You’ve gone on a vacation with a bunch of friends. Each of you has taken a gazillion pics, posted the best few on Flickr and shared it with the group. While browsing through the collection, you realize… that’s a good one, but hey, I was there in that same place, I took a photo at the same time… how come I didn’t see that?
Is it because your friend had a few megapixels extra, or a faster lens? Let’s extrapolate the galloping advances in optics, CCDs and storage to the point where you have a camera which can take continuous 24fps ultra-high resolution pics of everything you see, so that at the end of your vacation, you have a complete digital recording of everything you ever saw. Would that be a good thing?
Of course not. Sitting through somebody else’s vacation home video is the second deadliest form of torture (the first, of course, being an Indian Wedding Video, with accompanying voice-overs about unke mause ke chachere bhai), because so few bother to edit the video.
Which brings me finally to my point: Editing is one of the prime functions of the brain. Like shellfish unfurling their fan-like appendages to strain bits of food from the flow of water, the brain has evolved to pick out interesting bits from the raw wash of sense data. To pick that one instant, that particular subject, that particular angle, that particular framing, is one of the highest expressions of this skill. Photography is all about editing. All that bull about megapixels and lenses and F numbers is just nonsense – you can take interesting pictures with a point-and-shoot and Patel shots with a Nikon D300.
At least, that’s what I tell myself when I see the $@#% price tags on those $@!% lenses. I bet they taste sour, too.