Now that 2010 is here, I've been thinking back on 2009 and there have been quite a few things that have happened for me, which have opened my eyes:
Workshop leaders learn something too
I always thought that being the leader of a photo workshop would mean that I would have to fill the role of the expert, but if anything, what I have learned is that workshops are a melting pot of ideas with people who see differently, work differently, and it's not just the participants on the trips that learn something.
I learn a lot too: some of it is an improve awareness of my own thought processes when making my own images. This has had a massive impact on my images and I feel my own compositions are getting more and more simplified. I'm unsure if this is a good thing as I believe very much in going with your gut feeling, but on the other hand, I'm pleased to see my photography moving on a bit.
But on each trip I've been on, I always find something new to take away with me.
Digital technology is improving at a pace
It's always hard to get a feel for how much things are changing and we always tend to rely on reviews of camera gea. One of the things I've found very interesting on the workshops is the access I get to new equipment and this year I have been stunned a few times by what is now capable with digital SLRs....
1. Dynamic Range is on the up. Yep, some of the cameras I've seen this year hardly need grad filters at times and I've had a few occasions where a scene I knew would not fit onto my trusty Velvia 50 film would more than easily be recorded on a digital camera without the need for grads. The Nikon D3 records 8.5 stops dynamic range while the new Leica M9 records around 10 stops I believe. The Phase One medium format digital backs are supposed to record somewhere around 13 stops of dynamic range.
2. Not all high end DSLR's are created equal, and comparisons between different manufacturers at the same price point does not often mean you get the same level of quality.
3. I love the new Nikons. I never thought I would say this, but if I were to go back to Digital at the moment (financially not possible and more importantly from where I feel I want to go - digital is not an avenue I wish to pursue), then the D700 or the D3 would be the camera I'd choose. The D3x would be more of a contender because it has a mask for composing in 5x4 aspect ratio, which is one of the reasons why I went back to my Mamiya 7. I'm sure this will stir those that are 'gear-heads', but the way I see it, digital technology moves on at a pace, and sometimes one Camera manufacturer is ahead of the others. For a long while, it was Canon, but over the past few years the Nikon's have really moved on. This of course, will change again. I have no time for the Canon vs Nikon debate. It's just equipment.
Photography is many things to many people
Well, this is not a new observation for me, but even so, I'm still amazed at what I've seen some of my participants shoot, how they like to shoot and what they find aesthetically pleasing. All this is great.... Photography should be an inspiring, enjoyable process that takes you somewhere - to a new reality in your mind.