Learning Photography, but Really!

So if you asked me 5 years ago, I’d probably have hesitated to call myself a photographer, even though I really always felt like one. If I have a camera in my hand, I will never turn it off. I take hundreds and thousands of photos on any given trip. My favorite subjects are my cats, but also nature, buildings, cool textures I come across throughout the day. I photograph food, friends, city life, art, plants, and animals. I dare you to do something photo-worthy in front of me and convince me to withhold my camera.

So it was only about 3.5 years ago that I had the burning desire to own an SLR. My little point and shoot just was not doing what I needed it to, and I couldn’t possible take shots worth looking at without an added zoom lens. Forget about additional features or flexibility, it was the zoom I was looking for.

I spent a couple of months researching. I even ended up buying two different cameras, both entry-level SLRs – one from Nikon and one from Canon, just to see the different features and movements, the way the lens moved, the clarity of the images after shooting. I had about 1 month of experimentation before I knew I’d have to return one (and save what would otherwise be an outrageously costly experiment!)

Ultimately I chose the Canon Rebel XSi. My point and shoots had all most recently been Canons and I was familiar with the design and setup, and knew just how all the buttons functioned. And while I had heard better reviews about the Nikon lenses, I knew the differences between either camera would not be so grave one way or the other.


That camera has since taken me on many incredible adventures; throughout Thailand and Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, to the big cities in Japan, Singapore, and Indonesia, to the jungle of Malaysia’s Borneo, and the beaches of Bali. I’ve explored my own New York and Berlin, shot vendors at the spice market in Turkey, and animals of all sizes, far and wide.

The missing ingredient, however, has always been my lack of trained knowledge on how the camera really works. It looks beautiful, as do the images it creates. I feel powerful and in control of my shots, but I really know that aside from a good eye on beauty, I don’t really have an idea of how to improve each image. And that’s not just with regards to the camera itself, but also to the second stage of photo editing within photoshop, when dusk has turned to night and the crystal clear image of the afternoon has faded from view and can never again be replicated.

How do I make my images even more beautiful? How can I take the sometimes extraordinary sometimes average photos I have made and turn them into works of art?

Here is where my knowledge tapers out and the need for a professional guide comes into focus. I needed a teacher. Someone to show me how to use my camera skillfully. Someone to help me understand the importance of light and the rule of thirds and everything else you probably learn from a high school photography class. I needed someone to show me how to open the image in Photoshop and tweak the color and clarity, the shadows and whiteness. How to best capture what is before me.

And so after years of thinking about it, I have finally gotten myself a teacher. Who will hopefully show me the ropes and guide me through the difficulties of capturing the right light, and editing out what is unwanted. After only one class, I feel like I already have a better handle on the sleek machine that has baffled me for so long.

So be prepared, dear reader, for many days and months ahead filled with (increasingly) beautiful images as I explore one of my greatest passions, photography.



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