Keeping it Simple

Most of what I do in photography these days involves using the “latest and greatest,” both in camera gear and technology. There are times, though, when it’s nice to go light and easy.

Last week my wife and I took a short vacation out to Colorado. We visited some friends and camped a few nights in Rocky Mountain National Park. And, for a change, I didn’t take much gear. Just a Nikon D5000 and a pair of lenses, the 16-85 VR and the 70-300 VR. Those are two of my favorite compact lenses, giving very good quality in a fairly small size. I passed on taking along a computer and card reader too. Just an iPad and one card, a 16GB Lexar SD for the camera. Most shocking of all, I shot JPEG!

Nikon D5000, 70-300mm lens, ISO 400, 1/640 at f/7.0, -.3 EV. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

Now that shooting RAW format with a digital camera is easier (larger cards, better software, bigger hard drives), people look surprised if you tell them you’re shooting JPEG. But the fact of the matter is that JPEG files, shot properly (good exposure, proper white balance) have a tremendous amount of information. And, for a long time, JPEG was the format that almost everyone shot. And that was with lower-megapixel cameras.

So there I was hiking around a national park with a “beginner” camera and lenses, shooting JPEG. And you know what? It was fun! There’s something to be said for relaxing, going light and just having fun. No tripod, no filters, no strobe – just the one camera, one card and two lenses. Kind of like when I first got into photography.

Nikon D5000, 70-300mm lens, ISO 400, 1/250 at f/10, -..3 EV. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

And this is something I find myself doing more and more. Sure, there are still plenty of times where I’m carrying a back-ache’s worth of gear, and happy to have it. But nowadays, when I have the chance, I grab a small camera and a lens or two, set it on JPEG, and head out. And it’s a blast!






Nikon D5000, 16-85mm lens, ISO 400, 1/1000 at f/8, -.7EV. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.