I had a dream last night where I saw a landscape and passersby didn’t notice it. One person stopped to ask why I was enthralled. I pointed out all the colors and shapes and talked in various geometric forms. I spoke at a level much higher than I normally do with pictures. Normally I’m a Neanderthal and give one grunt for good or one growl for bad.
So I have a new camera. It is a Sony A6000, an oft-mentioned good camera for beginners. Since I’ve gotten it I’ve watched a couple of hours of video on YouTube on learning how to apply ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, the triangle of light. And, without taking a picture with my new camera (other than my shoes inside of the CLU at Djibouti) I’ve noticed an internal change. Holding the camera I am filled with uncertainty in what to do and it takes away some of the joy of the moment. With my iPhone I just whip it out and snap a pic. The joy never leaves, I stay in the moment, and the iPhone takes a helluva pic. It stacks exposures and adjusts lighting into a single great pic. Honestly, it’s tough to beat the iPhone! And I’ve watched several videos by photographers on YouTube comparing iPhone and top end DSLRs. It was a video that went into the history of film and cinema that got me to understand ISO better. Diffraction? That’s still weird to me.
I’m keen to start using my new Sony camera. I’ve only messed with it in the room. Taking pictures outside is not good OPSEC. I’m due to end my deployment soon anyway. I hope to have a better understanding of the settings and locations before I return to Oregon. But I’ve also been worried. With my iPhone pics I just took pictures and sometimes doctored the colors in instagram. I look for things that make me smile. I have my own aesthetic sense in design, and I’ve used it in making bar charts, web pages, drawing, etc. it comes out in pictures also. I’ve been told by more than a few artist friends that I’ve got “an eye”. I take this as being attuned to some sort of beauty, which itself is inseparable from patterns at the most fundamentally level. Order opposed to chaos, and no, spontaneity isn’t chaos, it is liberation. Humans have the deepest need for order. It fuels every facet of our existence.it sparks religion and philosophy and science and art. We approach order as beauty, and the wider the connection, we then approach awe.
I’ve hated all things Adobe for years. Hate them. Hate their business model, their softwares, their CC Cloud gunking up my system… everything. I’ve mostly edited photos in Instagram. Before that I toyed with some editing in the iPhoto app ten years ago. That’s about it. I have Pixelmator and Affinity and others, and I’ve used these as regular as a visit by Haleys comet. But it was a YouTube video of a guy making edits to subscriber videos that got me thinking of LightRoom. So I gave it a shot on my iPad 2 and instantly fell in love with the app. This app is amazing. I love how you can look at photos from other people and see their edits applied over a short 5 sec animation, and then download the preset. Amazing. And you can view what their camera setting a were. I can see f/stops, ISO, shutter speed, camera, and lens. Wow! It’s like a classroom where I can learn from a world of other people, not only in their editing techniques but also their initial setups.
I’ve also rediscovered Flickr. I used to use it merely as a photo backup or a means of sharing with others before the cloud services got better. But now it is a repository of great photography and out of the thousands that I’ve uploaded over the years, I do see a progression of improvement on my part. I’m found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/eddiecoyote/. My Instagram is at https://www.instagram.com/eddiecoyote/
This is also good for me in that it is lessening my fear of messing up. There are millions of photographers out here making billions of photos. I’m not special. I’m not a pro. I don’t want to be a pro. I don’t want to work as a photographer to pay my bills. I just want to capture beauty on film (my age is showing, it sounds better to my ears than capture an image to digital). I was watching a photographer talk about his edits as his style and how he’s shifted to warmer tone edits, while others might be more inclined to cooler tones. That helped me a lot. My anxiety is connected to the fear of missing the perfect, or the best that I could get in a pic. I don’t need to be perfect, just present. I’ll learn more skills over time. I’ll no doubt screw up a lot of photos with over or under exposure or angle or whatever. It’s okay. Remember why I bought it… not to preserve the world, but to perceive it. I can’t perfectly capture an image that will go on my wall and forever more mirror that moment in time. But I can move through the world more intentionally and see the light, colors, and shapes around me, and pause for a moment and ask myself should I go with a higher or lower exposure.
I’m in a dance with the world around me at this point, and that is worth it.