Being ‘In the Know’

Photography is hard. Well, I take that back. Photography is a learning experience. There. That’s better. For two days, I’ve been struggling with my SB600 Nikon Speedlight. I own it, but have never actually had to use it. A few months ago, when I initially purchased it, I found a website that taught me to use the speedlight when it’s not attached to the camera. I had to adjust this, and configure that. By the end of the tutorial, I got it to work. Back into the bag it went.

Fast forward to a few months later. Up until now, I actually had no use for the flash. I needed the flash to take pictures of a house without electricity. “No problem,” I thought to myself. The expectation was that I’d simply attach the speedlight and take the pictures. Well, that didn’t happen. Long story, short, I had to make a telephone call to Nikon. Master reset fixed the issue. Can I just say that I could faster learn to read and write in Chinese than understand a Nikon manual? SHEEESH!

Let’s talk more about the learning experience that is photography. I’ve purchased Kenko Extension Tubes. When they arrived at my house, I was afraid to open the box. I don’t know why, but I was. Anyways…. when I finally opened the box, to my surprise, there was a large hollow tube, that could be separated into three sections. I was worried. The extension tube(s) was not what I had expected. They seemed so………….well…., so simple. Where I went wrong, was actually having expectations. I’m not sure why I insist on knowing everything about a subject I obviously know nothing about, LOL! Quite honestly, I was expecting optics to be in the tubes. It was explained to me, however, that the tubes are designed to trick the camera sensor into thinking that it’s actually further away from an object.

Using extension tubes for the first time is something that I can only equate to a guy having sex for the first time: They know where it goes, but they’re not sure where it goes, LOL!!!!! Ok, sorry, I couldn’t resist. I put the all three rings of the tube on my camera, slapped on my 55-200 and pointed at one of the lillies in my. I GOT NOTHING BUT A BUNCH OF NOISE AND BLUR. The lens started hunting like we were searching for deer!

At long last, my Photography Masters let me know that I had to be closer to the the object that I was trying to photograph. VERY CLOSE. Here’s what I got:

Shutter Speed

I took this photo yesterday. I’m posting it because I’m proud of myself. I managed to accomplish what I set out to do. And what was that? Well, I wanted to gain a better understanding of shutter speed. I saw a picture some time ago of water falling over rocks and the water looked almost creamy. I thought, “Wow, how in the world did they do that?” Someone told me that they slowed the shutter speed. I thought that the whole idea of it was simply amazing. This of course, was many months ago. Since then, what I’ve been learning slowly, but surely, how to fit the pieces of the puzzle together.

When I first started shooting, I convinced myself that if I shot using anything other the Manual setting, that I was cheating. Well, right now I’d like to publicly apologize to all of the more experienced Photographers out there, for my crass thoughts. Saying that a newbie should shoot manual is the equivalent of saying, “Hmmm, I think I’ll try brain surgery today now that I’ve read the book.” In my mind, anything other than setting the camera Manually, was cheating. I know this sounds crazy, but when you’re learning, you immediately want to earn respect in a field where you have no credibility….you desperately want to be able to apply all of the things that other people have told you to read. Sadly, it doesn’t quite work that way. Not even a little.

Yesterday, when I took the photo above, my only thought was about slowing the water. I didn’t think about the rest of the photo at all. If the everything else in the photo had come out crappy, but the water had the effect that I wanted to achieve, I’d still be happy.

I’ve hit a couple of learning milestones this month with my photography. The modes on my dial are a little less menacing to me. I’m starting to gain a better understanding of what I’m doing. I didn’t understand Aperture Priority until I purchased my 50mm f/1.8. I didn’t have a firm grasp of shutter speed until I had need to manipulate it. The Adobe LightRoom tutorials that I’m finding are spectacular.

It’s all coming together now.

What’s next? The Brown truck cometh! Kenko extension tubes. Boy! Are we gonna have a good time!

Want some cheese with that WHINE?

I have come to the realization that the world is full of whiners and sociopaths. Where is this all coming from? Whiners. I am sick of the whiners on camera message boards. There seems to be a lot of complaining going on from people who frequent these boards regarding the terms and conditions of membership.

Let’s start with the whiners. “Board XYZ wants to retain the rights to my photos,” the whiner says. Why is this a problem for me that they are complaining about this? Well, prior to joining ‘Board XYZ’, Member X had to read and agree to the publicly posted terms and conditions. Member X reads AND is aware of the terms and conditions, part of which indicates that photos posted on the board become can and will be used by the board owners. Member X agrees to these terms and then wants to complain about the rules AS IF they were forced to join the board. Does it really make sense to agree to the terms and conditions of a board only to later complain about the rules once you’ve gained access? Are they serious? Actually, they are very serious.

Then there’s the sociopaths. “Family dog pictures for C&C,” says sociopath Member X. Member Y then comments on the photos and says, “Blown highlights, piss-poor exposure, a blurry mess.” Member X gets pissed. Anything short of reading, “You’re a wonderful photographer,” is going to cause Member X pain. What ever…….. if it’s a lousy shot, it’s a lousy shot. Don’t post a lousy shot and expect someone to call it great (especially when you know it’s a lousy shot but are seeking positive validation).

Let’s just be straight about something. I too, am not without flaw. I consistantly frequent what used to be a camera forum knowing what the rules are and verbally flog it’s owner. The rules of the board are simple. Say what you feel, but don’t abuse other members. Yes, those are the rules. The owner of the board says what ever is on his mind. There are times when I feel like his lack of social responsibility with regards to his public message board are lacking. He posts more porn and guns than photos. So the question is, why do I stay? If it’s so awful, I can simply walk away. Who’s whining now?

When you stand for nothing, you fall for anything. I need to take my own advice… or perhaps my mothers: “Sh*t or get off the pot.”

Chasing The Sun…

There are those moments when you know something wonderful is about to happen. The idea of the moment is sparked by a memory that you thought your mind had long forgotten. That moment for me is always the coming of orange skies. Orange skies have a mystical darkness that seems to call me. It’s the weirding way in which the light and dark intertwine creating the anti-extreme of colorful something. With orange skies, the light is light, but not light; the dark is not dark, but still pitch. It’s the marriage of something amazing, so thought provoking that the softness and mystery of it makes me want to capture it…and so I chase the sun. I follow it aimless until I find the very moment that I think that it will leave me and photograph the moment. I do this to add to my collection of memories; the orange skies. No orange sky is the same as another, but as a collective they represent a divinity that I will never be able to explain… and I think to myself, “GOD is simply amazing.

The image above represents the first time I captured Orange Skies, but not my first chase of the sun. I drove quite a distance for our ‘face off’. At just the right moment, I pulled over and captured a bit of the Orange Sky for myself. This picture is of our first, but definitely not the last.

I think that this is one of those instances where darkness prides itself on being dark… knowing that in most cases, people are walking towards the light.

Picture Good. Picture Real Good!

I’ve got more than my fair share of photo manipulation programs. The goal is to actually learn enough about these programs to do the ‘thought’ of my intentions a little bit of justice. You no likey likey picture? I fix for you. You likey picture with blue sky? OK! I fix for you! I give you blue sky!

Alright, I’ll spare you the rest of my Franken-Monkey meets Graphic Artist routine….but I think you get the point. When I started out on this photography journey, I must say that I was a bit of a self-proclaimed photograph purist. I say self-proclaimed because quite honestly, I had NO true idea of what was involved in producing the end result that is a photograph. Like many, I wanted to believe that post processing was for people that didn’t really know how to take pictures. I believed that once I turned in a roll of film to my local Walmart, the stork brought me the ‘baby’. There was no ‘sex’, babies just landed on your doorstep. That’s how photographs happen, right? Walmart brings them? Not even close.

Truthfully, prior to digital, the actual development of film is considered to be post processing. And surprise! Black and white photos are post processed, too. Ironically, PhotoShop has transitioned from being a noun to a verb. Hearing people say ‘That’s photoshopped‘ or ‘This is PhotoShopped‘ is really starting to annoy me. Darkrooms still exist, and no I don’t feel better a picture if I know that someone themselves in a room with toxic chemicals to create something beautiful. PhotoShop is still a noun. People do take good pictures.

I’m learning. It’s going to be a while, but I’m getting there.

And The Best Part Is……….

It’s not the camera that makes it worth it. It’s the people that help me along the way that that actually enjoy putting up with my NooBee-ness. To think that someone could love a camera so much that they would be willing to take a moment out of their busy day to help me learn to spread that same love is simply priceless.

I haven’t learned to take great photos, and believe me when I say that my photos are really “beautiful on the inside,” LMAO!! Ok, well they are sort of like the weird chick that know’s she’ll be hot at some point in her life, even if only to the blind. In a nutshell, I should be able to take pictures in braille. –Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Ok, but seriously folks. I’m simply amazed at the number of people that TRULY love photography. Sure, there’s always going to be a love/hate relationship between Nikonians and Canon Jockeys, but they they still have one thing in common: a camera. I reckon it doesn’t matter whether you skip or hop down a street, as long as you make it down the street.

I’ve met some amazing people (not in person) along the way that have made my camera adventures worth it. I’ve written more about ‘Kayne’ than I’m have about my husband but it’s all for good reason. Expect to read about ‘Tony’ once I figure out why in the heck anyone would want paint a photograph as beautifully as he has a way of doing. I’m hoping to meet more chicks along the way. It would be nice to know that I’m not the only girl who believes in matching a camera bag with her shoes (just because i want to be a photographer, doesn’t mean i can’t be cute in the process).

A couple of days ago, I registered for one of Scott Kelby’s PhotoWalks. There’s one being held in my town. I’m looking forward to it, and happen to be scared as heck at the same time. I just figured out Aperture Priority. I don’t think I’m quite ready to hang out with people that actually know how to change camera batteries.

The Golden Rule…..

He who has the gold, makes the rules. What happens when you get your own gold? Well, that presents a problem. How do you spend it? What do you do with it?

And what does this have to do with photography? Why, nothing. I’m simply trying to figure out a metaphoric way to draw positive correlation between my gear and my inability to properly use it **giggle**.

So tonight I went to my son’s cello concert. Armed with my family and 50mm f/1.8D it was off to the races! I like the idea of “zooming with my feet,” but had I gotten any closer the Sony ‘HandyCam’ parents would have slapped me senseless. I set my camera to Aperture Priority, followed by f/2.8 and snapped to my heart’s content. Shortly after, I changed the aperture to f/8 and then to f/11. I haven’t checked the photos yet. I’m a little nervous. Worst case scenario is that I have to do some post processing. The upside is that I would have to post-process anyways as I am now only shooting RAW. This is all becoming quite fun, but it’s still a little intimidating.