I have been needing a new digital camera for the last... well, forever.
I have only used medium and large format film cameras—either making darkroom prints or scanning to make inkjet prints/negatives for platinum printing. All my digital capture was with a Sony Nex3—but it was mostly for travel and record making. It was a great little camera for the job I gave it, but as I started to have less time for the darkroom, and as this new teaching avenue developed, I quickly found that I was in need of a good dSLR.
And then I decided that I needed one now to bring on a last minute cross country drive to transport a 15 year old, 1200 pound drum scanner back to our studio in Pennsylvania (the irony that I am making a post about a new digital camera that was brought on by the need to pick up a drum scanner is not lost on me).
So last week I sprung for a D5300 (funny how we justify these things). I would like to have an 800E, (or medium format digital, but money is an object). I was mostly interested in the omitted optical low pass filter and the 14-bit sensor and built in wifi for remote firing (which made me choose it over the 12-bit sensor and optional wifi accessory in the d3300). And I didn't really care about all the bells and whistles of the d7100...
It was a whirlwind before trip and I didn't get a chance to test the camera or older 35mm lenses so I had no idea what to expect. The weather was terrible for the majority of the trip and the truck was too big to easily pull off at all the places I wanted to photograph. I was also short on time this trip so I only made one stop at Petrified Forest National Park for a few hours. I quickly found out that there was a serious aperture problem with the shorter zoom lens, and I was forced to use the longer manual focus/exposure prime lens I had with me—the meter didn't work either, but I had pentax 1* spot meter in case I got out the 8x10... I havn't used 35mm in over 10 years, but a camera is a camera, and exposure is exposure. This illustrates the importance of knowing how to use what ever tool you need/have on hand to get the job done.
Petrified Forest is an expansive landscape with close-up rock formations, detailed mud hills, and dramatic skies where you would naturally go for a wider angle lens. Once I stopped being mad at the equipment (and myself) and spent some time actually seeing it was possible to make some new discoveries with the equipment I had. It is much harder to do that, especially when there are equipment or weather problems, instead of going for the easy and conventional picture, but so much more worthwhile in the end.
Are these tho pictures all that great? Well, No. But they're nice and are not what I was expecting to make at the beginning of the day. And that is what keeps this interesting.
I'll make a short video comparing the before and after—taking a look at how I go about making these aesthetic decisions, and how a background in darkroom work teaches you about not making hasty decisions before making a proof print.