The Ride 2.0

March 26, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Six months and three units down, three more to go. This professional-photography-course glass should feel half full, but at the moment, it's half empty. 

I just listened to last unit's critique and what my instructor said was, "Good job overall, but be careful not to force the light, be aware that 45-degree light is over your shoulder and up, 90-degree light is low and next to you, don't take a picture of backlighting for the sake of it being backlighting, but because it is doing something special; open shade does not mean bright background (you backlit this one) — try moving your subject up against the tree and show only her face, lighting the entire scene evenly; and honestly, I don't see much difference between the non-reflector and reflector shots." What I heard was, "you suck at taking pictures."

I really did get a lot wrong, but until he created that awareness, explained how I missed the mark, I had no idea. But that's the part that's got me all worked up at the moment. I read the lessons. I asked for help and clarification. I scored 100% on the comprehension (open book) test. But when it came down to showing my understanding, I was sorely lacking. Impatient learner? Probably a big part of it. Need help following directions? Who, me? I think I get it, but apparently I don't have a clue.

What I'm finding especially difficult is in-the-moment seeing. I love the feel of the camera; I get the point of manual mode and can generally find my way to the ISO-aperture-shutter kumbaya; I'm striving to name my subject-simplify-then shoot, rather than get click happy just because. But it's the interaction of line and light and subsequent balance I don't see instinctively through the lens. "Use it for a purpose," my instructor said. He's saying don't shoot a line because it's a line. Notice what it is doing. Notice what the light is doing; this angle is doing that.

It's about relationship and action. The interaction of each creates meaning.

My habits and small box have been obstructing the view. In my eagerness not to miss a shot, I often fail to put the camera down and just look to see. Where is the light? What is it doing? Where are the lines? What are they doing? How and where do the light and lines interact? Where is the meaning? (And some say I think too much.) I'm at a loss for now, probably disappointed by the current struggle. It's just a loop in this ride (I hope); I realize ascent lies ahead. My instructor didn't tell me what I wanted to hear, he told the truth. "You did this/chose this. I know why, but it could be improved/corrected by doing that," he said. "Be aware," I heard.

Relationship, action, meaning. 

I have to laugh. When I started this adult-student endeavor, my starry-eyed optimism went something like this: 

Wearing the student cloak as an adult, I see a clearer picture. I become aware of how others experience the world, and I value their insights. Funny, after we exchange calling cards, I feel unusually confident and equipped to contribute in a rapidly changing, demanding world. I am inspired to improve my work, and I’m able to make informed decisions. My world gets a little smaller because I am privy to more of it…

Ah, yes. This ride has only just begun.




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