White Balance Images Journal

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Do mirrorless cameras stifle learning and creativity?

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Modern cameras are wonderful. They’ve made it to where everyone can capture a variety of images with relative ease. Still, I can’t help but wonder if modern cameras with all their bells and whistles might be having an impact on creativity.

I know that there are already keyboard warriors who are working on their typing skills so they can call you crazy. Please, be patient and listen to me. Yes, modern cameras and their wonderful technology allows us to create pictures that would have previously been difficult.

Modern cameras are nearly perfect. They’re built tough, they focus quickly, and AI takes away some of the guesswork. Thanks to tech like this one, nailing eye-focus at f/1.stupid can be a breeze. Live Composite modes in Olympus or Panasonic cameras make it easy to create long exposures. Birds in flight can be captured with ease using advanced tracking modes and high-speed burst rates.

So, what’s the problem, then, you ask? Do we learn anything when we rely so heavily on our cameras? Are we being creative if the camera is doing the heavy lifting for us? Let’s talk about that.

But first a little story

I would like to share with you a story which I heard on a podcast. I often listen to TED Radio Hour. This podcast mixes TED talks with interviews to discuss a particular topic. It’s a fantastic show and I recommend it to everyone.

This particular show is entitled “Jumpstarting Creativity.”One story was told about the jazz pianist Keith Jarrett. Jarrett’s work was so loved by Vera, a 17 year old girl who spoke to Jarrett about performing in Koln. Keith was already a superstar in his field when he was asked to do it. This teenager was asking him perform in a tiny theatre in Germany for a small audience. Vera managed to convince Keith to accept the invitation to perform.

Spark of creativity

Image credit: Ken Lee

Keith arrived in Koln to a crowd of 1,400, but things were not going well. Keith was a perfectionist who demanded that every detail be just right. He plays on one of the finest grand pianos. The piano that was on stage, however, was a rickety and old piano which was not even grand. The piano was small and simply wasn’t able to create music loud enough to fill the theater, or so Keith thought. The keys were stuck and the felt so badly worn that it made the piano sound awful.

I’m heading out!

Keith turned to Vera and said, I’m not playing, this is crazy. Keith and the rest of his entourage left the theater. Vera was inconsolable. She ran to Keith and begged for him to play. Keith returned to stage after a short time and agreed to play for her. Keith played the old piano in front of the crowd. What followed was nothing short of incredible.

Keith had to adapt in order to use this old, broken piano. In doing so he gave his best concert. The concert was so great that the live album (that was born from it) was a success.“The Koln Concert”When asked where his inspiration and creativity came from that night, he simply said it was all down to the piano. When asked how he got his inspiration that night, he said it all came down to the piano. He learned how to make the most of the piano he had in front of him by being forced to play it. It sparked her creativity into overdrive. He had become so accustomed to perfection using the modern instruments, he was complacent.

This is a great way to improve your photography

It’s funny. I was writing an article before I heard this podcast about an old camera I own, and how it helped me get out of one my worst creative slumps for years. To get the best out of the old camera, I had to draw on my experience as a photographer. Making good pictures with it was challenging, yet so much fun. After the day was over, I felt like I’d created something special.

I’m also reminded about a time I was on a photowalk. I was carrying an old Pentax DSLR. A younger photographer wanted to try out my camera. I handed it to him and a few minutes later, I was asked to show him how to autofocus the camera on the eyes the same way he did. Mirrorless cameraDid you know?Insert eye roll here). Are we really so dependent on the technology to create even the simplest images?

Don’t get me wrong. I know many photographers with modern mirrorless camera gear who have created masterpieces. So, don’t take this as a bashing mirrorless cameras post. I love them and use them just as much as everyone else. I wonder how many of use are on Autopilot, like Keith Jarret on the night of his Koln concert. More photographers are in creative slumps now than ever before. Maybe creative slumps result from boredom, and not being involved enough in the process.

Add a bit of chaos to spark your creativity


If you find yourself in a creative slump or you’re not sure how to do something, introduce a little chaos into your workflow. Consider turning off certain features to avoid relying too much on your camera. Doing this will let you be more involved in the creative process and you’ll learn too.

Consider turning off autofocus, so you can focus manually. Learn how to hold your camera correctly and turn off optical stabilization and IBIS in lenses. Learn how to use the 500 rule for stunning astrophotography without artificial intelligence. Anticipate what will happen to create stunning action images. Turn off spray and pray (burst mode), and be so present in the moment, that a single photo captures exactly what you want. These are only a few examples.

You can also force your creativity by using an old, rickety device like the piano Keith Jarret sat on that night in Koln. We need to stop striving towards perfection in our gear. We need to stop trying to achieve perfection in our images. Instead, we should focus on creating and learning. Try it. You never know, you might produce your best and most creative work ever.

‘ Credit:
Original content by Photofocus.com: “Do mirrorless camera stifle creative thinking and learning?”

Read the complete article at https://photofocus.com/editorial/do-mirrorless-cameras-stifle-creativity-and-learning/


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