Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Learning

Perfect Moment Monday is sponsored by Weebles Wobblog and is described as "...noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between." I think it's a great way to make us all more mindful of the good things that happen to us. There's always at least one perfect moment...!

The first week of September I had my first photography assignment, and suffice it to say, I was nervous as hell. I still didn't know diddly about f-stops, shutter speed, ISOs, lighting, and so on. The instructions were to 'create a photograph in the style of' a photo of our choice, a photo snapped by photographers who had more experience in the tip of their clicking index finger than I had in my whole body. We were not supposed to recreate the photo per se, and this proved to be much easier said than done. The day of the shoot, we went up to the roof and I tried to figure out how to get the same lighting as my chosen photograph. Did I mention I don't know jack about lighting? Yeah. I felt uncomfortable and out of my element, and I kept apologizing for not knowing what I was doing and taking too long to do it. My model was awesome and helpful and patient, but my frustrations only grew as I continued to actually get some great shots - but nothing I could use for this assignment. After over 100 shots, I decided I had some I could work with, and called it a day.

To keep this post short, let's just say what looks great on a 2.5" LCD does not look the same on a 14" laptop screen. I emailed my model and asked if we could shoot again.

Fast forward to late October; same location, same model, same photographer. But not really. I was shooting a nude set, another homework assignment. Though slightly nervous about shooting someone I actually knew naked, besides that, everything was great. I adjusted shutter speed and aperture like an almost-pro. ISO? No problem. White balance? Pshhhh! On it.

In a flash (not literally, though), I realized just how much I had learned in less than 2 months, and that was my Perfect Moment.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

(RAW) Shit Happens

I walked into the house and glanced at my laptop sitting on the kitchen table. My camera was connected and I could see what had been uploaded. I leaned in to read the dialog box that had popped up on the screen.

"Noooooooooo!!" I shouted.

"What happened!" my mom exclaimed from inside. My mom always thinks something disastrous has happened. Then again, I had just let out a blood-curdling scream.

"I shot all those photos today in a format my computer can't upload!!"

"And why would you do that?" My mother's response came much calmer now. A little too matter-of-fact.

I slammed my palm into the door once (ok, maybe twice) but that hurt too much, so I kicked it for good measure. "Because that's what the professor said to do!!"

I huffed and puffed some more as a thousand other thoughts went through my head. I had been shooting all day, all damn day. The project is due in a few weeks; considering it's to be handed in in book form, and the book takes 7-10 business days to be printed and delivered, that meant I had to have everything shot, edited and finalized by Monday in order to make the due date. As in, two very short days from now. I had spent on-and-off parts of today stressed because I was down to the wire; I was getting great shots but the quality of many wasn't coming out to my satisfaction. I couldn't wait to get home and see them on the computer to judge once and for all if they were usable. In the meantime, I was beating myself up about why I couldn't perfect what I was doing and why I hadn't learned everything I needed to know about the vast world of photography in 3 whole months. I berated myself for procrastinating on not getting the bulk of the project done until now.

I walked to my room to get something and of course, slammed my hand into the door frame, this time by accident. "Aaaaaaaargh!!!" It was a guttural sound, not a high-pitched one; one I really put all my feeling into.

"What happened?"

"I slammed my frickin' hand into the wall, and it hurts!" You know how when it rains it pours? I felt like I should brace myself for the coming storm.

I was fuming. "Fuck this project, fuck this class, fuck my life!", I thought. I thudded back to the kitchen, knowing I was overreacting at this point, but I just couldn't help it. My schedule was completely ruined; so much for "edit tonight, shoot and edit Sunday and finalize by Monday". I had been so excited to get home and get started, to get thismuchcloser to finishing this project so I could clear my calendar for the other final project I had to hand in. I had some photos I was really excited about seeing that I couldn't even get off my camera to look at, let alone work on. It was frustrating and annoying and and and.

All of a sudden the great day I had spent with my mom, hanging out in the city and photographing, all went to crap. And as soon as I thought that, reality hit. It was unfair and illogical to throw away the goodness of a whole day just because something bad had happened. I thought to myself, "If you hadn't left most of the work to the last minute, you wouldn't be so stressed out right now. You would have more time to shoot and more time to figure out a way to get the photos off your camera. It's very easy to blame the professor for his suggestion, but it's really not his fault this happened and you know it. Maybe you should step up and take some responsibility for this mess instead of blaming everybody and everything else."

Then I wondered if God or the powers-that-be had been chuckling all day while I shot in RAW instead of JPEG, knowing full well what was gonna happen when I got home. I imagined a bunch of Powers sitting around in a living room of some sort, somewhere in the sky above me, doubled over in laughter and pointing down at me. Then I thought about how odd and self-centered it was to think that; I'm sure that God or the powers-that-be had way better things to do than worry about what file format I was shooting in. That realization further brought home the fact that maybe, just maybe I was taking things a bit too far.

I've been trying to teach myself that life is not only about what happens to you, but how you handle what happens. Just as easily as I had a mini-meltdown, I could have figured out constructive ways to get myself out of the problem. So I googled my dilemma and followed the suggestions my favorite search engine came up with, still upset but much calmer. I'll have you all know; still no photos. Tomorrow, I will look for more solutions. I will also go out and shoot some more, this time not in RAW.

I walked into the living room to get my camera charger.

"Did you get them?" my mom asked.


"What are you gonna do?"

"Figure out a way to do it without freaking out." I couldn't help but kind of smile as I said it.