How many times have you been on the receiving end of somebody looking at your setup and saying, “Wow, that camera must take great photos!”? I shoot with the Canon 5D Mark ii and L-series lenses and I’ve heard that darn line more times than I care to recall. So much so, in fact, that I’ve taken to replying with, “I don’t know. Does your oven cook great meals?” Snarky, yes, but it always makes my point.
I love my gear. And, yes, I admit I’ve become a bit of a camera snob over the years. I didn’t used to be but, after spending the best years of my life with an incredibly talented photojournalist who shot predominantly with the 16-35mm, my entire approach to framing changed and now I get annoyed whenever I have the perfect subject and don’t have my gear in my hands.
However, in spite of my love and preference for my pro-level gear, I recognize that the equipment I shoot with is only half the battle to getting a great shot. Framing, lighting, tonal range, EMOTION…these are things that even the most expensive gear in the world cannot create for you.
The few images that I’ve selected for this story were taken with a range of low-budget cameras: a Nikon Coolpix, a Sony Cybershot, and a Blackberry cell phone. Yet, I find them to be very aesthetically pleasing – and so do others, judging by the comments. Now, don’t get me wrong, these will never win awards and they will look awful if blown up to more than about an 8″x10″ print. Such is the nature of a low-quality digital sensor. But, for sharing on social media, for capturing moments in time, or for just conveying an appreciation of a particular scene, they do their job just as well as if they had been captured by my 5D.
The real trick in accomplishing this, of course, is post-processing. Even with today’s best cameras, it is very rare that non-journalist photographers present images for serious consideration without some degree of post-processing. Why should your low-budget images be treated any differently? If you expect to get an emotionally-charged landscape out of your $99 Coolpix, well, you’re going to be left disappointed. If, however, you consider ahead of time how you can capture the scene and manipulate it in post, then you can actually create a very nice end product.
Each of the photos I’ve presented here has been touched up in post with basic tools: contrast adjustments, dodging and burning, noise reduction and color correction. None of them were particularly planned out and were just intended to capture moments in time. But, as you can see, with a little post-processing work, passable photos are the result.
So, here’s a challenge for you: The next time you plan on taking a walkabout, leave your DSLR in the case, grab your point-and-shoot or even just your cell phone and see what you can come up with without the crutch of your expensive gear. Let your mind’s eye do the talking and don’t forget to share the results!
About the Author: Jeremy Jones is the Senior Marketing Strategist for 603 Media Group. Primarily tasked with the challenges of keeping our small business running, Jeremy also occasionally branches out into public speaking, blogging, website design and raising his son to not be another one of “those damn kids”.