... blog post:
There is an old saying that goes, "Never argue with an idiot, they will just drag you down to their own level then beat you with their experience."
This is especially true of self professed 'gurus' in the photography world. Like the idiots I met on the Thames Path one day when I was photographing one my favourite subjects, boats on the river.
There were two of them who spent most of their time scoping each other out and vying for the best spots to get shots of the boats. Each had big pro digital cameras with enormous wide range zooms attached. One was a Canon user and one Nikon and eventually they fell to arguing about who had the better system; the usual rubbish about megapixels, pixel sizes and pitches, dynamic range, usable high ISO speeds, AF tracking speeds, frame rates and all sorts of techno babble.
As they did so, these two idiots became so engrossed in all this gear head stuff that they forgot to take photographs. Stuff came and went. Boats of all sorts; cruisers, narrow boats, dutch barges, steam launches, working boats with cranes, not to mention abundant wildlife. Plus there were photogenic boats crews and passengers up to all sorts of antics. All of this went by unnoticed and unphotographed by either of these two self engrossed techno braggers.
In the meantime I had been quietly snapping away with one of my treasured 35mm rangefinder cameras, a Zeiss Ikon with a favourite focal length prime lens attached, in this case a Zeiss Distagon 35mm f1.4 ZM, using one of my preferred films Kodak Ektar 100.
The two new frenemies, having exhausted their debate, parted. One of them made a beeline for myself. I knew what was coming. "What's that you've got there then?", he asked pointing to my rangefinder camera with a puzzled expression. I also knew what was coming next. "How many megapixels is it?", he asked safe in the knowledge that he was the early adopter of the latest wonder machine on the market.
"It's a 35mm film camera", I replied. Now at that point I should have simply walked away, leaving him to his bewilderment as to why anyone should be still using a manual 35mm rangefinder camera with a single prime lens and film, but idiotically I did not.
He deconstructed it for me. The convenience of the digital world, the capabilities of the digital camera, the superior flexibility of modern zooms, the power of post processing .... on and on he went. The more I tried to interject to explain the joy of employing old skills in the process of real film photography the worse his diatribe against my analogue endeavours got. "Now I wouldn't want to call myself an expert", he told me (right, not much he wouldn't), " but you need to dump that old crap and get yourself one of these mate", indicating his own camera. At that point, this time I did simply walk away.
But I was left with a nagging doubt; who was the biggest idiot? Him as the self-appointed, narrow-minded guru or me for allowing myself to be dragged down to his level and verbally steamrollered by him in the first place?