Remembering what matters most in my photography.

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Have added a good many posts on recently released (last few years) gear and will continue to do so as time and budget allow. But…

Recently joined a photo sharing site and my goal was to submit some of my favorite photos. Not the photos that I thought others would like. Not my “best” technically. But photos that were my personal favorites. Right away all of my personal favorite photos came to mind. I quickly realized a few things:

  • My favorite photos have more to do with occasion, location, and emotion than what was used to take them.

Ok. That is all I realized.

A lot of virtual ink has been and will continue to be spilled discussing whether gear matters or not. That is not the discussion I am looking to have today… or ever if I can help it actually. I will say that when asked I advise most to shoot what they have rather than worrying about what they do not have.

I started with but abandoned MFT as a main system a while back but it really did right by me. For that reason I returned to MFT several times. It is currently my wife’s preferred camera and I recently returned in force on the “digital vintage” end.

This is good news. Especially for anyone who just wants to dip a toe into photography. Many of the photos below were taken with the awesome at the time and still quite capable Olympus E-PL5. I mean…

  • Inexpensive then. Downright cheap now.
  • IBIS.
  • Far faster AF than it has any business having.
  • Great IQ, making the most of its 16MP. The same sensor as the celebrated higher end Olympus models at the time.
  • Articulating screen with touch AF and touch shutter release.
  • Very small and light, especially when teamed with a pancake, making it the most pocketable interchangeable lens camera that I ever owned.
  • No EVF built in but unlike the much more recent and higher spec’d Sigma fp I just prattled on about there is an available proper EVF. And I had it.
The Thanksgiving Set Up.

I once traveled to NYC with just this camera, Panasonic 14mm f/2.5, and an Olympus 40-150mm

Olympus E-PL5

…all of which fit in two cargo pant pockets as we rambled about NYC and I captured some of my favorite images ever.

Below I will share some of my favorites that I posted to that website along with the back story that give them more meaning.

Co-Op City, The Bronx

The Courts: Co-Op City, The Bronx, NYC

  • Returned to NYC and was looking out the bedroom window of my family’s home. Used to live in the area and was taking in a pick up game of basketball. Kids being kids. Then I noticed the lines, colors, and shadows. I also liked the theme. If you pull back from this photo you will see this court is a calm little island in the middle of a bustling city. All around them life goes on, but here these young men do what young men do the world over. Play. I almost never use the Art modes or Scene modes on Olympus cameras but I am glad they are there. This Diorama Art mode immediately came to mind with this photo and it turned out better than I had hoped. It is one of my all time favorite photos. It also won an office photography contest and was blown up and hung by the main entrance to UNC’s Information Systems offices for years.
  • Gear Used:
NYC - Archives, Central Park

The Couple: Central Park, Manhattan, NYC

  • Same trip to NY. Had a great family day out with my wife and our kids. While we walked I spotted this couple from far off and our current path was going to take us by them at an angle that would place them right between us and the pond. On family trips like these I try not to bring the entirety of proceedings to a halt every two minutes and spoil the day for everyone else so where possible I shoot in stride. I quickly switched from the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 to the 40-150mm lifted up the screen for waist level viewing and shot this from hip as we passed. While not perfectly sharp it captures the moment as I remember it which matters most to me. It reminds me of a beautiful day with my family.
  • Gear Used:

(2) Grandparents House: Harlem, Manhattan, NYC

  • These are shots from my grandparents home in Harlem. They have both passed on since this was taken and are missed. I will never see this view again.
  • Gear Used:
Butterfly house

Museum of Life and Science, Durham, NC

  • This is another shot that was selected for a photo contest and was blown up and framed outside a break room at UNC ISD Offices. The fond memory comes from this being taken when I chaperoned a school trip for one of my kids. A great day.
  • Gear Used:
  • One of my favorite things about singing with 100 Men In Black was the opportunity to be their self appointed documentarian photographer (as well as group shots). This photo was taken when a new member was singing a solo for the first time during one of our rehearsals. The look on our directors face and the sincerity on this young man’s face as he sings. Add the leading lines of the wall and the mic chord combined with the colors that seal this moment in my memory.
Grace Photo Shoot
Grace Photo Shoot
Grace Photo Shoot

(3) Bishop Campaign PR Photo Shoot, Raleigh, NC

  • This photo means a lot to me for a couple of reasons. 1) This was not long after I decided to pursue my first gear upgrade first adding an Olympus 45mm f/1.8 and then moving from the Olympus E-PL5 to the E-P5 when a clean copy showed up at my local camera store. 2) This was my first “professional” photography job. While I was an Associate Minister and Executive Pastor (Administrative) I always took photos. Had moved on but was called back by Pastor and now Bishop Staccato Powell when he needed promotional photos for his Bishop campaign. Since he put such trust in me I really wanted to get it right. He was pleased with the work and it was great to see the photos used in promotional material.
100 Men In Black Intermission

Intermission: Carolina Theater, Durham, NC

  • I love this photo. Taken during the intermission of an 100 Men in Black concert I was with a great group of people taking a break from doing one thing I love and doing another thing I love, taking photos. It was a great evening and this photo always brings a smile to my face.

And lastly.

NYC - Archives, Harlem

The Crosswalk: Harlem, Manhattan, NYC

  • Last but not least this is one of my favorites because it was taken while crossing the street with my family in Harlem. It was just a beautiful day and we were all having a great time. The hand on the left is my wife’s. As soon as we stepped into the crosswalk I noticed the scene to my right. The yellow of the perfectly centered cab, the pleasantly spaced pedestrians, the green of the trees, the red of the bricks, the blue of the sky, and the clouds. Did I overcook the contrast and saturation when editing? Yes. Yes, I did. A novice move. But I never spent a moment looking for the original because this edit is as much a part of the photo as everything else in the photo. But here is the cherry on top. I took this with my phone. A phone that was a short lived model with a short lived OS, but it had a fantastic camera.
  • Gear Used: Nokia Lumia 920 running Windows OS.
    • Yes. I am the one guy that bought one. I was in it for the camera.

So those are my examples. My point? The same I had from the start. MP count, brand name, sensor size, price, form factor, focus point count, aperture, year released, and so on did not matter with any of these photos. After all the dust from my own gear talk, brand obsessing, and spec spouting clears one thing remains…

  • My favorite photos have more to do with occasion, location, and emotion than what was used to take them.

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