Short Takes


Tule Reflections, Twitchell Island, 2003, made with the Nikon D-100 with 6 mega pixels.

People often ask me about equipment, favorite lenses, and accessories, but I tend to not focus so much on the hardware as I do the image itself. So I tell folks that my favorite camera is the one that closest to me. Not being the most technically-minded photographer you might encounter, I tend to avoid talking about techniques and specific tools of the trade.  

For this post, though, I thought I would break with tradition and talk a little bit about the hardware.

As exciting as it is to buy a new piece of gear, it’s always a good idea to do some testing first. Back in 2003 I bought a new Nikon D-100, with a whopping 6 megapixel sensor. Not the biggest/baddest of its day but close, I set out on a pre-dawn trek to put this baby through some rigorous testing. As the sun was just creeping over the Delta trees in the distance, the tule reflections, above, caught my eye. Overall, I was impressed with the technical quality of this and other photographs made that day in the Delta. 

Since then I have lost count of the digital cameras I’ve owned, each one offering better and higher resolution than the last.  

As a comparison to what I’m using today, my present Nikon D-610 is a full-frame sensor clocking in at 25 megapixels. And it’s not even close to the latest Nikon D-850 with 45 megapixels. Not only does that resolution blow my mind, but shooting as much as I do, I’d need to keep buying ever-larger hard drives to store all those mostly unnecessary megapixels. At least for the type of work I do.   

I think I’ll stick with what I have for now because it does the trick for me. 

Speaking of the closest camera at hand, in my traveling museum exhibit, “Delta Grandeur”, there is one 16×20 piece that was shot with my cell phone, the photograph below. Why? I had decided to take a little walk to enjoy the wonders of Cosumnes River Preserve while Joanna was painting the gorgeous afternoon with oils on canvas. I left my ‘real gear’ in the car a quarter mile away and my phone was in my pocket. They may be difficult to see online here, but in the distance to the right-of-center near the horizon, you can see a group of ducks taking flight. I must admit, when I enlarged it to 16×20, I was astonished to see them. 

The best camera is the one that you have closest to you at the time. 

Cosumnes River Preserve, 2015, made with iPhone 6.

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  • Thanks for sharing Rich. For me it has always been about the image. If it works, does it touch the heart, the head, the soul. Missed framed, missed focused, missed exposed, no matter if it works that is all that matters. Cameras and such are just tools to be used.

    • Thanks, James. I’ve always felt that the camera is only a tool, a means to an end. It’s sort of a joke and sort of not, that it can be an obstacle at times. It would be nice to just plug in the photographic memory and not have to deal with hardware.

  • I’ve been a Luddite for not buying a smart phone, feeling that is my luxury in retirement. However, your photo taken with a cell phone reminds me they are now amazing cameras doing double duty and temps me to buy a “smart phone” camera. I’ll have to learn if I can use it without having to pay a monthly data fee to AT&T!

    • I was late to the smart phone world, too, Gene. I couldn’t imagine how it would be useful to me. But it has become indispensable and I wonder how I did without it for so long. Not just to have an extra camera but for so many other things. For instance, writing this reply to your comment here.

  • Agree re which is the best camera. And to those who say, “Your camera takes beautiful photos” I reply, “It isn’t the wand that makes the magic but the wizard waving it.” You are a true wizard.

    • Thank you, Cyndy, but you are quite the wizard yourself, as in “Visual Storyteller.” I like the joke about the man, as he is leaving the dinner party, compliments the hostess for such a fine meal and tells her that she must have a great set of pots and pans. I’ll take “wizard”, though, a fine compliment coming from you!

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