It has been a dreadful dry period for me. Something just got sucked out of my photography about 2 months ago. I've been having this big crisis of faith. I am very frustrated that there is all of this nifty (often used) glass at a couple of local stores. The people there are nice and helpful, and I want to support them. But they don't carry Sony Minolta. I've saved up a little to go to the Tammy 17-50mm, but I've been questioning it, and considering using that money (and selling my gear) to go CaNikon. I'm frustrated with the high ISO noise as well. I'm REALLY interested in low-light candid photography (among other things). Hell, I've been so frustrated I thought about just dumping the SLR and giving up on the craft.

I'm still not convinced that swapping brands is out of the cards, but I know that the camera isn't what makes the photos. Any DSLR on the market today takes GREAT photos. It's what is behind the viewfinder that counts.

So tonight my wife and I packed the baby in the car and went to a neat Irish pub/restaurant with some friends from work. I wanted to travel light, so I put the 50mm on the camera, and put the kit lens in the diaper bag for backup, but it stayed there.

And I shot pictures. If I needed more shutter speed, I cranked up the ISO. I was so frustrated with ISO 800 when I first got the camera, I have never tried to shoot at 1600. But tonight I did. I sat at a table, with Smithwicks and Guiness and good company, and shot pictures.

Not really anything great. In fact, to most people here, who like to shoot birds and landscapes and stuff, this is mostly dumb pictures. But somehow the frustration of not getting what I wanted for so long, and the limitations of the single prime lens, and perhaps a couple of (English size) pints, helped me get some of the pictures I have been looking for.

So first off, this is going to seem very boring, but I like the composition, and I like the underexposed/grainy look. And, its ISO 1600. Like I said above, I gave up on that, but it had a nice effect for this one. Is this what Ted Nugent means when he says you should shoot everything you eat?

This martini glass was sitting all by itself.

Our friend Friederika was listening to someone intently.

My beverage for the night. This shot was double hand held, camera in the right and pint in the left.

Our friend Sylvia was having fun watching Katy and Ellie

And finally my favorite of the night.

(There really is a point, I'm almost there)

So the pictures are soft. The 50mm f/1.8 just doesn't cut it below about f/2.8. And they are really noisy. It kinda has a nice grainy look, but if I didn't want that, I wouldn't have a choice. Could an A700 for $1000 fix the noise? Meh, it would be better. Would a used 40D for $600 do better on noise? Probably on par or better than the A700. Ouch.

OK, thats my personal problem. I'm interested in feedback, but here is the point, and my "contribution to the community." FWIW.

It's way too easy to get hung up on equipment and settings. If you are doing artistic photography, what matters is that you get out there and shoot. And if that seems to be broken, you sometimes need a spark to get it going. Yes, new gear will do this. But sometimes thats not a good idea, or an option at all. Read a book, surf flickr. Give yourself something different. Only having the 50mm lens put some real limits on my shots. My boss is a good friend of mine and was sitting right beside me. There are no pictures of him simply because he was too close. I had to work with what I had, and it really helped me push. I fiddled a little with the ISO, and manual focused a few shots, but for the most part I looked in the viewfinder, and composed.

So go listen to a podcast, look through a photographers book, or even get the old film body out of the closet. But do something, and go shoot.