Re-Educating Myself

WOW, has it really been that long since I posted last? I have found that I do put more things on Facebook nowadays, and share there. But today I am going to talk about my re-education in photography because that is what has been keeping me busy of late.

This has been a bit of a struggle for me. You see, back in the day (yes I really did say that) I was a photographer of sorts. I had a wonderful 35mm camera that I knew how to use by instinct. The operative word here is “instinct”. You see it had a dial on the top that you had to flip over to use other options, so I didn’t bother. In order to change settings there was a notch in the dial, I knew where the notch had to be to make the best pictures. I never really learned the ‘math’ of f/stop to shutter speed to ISO back then. It was all instinct and my camera. I took a lot of pictures, did a lot of shoots, but my way. I would photograph military families for next to nothing so they could have photos to send home to their families. I didn’t really make any money, but I got a lot out of what I did.

I know anyone that works with special equipment will understand what I am about to say next. Your equipment becomes an extension of you; almost an appendage. When you lose it, you lose a part of yourself. In 1997 my Nana passed away, and we drove down to Tucson that Christmas. On the trip back to Wyoming we were driving the Suburban with a U-Haul behind us with the things of hers we were keeping. Very early in the morning, just as we were about to cross the border into Wyoming our Suburban caught on fire. truck_smWe were all fine, but everything in the Suburban was lost, including all my camera equipment. Everything, 20+ years’ worth of gathered paraphernalia; let alone all the film from the Christmas visit. Yes, we had insurance, but being a mom it was more important that the kids had everything back to normal, and we had a new vehicle. So, the photographer went away . . .

I picked up an inexpensive camera so I would have pictures. Then Hubby got me a new camera in 2003. It was the same kind of camera I had before, but not the same. It was calibrated differently or something and it just didn’t feel the same. It may sound silly, but it just wasn’t my old camera, and it just didn’t take the pictures like my old camera did.

Then digital came along. Gotta love the idea of limitless photo taking and no restrictions to how much film you have with you! But now I was in trouble, as the brilliant photographer Bambi Cantrell says, I didn’t know my “f/stop from a bus stop.” I got my camera in 2005, but I found myself using the automatic settings a lot. Nothing kills the creativity of a photographer faster than knowing that you could do better if you just knew how to make the camera work better. I was so screwed. The real killer was that by then I was working a job that just didn’t give me the time to be able to focus, or tap into that creativity to learn.

More years went by, and the frustration of not being able to “do my craft” was always there. At times I would try to get back into it, but I knew this was something I needed to be able to spend some quality time on, and just didn’t have the time to do that. Jump forward to 2013, and now I had the time. Last fall Hubby bought me a new Canon T3i body. What a difference even with my old lenses!

Over the last few months I have been working on re-educating myself. The internet is a wonderful thing when it comes to things like this. I am more a visual learner, not a book learner. So YouTube is a great resource. I discovered Bambi Cantrell there, and she is terrific! I discovered a number of places that could teach me f/stop – shutter speed – ISO work together in a way that makes sense to a person that isn’t the best with numbers (hey I may have aced the math courses in college, that doesn’t mean I remember any of it).

Last week I was able to ‘play’ with the camera taking pictures of a 3 week old baby boy, the son of the wild child’s best friend. I have a new umbrella light, reflector, and Speedlite (that I got for Christmas). I also moved the focus button to the back of the camera, so many new things to play with and learn. I was totally off automatic and took 133 pictures, 18 acceptable, 4 good. Not too bad. Oh, you non-photographers will be laughing, but those of you who know will understand why I feel accomplished here. Even more so, what I learned from all the pictures that didn’t turn out. Over the last week things started to click, and fall into place. I get it! There may be no ‘notch’ on the dial to tell me where to stop, but the numbers are starting to feel familiar, and that is what I am waiting for.

I am feeling excited again about what I capture. It feels so good.molly_with_baby_3770_sm