“Nikon D5000: From Snapshots to Great Shots” by Jeff Revell

Most weekday evenings, my view looks like this:

I plop myself down on the cheap, robins egg blue rug that covers our living room floor and set up camp, my Nikon on one side, little pink Moleskin notebook turned photography journal (per my very official inscription in the front) on the other, post-it flags scattered somewhere within arm’s reach, photography bible straight under my chin.

The perch reminds me of working on the pink carpet in my childhood bedroom, where my main focus was illustrating the rainforest’s layers in a diaroma or creating a flip book about the state of Washington.

These days, my main focus in focus.

And aperature and shutter speed and ISO and white balance and, dear lord. Did you know photographers speak another language?

I’m trying to wrap my head around all of this, but I’ve got to say, it’s hard. The technical aspects of this art-turned-science boggle my mind. Three years sans midterms and essays have apparently left me incapable of memorizing simple rules, like large aperature = low f-stop number = large amount of light coming in the camera = small depth of field = small area of focus, lots of blur.

It’s not just me, right? That’s kind of complicated?

Some days, parts of it just click and I finally get it. Like, oh! That’s what aperature means.

Check out that depth of field! These are moments for celebration, even if they involve/require my boyfriend flicking me off.

And then, sometimes I feel like I’m right back at square one, taking pictures that are worse than anything I ever snapped with my first digital camera, circa 2000.

Seriously, it’s bad enough that this photo is blurry – but why the blue? Which setting did I fuck up this time?

I’m sticking with it though – mainly because I really, really want to get some good shots in Ecuador. If all goes according to plan – which, oh right, it never does in developing countries – we’ll get to see some awesome things, from hot springs to jungle villages to cobblestone streets. I want to be able to remember it all, since lord knows after this travel binge, it’s going to be a while before my passport sees any action. And I actually think I have a pretty good natural sense of composition and framing and color; it’s just so hard for me to translate what I see in my head and through the lens to something that looks sharp and multi-dimensional on a computer screen or in a frame.

Fortunately, my travel buddy and I have a long history of photographic excellence together, mainly through our obsessive use of Grey Gardens-esque dysfunctional family portraits, which date back to our sophomore year of college.

If all else fails, and the pictures of vocanoes and markets and monkeys remain blurry and blue and all around awful, we always have a solid tradition to fall back on. And it still makes me crack up every time.

(Photo by Uncle Parker.)


One Response

  1. your pictures are going to get better…shoot everyday if you can and when you visit here eventually or I visit you, sooner rather than later..I will try and find a good book on digital that might help…you can also call nikon, there is an 800 number and ask for a tech rep. they can tell you what you are doing wrong…I think you have a good eye and that is something that can take years to.develope…keep going !! your doing fine..

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