Do you remember your first camera? My earliest memory is of some kind of Instamatic and I don’t remember exactly when I got it. I don’t think I have any pictures earlier than college so maybe I didn’t get it until then. I never thought about photography as anything other than taking snapshots. I never took a class. I just never thought about it.
Remember how grainy the Instamatic pictures were? They were horrible then and 30-40 years later they’re even worse, what with the color shift and all. I’m pretty sure I bought a Yashica 35mm camera before I met John (can’t find it in the closet so I must have gotten rid of it). I liked how the pictures had so much more clarity than the Instamatics. But I still wasn’t thinking beyond taking snapshots.
John, on the other hand, took a class in college and brought this camera to the marriage.
It was fully manual and seemed like a lot of work to me. Sometime prior to our first Caribbean cruise in 1987 we got this camera with auto-focus lenses.
We picked up a telephoto and wide angle lens in St. Thomas because the prices were so much cheaper than in the U.S. and we used that camera up until 1999 when we bought this:
Oh I was so in love with digital! The freedom to be able to see your pictures and delete the duds instantly! It had only 2 megapixels but it was a high-end camera in its day. We took it to Germany with us in 2003 and came home with nearly 300 pictures. That would never have happened with a film camera, I’m sure.
John bought me the original (call it 1st generation) Canon EOS Digital Rebel for Christmas in 2004 and it’s the one I use today.
It has 6 megapixels, a big step up from the Coolpix, and came with an 18-55mm “kit” lens so there is a little bit of zooming available. But it’s no telephoto as I learned when I tried to get this picture of a red-tailed hawk in our yard. I had to put a red circle around the bird so that you could find it.
So I bought a 70-250mm telephoto. But I obviously still didn’t know what I was doing with this camera because here is my best attempt to get another shot of that darned hawk. And it’s blurry!
What I didn’t know then were the principals of exposure. What I know now is that I didn’t have the settings right to capture the light and it should probably have been on a tripod. That hawk would not have waited for me to set it up. Even if I’d known what I was doing, the shutter speed might still have been too slow for hand-holding and that’s why I got the blur. I have a lot of problems with shake with that lens. Another thing I’ve learned is the price I paid for buying a low-cost lens is that it’s not “fast.” The more expensive long lenses have a wider aperture, work better in low-light situations like this (it was 6am) and are better for hand-holding although the longer lenses are so heavy that’s not an option.
But I digress. I didn’t start getting interested in learning about exposure until last year (oops year before last). I took the camera to Erin’s wedding and turned the dial to “no flash” as the church doesn’t allow flash photography during the ceremony. I gave the camera to my sister Dana and asked her to do some shooting for me. Had I known then even what I know now, I would have set the camera to the proper indoor ISO, and taken some test shots to set the aperture and shutter speeds. But I knew nothing then and Dana didn’t either. So most of the shots she got were blurry when blown up on screen to 100%. I worked and worked with this one in Photoshop but there’s just no way to “un-blur” a shot.
But that experience set me on a quest to learn how to use this camera off the automatic setting. There are a lot of tutorials on the web and I read everything I can find. I understand now the concepts of exposure and sometimes I actually get some decent shots. What I still don’t know though is how to read the scene and set the camera accordingly. John and I had a conversation at the mall the other day. I used the G10 to take some pictures of the ornaments on the mall Christmas tree. It’s outdoors but it was cloudy. I had the camera set on ISO 200 and he argued that it should be 100. I argued back that had it been sunny, 100 would have been appropriate. Was I right? You judge:
Ok, it’s not a great shot, regardless of whether I got the ISO right or not. 🙂
One other thing that has sparked my interest in photography is Flickr. Seeing the artistic visions of other people has opened my eyes to a whole ‘nother world beyond snapshots. That’s what I want to do! I discovered “bokeh” from Flickr, it’s a Japanese word that is all about shallow depth of field or an in-focus subject against a blurry background. I discovered macro photography from Flickr and bought a macro lens. I am not getting the shots I want to get with it so have much still to learn there.
So once I get the technical aspects of the camera settings figured out, once I get the technique of reading the scene figured out, then I have to get the concepts of composition figured out. By that I don’t mean the “rule of thirds,” I get that. I’m talking about content. I found this photographer on Flickr and I want to be her BFF. She’s got it all, the lighting (it’s all about the light), the sharp focus, the imaginative content.
Even when she says that she couldn’t think of something to shoot in this “366- a self portrait a day for a year” set, she still comes up with more than I could.
Scroll through this set and you’ll see what I mean. I particularly love shot #23: http://tinyurl.com/7lyh2w