Picture Paradise

I’ve always been creative but not artistic. I hate that I can’t draw or paint or create anything pretty freehand. In college my Communications degree concentrated in “Visual Media Production,” which meant I took a variety of classes in capturing and presenting visuals. Although film can be very artistic, I concentrated in video (a surprisingly consequential nuance), so mine were always more about storytelling than creating something beautiful. There was one non-video, non-writing class that left a lasting impression on me, though: Photography. The class planted the idea that I may be able to do something artistic by capturing the world around me. Over the eight years I worked in video, that idea took root and often seemed like a way to expand my understanding of both mediums. About five years ago, I got a DSLR (read:fancy) camera for Christmas. I’d asked for the camera and I was so excited about learning to use it. In fact, I was still excited to learn to use it last week. You know, when I actually did learn to use it.

Since I’m mostly free these days, I decided to check back in with my photography Meetup group. It turned out the group leader was teaching a  three-hour crash course in learning the basics of manual mode. The class sounded like the perfect way to refresh my memory, learn some new things, and gain the confidence to switch out of auto. It ended up being all of the above. Something the instructor said really stuck with me: years ago he made the decision to switch into manual mode and never let himself switch back. It was so simple, but genius. Every time I’ve tried to learn to use my camera in the past, I forgot things, got frustrated, and switched back into auto. “Shoot manual or not at all” will be my mantra from now on. I’m hardly a pro but this is the most fun thing I’ve done in a while and the results weren’t bad for a beginner. I thought I’d take this chance to share some pictures from paradise with all of you. Click on any of the photos below to view them as a slideshow.

The next day I decided to continue my experimentation. Of course, I started with pictures of my canine muse(s). Afterward, I rode my bike around the neighborhood and to the beach, hoping to capture a little of the beauty around me. What I hadn’t anticipated is that when you go out in  public with a camera, people think you know what you’re doing. They ask you questions or look at you like they’re impressed. I was shooting at the beach when a surfer came out of the water and asked me what model camera I was using. I answered to best of my ability but I had to admit I was just learning because I knew I couldn’t answer whatever questions came next. He was so kind though, telling me to “just keep shooting” and not get discouraged. He said to show my photos to family and friends so they can tell me how great I am, which cracked me up. But here I am doing it and I’ll be expecting you all to sing my praises any minute now.

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