Someone said, "That
view of a camera as a light tight box was more the mode when film was the recording
medium, but now, the camera is so much more than that."
I ask, "How?"
As Mike suggests, the camera part of a system is just the zone where "a miracle
occurs". If it were possible to accomplish the camera's work by merely imagining
the manipulations now accomplished by finger and hand inputs, wouldn't everyone
be as happy?
No, I say: Photographers would not be satisfied with no external
embodiment of their process to enable explanation to themselves and others of
exactly what occurs in lieu of a miracle.
In my ideal scenario, the camera
disappears from my consciousness, and my choices are revealed in the image. If
someone wants to pin down the molecular moves and relationships among "eye", "perception",
"adjustment", "exposure-imprint", and "revelation-exhibition", they would have
to infer something to fulfill their need. I think their interest, while concerned
with interesting, useful detail, is of secondary importance.
Most of us
have done a lot of automobile driving, haven't we? Most of that has been in aid
of transporting our corporal selves from one place to another. The end product
is a simple relocation. I was there, now I'm here. The cubic capacity of the engine
or the passenger compartment is not germane to the function performed. The diameter
of wheels, steering or road, doesn't matter in that equation. Color or shape of
the car? No tiene la menór importancia.
The process of moving a
body from there to here can be that uncomplicated; however, humans are complex
and self-contemplative beings, who view and evaluate themselves in complex environments.
No process is simple once a human ego is involved. Getting from there to here
suddenly becomes a matter of not only physical transport, but of style.
ideal camera, the one that disappears and simply does its job, is similar to my
ideal car: it disappears, too, and I just get where I'm going without muss, fuss,
or bother. Reality intrudes, and I must have a tangible transport, so it is as
uncomplicated as I can arrange: a ten-foot long box with wheels at each corner,
controllable steering, motive, and retarding facility, protection from the elements,
maybe a little extra space for cargo. Does the job 99% of the time.
the other hand, I like driving just to be driving. Something about the control,
the sensations of accelerating, turning, slowing, just turns me on. I have had
cars from those that were good for almost nothing else ('66 Lotus Élan) to others,
used similarly, that were barely competent at that, but rendered similarly intense
sensations when used at their limits ('72 Vega GT).
The greatest thrill
in each was taking them to their limits, performing at their highest
possible level. And in each configuration of physical vehicle and personal application,
at some point I became "one" with the instrument, it disappeared as a manipulable
object and became an extension of my consciousness, kind of an exterior "skull"
within which we-the car and I-existed and performed.
Well, I've had a
few such "zone moments" with cameras, too. Not as many as "senior", but enough
to keep me trying. It seems to me "luck" plays a significant role in achieving
such mini-Nirvanas, but that one invites luck with thoughtful, careful preparation.
Part of preparation is choosing the right equipment. My experience is that the
camera most likely to disappear is the Canon 20D (Lotus); the RebXT (Vega) will
do many of the same things, but is more likely to remain at least partially outside
the "skull", more often.
Your style (process) may differ.