Working within the limits

I had a photo instructor who had a theory that stated, given 2 students of equal talent and experience, and one would get unlimited resources of film and equipment while the other would only receive a single camera and lens and just one roll of film, the one with the most limitations would most likely make the best pictures.

(3/24/20) A cyclist rides around Lodi Lake as storm clouds roll in over Lodi. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

It sounds counterintuitive. You’d think that the photographer with the most stuff would have the advantage. But my instructor posited that he or she would be so overwhelmed with all their choices, what lens to use, what film to pick, etc., that their creativity would be placed on the back burner of their mind. While the other person, having those choices made for them, would set about crafting the best, most creative image that they could think of.

(2/14/20) Brilliantly bright blossoms bloom on almond trees along Shimizu Drive near San Juan Avenue in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

Photography is a melding of the technical and the creative but all too often one can get bogged down in the technical aspects of the craft. Now, this isn’t to say that one shouldn’t learn the more technical facets of photography, but rather you should master them so that it becomes second nature and then you can concentrate on the artistic and creative parts of the craft.
My photo instructor told a story of a fellow photographer he used to work with. When that photographer would get. Anew lens he would use it for every assignment for a while. One way to stimulate your creativity, if you have several lenses, is to pick one, preferably one you don’t use very often, and use it for a period of time. It could be a day or a week or even a month. It’s a way to learn the lens’ advantages and limitations. It’s also a way to get you thinking creatively on how to apply the lens’ strengths and work around its deficits in your work. If you have a zoom lens, which most cameras come with these days, then use it only at its widest setting or only as a telephoto for a time. You may learn that you can use a wide-angle for portraits or a telephoto for landscapes.

(2/15/20) The evening sunset seen reflected in the windows of a car parked at the Stockton Golf and Country Club in Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

I know it’s easy to get equipment envy, especially the you see others with the latest, greatest new gadgets, but concentrate on improving your skills and creativity by using what you’ve got.

(4/19/13) People on their way to work walk through the financial district of Manhattan, New York City. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

By working within your means, you’ll be able to expand your technical and creative limits. When your ready to move up to a more advanced or even professional level, you’ll be able to get that fancy new camera or lens, and your skills and creativity will be commensurate to your equipment.

(3/17/20) Chata Espitia of Stockton takes advantage of partly cloudy skies to fly a kite in an open lot next to the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD]

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