When I got my Rebel several years ago, I immediately had buyer's remorse. I was not even remotely impressed with my photos. The point and shoots that my husband and boys were using were producing much better photos than my Rebel. I had obviously been under the impression that my new fancy pants camera would automatically start spitting out beautiful pictures, but it very quickly became clear that an expensive camera does not a good photographer make.
That's your first profound photography revelation for today.
Not one to give up without a fight, I hit the internet, and I hit it hard. I followed every single photography rabbit trail I came across. I read everything that crossed my path. I stalked the blogs of photographers whose work I admired and I quickly became convinced that I needed to learn to shoot in manual mode if I had any hope of producing the kinds of images I dreamed of creating.
So, I put my camera in manual and immediately went from being unimpressed with my photos to being extremely unimpressed with my photos. I would flip some dials willy nilly, take another shot, change some settings, take another shot, and on and on and on. Occasionally, I would come up with a keeper, but I had no clue how I got it. More importantly, I had no clue how to get it again.
So, here's profound photography revelation number two.
Shooting in manual mode is technically complex and the willy nilly method just doesn't cut it.
Unfortunately, at that time my head was a certified technical free zone. It's true. Just ask any of my junior high or high school math teachers. Or my dad, who thought I should know how a carburetor worked before I was allowed to drive a car.
That side of my brain has been on vacation in the Bahamas pretty much all of my life.
But my free for all button pushing, dial turning days were numbered. That approach just wasn't working for me. There very well may be those who can pick up a camera and make magic happen without a thought, but I wasn't one of them.
There are several different technical aspects to shooting in manual mode, and if I hadn't pushed myself to figure out how it all worked together, my Rebel would be on a shelf right now, gathering dust.
It was not an easy journey for my noggin.
It made my head hurt.
I learned. And learned some more. And slowly it started to make sense.
Next time, I'll get into just what those technical aspects are and how I wrapped my brain around them.
Till then, here are a few suggestions to get you headed down the road to fabulous photos.
*Read every single thing you can get your hands on. Read your camera manual. I know. Snoresville, right? Read it, then go out and practice and then read it again. Every time, a little bit more will make sense.
*Get a good photography book or ten. I have Scott Kelby's Digital Photography series. He has a very user friendly style - good information without a lot of technical detail.
*Take a million pictures. Or more. Get familiar with your camera. Very familiar. When you first start out, you have eleventy seven things to think about before you click that shutter. The more you know what button does what, what dial does what, the more you'll be free to focus on other more creative aspects of photography.
*Lastly, if you are frustrated, don't give up. I'm here to tell you that you can do it. You can learn this. If I can, you can. Promise. You've found your people here. Or at least your peep. I'm living proof that those who are struggling to take better photos really can make sense of it all. Well, maybe not all, but at least a good chunk of it.
So, go forth and take pictures in manual mode, shout from the mountain tops that manual mode is from the devil, come back next week thoroughly frustrated, and we'll take it from there!
p.s. I was needing some Valentine photo ideas, so I took a skip through Flickr. It's a great place to find inspiration....all of these photos were heavily inspired, if not flat out copied, from photos I found there. I wish I had thought of making a heart out of my buttons, or making book pages into a heart shape, but I didn't. It seems the right side of my brain occasionally visits the Bahamas as well. And when that happens, tell me just what is left up there in my head?
Don't answer that.