It’s Not The Camera, It’s YOU

Stop! Please, just stop talking about the latest model, feature, brand, bell, whistle. If you’re looking for a new camera, I understand, it can be confusing and frustrating. But let’s face it, you have a price range and an expectation. Narrow it down and get the one that fits.

If you’re a beginner and not sure if you’ll really “get into” photography, don’t spend $10,000 on equipment. And if you’re a pro, you know what you really need vs. want. Be realistic. And, for heavens sakes, once you purchase said camera/lens, stop looking at all the new stuff coming out. It will only make you crazy.

Why do I say this? Because a camera is only a tool to be used to produce a final product. Spend more time producing results, rather than talking about tools. And here’s why. I tell every group I teach to not over-think camera exposure. It’s three things and three things only; ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. That’s it, nothing else.

If you want to argue with me, bring it. Here’s what I’ll do:

  • I’ll leave
  • Goto Wal-Mart and purchase rot-gut cheap beer in the tall can (because they hold 5×7 photo paper best)
  • Return
  • Drain cheap beer down sink
  • Cut top off can
  • Roll and insert 5×7 photo paper
  • Make very small pin hole in side of can
  • Tape can shut
  • Screw said can to side of tree
  • And wait…
  • and wait

I’m not saying this to be a smart arse. I’m illustrating a point. The camera is only a tool to make the image. It all boils down to what YOU do with the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, whether it’s a fancy shmancy DSLR or a homemade pinhole camera.

We are the photographers, our ideas, our thoughts, our passion must come before the equipment. And the expense or complexity of the equipment is meaningless, if in the end we don’t create something from our hearts and minds.


Okay, enough preaching and pontificating. Let me share what I’ve created.

Awhile ago, I mentioned this idea of a very long time exposure. The word “long” maybe a bit of an understatement. The actual time is well over 11,000,000 seconds. Yes, that’s correct, no exaggeration.

Enlarge image

Essentially, I turned several cans into pinhole cameras and planted them around the yard. From summer solstice to the winter solstice these inexpensive cameras, facing south, endlessly recorded the sun’s path through the sky without the need to replace batteries.

This project was all about the idea first. Equipment was created to facilitate the creation of that idea. The idea was to capture the patterns of the sun over an extended period of time. As it works out, the photo paper was “etched” with the solar paths and needed no chemical processing. An exposed sheet of photo paper was removed from each can and scanned into the computer. From there, in Photoshop, Β the images were inverted to a positive, flipped to match the scene, and contrast was enhanced. That’s it, easy peezy, lemon squeezy.

I positioned the pin hole on some cans higher to allow more space on the 5×7 paper to be used for the path of the sun. Also, one can was tilted towards the sky to record the paths better.

The exposure equation is something like this:

  • ISO ~ Ilford Photo Paper ???

  • Aperture ~ Hm? Little, f/64, perhaps f/128 ???

  • Shutter Speed ~ 11,932,200 seconds (give or take a day or two)

What is that, you might be asking? Basically the highest arches in each image are the days closest to the summer solstice and the lowest arch is the winter solstice, with the remaining time in between. The breaks in the streaks are clouds that blocked the sun, missing streaks are full days with no direct sunlight. So this is the entire sunshine history for our location for several months, recorded in a single photograph.

PS ~ When considering a new camera, always remember they sell camera bodies in packs of six at Walmart for less than $4. But unlike purchasing an expensive Nikon or Canon, you will need to show your ID. πŸ™‚