Geek Girl

Mastery or tools?

I’ve been thinking about upgrading to a new camera body for a long, long time now. It’s not that my current Canon 400D is not working fine – on the contrary, it’s been a great road warrior for the past three years. Ever since I switched to my Tammy lens, I’ve seen a great improvement on the quality of the pictures.

And yet the one thing that is holding me back is my self-perceived lack of skills.

I don’t think I am a great photographer and I keep wondering if I deserve to splurge $2K a high-end camera like the 7D (husband is convinced that the 50D is not worth the money). It always boils down to the question of skills versus tools. Undoubtedly, a good tool can only be fully utilised if the hand holding it is skillful. Otherwise, it will never achieve its full potential. Do I have the necessary skills or knowledge to handle such a solid piece of equipment?

On the other hand, can a tool help to improve the owner’s skillset? Will I become a better photographer with a good camera in my hands? I had the same conversation with my photographer friend Alwyn and his take is that with a good camera, even if your pictures turn out to be crap, at least they are good looking crap. Well, that’s one way of looking at it, I guess.

I have never thought that my so-called good pictures were due to skills or technique; they were simply borne out of luck. One of my favourite pictures taken at Haji Lane, for instance, was taken when we were leaving the place. I turned around, stuck a camera up and snapped without thinking. I didn’t think about lighting or angle or composition. I just clicked the shutter. For every nice picture like that, there are probably 15 duds that I never bothered to process.

I’ve asked myself several times: did I become a better baker after we got the KitchenAid? I’m not sure – but I do know that I started to bake more and I became a more efficient baker.

I highly suspect I will continue to be stuck in this dilemma for a while longer. Come back here in another six months and I will probably be still hemming and hawing over it. Well, blame it on my Feeling preferences. It’s been proven that I decide with my heart, not my brains!

Irreplaceable

3 thoughts on “Mastery or tools?”

  1. i feel that having to work a better camera leads me to a better understanding of the technicals, so maybe it does lead you to improve your skills? i also find myself looking at photographs more critically now, somehow…

    anyway, will the 7D be too heavy to lug around?!?

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  2. @ Popartgirl It probably will be heavy but that’s alright.

    @ rebekah Yeah the weight can be a turn-off, isn’t it? But the quality will more than make up for it, I reckon. And you take really lovely photos! (I’d go for Lola, heh)

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