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Good enough


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Good enough

27 Jul 2020 7:40AM   Views : 242 Unique : 131


20 years ago or so, my dayjob boss recommended a book about bringing children up: it’s called A Good Enough Parent, by Bruno Bettelheim. The strong emphasis is on being the parent you can be, rather than failing to be a perfect parent. I wish I’d been better at that: at worrying less about the edge of the pavement, and enjoying walking holding hands with my son and daughter.

As an internal auditor, I embraced risk-based system auditing wholeheartedly – the idea that you start by asking what could go wrong, and then finding out whether it matters if it does, and then finding out what reduces (or could reduce) that risk. It’s very much brain-on activity, a world away from checklists and Required Controls. And the problem was that one could get entangled with what might be called the intellectual perfection of analysis, rather than real life. It played to both my strengths and weaknesses as an auditor (and a person).


And then I met a consultant called Kate Kelly, who introduced me to the concept of ‘Good Enough’ – having a sense of perspective about the systems and people I was auditing, and about the audit process itself. It was a revelation. It helped me switch focus from offering help to people through running the most perfect audit system possible to offering the most help that a reasonable audit system could.

Somewhere along the way I also discovered the Business Excellence Model, which encourages one to look at a wider range of things we did than just how we did audits.


My word, that’s a lot of non-photographic stuff. But there’s a point. I have often been obsessed by which lens is best, which camera is most robust, most ergonomically designed, and so on. Many of us are involved in a sort of Camera Top Trumps: relatively few have the good sense to decide that if the results are reliably OK, the kit is. To be honest that 42mp give me pleasure, even though you can’t really tell the difference on EPZ (you might on an A3 print, though…)

So today’s challenge is to think carefully about your own photographic preoccupations, prejudices and preferences, and sort out what really matters. What do you NEED?



Robert51 11 7 104 United Kingdom
27 Jul 2020 8:24AM
Two things come to mind here John, first we all have the camera and lenses we can afford. So make the best of them and learn their limits. Second if a person can not spot a picture, it doesn't matter what camera they have. These things take time and there are no quick answers. Most of us have spend a lifetime, and are still learning.

I was once told the secret of life is to be happy with who you are and what you have. That also goes goes for photography, so break the upgrade loop.

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chase Plus
14 1.7k 411 England
27 Jul 2020 9:34AM
What I need and what I want are two very different things.
The thing I want in my images is sharpness, probably a little of the OCD tripping in but, what I need is to be different, not just putting my tripod in someone else's tripod holes.

Is my kit good enough ? for me atm... yes but to accept change and try something else is a challenge I would like to face, layers and lensbabies spring to mind Wink

If 'good enough' is accepted things would never move on.
Sometimes, change doesn't mean spending, just looking at something in a different way.
dudler Plus
16 1.2k 1679 England
27 Jul 2020 10:09AM
All true, Robert and Janet.

'Good enough' is very two-edged. But in the bad old days, I would rather have produced a technically perfect audit report a few days late. I learned that it is often far more important to give the right advice rapidly and supportively, and make the report an appendix to reality.

The doctor who applies a battery of tests as a matter of course and then needs weeks to work through them and the implications is a lot less use to me than the one who deals with the most likely issue now, and tests other possibilities while I'm getting better...
dark_lord Plus
16 2.6k 683 England
27 Jul 2020 12:23PM
In one of my past roles the concept of 'is it good enough for the customer' was a principle. There was no need to spend endless time and effort for perfection so long as the customer was happy,

Yes I do want sharpness in my images. But there are times when I don't, and times where 'it's not quite there' but good enough for the memory.
4 31 1 United States
27 Jul 2020 2:41PM
From my perspective, "Being happy with who I am" involves the journey to be the best at what I do. The journey involves learning, doing, analyzing, repeat.
There are, at least for me, rewards every step of the way of that journey.. This isn't a journey to perfection, it is a journey to be the best me I can be.

Relating back to your images on your post, I can appreciate a person providing soft images if they are learning or it is the best the eq. they have can produce.
I don't understand deliberately degrading (my interpretation) an image. As I mentioned in the comments of today's post, perhaps it's an artistic thing that I don't yet understand.
I still don't get the allure of the "Lens Baby" lenses. Perhaps I haven't traveled far enough on my journey yet, to appreciate them.
saltireblue Plus
10 10.8k 63 Norway
27 Jul 2020 3:04PM

Quote:Relating back to your images on your post, I can appreciate a person providing soft images if they are learning or it is the best the eq. they have can produce.
I don't understand deliberately degrading (my interpretation) an image. As I mentioned in the comments of today's post, perhaps it's an artistic thing that I don't yet understand.
I still don't get the allure of the "Lens Baby" lenses. Perhaps I haven't traveled far enough on my journey yet, to appreciate them.

Even though we are all different, we are, basically, all on the same journey. The difference is that some choose to pause and investigate one thing, (Lensbaby, for example) while others will pause and investigate other things, (soft focus, grain, b&w). Some may well join you where you pause, others not. This journey has not yet reached any destination, for it is a journey without an objective end. What happens along the way is called diversity, and without it photography would be dead boring...
mistere Plus
7 6 3 England
27 Jul 2020 3:08PM
I use both my D7100 and my D850 cameras on shoots. On paper the D850 is by far the superior of the two. If there were no
exif info on EPZ i doubt if anyone would be able to tell the difference. There comes a point where the difference is not worth bothering about.
Unless you're in the sales and marketing department. Then 1 megapixel would make the world of difference.
A 10-16 MP camera is sufficient for most hobbyists needs. More than enough to produce a decent print on a home printer, or to view on a website or social
media platform. As many have learned(myself included) a better camera or lens does not make you a better photographer. Only becoming a better photographer
can do that.
philtaylorphoto 18 332 2
27 Jul 2020 5:46PM
OK, sometimes I would say a 'better' camera or lens CAN make you a better photographer. When covering sport 10fps is better than a lumbering 4fps, in low light, a 300mm f2.8 will beat a 70 to 200 f4-5.6, in street light conditions, a modern full frame will do better at high ISO. However, unless you specifically need those things, well, you don't need them.

In 2018 I shot a series of pictures of drought hit reservoirs with a Canon 7D, and a Sigma 10 to 20 f4-5-5.6, before moving to a 7D and Canon 10 to 22mm EF, then buoyed by good sales, a 5D2, and a 17 to 40 L lens.. All of the series at one point saw use in every UK national paper, one being amongst picture of the week in two broadsheets.

Now, look closely, and at 100% you will notice that there's a bit of chromatic aberration on some shots. But they were 'good enough'.

As you will see in my chat with John about lenses, I bought a Tamron 70 to 300 VR lens second hand for specific jobs, knowing it might get drowned/bashed about. It turned out to be a bargain, ending up with 'shows' again in every national paper. On one iconic photo, you can see it's a bit soft wide open, with a hint of colour fringing. As part of my kit rationalising I replaced it with a Canon L 70 to 300 with the same specs. Now, it's undeniably very sharp, but I don't think anyone really notices, least of all the agency or readers.

The same goes for picking up bodies. My current ultra wide is a Canon 16 to 35 f4 L, I can't afford the f2.8, for a repeat of the 2018 exercise I grabbed the 5D2 rather than the 5D3. Why? Because reservoirs don't need a high fps, advanced focus tracking, superior high ISO, in body HDR, wider dynamic range etc. The results were 'good enough' for a full bleed vertical page in the Express. OK, blame me for the rain now, following an Express weather story.

So, I could have also used the 7D MK1, as it could also take the 10 to 22, but it's a bit soft wide open, so not perfect for low light, in sunlight it would be fine.

A few weeks later, a twilight architectural of a very tall building was needed. So, ideally, a modern body with full frame, and a tilt/shift lens would be my pick. A solid tripod would be in order too, but mine is supporting kit for church broadcasts during the pandemic ATM. So, a compromise was the 16 to 35, taking advantage of the IS, and the excellent high ISO in the 5D3, The converging verticals were corrected in Lightroom, and yes, if you look very closely you can see a bit of grain. Once again 'good enough'.

I know that ideally I should have used a tilt and shift (I don't own one, not even a Lensbaby version), that the camera really should have been on a tripod, stopped down to optimum aperture at low ISO. I'm sure a club judge would spot the grain and tut, or maybe the resolution changing across the image. The results caused a riot, but not sure if that was down to quality issues.

So, yes, knowing that better kit can improve your work is important. In particular work you WILL need very sharp, wide aperture lenses. However, most of the time there's no need for the most expensive, why buy an 85 1.2 portrait lens if you work at ft.6 for depth of field all the time, when an f1.8 will do.

I reckon, know the limits of your kit, and when you have ideas of where you are going, seek out that stuff of dreams second hand

dudler Plus
16 1.2k 1679 England
28 Jul 2020 8:17AM
When shooting for a sale, the client's acceptance is clearly what matters.

When shooting for pleasure, or art... Harder to decide. But too much sharpness can be an issue: think of the number of photographers shooting portraits, and then doing extensive work on the skin to lose the detail their lenses give. I dislike plastic, Barbie skin intensely: a softer, gentler lens will flatter a woman, while letting her have hairs and pores...

We all have our 'don't really get it' areas: one of mine is automatic gearboxes in cars, except in driving conditions where a bus would be my preference. Although the latest technology eats away at the problems, less control in detailed manoeuvring, lack of engine braking, poorer economy and performance continue to deter me. For others, the fuzzy convenience and easy smoothness are decisive.
philtaylorphoto 18 332 2
28 Jul 2020 8:23AM
Hmmm, Barbie skin. I used Portrait Pro a few times. Shortly after meeting my girlfriend I did a portrait of her in it. She looked stunningly younger, but as you say, the skin looked artificial.

I wonder if a lens that allows you to still see the stubble after a bloke has shaved is too sharp?
dudler Plus
16 1.2k 1679 England
28 Jul 2020 8:43AM
That's a bit like the sound of one hand clapping, Phil...

I'm reliably informed that some people find stubble attractive: just ask the Fans of Albert Steptoe...
dark_lord Plus
16 2.6k 683 England
28 Jul 2020 12:09PM
The plastic look was one of those fads 'because we can' and is so dated (as well as awful, it always was). It's the visual equivalent of politicians actions when uncomfortable truths surface.
Automatic gearboxes, well some are fine these days (though Peugeot/Citroen ones are truly awful), and if you want a hybrid or electric you have to have one.

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