Photo Essay

Lazy Habits

Rose Garden

Like many photographers, I like challenges. Many of the things I have chosen to photograph are technically difficult, especially since I stubbornly cling to the hand-held camera. My favorite thing to shoot used to be performers backstage. Because of their sudden movement, lack of light and a ban on flash, I called it "sports photography without light!" But for some reason, not just getting older, I have recently fallen into lazy shooting habits.

I'm guilty as charged! Even when practicing the art of photography, I grab what is handy and take the easy way. I wonder how many others fall into this rut? The really ridiculous part is I know how to use flashes, manual settings and hand focused my cameras since I began seriously taking pictures some thirty years ago. Nevertheless, I grab the easiest set-up and just shoot away. But this means I cannot optimize every image because each subject has one or a small range of lenses and settings that help to capture it best.

Case in point, recently I showed a slide show of my floral work to some friends. One my friends showed me her macro lens and asked if I used a macro. Suddenly, I felt embarrassed to tell her that I was using my 18-55mm. "I'm lazy," I admitted when I told her which lens. This question got me thinking about the "too heavy" 100mm macro lens and ring flash wasting away in one of my camera bags. I wondered how much better my close-up flowers would be if I used that lens. I dug it out and began to experiment. I went to a nearby garden and photographed the same type of blossoms I've been shooting for several years. The macro + ring flash made such a big difference I could see it before I blew up images to pixel size in PhotoShop! Even though I can only hand-hold the big rig for about an hour or two, my photographs and way of seeing subjects has changed radically and for the better. This has caused a mini snowball effect, I'm thinking about other things I can maximize by using all of my extant equipment.

Now I'm asking myself why is it that I dug so deeply into an equipment rut? My mode of shooting has nearly always been handheld so that dictated how heavy my equipment could be. Now I'm swallowing my pride for my steady hand and thinking of using my tripod too. What new doors will that open? Self-portraiture? Dimly lit still-life? ??

Please note: All photos examples are taken with 100 mm macro & ring flash.

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18 responses

  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain gave props (29 Mar 2012):

    really nice!!!Oh YEAH..RAD !

  • Vin Weathermon

    Vin Weathermon   gave props (29 Mar 2012):

    I can relate. In fact I have three racks filled with lighting gear, modifiers, stands, reflectors, backdrops, props, fabric, hot lights...and I grab my 5D with no flash on a daily basis. I rationalize it's because I am not getting paid, but really it's laziness. I have to rely on my 'shop skills, but even then I say "crap...if I had just put it on the tripod I could have another few stops of DOF.....and the 100mm macro combo is the sharpest ever.. Nice work Michelle!

  • Ann Reece

    Ann Reece   gave props (29 Mar 2012):

    I too take the lazy route because it is easier. I do not like to lug around a tripod and deal with setting it up in uneven ground or other obstacles like small sidewalks, curbs, etc. I go for lighter lenses also as I fatigue quickly with heavy equipment. Recently I decided that I want to learn to shoot in the manual mode to learn how to use it. For the most part I shoot manual because I want to get to know it, although sometimes when I am not getting the settings correctly and my photos are suffering, I resort to some of the settings for sports, flowers, etc. I read what the camera says then try to work from there to get what I am after. For me, photography is a hobby, I am not a professional and I have never been to photography classes, but I have a passion to keep on learning all that I can about photography and improve my shots. I voted Yeah for this interesting essay that made me smile : )

  • Harsh Wardhan

    Harsh Wardhan said (30 Mar 2012):

    Yeah!!!!! very well written & beautiful pictures. Laziness does affect many times. Michele lovely sets of flowery pictures

  • Prashant Gupta

    Prashant Gupta gave props (30 Mar 2012):

    A very beautifully done!! Inspiring !!:)

  • Massimo Bardelli

    Massimo Bardelli   gave props (30 Mar 2012):

    Beautiful work Michele I agree with you about the description and the way you did this essay.

  • David Jeffries

    David Jeffries gave props (31 Mar 2012):

    You have candidly exposed a rut most fall into. Congrats and thanks for reminding us all to reach for the best shots and to not accept the mediocrity

  • Karen Lee Lewis

    Karen Lee Lewis said (31 Mar 2012):

    thanks for asking us to reflect on our process

  • Paperini Renato

    Paperini Renato said (31 Mar 2012):

    I read your story and the reviews of our friends. Not even I am a professional photographer myself and I rely for my photos of what excites me right now, where I go I always bring my camera and one lens (Nikon 28-300) does not want to be slave and carry unnecessary weight, change constantly irritates me and I aim to be frustrated. I am a photographer, wanderer, I often move with friends who have the same passion and my primary aim is to have fun. Maybe our photos could be better or show, but my joy to watch maybe a sunset over the lagoon of Venice, abundantly repays me. Your photos of flowers are beautiful and perfect I would make myself if I was given an assignment to do so, but I prefer the thrill of discovering things in the world with curiosity and to relive the captured images.

  • Krishna Dronamraju

    Krishna Dronamraju said (1 Apr 2012):

    I can sympathise with this story There are many kinds of laziness. Many of them are creative. Bertrand Russell wrote a book about it. It gives you time to think.

  • Bailey Cooper

    Bailey Cooper   said (9 Jun 2012):

    I think this all depends on where you are in the journey. When I started with the Olympus, I was almost exclusively a point-and-shooter. I knew nothing about digital photography. At this point, though I bought and read the books and the manual, it was all one great big fly-by. After I got the Nikon D7000, I tried again, this time trying to stay in manual. I would shoot 15 images looking at each one before I'd finally stumble on settings that were acceptable. Finally, I decided to stop messin' around and bought a CD course (Learn and Master Photography - Vince Wallace). I sat at the computer with my camera, the Nikon manual PDF file and went to work. I finally laid the groundwork and always shoot manual now. I love the TTL metering which has elminated the shoot and look deal completely. At some point in your journey, you were this jazzed. Glad to see your back to basics. What makes it so delicious is that you have 30 years in the trenches. Definitely a leg up. Great, great essay. Loved every word.

  • Tom Harvey

    Tom Harvey   said (10 Jun 2012):

    Definitely relate...I don't even own a macro lens...all of my floral work has been shot on an 18-55mm lens, and seeing your work here has made me question why I haven't invested in a macro yet. Perhaps I should. Beautiful photography and an interesting story.

  • Roxana Brivent-Barnes

    Roxana Brivent-Barnes   said (25 Jun 2012):

    Love it, but also think of the sun, how enhances the beauty under your eyes with shades and transparency, when a flash will even that beauty under your eyes...
    A vote for sure!

  • Krishna Dronamraju

    Krishna Dronamraju gave props (25 Oct 2012):

    Well written and interesting story!

  • Maggie Posh

    Maggie Posh (Deleted) said (18 May 2013):

    Great Story Mich, i enjoyed reading it very much and now i know how to Vote to !

  • Michele Wambaugh

    Michele Wambaugh   said (18 May 2013):

    Thanks, Maggie!

  • daniele castellucchio

    daniele castellucchio   gave props (4 Jun 2013):

    what a wonderful story!

  • Susan B. Griffith

    Susan B. Griffith   said (5 Jun 2013):

    Beautiful results.

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