Sigh. The Epic Fail.
It’s a term my children like to throw around. There is a lot of humor contained within those two words. I’m not sure why. There is something amusing about the idea of floundering on a massive scale. The little munchkins especially love to employ the phrase in regards to me, or my attempts at doing things. I’m fine with that; I’m not particularly full of myself or my achievements so I usually just laugh when they tell me that something I did or endeavored to do is, you know, a big ol’ E.F.
Speaking of which, just over one year ago, I got myself one of them (please read the following portion in quotes as though said like a hillbilly) “newfangled fancy camaras” and set about with determination to learn to use it.
I envisioned myself framing shots and shooting like a pro, traveling to exotic locales and capturing breathtaking images of scenery and people. I also imagined I would get amazing shots of my children in natural looking settings. Thereby preserving their childhoods in perfect, crisp, focused detail (with elegantly blurred, high-quality Bokeh backgrounds, of course.)
I read everything I could online about photography. As you probably know, there is a mountain of information out there. I started out by taking a lot of mediocre photos on auto mode. I thought that the camera was amazing and powerful. A real precision instrument. But I just couldn’t get it to record things the way I saw them. I kept working at it. I upgraded from my kit lens to a “nifty 50″ lens.
I will admit, my photos did markedly improve with the deployment of the new lens. I continued to work to hone my skill- attempting to go into the camera’s computerized menus and fine-tune the settings (the dreaded manual mode, which isn’t really a mode at all.) Unfortunately, I was still not really satisfied with the results. Here are some of the shots that I took around that time period:
See what I mean? The photos are decent, I suppose, but not “epic successes” photographically speaking, either. I think my biggest problem is getting the lighting or exposure correct. I have learned that photography is a lot more technical than I’d expected.
Even if one sees the perfect shot and can frame it with the viewfinder, that doesn’t mean that the resultant image will look the way it was intended to look. The trick for me would be the ability to adjust the camera’s settings for the perfect exposure. I think I have composition, focus, even depth of field down pretty well… it’s the combination of shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, and exposure that I have had a ton of trouble with. Somehow the photographer is supposed to know how to balance all these factors to get the camera to “see” what the human eye “sees”.
I know there are mathematical formulas that are suitable for these circumstances. However, that’s just not going to work for me! I refuse to carry a calculator, punching in computations as I’m taking photos! Not only is that incredibly nerdy (no offense, people who do that) but it just seems the whole intuitive aspect I’d fantasized about goes out the window if one resorts to those methods.
I’d “pictured” myself having a sort of off-the-cuff, effortless, natural ability to find that great flow between myself and the camera. An almost mystical, intuitive relationship between human and machine- resulting in the achievement of perfect shots. Alas, it hasn’t turned out that way! At least not thus far in my journey.
And while I still do believe in the Latin phrase, “Quid Pro Quo” which I’ve heard interpreted as, “What you put into it, you will get out”- I have put a whole lot into this photography hobby of mine, and so far, the results have not panned out nearly as well as I’d expected or hoped.
Another realization came to me during this whole process: I’m not very comfortable lugging my DSLR and related equipment around when I go places. It’s actually a tad embarrassing for me. I am by nature a rather inward, timid soul. I worry that I’ll somehow inconvenience someone by being in their way, or that a security guard or someone mean will aggressively run up to me and yell “You can’t take pictures here!” and threaten to confiscate my camera or my memory card. I don’t think any amount of positive thinking or reconditioning will make this issue go away. So that means I’m limited to taking pictures in places where there are few (no) other people around. Which is pretty limiting if you are trying to be a serious photographer.
Not really knowing where to go at that point, I sort of packed everything to do with photography away for a few months. I felt I’d been trying so hard for nearly a year but wasn’t thrilled with my progress. I just needed a break.
What do you think? Should I liquidate my DSLR at a respectable loss and just buy a nice point-and-shoot? I would probably take more pictures; DSLR tends to be cumbersome and (as mentioned earlier) attention attracting- which for me, is not a good thing. I am uncomfortable with excessive attention. I know, I know, I have a blog. Yet somehow, laying bare my innermost thoughts to strangers is a different, more bearable form of attention than that of people gawking at me in public. Even if said gawking is really just another facet of the lush imaginarium that is my mind.
I don’t want to give up. To admit defeat. But at the same time, I’m just not sure I’m up to this challenge. Please don’t tell me to take a class- there aren’t any good ones available in my area and I am inherently skeptical of online courses where one pay an excessive amount of money to upload one’s photos in order to be assured that you’ve shown improvement and therefore earned some sort of pseudo-degree (again, no offense to those of you who may have done that.)
One theme of my blog is that although television and the media tend to glamorize youth and child prodigies, little attention is paid to those of us over 30 (ahem- over 35) who are learning new things. It’s as if no one cares about the accomplishments of “older” folks. Well, I care! I know that learning and striving is important in keeping our spirits engaged and our minds flexible. I wish this were a post where I could share with you how I became a great photographer, but it isn’t. Perhaps someday I will write that post. For now I shall have to endure more taunting from the mouths of my sweet babes: “Another Epic Fail, Mom!”