There seems to be this camera and photography fetish among geeks and code jockeys. Or maybe that’s my over-extended exaggeration because of a few choice examples? Or maybe it’s not; maybe it’s just that geeks are drawn to cameras because it’s like any other fetish of taxonomy and technicalities. Regardless, I’m falling in love with the art of photography again (so soon?) — perhaps reluctantly and against my better judgment. But when I look at the results of my oh-so-amateur work, I think: Why not?
I say that I’m reluctant to re-admit any obsession or fascination with photography because it was photography that put me into the mess of optometrists’ offices in the first place. My ninth grade photography teacher was the one that decided my impressionistic take on the art was not an aesthetic thing nor was it a failure to master the equipment nor inattentiveness to technique. Instead (she discovered) it was my mildest of myopia that was at fault for those soft edges and out-of-focus subjects. Thus did it seem far easier to blame photography as a whole — the art, the technical aspects of it, and all of that — for the icing on the Nerd Stigma cake. Good grades and an eagerness to wax knowledgeable (if sardonically) were not enough; no, nature dealt me the Badge of Spectacles as well.
So photography and I parted ways for a while. We had different agendas, apparently. I moved on, working toward perfecting my principal craft (writing) and ascertaining some other new skills. Photography works it’s way back in (however) in mysterious and under-handed ways. You see, photography never really did go away. On the contrary, photography slipped in undetected as a point-and-shoot 35mm Canon and those little Kodak disposables. Photography toyed with me. Giving to me a thinly veiled false (??) confidence. “You see,” photography said, “you’re pictures aren’t that bad. You’ve got a decent eye. Your composition isn’t all that horrible. You just need to drop the pretension. You’re carrying around too much baggage my friend.” It felt a bit like cryptic advice, so I did what felt right and put my distance between myself and photography. “Screw you,” I said right back to photography. “If you’re so sure about that, then you won’t care if me and A. go digital, eh?”
Well, perhaps that was exactly what photography wanted yours truly to do. A. & I went to digital thinking: It’s for hikes and parties. It’s for the instant gratification and easy sharing. It’s because we’re amateurs and we know it. And so it goes. But three years into our point-and-shoot frenzy, I start to realize that we’re actually getting pretty good pictures taken with that camera. The composition is there after all and they’re turning out pretty well (the pictures) considering that:
- We didn’t buy a fancy camera by any stretch of the imagination; and
- I have zero freakin’ clue how to really work this so-called basic piece of optics and electronics as it is.
And so over the past couple of months I have put some serious effort into rectifying #2 above. I have gone to town trying to teach myself about things like “depth-of-field” and exposure. I’ve tried to teach myself about focal length despite the fact that this camera has only one lense that ain’t going nowhere. I have taught myself about EXIF but I still have no real clue what ISO is (not in any meaningful-to-me way, at least). I experiment with the exposure and the flash levels and the white balance and have even learned when to use the macro feature.
All for naught? I think not. There’s a lot of joy to be had in taking these pictures. And especially in sharing them. What’s disappointing is that I find myself coveting fancier camera all the time. “DSLR” hangs in my mind often and I spring on each article and review that I see. You’re not a photographer, I remind myself. Don’t let youself get wrapped up in yet another labor/knowledge/cash/time-intensive hobby. (Jack of all trades, master of none?) Just another thing to keep me from writing, eh? Regardless, something tells me I’ll let this one creep in on the fringes. Linger, poke, and play. But I’ll remind myself to keep it to a tasteful minimum. And not bite off more than I can chew.