Recently, I think because of our travels, I have had occasion to think a bit about photography. Specifically, my photography. I’ve come to the conclusion that I suck at it.
Some people seem to have an innate ability to look at a scene, visualize how they want it to look in the camera, frame it properly and then take the shot. The result is usually quite good or, perhaps, beautiful. I do not have that ability. Sadly. My wife, Alicja, does have that ability. And, she has the patience to wait, move around, whatever, to get the picture just the way she wants it to be. Many of her pictures are, to me, works of art.
She creates the Mona Lisa; I make a mud fence. She takes beautiful landscape photos:
I get a row of hands along the cruise ship rail.
And, some girl picking her swimsuit out of her ass.
And, then, there is the technical aspect of it. The camera.
For several years now I have had a little Casio point and shoot that I bought in Las Vegas after a good run of blackjack and video poker. It is a wonderful little camera and takes very good pictures. Plus, it is small, light and easy to carry.
But, in 2012, after my first trip to Poland to see Alicja, I decided I should have a “real” camera. A digital single lens reflex camera. I had two film SLR cameras, including a Canon FTQL I bought many years ago when I was in the Navy. But, no one uses film anymore. So, I started doing research and ultimately focused on finding a Canon EOS Rebel T2i. It is a very nice, moderately-priced DSLR that will do everything I need and more. I actually found one for sale on Craigslist in Oklahoma City. Not very old, came with the camera bag, extra battery and charger and manual. When I contacted the guy, it was apparent he needed cash immediately. I suggested we arrange to meet the following day because I was in Shawnee and he was on a job in, I think, Stillwater. But, he immediately told me he could meet me that very afternoon. We arranged to meet in the parking lot of the Firelake Grand Casino. We met, I checked it out and it was as he said it would be. I bought it.
Interestingly, after concluding the transaction, I decided to go in the casino for a few minutes for a beer and some video poker. That was a good move because I ended up winning enough at VP to more than pay for the camera. But, I digress.........
So, the camera is the technical part. Now, I had a good one. I must admit that it takes very good, crisp, clear, quality pictures. Noticeably better than the little point and shoot.
After having bought it, I took it on my next trip to Poland and took many, many pictures with it. Some good, many not so good.
I went to a family gathering not too long after buying the camera. My son-in-law, Jonathon, immediately took it and started doing wondrous things with it. First he turned off the “auto” setting - politely indicating that was only for idiots. He then proceeded to change every setting on the camera all the while explaining patiently what he was doing and why. I smiled and nodded and understood nothing. He told me he had taken a photography class in high school or college or somewhere and that it had taught him a lot. I agree. It had. But, I understood nothing. I still don’t. Of course, Jonathon is now a sound/video engineer for some cable company or something. So, he knows stuff like that.
My photography is what I would call basic, mechanical. Definitely not artistic.
One of my trademark abilities is to take a picture that would probably be very good except for some guy’s elbow in the corner of the shot; or a piece of building on one edge or something like that.
And, the one I do most often is take a picture about the time that Alicja walks in front of me so that her back is in central point of whatever I shot.
And, then, there are the pictures I look at a month after a trip and I have to ask, “WHY did I take that shot?” Alicja and I laugh about that all the time. I will show her one of my really stupid pics and ask, “What was the author trying to say with this picture?”
In this picture, I know where we were: Heraklion, Crete. I know what we were doing: We were having lunch after visiting Knossos and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. We were at a restaurant. I don't know the name because I did not take a picture with the name. I don't remember what we ate because I did not write that down or take pictures of it. What I DID do is take this picture.
And, later, I asked Alicja, "Why?"
Lately, Alicja has helped me in terms of trying to teach me to consider the view and what might intrude in the frame. She knows nothing about the technical aspects of the camera, but she has an incredible ability to look at a scene and take a perfect picture. Perhaps I am learning a little but I will never be a good photographer. She also tries to teach me Polish and it is as confusing as photography.
I need to learn to take pictures that help tell my story. I am not good at that either. I guess I will just keep trying.