Control the Outcome

Sometimes it’s good to step back and remind ourselves of the miracles of digital photography, and the power this technology gives us to control the outcome of our work.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 212mm, efov 424mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-800, subject distance 3.8 metres

It wasn’t that many years ago when photographers had to deal with the limitations of film. Those of us who are old enough to remember those days typically have a binary reaction. We either hated film, or pine for ‘the good old days’.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f/2.8 @ 12 mm, efov 24 mm, f/10, 1/2, ISO-64, Live ND

Personally, I hated film. I bought my first interchangeable lens camera as a tool that I needed to do my job in the community newspaper business.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 20 mm, efov 54 mm, f/8, 1/25, ISO-400

When I left that industry 40 years ago, I only tinkered with photography over subsequent decades. While I’ve always been a very visually-oriented person, I just didn’t enjoy film photography.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/16, 1/2, ISO-160

It wasn’t until digital photography started to convert the industry that I really embraced my latent love of creating images. Digital photography gives each of us the ability to control the outcome of our work to incredible levels.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-6400, Handheld Hi Res Mode, subject distance 825 mm

We can now do things with our cameras, and create photographs with such amazing technology, that it boggles the mind.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 75-300 mm f/4.8-6.7 @ 215 mm, efov 430 mm, f/6.7, 1/1600, ISO-640

Each of us may have our own preferred camera system and format. Some of us may even defend our choice of equipment aggressively. The simple truth is that there is no such thing as a bad digital camera on the market today.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO-4000, subject distance 990 mm

Any camera we choose has the power to create amazing photographs. And, we can control the outcome of each shutter click by how we use the cameras in our hands.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-200, subject distance 885 mm

We can see our exposures in real time, allowing us to adjust our settings to achieve our desired creative interpretation of a subject. The technology inside our cameras unleash the freedom for us to shoot handheld in a wider variety of situations.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 115 mm, efov 230 mm, f/2.8, 1 second, ISO-200

The firmware in our cameras gives us creative options that only a few short years ago were simply unthinkable. Plus, the software that we use in post processing brings other dimensions to our ability to control the outcome of our images.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/3.2, 1/500, ISO-6400, Handheld Hi Res mode

We can adjust our digital files in increasingly complex and powerful ways. For those of us that pine for the ‘good old days’ of film, we can apply treatments that replicate the look of various films.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/8, 1/1000, ISO-400

Post processing software allows us to add all kinds of effects to our photographs. Some photographers don’t bother carrying any filters with them as they adjust their images in post to achieve their desired results.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro, efov 120 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-6400, Handheld Hi Res mode

All of this leads us to a simple, undeniable truth. We control the outcome of our photography. We choose the gear that we use. We choose the settings we utilize with our camera equipment. We choose how we process our images in post.

Olympus TG-5 @ 18 mm, efov 100 mm, f/6.3, 1/100, ISO-1600, microscopic mode

Even digital cameras with very small sensors can produce wonderful images. If we want to improve our photography all we have to do is look in a mirror for the solution.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 147 mm, efov 396.9 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-360

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8 thoughts on “Control the Outcome”

  1. Tom,

    It’s hard to gain this perspective for the younger generation I guess since they grew up having all these digital accoutrements (digital camera vs. film, Spotify & music downloads instead of vinyls or even CDs, HD streaming in lieu of VHS/Betamax or even the Laser Discs, et al).

    What you said is true: there’s no such thing as a really bad camera these days. The specs are oftentimes about splitting hairs. It’s to each his own. What feature set can serve you well in what you intend to do to be able to carry out your creative vision? This fixation on brands and trolling seem to me just plain hype and drama. Maybe such is human nature as to be perpetually discontented and averse to non-conformity. Yes, the gear is important but let’s not forget the art as well as the actual action of getting out there in the field to practice it. If a Holga serves you well, good for you. Same goes for the other kinds and brands available.


    1. Thanks for adding to the discussion Oggie!

      The timing of your comment was interesting, as just the past couple of days I’ve had brief discussions with some younger folks who have fallen in love with photography because of their cellphones… and now are starting to recognize the limitations they pose for certain genres of photography. Nature/birding being one that each of them mentioned. As a result they are actually contemplating buying an interchangeable lens camera… maybe there’s still hope!

      I appreciate your comment pointing out the importance of the art of photography and actually getting out and using our camera gear.


    1. Spot on John! Niagara Falls is our most famous waterfall in the area.

      The city of Hamilton Ontario, which is also close by to us, has about 100 waterfalls within the city limits, although 30 of them are inaccessible. One of these days I may take some time to plan out an extended waterfall photography project in the area.


  2. The thrill of changing the ISO while on the run was a huge change in how I saw photography. Well at least that segment of exposure.

  3. I look forward each day for your post. I especially enjoyed this one because when I shot film I had no idea how to set a camera and really never knew what I would get. I was early to the digital camera and with instant feedback I began to understand how the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO work together. Seven years ago I began shooting with Olympus for the technological features that were offered. I now shoot with the E-M1 MkII that has even more features, and I use them all! Your photos included in your articles are inspirational. Keep them coming!

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