Thursday, July 14, 2016

Taking Time To Learn

By Cathy


I’ve gotten lazy, really lazy with my photography. It started about six months ago. I began having problems with my old camera and was in the market for a new one. Since I’ve been having more and more trouble with hand trembling, I was looking for a camera that didn’t weigh much and one that would work with the lenses I have. The answer was the Sony E6000, one of the new mirrorless cameras. I bought the camera, set it on automatic mode to get the feel of it, and never took the time to learn anything else about it. I love the camera. It does take good pictures on automatic, like the one above, but I wasn’t getting the full benefit of it's features. I kept telling myself that someday I’d learn the settings and dials, but someday never came. I needed something to push me to learn.


The push came when I heard of a photography class at a local gallery taught by a professional nature photographer. My sister and I decided to take the class which was held once a week for five weeks. I knew if I paid for the class I would work hard at learning and completing it. It was small class of only six which allowed our teacher to help each of us individually to obtain the pictures we wanted. I knew a lot of what he taught, but I didn’t know the “whys” of some of it, especially the histogram. I knew about histograms; what they were, how to read them, but I didn’t know how to put that knowledge into taking a correctly exposed picture. Through the class I finally understood where to start and what to adjust to take the picture I had in mind. One fantastic thing about my camera, is that the histogram is right there in the viewfinder where you can see it before you take a picture. No longer do I have to wait and see the preview to see if the picture is properly exposed.


Our class worked through the exposure triangle, aperture priority, shutter speed priority, and then moved to full manual. I practiced each day and learned how to quickly get the picture I wanted using different settings. The class was the push I needed to gain confidence in using manual mode on my new camera.


Will I go back to automatic? Sure! Automatic is good for when I’m out wandering trails or just happily snapping pictures of my grandsons. The difference is that now if there’s a picture I want to take a certain way, I know how to quickly set it up and I finally trust myself and my camera.


When I see the finished picture it’s satisfying to know that I set up the exposure and got the picture I had in my mind. If you haven’t tried manual mode or the other settings on your camera, I hope you will. There are online classes, in-person classes, books, or websites that can help you. Learning more about your camera takes your photography to another level. I know it caused me to slow down and enjoy the creative side of taking pictures.



7 comments:

Carol said...

I also love the Magic Lantern books when you have new equipment. They are specific to each cameras and take you through step by step. Some even include a CD or DVD to work through. Good for you for getting over "the hump" and to the point where you can enjoy your purchase. I rented a mirrorless camera over the 4th weekend to play .....they sure are much lighter!!! No money for it now, but I will hopefully do it eventually.

kelly said...

cathy these photos are like a giant exhale...you do nature so well. and I think that it the THE thing I love about photography the most...the opportunity to grow and learn. thanks for the reminder. xoxo

seabluelens said...

How interesting that you should write about this now, Cathy. I do use aperture and shutter priority modes on my camera, but just this week decided that I want to master shooting in manual. I have a book I'll be studying from, but a local, in-person class would be fun. Mirrorless cameras sound interesting, but a new camera won't be in my budget any time soon. Hopefully, as with most new technologies, prices will come down as time goes by. Meanwhile, I'll learn more about how to get the most from my faithful Nikon!

Dotti said...

Congratulations on your new camera! And even better, getting yourself out of automatic mode and encouraging all of us to stretch ourselves as well. I got a new camera last Christmas and thought long and hard about a mirrorless camera but I wasn't quite there yet. Maybe some day ...

terriporter said...

It's so easy to fall into laziness and just do what's easy and it takes something to jolt you out of it (like that class) before you make yourself try something new. As Kelly said, that's one of the great things about photography, that there is always something new to learn and master. I shot in manual for a while and for one reason or another fell back into using AP. I need an incentive to give it another try, and I think you might just have given it to me! That class sounds wonderful and your photos are amazing!

Sarah Huizenga said...

Wow - good for you. You got an awesome new camera. You might be surprised and not go back to automatic too quickly. I always shot in Aperture Priority, but last year when I was in PA, my friend Andrea challenged me to shoot in Manual mode, I have not gone back.

Sandra said...

Beautiful pictures with your new camera, Cathy. I love that second shot in aperture mode and that last little mushroom shot is so you and is beautifully focused!

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