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Candy Shack by Richard Keeling on 500px.com

I enjoy reading about photography. I try to keep up with the latest developments and trends, check out the latest cameras and lenses, all to get a sense of where photography is today.

Some years ago, I would have used this information to guide me, both in terms of purchases and technique. Not any more. These days, I use it as a benchmark of how near or how far my current processes match or deviate from mainstream practice.

One of the more enjoyable sources of information is the online website Petapixel. It’s a compendium of lot of news about photography and photographers interspersed with commentaries and guides of variable value. It attempts, more so than some other sites, to embrace more than just the latest digital photography trends with nods to film and the history of photography. I get the evening email summary of the day’s posts – and most nights there is at least one article of interest.

But I do find myself at odds with most of the interests expressed, either in the articles or in the comments. A good example is this thorough article on Nikon dSLRs and mirrorless cameras. It’s exactly the type of post that I used to lap up in the earlier days of my photography, concerned as I was with the latest photographic equipment and the collection of such. I spent a lot of time and money researching and acquiring what I thought was the best I could afford. I did end up with a lot of very good cameras and lenses.

But as any reader of this blog will know, my concerns have moved a long way away from such obsessions. It’s been a long time since I realized that the camera needed to be treated as a tool and not as an end in itself. I’m still collecting and using cameras and lenses, but rarely anything approaching the latest and greatest. Now it’s old lenses and film cameras, picked up for pennies compared to what I used to spend, but equally – and I might argue perhaps more so – inspirational.

Cameras, lenses and all that goes with them are fun. They’re attractive, not only to use but often simply to look at. But it’s the use that makes them something greater, a conduit to a strange form of art that at its purest renders both camera and camera operator invisible and draws the viewer into a snippet of action caught in a truly timeless manner.

That’s what photography is ultimately all about. The rest is little like gossip in the pub, fun, sometimes more than a little consequential, but in the end just transient pleasure.