Use What You Have

In a consumer society it often becomes a programmed response that we need a new camera, lens or the latest software to life our work. But have we really obtained all we can from what we have?
It is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we can just do something when we have that certain lens, or whatever, and that we can’t do anything until we have it. This is a common condition and whilst obviously reasonable at some level, is often a manifestation of our consumer society and/or an avoidance mechanism to avoid actually putting ourselves to the test. Coupled with the above is the fact that we often lust after a new piece of gear when we have only used 10% or so of the capability of the gear we already have that we intend to replace.

It is worth trying to overcome any tendencies to these above traits that you may have. In reality all they do is hold you back and stop you from achieving. No matter how great the circumstances, there is always something that is less than perfect. You may have a really good close focusing zoom but not that dedicated, single focal length macro lens you lust for. Yet that close focusing zoom lens could still produce stunning macro images if you worked at it. Perhaps you might need to invest $30 is a really good closeup filter to aid its close focusing, but perhaps not. Do you really need that top power studio flash set or could a couple of secondhand Sunpak flash guns and some cabling do the job for now? Or even a reflector made from white card or aluminum foil and your single flash? Or is that software upgrade really necessary?

There is another, hidden side to upgrading our software and gear: the time it costs you. How much time do you spend researching the purpose, daydreaming about it and then learning how to use it? Particularly with software upgrades but also with some gear there can be a huge learning curve involved in coming to grips with it so you get the best use from your money. You might be better off putting all this time into your photography or art. Remember too that there can be ripple effects. Upgrade that software and suddenly you need more memory, an operating system upgrade and maybe even a new computer to handle it, all with their attendant costs and time cost.

Most photographic and art gear and software can be used in many more ways than any one of us do. Most has underutilized potential just sitting there. Different types of shots, extended uses, creative uses and more. When was the last time you turned that lens off autofocus and shot everything out of focus to see how it looks? How long have those extension tubes sat in the cupboard unused? Have you explored the full potential of your bounce capable flash gun? Have you used its wireless capability and got it off the camera and in a different relationship to the subject, such as behind?

Of course there can also be a bit of the collector mentality to overcome too. Do you really need that battery grip for your camera or is it just to complete the look? Must you have every prime lens in Canon’s, Nikon’s or whoever’s current catalog? And so it goes.

The equipment and software suppliers want to convince you that you need the latest, that you need more. They are not always the best to listen to because they have an interest in it.

Discipline is the key to overcoming these traits, which keep you stuck and not performing and in saving all the time you will waste in indulging them. Put that time to better use and make more images.

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