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Rainy-Day Distractions and Discoveries

Yesterday, I went out in the backyard and shot on my first roll of ILFORD FP4 PLUS black and white film on my Canon AE-1.

It was so nice sitting in the grass, taking a moment to appreciate all the beauty and stillness around me.

I took a moment to just breathe and center myself with my camera in my lap. It was a form of meditation for me and when I opened my eyes, I was ready to capture the beauty of the moment.

I got used to the weight of my camera, the way the focus on my 50mm lens made things look deep and far away. I worked on holding the camera steady as I pressed the shutter; clicking between heart beats and in the center of a breath.

Today, I'm letting some of the new information from photography class sink in. Going from digital to black and white film is challenging because I can't just look at picture after I take it and change my setting to match. There are no test shots, there's no way to know until you're in that dark room. This makes the stakes much higher. Not only is each shutter costing you $$, you want to do your best to make sure every shot is viable. But that's what excited me about film in the first place, the uncertainty of what will turn out.

So today it's raining. A total surprise to wake up to raindrops on my windowpane. Good thing it happens to be one of my favorite things. As usual kitty is taking a cat nap by the window. The way the grey light cast him in silhouette was what originally inspired me to grab my digital Canon T3i DSLR. I took some shots (top photo) of him in shadow with the window bright and showing off our awesome ginko tree. Then, the closeups were inevitable. OOHH KITTY SO CUUUTE!! So I got up close and personal with Jasper with the window in the background. But the picture turned out flat and he looked blurred in the foreground (second photo). Not what I was going for. Then I thought the background was too bright so I tried putting down the Fstop because taking down the ISO was darkening the subject as well (third photo). When the numbers started getting up to F7 I knew that wasn't helping the background at all and kitty was almost in shadow again.

But then I remembered on simple rule: open the aperture and you can create a deeper depth of field. So I took the Fstop as low as it could go (around 2.8) and behold! A sharp kitty in the foreground and a blurred background (bottom photo). I was surprised he looked right at the camera. Such a cooperative and fierce model! Hahah

But what this taught me was that one little adjustment based on the rules of photography, can completely change how your photos look and how intentional you are as a photographer. Instead of just taking shots and changing settings arbitrarily until the test shot on your review screen looks good, think about the mechanics of the camera, how the little room inside the body controls the light and exposes an image based on a calculated system. With more control you can make stylistic choices and create an amazing photo. That's why I always shot of M or manual. Learn that calculated system and your adjustments will be more intentional and all your photos can be great.

This small experience showed me how important it is to know the basics and work with knowledge instead of test shots.This small experience showed me how important it is to know the basics and work with knowledge instead of test shots. So glad that I just picked up my camera and tried something. I feel that the more I'm able to practice on my own, the more I'll appreciate my formal training and the more it will matter in my life. I hope to share this information with you all and offer workshops in the future for basic photography!

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