Shooting in manual

Over the past month, I have been playing with my camera more while also sneaking away for a few hours a week to take an online course by Katelyn James.  She is a photographer out of Richmond Virginia, and she offers several digital resources for photographers.  Over the Thanksgiving holiday, some of her courses were on sale so I invested in her “Lighting and Location” course.  She offers an overview of how to shoot manually – rather than using the camera presets – at the beginning of the course so it felt like a great place for me to start.  (She also offered a monthly payment plan which made my budget VERY happy!  I’m looking at you, Dave Ramsey.)  I have loved learning more about my camera in the quiet corner of my local coffee shop.  However, the computer time can only get me so far.  As with most things, there comes a time when the theoretical knowledge has to come face-to-face with practical application.  In my case, that means leaving the coffee shop with my camera in hand and taking loads of terrible pictures.  

Seriously, I have probably taken hundreds of pictures of inanimate objects only to do one of two things:  shake my head or burst out laughing.  Sometimes – rarely, in fact – one or two pictures look hopeful.  They offer a promise of potential.  And that is a fantastic feeling.   

One of the things that I have started this week is shooting manually, rather than using the camera presets.  Leaving those presets was tough, y’all.  The manual screen is full of numbers, including fractions (!), and I had no clue what any of that meant.  Honestly, there are still a few numbers on that manual display that have no meaning to me.  But those coffee shops hours with Katelyn have helped me to gain a better appreciation for those crazy numbers and how those settings will eventually grant me the ability to create images that are representative of me and my style.  And now that I’ve switched the dial on my camera to “M,” I can’t go back.  Going back just doesn’t feel like an option anymore.  Even if my computer is full of terrible pictures, I can’t let the false confidence of a preset dictate my growth.

In true nerd style, I made a “handout.”  It outlines some of the things that I have learned thus far.  

Disclaimer:  I am a beginner!  I am the epitome of someone who has no clue what is going on and is slowly learning with some input from professionals and lots of guidance from making plain ole mistakes.  If you know more than me, you may disagree with this handout.  That is perfectly fine.  I may disagree with this handout in a few weeks or months.  This is purely a way for me to help myself understand what little I do know, while also helping other people take the leap to shooting manually.  

Don’t rain on my parade.  It may be small and some of the balloons may escape and terrorize the city.  But the parade is all mine.

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