Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Weather, Photography Class, and What I Take for Granted

The weather has been pretty bad for the last week and a half. When it hasn't been raining, it's been cold and cloudy. As a result, I haven't been out doing much shooting, thus I haven't updated here in a week. I don't mean for this blog to disappear so quickly. I've just been using the lousy photography weather as a perfect time to get caught up on a bunch of other stuff. In fact, I'm a little behind on my photography too. I've got some raw files I need to process from my lighthouse trip on October 10th. You catch up on one thing while falling behind on another. That's life!

Last night was week 3 of my photography class. Instead of a normal class, we took a field trip to nearby Maybury State Park. The instructor told us he was going to point out a few subjects that were required shooting (to see how different people shoot the same subject). The first place he pointed out was near the parking lot...a little field with a bunch of trees, a clearing with some picnic tables, and some logs from a campfire. He said there was a picture somewhere in there and we had to find it. And with that he set off down the trail towards the lake, with everyone following...except Wayne (who I met on the first day of class) and myself. We instantly made a break for that field, found our pictures without the distraction of the other students, and explored the surrounding area for about 30 minutes. We then decided to play catchup and started following along where the class had gone. We found a few shots, and JUST missed a woodpecker (we spotted it as soon as I took my zoom lens off, and it flew away just as I had gotten the lens back on and remove the cap). We then caught up with Melanie, who had dropped behind the group to take some photos on her own. She showed us the other subject we were required to shoot (a particular tree). The three of us then took our time wandering the trails, looking for the pictures we figured the others had missed. I'm sure we found a few. Wayne decided to head back, and Melanie and I continued on around the lake. It was getting dark, so we didn't get that many more pictures.

By the time we got back around to the front, Melanie needed to get some pictures of that first clearing, but by this time it was dark. Even though we were asked to refrain from shooting with flash, it was so dark there wasn't a lot of choice, so Melanie started shooting away. Meanwhile I set up my tripod and started taking long exposure shots, thinking nothing much of it. Then she started asking questions about what I was doing and how I was doing it. It was then that I realized how I take the things I know for granted. So I started showing her how to do long exposures at night. We took some shots at the longest exposure (30 seconds) and the largest aperture her lens could handle. I then looked at the histogram and, once again without thinking, started rattling off "well, your about 3 to 3.5 stops underexposed, so we'll need to use a bulb for about 4 minutes". Of course, she had no idea what I was talking about, so I had to explain how the histogram works, and how that ties in to exposure stops and calculating shutter times.

So I learned a few things on this trip. First of all, I take a lot of things for granted, and maybe I'm not really fascinated by some things I should be. It might be useful to stop and take a closer look at exactly what I've been doing. Maybe theres some fun to be had in there and I'm just overlooking it because it seems mundane. Another lesson I learned is to get out and start shooting different stuff at random more often. I knew what was at this park from going there several years ago, and I thought it was kinda plain...nothing much worth shooting. However, once I got into there, I started looking at that place from a photographic perspective and realized just how many things are there to shoot. I guess I've gotten into the habit of looking for those grandiose shots and forgot that there's a lot of beauty in the simple things we might overlook. Finally, and perhaps the most important lesson (thought that last one was good) is to not let the weather get me down. Go out and shoot anyway. I've been looking at trees which could use nice lighting and landscapes which could use blue or partially cloudy skies. I couldn't get what I wanted so I stayed home and did other things. If I would just get out more, I'm sure I'll find plenty of things to shoot. Despite the ugly skies and dimming light, I got quite a few good shots. Sure, there were some colorful trees reflecting off the water that would have looked better with a nice sky and some golden hour glow, but there were plenty of good shots that didn't involve any sky, and others where the sky didn't matter at all.

I'll be posting some pictures here in the next few days once I get around to processing them (need to get caught up on my other pics first).

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