[font color=\'#000000\']Dale Cotton:
[It takes many, many years to mature in the visual arts, but I rather doubt that equipment diversification will accelerate the process. ;)
True, but I think I have created a misunderstanding by saying "I started being more serious about photography a couple of years ago".
I have being taking pictures for 25 years now. A nice anecdote is that at age 16, I won the first two prizes at a school photography contest with my two entry's, from my very first roll of film. (With thanks to Konica rangefinders and an excellent Kodak printing service)
As far as visual art is concerned, my first two "independent" holiday trips as a teenager included a visit to the Kroller-Muller museum (with it's van Gogh collection a.o.) on the first, and the Jeu de Paume museum (impressionists) and the Louvre (Mona Lisa etc..) on the second. Don't worry, they included other things also ;)
It is just that ca. 3 years ago, photography promoted from ca. No. 3 position on my hobby list to no. 1 position. I did know the difference between a door stop and an f-stop, and the basics of composition before that. (But not that much more in retrospect, though I still like some of the ideas I had)
[From that moment on buy not a single new piece of equipment until you have created fifty pictures that you could hang on the wall beside those of your favourite artist without them being embarrassed to be seen in that company/QUOTE]
It doesn't work that way for me. I have a number of more or less vaguely defined projects going on simultaniously, or depending on wether, season or "inspiration". For exemple, when I have some new idea's considering a "b&w seashore project", when I have time available, and the light, season and tides are right, I might take off towards the coast. Or I might postpone that and do something completely different like taking more color macro's of insects.
So depending on the project, the "heroes" are different. That is the advantage of being an amateur. Nobody will be interested in Salgado insect macro's. He couldn't show them if he wanted to, it would harm his "reputation".
The "ideal" equipment is also different per project. So I don't think I will be able to limit myself to just one cameratype anymore.
Back to the subject
[Well, there's always been the latest and greatest gadgets out there]
I think that if Michael Reichman says "I have sold my 645, don't know if I will use 67 anymore, oh yeah do you remember film" that this means more then just the latest gadget.
Now the difference is that a Michael R. using Pentax 67 is "reachable". Any amateur in a developped country can save up for some 30 year old Pentax 67, or similar equipment, and a couple of lenses.
Film cost is not to much of a problem, if one is shooting for artistic content. (no machinegun approach)
A Micheal R. shooting with a Eos 1Ds is out of reach for the average amateur.
Now suppose you are a rich lawyer and say "not for me he isn't". Well, no way I say.
Why? besides the financial aspect, there is also the time and knowledge aspect. Learning how to shoot with as a goal well exposed slides on a lighttable is doable, even for a lawyer ;).
Filing and searching trough sheets of slides is a piece of cake (unmounted slidefilm ofcourse)
There is no way that same lawyer is going to be able to use that 1Ds except with "standard" in camera JPG's. I don't see how our rich lawyer will ever be able to properly handle 1700 raws from a shoot, in a time frame that is acceptable. (At home, back from holiday remember)
Now I have a pretty serious scientific and engineering background, and I believe I am no idiot. (but don't we all;) )
The amount of time I have spent to learn the finesses of a digital darkroom was extraordinary, and it's an ongoing thing.
The problem with the digital age is that instead of only expert photographers, we now also need to be expert color printers.
I also have trouble with file storage systems, backups etc... A certain Michael R. solves that by simple adding new hard drives to his computer if he runs out of storage. Can you believe that!!
So we not only need to be expert photogs and printers, but we also need way above average computersavvyness.
Not to mention excellent long term discipline, filing sheets in a binder isn't sufficient anymore.
Ansel Adams seems the type that would still make it, but someone like HCB?
No, I am afraid that high quality "imaging" in the digital age is getting out of reach for the average amateur, financially, technologically, and because of the time consumption involved. Ofcourse pressing the shutter button will take some picture, but I am talking about understanding and using technology to express a vision.
Now personally I have done most of the "hard work" by now, and perhaps hanging on by the fingertips I can catch the digital train. But I am in doubt if I really want to. Isn't all of this just a time and money pit. Is this a field hobby or a computer science thing. Would I be better off by keeping things plain and simple and still have good prints to show, or will I have the urge to search hours for the ideal curve for an image. Maybe I might even end up with two turquoise birds on a b&w image at some stage.
Time will tell I suppose, I'll just keep going step by step on the photography path and we'l see where we end.