I often get comments about my artwork. Generally these are  questions which any photographer would be flattered by: “great composition“, “nice light” “lovely tones“, “what a crock of old crap“… um, no wait a minute.

Topcon RE-2 film camera

I probably didn’t use this camera : Topcon RE-2

Occasionally this is followed up with technological questions – especially about the camera I used, lenses and so on. And here is where I tend to get stuck a bit. Not because I don’t like talking about technology – I’m as big a camera geek as the next… er, geek. But, for the most part, what makes my images what they are (and the comments that I get are often based on this) is the post processing.

And I have commented several times previously about the futility of over-arguing about originality, the use of filters – physical lens and digital – and so on. Sure, the garbage-in garbage-out principle of good technology and the skilled capture of images still applies. But I wonder quite how much?

I certainly wouldn’t suggest that anyone judge my photographic work based on the equipment that I use. At the same time, I do believe that the quality of my favourite lens (a Zeiss 24mm) combined with the sensor in my Nex-7, has helped create images that I might not have otherwise produced with a 1970s film SLR and a 50mm manual lens. And visa-versa, when it comes to black and white… perhaps.

OK, those are two extremes. Somewhere in-between lies my Panasonic Lumix, point and shoot. It’s light, but has a decent lens, and I am going to subjectively say that it produces about the same quality as a 35mm film camera. Smoother images and better at low light perhaps, but without the full frame advantage of a film SLR. What I think I mean, is that I equate the digital noise it produces, to be similar to 400 ISO film noise. I did say this was a purely subjective comment, didn’t I?

But the, rather rambling, point which I am trying make, is that I’m not sure that photographer is really the right title in the first place. I use a camera. But I also use a computer. And film. Sometimes I even use video, sound and text. That being the case, does the camera or lens that I use matter any more than the keyboard on my desk, or the music I have in the background, as I work through some textual narrative? Actually, perhaps it does.