Armchair Photographer

Watching videos and reading articles about photography can be helpful to develop our knowledge base… but we can risk becoming an armchair photographer. Unless we put new found knowledge into practice we risk it quickly fading from our consciousness.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 521 mm, efov 1042 mm, f/9, -0.7 EV, 1/640, ISO-160, handheld in-camera focus stacking, out-of-camera jpeg with minor adjustments done in the Nik Collection

Many of us have attended leadership training sessions in our business careers. Often when asked about the value of the training we received we’d say we “got a few nuggets” that we could put into practice.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8 @ 7 mm, f/2.8, 1/2000, ISO-200

If you’re like me, the truth was that much of that knowledge was never consistently used and often did not become a part of my everyday management approach. I was certainly well-intentioned but if I didn’t act on the new information immediately, and reinforce it, nothing happened.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/13, 1/1250, ISO-2000, cropped to 4443 pixels on the width, subject distance 2.9 metres

Change did eventually occur. That didn’t happen until I started to hold myself accountable to improve. This entailed increasing my self awareness of my habitual management behaviours that were counterproductive, and replacing them with new behaviours.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with MC-14 teleconverter @ 434 mm, efov 868 mm, f/8.9, 1/2500, ISO-4000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4171 pixels on the width, subject distance 4 metres

Was I completely successful? Sadly… no. I had wasted too many earlier opportunities in my career to improve. As a result, I left a lot of my leadership potential on the table.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/2500, ISO-3200, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3625 pixels on the width, subject distance 1.8 metres

We can do the same thing with our photographic craft. Watching videos and reading articles can be of significant benefit… but only if we put this information and knowledge into practice.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600, f/13, 1/2500, ISO-5000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4244 pixels on the width, subject distance 2.7 metres

Simply watching and reading makes us an armchair photographer. We may parrot things we’ve seen and read online in photography chatrooms, but that doesn’t integrate those learning points into our photographic craft.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/2500, ISO-4000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3581 pixels on the width, subject distance 4.8 metres

What makes us better photographers is picking up a camera and trying new things with our gear. When we view or read about an approach that may be helpful to us, the proof is in the doing. Just because a particular approach works well for one photographer doesn’t mean it will be a good solution for us. To find out what works for us… we need to actually try the approach first hand.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-800, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 3813 pixels on the width, subject distance 60.5 metres

We live in an era when many people expect improvement with little effort. People take medication to reduce their blood pressure rather than dealing with the root cause of their condition. They buy into the dramatic claims of fad diets or supplements… only to be disappointed later when they regain weight. It seems we want a pill or a ‘magic bullet’ to solve our challenges for us.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-800, cropped to 2658 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI, Pro Capture L, subject distance 67.8 metres

Improvement takes time and effort. My earlier foray into full frame camera gear was likely based on a false and misguided assumption that a specific camera format would magically make me a better photographer. It didn’t.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 308 mm, efov 616 mm, f/8.5, 1/4000, ISO-1250, full frame capture, Pro Capture H, Subject distance 5.6 metres

Using our camera gear and experimenting with it over time enables us to learn how to use it effectively. The camera format we choose needs to meet our specific requirements. One format isn’t ‘better’ than another. Every piece of camera gear comes with benefits and trade-offs. The more we understand these issues, the more proficient we will be with our camera equipment.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/6.3, 1/640, ISO-2000, subject distance 3.3 metres, cropped to 4063 pixels on the width, Bird Detection AI

To avoid becoming an armchair photographer we can adopt a very simple solution. For every hour that we spend watching or reading something about photography… we can commit to spending a matching hour out in the field actually using our camera gear. Trying new things and honing our craft.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 800 mm, efov 1600 mm, f/14, 1/2000, ISO-5000, subject distance 24.9 metres, cropped to 3189 pixels on the width

The beauty of this approach is that we can each put new approaches and learning into practice immediately.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 545 mm, efov 1090 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-640, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 1801 pixels on the width

How long did it take you to read this article? Why not pick up a camera when you close this website and create some photographs for an equivalent amount of time? If you do, you’ll be taking a small step along the path of photographic self-improvement.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/4000, ISO-4000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3588 pixels on the height, subject distance 2.7 metres

Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are noted as appropriate. This is the 1,065th article published on this website since its original inception.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, -0.3 EV, 1/1000, ISO-1600, HHHR Handheld Hi Res mode, full frame capture, subject distance 5.3 metres

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8 thoughts on “Armchair Photographer”

  1. Tom, this was another great article and, was mentioned earlier, hit a nail squarely on the head. Over the years, I’ve built up a fair bit of equipment but a while ago I got a very small bag that will hold my Z50 and two lenses. I call it my ‘grab bag’ as it goes everywhere with me. Sure I have a phone but the Z50 just gives me that much more when I am out.
    Thanks again.
    Ron

    1. Thanks for adding to the discussion Ron. My wife and I have a very small holster bag that holds here E-M1 Mark III and an M.Zuiko 14-150 mm f/4-5.6. This is a great piece of kit to have with us and far superior to me using my phone.

      Tom

  2. You really nailed it with this article. I love to read and watch about M4/3 photography. I feel fulfilled when I see what can be done. But when it comes to using the knowledge I go for programm P. Not always…. but you really hit a button, works for other arts too . Have a week of vaccation, will get up from my armchair. Promise 🌷

    1. Hi Claudia,

      Glad to hear your armchair will be lonely! It can be a bit intimidating at first to move away from P mode. Many folks start by using Aperture priority for landscape photography.

      Tom

  3. Thanks from those of us who spend much time on our photography hobby. This article is good reading and keeps us focused on what is important. Btw, your description of leadership training sessions bought back memories and mirrored my experiences.

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