Today I tackled Lesson Three of my Find Your Eye class, an assignment to take at least 50 photos of a familiar subject. It turned out to be an exercise in frustration from the start.
I had planned to go out early this morning to a favorite spot where I’ve taken many wonderful photos, to see what I could find there to expand my horizons. But the day dawned gray. Not photogenically pearly or foggy or pending-storm gray, just drab and hazy. Not an inspiring day for exploring land- and seascapes. So I scratched my planned excursion, waited for the day to improve a bit, and then went out into my own back yard. (So to speak, since I live in an apartment and have no yard.)
I’ve had several enjoyable photo sessions before, exploring the narrow river’s edge behind my building. There are water, trees, wildflowers, vines with berries, even the occasional wildlife (mostly birds and squirrels). Today I was, frankly, bored. The leaves were thick and uniformly green, blocking any interesting views. There were no flowers, and no wildlife to be found, unless you count the mosquitoes that soon began dining on my arms and legs.
After a while, I walked back around the building and down the block to a nearby park on a little island. OK, that’s better. I still wasn’t feeling terribly inspired, but then I saw a butterfly on a thistle, and started trying to frame and capture it.
Even so, I only found a half-dozen or so images that I liked out of the 200+ photos I took, and I never did feel that I really got into a photographic “groove.” Nevertheless, a couple of hours did pass amazingly quickly!
What I really discovered from this lesson were the limitations of my camera. It was truly frustrating. I use a compact digital camera, albeit a good one, but today I was really forced to realize and admit to its shortcomings. Even though its controls allow for a fair degree of manual adjustment, it has two major drawbacks that really got in my way today.
The first is that, like all new compact digital cameras now, it has no viewfinder, only an LCD screen on the back. I find this affects not only my ability to see and frame the photo (especially in sunlight, hello!) but also my ability to hold the camera steady while focusing and shooting. But perhaps even worse is that the largest aperture is f3.3, and that’s at the widest angle. Zooming in causes the aperture to become even smaller, which really limits my ability to control depth of field.
So…maybe it’s time for a DSLR. But that’s a discussion for another post.
Meanwhile, here is my favorite image from today’s session. The irony is that I didn’t frame this one through the viewfinder at all…just pointed the camera and fired! The result was a lovely surprise.