I am very much a recreational photographer. Everywhere you go now you see people toting SLR cameras around their necks. It’s the new must have accessory. I got mine a couple of years ago with hopes that with it, I would make more of an effort to go out and see and experience more things. It did this brilliantly. Now, wherever I go, I, like these people, have my SLR around my neck (although my “steal me” strap was quickly replaced with a nondescript longer strap so I can carry it across my body. Comes in handy when climbing down rocky terrain or squeezing through tight spaces) where ever I go.
I’ve always tried to play around with the manual functions of my camera. The ISO, the aperture, the shutter speed, all come together to create the picture (I won’t touch the other stuff). What inevitably happens is, I will play around for the first half of my trip, then when I get frustrated, switch it to automatic.
Jeffrey sent me a Living Social coupon deal a few months ago for a Night Photography workshop through Photo Walk-Abouts in New York City. Night photography is difficult for me. I can never get the setting right, and almost all ways default to the camera to tell me what my settings should be. I bought the coupon, and a few months later, I signed myself up for a workshop.
My workshop was on Saturday night, the day after what will hopefully have been the hottest day of the summer. It was still hot that night, and even at 8pm that night, I was melting. I met the group and the guide at the New York Public Library on 42nd Street and got a brief overview of what we were going to do that night, and generally what settings we should be using and how it all works together. It was very brief, and not the most instructional if these terms were new to you (ie bracketing). Then off we went to take some practice shots around the area as the sun was setting down on Manhattan.
I never used a tripod before. In fact, the tripod I had with me was a loaner from someone kind enough to entrust me with it and not break it. I was a little overwhelmed. First I had to set up the tripod and get my camera secured onto it, without dropping the camera. Done. Then I had to pick something to take a picture of. That was harder. Then I had to figure out settings. That was the hardest. After futzing around for a while taking generic shots of the obvious (Lions, library, trees etc), I finally started getting comfortable with the setup and started moving around more.
After 20 minutes, we were regrouped and split into pairs for our next exercise: Light writing and ghosting. In other words, fun with long exposure times. This was the best part. I brought my camera to do things it never did before, and it was good!
Can you see me?
After fun with long exposure times and flashlights, we gathered and headed off to Times Square. A place where night does not exist. Here I had a lot of trouble. There were so many people and so many kids (it was 10pm at this point and Toys ‘R Us was still packed!) out it was hard to pick a spot and try to figure out what setting to be in, and what I wanted to capture. I never liked Times Square before, I still do not like it. All that artificial light feels so strange.
On my way back to Grand Central, I tried to put my new found knowledge to some use on the quieter and darker streets. I was lazy (and afraid of drawing attention) and didn’t bother pulling out the tripod, so a lot of my shots were a bit blurry. But I think I’m getting it, very slowly. At this point my left eye was tired from closing whenever I was looking through my view finder.
No hobby of mine is cheap. What’s next on the wish list for this particular hobby? A tripod and maybe a lens hood, and if I get more serious about this photography thing, it might be a good idea to finally look into getting Photoshop. Like my guide said. Photography isn’t just pointing and shooting, it’s also post-processing. The darkroom will be my computer. Maybe one day, when the money stops bleeding out so quickly!
The pictures I took from the workshop can be found HERE!