Shallow thinking has it's limits

I was in Portland this weekend, celebrating my birthday with my wife Lara. We spent some time discovering great little places like M Bar. I was carrying my iPhone 4 and my Canon 60D. When I had my “serious photographer” hat on, I shot with the 60D. When I was just fooling around, I shot with the iPhone. And guess what? I like a lot of the iPhone snaps better.

Here’s a couple of photos that illustrate the point. Exhibit A is a photo I took with my 60D through the window of a bar (consciously trying to make a good picture). Exhibit B is shot with iPhone, and I was just messing around (subconsciously trying to make a good picture). Which do you like better?

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

I like ’em both for different reasons, but if I had to choose between the two, I’d pick B any day. There’s just a lot more going on that’s interesting to look at. A is a quick-read; B is a deep read. It’s the thinker’s pick. And when it comes to photography, I like thinking deep.

Problem is, for some reason, whenever I have a 2.8 lens on my DSLR, I think shallow. Both pictures present different challenges: A is easy to compose, but harder to get critical focus. B is a piece of cake to focus, but much harder to compose and pick just the right moment to snap the picture.

This is a reminder to me that all that camera gear is supposed to work for you, not think for you. What I hope to take away from this is a reminder that there’s a big aperture dial on all DSLRs. And it’s important to use the big numbers as often as the little ones.

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