I decided last week to finally stop fiddle-fucking around with my Panasonic LUMIX G6 camera. I’ve owned the camera for almost a year, bought it used on eBay, barely any use, bought a lens to go with it because I didn’t know what I had bought and apparently you buy them separately.
In those twelve months, using only the auto mode setting, I’ve pointed the thing at people I like and people who don’t like things pointed at them. All in the hope for that perfect one million pound shot. I’ve snapped and snapped and snapped and alas they are still not the photographs I hoped for.
Looking back at my older photos, I thought they were good. But I wanted better quality ones of my boys for my lounge wall, so I bought the mirrorless camera, thinking my world would change for the better. And it did. Slightly. I mean; they look cleaner and crisper, sure. But not what you see in the magazines. So, I began googling the obvious: ‘how to take great photos’.
The results and the reality hit me like a vegan halfway through enjoying a bacon sandwich. I wasn’t as good as I thought I was and I didn’t understand a word of what I was reading. The truth felt cold and empty. I knew nothing, and even though, as a kid, I took a college course in photography and snapped nothing but hot girls at lunchtime, none of it helped me. Surprisingly.
Annoyed and angry, I punched myself in the nose and decided to study the subject further. And by further, I mean at all. I found the information online. Free information. Spilling out of the internet. I felt embarrassed that I didn’t know anything about photography, and worse still was the realisation that I didn’t know what I didn’t know but should have known, considering it’s free and at my fingertips. I began reading.
I decided to do nothing all week except learn photography. I listened to podcasts, watched YouTube videos, read blogs, twisted my dials, clicked my buttons randomly and hopelessly in the belief I would gather the knowledge like a bee gathers honey. I learned about aperture and F.Stop (the same thing, apparently) and shutter speed and ISO and Photoshop Lightroom. And, well, It appears, there’s a lot to know. There’s also a triangle to illustrate the importance of it all.
Exposure triangle is important. Trust me. Just don’t ask me to explain it.
Surprisingly enough, I found my best photographs were off-the-cuff moments. Moments that happened when my iPhone was in my hand. Maybe, I have a knack for composition, I’m not sure. However, after these off-the-cuff shots are taken, I then proceed to over edit the life out of it until the photo lay there dead and lifeless on my screen like an ant being prod by a toddler. It is no longer recognisable to man nor beast. And the composition counts for nowt.
But I was about to change all that off-the-cuff winging it. Armed with this new found knowledge, and my ten-year-old son for torch holding duty, I hiked over to the middle of my nature reserve in the pitch dark. There I stood. Feet in rabbit droppings. Head cocked back. Camera aimed at the stars piercing through the clearest black night I’d ever seen. It felt like I was stood on another planet. But by the time I’d walked home and uploaded the shots onto the laptop and edited the grainy black picture, I had decided I wasn’t going to have the time, patience, or motivation to ever be a good photographer or even want to be, anymore.