Conquering the bucket list: photography
When my brilliant friend turned forty, she proclaimed her new attitude on life: “I’m no longer going to ask why; I’m going to say why not!”, and we all applauded wildly. The concept is a sound one. Practicing it, however, can be a different story altogether. Who has time for bungee jumping?
But it did make me take a hard look at my bucket list. It continues to grow, but I have checked very few things off of the list. I stalled out after “have kids”. What, exactly, am I waiting for? I hit the forty marker yesterday, so decided there is no time like the present to tackle the things I want to do before I die.
Photography ranks high on this list. A long time ago, back when neon was in and I had the ski suit to prove it, my parents bought me a 35 mm Minolta camera for Christmas. Note this was back in the days when cameras used film, so experimenting with apertures and shutter speeds was a costly process, and unless you had access to a dark room, your results took a week to receive. I happened to be perennially short of time and money, not to mention patience, so photography and I didn’t get very far.
I have been wielding point and shoot cameras ever since, replacing them every few years for a model with higher pixels when the camera inevitably dies after throwing around one too many times. They are handy contraptions, and every now and then even produce a great picture. One day I would revisit photography, but until then my cheap and cheerful models would suffice.
I thought my day of reckoning came last year. On Christmas, to be precise. Santa heeded my many hints, and I received a Nikon D-5000 digital SLR. These have come down in price substantially in an effort to be competitive in the massive camera market, which now includes smartphones. I noticed the automatic setting, and not wanting to argue with the camera’s own trusty computer, switched the dial to this setting and began shooting. What did I know that the camera didn’t?
I have used this setting for a year now; and have the questionable pictures to prove it. They are certainly no better than my point and shoot camera produced, with the added burden of carrying a cumbersome, weighty piece of equipment that doesn’t fit in my purse. The automatic setting was not cutting the mustard, and my photography was getting nowhere. Inspired by my friends’ new “why not?” motto, I enrolled in a course. Twenty years late but better than never.
In three hours I learned enough to feel like I can conquer the world; Annie Leibovitz look out. My instructor taught me his “Big 6” – the main concepts he uses when composing a photograph. He blew the dust off of terms like aperture and f-stops, reacquainted me with shutter speeds, and explained how metering modes effect your pictures. He discussed the concepts of white balance and exposure compensation, and readily expressed his views on available software for putting the finishing touches on your photos.
My homework is to practice using the various settings (but never, under any circumstances, am I to touch automatic mode), and then return my findings next week. Now that I can speak this camera’s language, of course I cannot wait to play with the different settings and see how that translates to my pictures.
The total course length is six hours, its cost $150. If only my other bucket list items – learning Spanish, reading the complete works of Shakespeare, owning something Prada – could be accomplished so easily.
Advanced Digital Training is on Welch Street in North Vancouver, http://www.ADTschool.com