Thursday, 26 June 2014

Pfho to graffy

Because really, what kind of language says "F" but spells it "ph"?  Seriously!


I had no idea what to write at some point last week and I must have been complaining to Jason about it because he suggested I write about how I'm feeling about photography now that I've made some changes.  I whined that I didn't want to but when I was out and about with my camera yesterday I did think of a few things that I've noticed.

Ok, so first of all I changed from a Canon to a Nikon.  And from a nice 50mm lens to a "professional grade" 50mm lens.  (ie.  the lens cost almost as much as the body.)

This really bothered me for a long while.  I didn't like the colours the Nikon was giving me, and on top of that Jason suggested that I needed to really work on getting my shots crisp and I had a hard time with that.  It had never been something I'd bothered with before and so now having this as the main focus of my shooting pretty much sucked.

I had to try to hold the damn fancy lens still enough that it could take a picture that wasn't blurry upon being blown up (or zoomed into.)  Why?  I don't know, still don't really know other than Jason says that people who know will notice.

So for a few months all I did was take a photo and not like it because it wasn't clear or crisp enough.  I had to learn to slow down, which also made things less fun and for a while I just wasn't enjoying anything.

Jason also had me start shooting in RAW and start using Aperture instead of iPhoto.

All I did was shoot in RAW format, upload the photos to Aperture and leave them there.  Except to delete almost everything.

This was around the same time flickr went stupid and I just started to wonder why on earth I was bothering.  My photos sucked (to me) and I didn't like how they looked and it wasn't fun to share them anymore anyway.


After a while I did manage to start getting to a point where my photos were sharp enough and Jason said I should start shooting on manual instead of aperture priority.

I was SOOOO happy!  Yay!  Manual!  Yay!

Except... I have no idea what I'm doing.

So we'd get somewhere, and he'd say, ok, are you dialed in?  And I'd go.. uh... no?  And so he'd take my camera and fiddle with it and say there you go and I'd take photos and hate them.

Like we went out to Sombrio, a beautiful beach I haven't been to in years and I took a bunch of photos and I hated pretty much all of them.  Jason asked what I hated and I couldn't really put my finger on it.  Everything?

Didn't help that he'd then show me the shots he got in the exact same area and I'd feel even more like crap.

He told me it was completely unfair of me to be comparing my shots to his, that that would be like me comparing the bowl I made in grade 10 art to that of a master sculptor, but it still sucked seeing what I wasn't able to do.  Kind of felt like it rubbed it in somehow.

I've been trying to be less hard on myself and just keep learning and trying but I still feel like I have no idea what I'm doing light-wise.

Like, we'll be somewhere and I'll want to take a shot and I take it and I have no idea if I should be higher this or lower that or where even to start and it's frustrating.

I have sort of guesses now as to where I should start f-stop wise in terms of where I am but then I'll shoot it and look at the shot and it's lacking the colours I see or it's not crisp and Jason will ask me what I need to change and I really have no idea.

It's frustrating.  And it's frustrating because I guess I feel some combination of dumb and lazy.  Like, haven't I learned this?  Didn't I take a course and take notes?  And read this that and the other?  Or did I just kind of skim my way through?  Yeah... that.

Ever since I went digital, I've been shooting on Auto.  And even when I shot film, I was just getting the light meter to where it needed to be, I wasn't... actually thinking.

And so now I'm supposed to think and I don't know how.

On top of that, I'm not liking the composition of the photos I'm taking anymore.  Maybe because I get them home and look at them and see blah colour and blah tone and blah focus and I just give up.  It's all blah to me.

The other weekend Jason was shooting (I still hate that term, sounds all gun-like) a friend who used to model.  He asked her if I could come too and I was super excited!  They both said it was ok if I took some shots and the first bunch I took all came out too dark and I had NO idea what I was doing wrong and I just wanted to cry.

I must have looked upset because Jason asked me what was wrong and I told him I had no idea what I was supposed to do to take the photos I wanted to take.  He must have helped me a bit because in the end I managed to calm down and get some photos I actually liked.

Still didn't know what to say to her, like, didn't know what to tell her to do, but I really enjoyed the whole thing, even if I did feel pretty lost and accidentally got in Jason's way.

So, I don't know.  I'm in a weird place with my photography right now partly because the process of sharing via flickr has all but stopped.  And partly because I feel like I don't know what I'm doing anymore.  Literally, and ... photographically.  If that's a word.

I can't seem to take photos I like.  I can't seem to figure out what to do with my camera to take photos that have the right light and colour.  I don't know what to do in Aperture to make them any "better" or even if better is better.

Jason and his friend said my photos were good and I shouldn't be so hard on myself.  Jason has liked some of the photos of him I've taken enough to use them on his facebook profile so I think I kind of secretly felt proud of that.  I send him unedited versions of my photos and he says they're fine.   Sometimes he says they're good. I don't think I'm ready for him to critique them because even if he did I wouldn't know how to fix or change what I did.

I'm not really sure how to change that other than making and taking the time to learn whatever it is I'm needing to figure out.

So I'm frustrated and feeling lost and confused, but I'm also not giving up and I'm hoping there's some kind of light at the end of this tunnel.

I'm also thinking of fishing out my film camera, some black and white film and just seeing if I can get back to the shots I used to take and love in high school.

Worth a shot, anyway, I figure.

Oh, and I just remembered to add... Jason said something one one of our hikes that stuck with me.  He said that when he's composing a shot, he makes it something he'd want to see on his wall.  So I'm thinking a bit more like that now.  Rather than just blah blah blah shoot, sometimes I'll think "would I want to look at this every day for years if it was on my wall?" Certainly when I get home, it makes the deleting process easier.


Blogger Jason Langlois said...

From my own experience, this is what advice I'd have: Focus on one element until you figure it out and get "good enough" with it, and then work on the next. Like worry about composition, and accept that maybe the light or the crispness will be off. Or just work on the light. Don't try and get good at everything all at once, I think. Also, experiment... it's digital, it costs nothing. Look into bracketing - setting your camera to take three pictures of each thing at different stops.

Also, don't be afraid to shoot a pic on auto to see what the camera thinks the settings should be. It's sort of like carrying around a light meter. Then set those in manual, and go to town adjusting them to get different effects and results.

The pics you post to the blog are good, I think. I'd hate to think you've decided to stop taking more of them.

Thursday, June 26, 2014 8:21:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...

Yeah, fair enough!

The pics I put up here are old. I stopped posting to flickr when it switched and I got the new gear. But thanks :)

Good things for me to think about

Thursday, June 26, 2014 2:15:00 pm  
Anonymous Jonathan said...

I did photography at college, and know what I should be doing - and understand all the technical side - and then just carry my phone everywhere and take snaps... lol

My only advice would be to learn about the relationship to the size of the hole you let light through, and what that does to the photos (saturation, clarity, depth of field, etc).

The rest of it is just tinkering.

Friday, June 27, 2014 3:10:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...

Sorry, I just snorted at "size of the hole" (I'm so immature, and up very late, clearly) but yeah... that's what I need to actually, actually figure out.

Saturday, June 28, 2014 12:56:00 am  

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