Photography: how does my camera work?

Let me start off by saying, I don’t know the answer to that question. I know nothing, or rather, I understand nothing when it comes to camera functions. I don’t really know how the camera does the things it does or how, as the camera operator, you make the camera do certain things. OK, I may be exaggerating a bit, but not much. I understand what the camera does: it controls light and speed to create an image. But I don’t know how that happens inside the shell of my Sony Cybershot. I know what terms like aperture, shutter speed, DOF (depth of field) and  macro mean, but I can’t really say I have much experience in manually making these things work for me. I can’t say I’ve had much success with it either.

A few years ago, I attempted a photography class, one of those offered by a local company that specializes in leisure classes for adults. I went to class for 5 weeks, at the time I was using a manual camera. I shot picture after picture trying to utilize the manual settings and was dismayed when I saw the results. Lots and lots of blur and things out of focus; a tantrum ensued and I didn’t make it to the last class, the one when we would have to ‘show’ our work. And, I quit trying to use the manual settings and continued taking pictures I was happy with, and even proud of, using my camera’s auto function. But I still longed for the ability to do more with my camera. The funny thing is, I held myself back. I cheated myself out of the joy of learning because of my fear of failure. Ain’t hindsight just grand?!

So, this year I decided to sign up for another class and I vowed to stick to it no matter what. The first class was… overwhelming. Lots of talk about mechanics and technical stuff. One thing I did learn was that my lighting sucks hard, so over the next few weeks I’ll be working on that. The second class was much better, still lots to do with the ‘how things work’, but more having to do with how your camera works. I did find it necessary to ask the instructor a typical Anamaris question. Is there a magic setting one can use to take foolproof pictures? I’m sure you know the answer to that one. That’s a big NOPE! I could feel the darn butterflies begin to fly around my stomach and I could see and hear the evil fairy on my shoulder taunting me with ‘nah nah na na’. That bastid!

This past Saturday I took heed of my instructor’s advice, threw caution to the 45-degree wind and started fidgeting around with my manual controls and shooting picture after jittery picture. No manual shots allowed. I was very excited about some of the shots, then I got home to see this.

and this…

Believe me when I say, that is not what my myopic eyes saw when I shot the pictures. Not all was lost, though. I did manage to make some shots work. Mind you, I intentionally haven’t enhanced any of these.

and this

I was still disappointed, but also pleasantly surprised. I have to say digital is a godsend and I will probably never shoot with a manual camera until I’m close to perfect using a digital camera. Sunday I went to a place called Forbidden Gardens here in Houston. Mark, our instructor, had mentioned this place will be closing their doors permanently and that there might be an opportunity for some interesting shots. Off to see the warriors I went.

And you know what? I scored! A few times. Still miles of room for improvement, but…, tell me what YOU think.

The theme for Shutterboo’s challenge was repetition this week, here are 2 of my runner ups.

this too.

But, I won’t show you my final pick. For that one, you’ll have to go to my photo challenge page, or to Shutterboo’s flicker stream. You can also see a few other shots I took those 2 days, here.

I wonder what next week’s theme will be.

Manually yours, (does that sound dirty?)

Comments ( 2 )

  1. ReplyBrooke

    I think you're doing a great job, A! The key is practice and digital cameras do allow us to practice more with no cost of having to develop film. Keep it up - you'll get it soon enough!

  2. Replymarcelina theresia

    The pictures are beautiful. If you have to improve; in my eyes, it should not be much. I also like taking abstract pictures, and this reminded me of my trip to Italy, and Greece, where I think I took some great pictures, but nothing compared to yours. You're an inspiration. You go girl!!!

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