to be creative? Generally the first thing to come to mind is our creativity in designing images. The truth is, however, that we need to employ our creative minds for more than just designing photographs. Get creative and find ways to work around the limitations of the equipment you have. When you dig into it, you’ll find that there are nearly limitless workarounds for whatever you might want to do.
HDR photography is one such example. That’s what this kind of photography is all about. It’s a workaround that allows us to produce fully exposed photographs in extreme lighting situations. Stitching is another example, a technique that lets us create panoramas that a camera lens just can’t encompass. We also often use stitching to create gigantic prints when cameras simply don’t have enough megapixels to print at the extreme upper ends of the size range.
This is something to keep in mind whenever the urge to buy new pieces of equipment rears its head. Sure, sometimes new technology is necessary. But often, when the camera falls short, there is a workaround. We just need to be creative enough to find it.