Ponder this:

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Flow of life

Nearly three weeks ago I went to my first photography class. LM, my instructor, is soft-spoken and calm, an accomplished photographer eager to share his considerable experience. He is a kind man, a good interpreter of camera-speak, and he is an artist. He has shared stories of his deep satisfaction in capturing a particular vision, and the pleasure of seeing his portrait subjects weep with joy at their images.

At the first class he exacted our promise to use only the manual setting so that we would learn how to adjust the ISO, shutterspeed and F-stops. "I want you to get to know your camera," he said, "Anybody can get a nice picture on 'automatic,' but I want you to be able to make pictures look the way you want them to look, to open up your creativity." Flashbulbs of happiness sparked in my brain, and before the second class I'd moved a little way toward that goal.

At the second class, our "waterfall" field trip postponed by downpour, and with a third student joining us in his studio, we explored the difference that simply adjusting the ISO can make, and then we added incremental adjustments to the shutterspeed. Slowly, slowly, click by click, complete darkness began to yield the faintest of images.

There are black and white sneakers in this picture:

Last week the weather allowed our waterfall trip, to begin learning technique. I had been thinking all week about how I'd adjust everything to capture water droplets cast into the air. On the drive to the site, LM told us that wanted us to try for a flowing, silky effect in the falling water, rather than the airborne spray. Oh.

It turned out that my camera's aperture can be set only as high as 8, not small enough to make the water appear smooth and silky. LM lent me his camera to see if I could get that effect, and I could, with the aperture set at 19, far far beyond my equipment's capability. (Next week he'll give me those pictures on a cd.)
I don't much care for the silky water, although I would no doubt like it better if I could do it at will. It's good to know how to achieve that effect, even if I need a borrowed camera. Of the total now of four students in our class, I am at the low-budget end of photographic equipment. I know, as LM reminds me often, it isn't the camera, it's the eye behind it, but I was disappointed.

I have always liked the Moment more than the Process. I like the split-second, the natural moment that happens now! and never again. My memories are snapshots rather than a slow pan through my personal history. As my life flows on, though, I begin to see that everything I learn has larger applications.
Maybe Life need not be a series of jittery images, but rather a continuum, a silky ribbon flowing over rocks.

Maybe my photography class is not simply about taking pictures.


Wanda..... said...

I look forward to following your classes with you, your experience already seems gratifying...enjoyed the flow!

Carolynn Anctil said...

Beautiful. In every way.

I see so much of myself in this post, as well, including the way your memories appear as snapshots. I confess, I would have taken a few shots of water droplets suspended in air IN ADDITION to attempting to capture the silky look. ;o)

Enjoy the process.

Holly said...

a good instructor is priceless....and he sounds like a gem. Before you know it, he will light that fire of desire that will set your foot to the path of DSLR!