A couple updates ago, I mentioned that I’ve been a bit busy, and not just with that science-fiction novel I keep vague-blogging about. Things like what, you ask?
Things like photography.
I’ve had a good DSLR camera for more than a year now, but haven’t done a thing with it. I really only bought the damn thing as an excuse to get out more during the summer—the theory being that the allure of snapping wildlife photos would make me more inclined to leave my house—but that working about as well as expected, so the camera’s sat on a shelf this whole time.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I decided that owning an expensive camera, and not knowing anything about photography, was kind of like owning an expensive guitar, but not knowing how to play even one song by the Ramones.
(I came to this realization partly because I’ve been learning more about art and art history lately, but that’s a topic for another post.)
So, I started doing some research. Skimming the camera’s manual, watching a couple of YouTube videos on the basics of photography, reading some blog posts filled with made-up words like “f-stop” and “histogram.” All the things one does to pick up a new skill in this our digital age.
The result? Well, I can’t speak for what you might think of the self-portrait above, but I’m happy with it—and the handful of the couple hundred other photos I’ve shot since finally using this camera as something more than a bookend.
And holy hell, this is sort of fun!
Even considering how often I get absolutely lost in the maze of ISOs, apertures, shutter speeds, focal lengths, and the seemingly bottomless rabbit hole of concepts and numbers I’m still only slightly convinced I know anything about. Learning how to compose a semi-decent shot, learning how light works, learning which sorts of subjects I’m interested in—it’s all kind of awesome.
That last one’s especially thrilling for me, since I’ve only ever really considered photography from the more “journalistic” side, rather than the “creative” side. That is, I’ve always looked at photography as a way to record reality as it is. It doesn’t have to be about presenting what’s there in all its literal glory, and instead can be about pretty much whatever the hell you want.
You don’t have to take a photograph—you can make one.
That’s probably obvious to people who aren’t me, and who actually learned to appreciate the visual arts before age forty, but you know what? Better late than never.