Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Creative Art

Ansel Adams once said, “Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.” How right he was, especially with the dawn of the new medium of digital photography, although one could say he was wrong about the medium for factual communication now that image manipulation has become so simple and seamless.

I have always been interested in photography. I remember when I was 8 or 9 my parents bought me my first camera. It was a 110, plasticky and simple to load. Perfect for a child’s first memory captures. I still have the photos I took, kept squirreled away safely in a box along with the negatives. My next camera was also a 110, but a bit more high-tech. Metal this time, with a leather holding case. I got this for Christmas in 1981, when I was living in Okinawa. I still have this camera. It wasn’t until I was in college that I actually took a photography class, but unfortunately it wasn’t as in-depth as I would have liked. As a matter of fact, it did very little to boost my confidence behind the lens and the images I took were all pretty blah. I remember one of the assignments was to photograph evil. I loved this project, and loved my results. While others in the class were taking pictures of toy monkeys hanging from ropes (seriously!), I went out and photographed dead roses on thorny branches reaching up to the sky, the Washington National Cathedral looming behind them. (National Cathedral’s rose gardens were one of my favorite places to take pictures and experiment with my mother’s 35mm Olympus.) I got lots of nods of approval from my classmates that day, and got an A in the class.

I stopped taking photos as anything other than a record of events for a while after that, until Samantha was born. We bought a new digital point-and-shoot, and I rediscovered my love of photography, especially given my new, (awe) inspiring subject matter, and last year upgraded to a digital SLR, the Nikon D40. Now I know this camera can do amazing things, but I also know that I’m still using it as a point-and-shoot because I haven’t yet read the manual and I’m not brave enough to fiddle with the settings to experiment and not screw something up royally. But the image quality is wonderful, and I’ve still been extremely happy with the shots I’ve been taking on it. A guy at work is a photographer on the side, and had been conducting some lunch-and-learn sessions for a while about DSLR photography, and I’ve saved his presentations to re-read when I am ready. It’s funny, as jazzed up as I got during his talks and as comfortable as I thought I was with the lessons, when it came down to actually doing some of those things I completely forgot everything. An hour during lunch every once in a while just wasn't enough.

I’ve decided now, in 2010 (a sort of belated New Years’ Resolution), to get my act together and actually learn something about it. Bethany has posted a great giveaway for moms from ClickinMoms, a site for both amateur and professional woman photographers. A site I’d love to become a member of myself, so I can take my photography to a new level (well, the level that follows reading the camera manual). Learning how to take great photos shouldn’t be “work” (and editing software shouldn’t be priced as if it were made of platinum, btw…), but I have to remain diligent, take notes, and actually figure out what I’m doing. And who knows where that will take me?


Renee said...

I can relate. I asked someone the other day how she learned to use her DSLR and she said she took a class at the community college that was very helpful. She said reading the manual actually helped the most. I don’t know why I just can’t make myself read it.

RobMonroe said...

I've joined a couple of groups on Flickr to help push my photo stuff and am doing a "photography class" online with a friend via her blog. It's not technical, yet, but more about getting the right shot so far. (one "assignment" in, that is!) All are welcome to play along: http://flexibledreams.blogspot.com/

Carol N. said...

Hey Becca - that's awesome - I can't wait to see how things develop! :o)

Interestingly: I found out one of my very old friends (haven't seen in over 20 years kind of friend) won the Globe and Mail Photojournalist contest and is at the Olympics taking photos right now!

His photography blog is at: http://www.somegoodnoise.ca/