You’ll Need To Know When You Need To Know…

I just gave a free workshop at our local library, something I do about 4 times a year, this one I was mostly showcasing the magic of today’s “Digital Darkroom” versus how things were done in the “old days of chemicals”.  Not so much teaching them how to use Photoshop Elements, but what’s available for them and what kind of magic is possible. And to remember, even the “old darkroom” was magical too.

My next free library class will be on how to dig thru all the sales & marketing hype to choose the right camera so Santa brings you one that will meet your needs.

After the presentation, one of the guests came up with a few common questions about her camera’s functions, questions I hear from most all beginners: “What do all these settings mean, and when should I use them?”

So I thought I’d put up a quick post for all of you with a new camera or if you know someone that’s struggling with all those thing’s needed to learn about this great little hobby we call “photography.” Here’s an easy answer –

My simplest response, “Stick with the Green Auto setting today, get comfortable just taking photos, work on composition first, find out what types of photography you enjoy, what looks good to you, what gets you excited – it’s got to get you excited!”

I say that because many will find that they don’t actually enjoy photography after all. Remember foremost – it’s a hobby, treat it as one. Just as you would any other hobby you’ll undertake, be it weaving, knitting, painting, music, sports, skiing, scuba diving, sky diving or writing. Give it your best, work at it – Does it get you excited to learn more, to get better? Learn as much as you can before you go spending a ton of money on it or get frustrated. But remember – Whatever you do, it’s got to get you excited! Makes you want to show your friends what you’ve accomplished.

While we’re on the subject of hobbies (and yes, I’ve gotten side-tracked again, that’s just how I am). I find it interesting to find what types of hobbies others enjoy. If someone doesn’t have hobbies, even simple ones, I feel they must lead a boring, unchallenging life. I’ve tried many hobbies myself over the years, some I’ve enjoyed for awhile then quit, others I sucked at! Pretty much any sport I’ve tried besides beach volleyball, I’ve sucked at. I can’t even throw a ball properly. Imagine what life in school was like for me. That’s almost as bad as a Canadian that can’t ice skate or play hockey (so I’ve heard. And, for the record – I can roller skate and ice skate). Not happy about it, that’s just how my cards were dealt or how my brain was wired – Though I have been told “there are some wires that aren’t correct.” I got over it, somewhat. Turns out, I’m very smart instead, and have done well with that (until this recession thing came about).

My existing hobbies that I’ve become very good at, beside photography of course (which luckily, I get to do for a living too), include being a multi-instrument musician/composer since childhood, I’ve collected, designed and trained bonsai for over 20 years. I also bike ride & mountain climb. Not at the same time though. I’m also very good at electronic design, which is what I graduated in, with my main expertise being large video and sound systems, such as those used for touring concert sound (I’ve had the fun of working with Joe Walsh, B.B. King, George Thorogood, Leon Russell & Bo Diddley among others), and the systems you find in auditoriums, churches and museums. Damn, I’m rambling again.

I also enjoy teaching others.

OK, side-track’s over, I’m back again. Sorry about that.

Just as in most any other hobby, there are progressive learning steps to take. With a camera, go ahead and learn each of those other settings or features too – But only learn and use one at a time. Get comfortable with it’s use first before you move onto another feature, then stick with that one until you’re comfortable with it too. Don’t try to learn everything about your camera and photography at once. You’ll just get frustrated, confused and give up.

“But how will I know which feature to start with?” she asked.

I simply explained to her – “You’ll need to know that feature, those settings or those tricks – When you need to know it, but not before then. At that time, you’ll also have a better understanding of why you need to know it.”

“Just let it come naturally, don’t push it, don’t fret over it. Read, take more (of my) classes, talk to other photographers – That’s when you’ll know what you need to know.”

She gave me a big grin and a “Thank You – That’s the best advice I’ve ever been given, not only for cameras, but for learning anything!”

And that’s why I enjoy teaching.

Thanks again for coming by,

Tony D. Locke, MM

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About masterofmadness

Semi-pro photographer & musician. Co-own a photo gallery with a digital photo-lab in a small tourist town, on an island in the Pacific NW of USA. I also teach and ongoing series of workshops in photography, Photoshop and Apple computers. I shoot mostly landscapes, in the mountains - Giving me a great excuse to go climb them. I also do a lot of fine art, macros and abstracts.
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