Maybe I’m imagining it, but it seems as though some of the more sensitive among you express, from time to time, an interest in what kind of camera I use, and whether I would sink so low as to affect photo-blurriness through Photoshop rather than “naturally” and so forth. At the risk of boring the many for the sake of the few, I have compiled a little dossier on the Twisty Photo Studio.
Right away we should clear one thing up. I am, in a sort of secularly pneumatological sense, a photographer, but I know next to nothing about photography. Nothing, I mean, about the mechanical aspects of the sport that so many seem to find so absorbing. Sometimes my fellow layabouts in coffee shops, keenly observing that I am lugging around the world’s largest SLR, mistake me for someone who has the slightest idea what an F-stop is.* Conversations with these people are awkward.
Sometimes there are attempts to engage me in a digital-vs-film debate. Digital is so cold, Photoshop is so phony, etc. The eyes glaze over. This technology-is-the-enemy-of-art argument is on my last nerve. I ask you: what picture, beginning with Lascaux, has ever been possible without technology?
But I digress. The large camera to which I allude is a Canon EOS 1D. It weighs about 57 pounds, making it more sidekick than camera. It is a professional instrument the capabilities of which vastly exceed my expertise. If I were given to lyric excess, I might call it a behemoth, except that it is not entirely a beast rude full of cursedness. I encumber myself with it because, unlike all other digital cameras, when you depress the shutter it takes continuous shots until you release it. All cameras should do this. I cannot understand why they don’t.
To the aforementioned giant camera it is my current fad to attach a ridiculous appurtenance called a Lensbaby, a lens that essentially makes everything look kind of wack. I suspect that the Lensbaby is a phase all novice photographers go through, if they are the sort of people who believe strongly that if you’re going to do away with entire dimensions, the least you can do is bestow upon their remains some glowy blursomeness. I love my Lensbaby because it has freed me from the tyranny of the Holga and all that tedious medium-format film (which produces a similar result but only after considerably greater effort). The Lensbaby, in other words, gives you that inexpert, piece-of-shit look without all the hassle of having to become good. Lately I am enamored of the wide angle attachment, which, as you might infer from the picture, looks, feels, and wiggles insolently like a length of vacuum cleaner hose. You focus it by squeezing it in and out and side to side with your bare hands, hoping for the best.
As for Photoshop: I use and abuse it daily. Verisimilitude is not a goal. I can certainly appreciate subtlety and nuance in “art” generally, but as a practitioner, my leanings are toward the neon-paint-on-black-velvet school. My taste is not exquisite. Weep for me.
* In South Austin coffee shops, about every third schmoe and his mongrel black lab has a camera hanging off him. Or her. Austin, as I’m sure you are aware, is supposedly home to a large “creative class,” which I think means “people for whom cameras and dogs, as well as Mini-Coopers, flip-flops, and bed-head, are requisite accessories.”