Apologies to the Shutterbugs

I don’t wait well. Never have.

Now I might. At least when it comes to the camera.

How many of you have had long awkward moments posing for a family portrait or more likely in my case, caked in make-up for a press pic, and you have to bite your lip to prevent an outburst of “What the hell are you doing SHOOT the picture!!??”

I’ve spent many nervous deadline days close to tears after getting a camera at the last minute. I beg the operator to forget the tripod, just go off the shoulder, and don’t light.

I was a silly silly girl.

Turns out manual camera operation takes planning. I thought I knew that before actually doing it myself but really, I had no idea.

It’s not the math. I like the trinomial challenge of exposure, speed and ISO. It’s arithmetic that makes sense because I can see it and change it.

It’s not the light either, I get light, and the rule of thirds.

I don’t get my camera. I have no idea why Nikon needs three buttons that all do the same thing.

But tech aside my big issue is turning off my frenetic mind. I have to find MY off button.

Most of the things I do well in life happen by happy random. When I’m really interested in something I get very fast at it. I get fast enough I can do something so many times there’s bound to be a good result at some point. It’s a more intuitive way to live and quite frankly more fun.

It adds the irrational element of magic into my work. Many radio documentaries I’ve done where made with mostly heart. Because I am so familiar with those tools perhaps, I don’t notice the head.

I love my “Intro to Digital” instructor. She’s both caustic and funny. And she’s drilling into me that I have to be methodical in manual or I’ll go nuts with all the choices. Find my method, and stick to it over and over and over again.

  1. Get a histogram you like depending on the tone of your subject.
  2. Adjust for amount of light either in A or S with the +1/-1 button or with the light meter in M.
  3. Bracket. Take the first photo then go up or down in exposure twice depending on tone. That way you have choices in post.
  4. Touch up or “cook” your photo your way.

I’m struggling. I can feel new neuropathways growing.

I always respected the camera operators in my life for their art. Now I think they are planning rock stars.

Here’s to years and years of slow careful photo-noodling.

And here’s a sample of my first homework assignment.

I call it “Peace Peppers”. It’s an homage to those arrested at APEC and the quote from our PM at the time that pepper is something he puts on his plate.

Okay that was total bull. I looked in my fridge in a panic the night before class and happily hoped for the best.

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6 thoughts on “Apologies to the Shutterbugs

  1. Hey Theresa, nice post. Just an FYI, i’ve never ever taken that much care in my shots. You’re knowledge has far surpassed mine. I worry about where the light’s coming from, white balance, and aperture, and that’s it. Steps, uh, 1-4 of your process is utterly foreign to me, TEACH ME.

    • Sure I’ll teach you. That will be 275 dollars please. Ha ha ha. I’ll bring my DSLR to the next gathering and show you those steps. They are essentially what the teacher calls workflow ie) getting the shots you need so you can have a lot to work with in post. And playing with exposure to make sure you have the wiggle room. Have you ever been on Adobe Lightroom. 30 day trial free. It’s lovely. Shoot in RAW and play play play with your images.

      • I keep my post-editing to a minimum, I like to be all Natural. Also, RAW makes crazy massive files. For Bella’s birthday for example, I shot 900 shots. Edited down to 300. 900 raw shots would destroy my computer, the internet, and all of space-time as we know it.

        Also, I tend to dither and dally and if I had the option to play with every picture I took i’d never have time for video games and I think EVERYBODY can agree that’d be HORRIBLE.

        I look forward to your free photography class!

      • I hear ya. We’re learning how to touch up so she’s encouraging RAW but I’d only do that if I was being especially artful.

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