Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Of old dogs, new tricks and the freedom to connect—digitally speaking

And what really fascinates me is being able to review how the image connects with my original seeing, right on the spot.

I still carry a tripod along.

Using digital equipment, I’m feeling as strong right now about my work as I ever have. I feel I’m still evolving as a photographer, that I’m in mid-stride on my creative journey.

I’ve been working with the Panasonic Lumix FZ50, a compact camera with a built-in 12x optical zoom. I also work with another, newer Lumix with an 18x zoom ratio and a Canon PowerShot G10.

These cameras let me handhold in the near dark, although the image does fail when you push it too far. I’ve also learned to avoid noise and grain by using the ISO 100 setting, no higher.

I still handhold in dim light, but brace the camera on top of the tripod for stability. To make long exposures of water scenes, I use up to a 4x neutral-density filter to get slower shutter speeds.

As you can tell, I still make images based on my past experience: I’m just able to be more spontaneous.

So these days, instead of cumbersome setups with the 4x5, it goes something like this: I’m alive with all senses right in the middle of a cold, gray, sea-spray dawn on the northern Pacific Coast. There’s a sea stack in the ocean in the distance, a monument of black rocks and primeval grays, and a focused sunbeam on the ocean, in the midst of a rainsquall.

The whole thing is a timeless moment with the drama of sea to rock to sky. When I look at the image, I’m back there, feeling the bite of onshore wind and salt spray.

And that’s a natural connection, between past and present, between presence felt and presence remembered, that I’ll take any day.

Over the course of some five decades, David Muench’s work has been celebrated in more than 50 exhibit-format books such as Plateau Light and Eternal Desert, as well as innumerable exhibits and permanent installations. See more of his images at


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