Monday, 18 May 2009


Have you ever allowed your dislike of a person spur you on to do something that you've always wanted to do? Does admitting it make me a bad person?

I truly, truly dislike having my photo taken. This intense aversion to being in front of the camera stems from a traumatic experience with a HIDEOUS school photo when I was a vulnerable 13/14 year old (I can't remember what age exactly). What I do remember is that I used wear the kind of coke-bottle-bottomed, super thick-lensed glasses that only appear in cartoons, and that they were always smeared by my grubby finger marks. I remember that on the day we were due to have photos taken I'd gone to some considerbale length to have an indescribably elaborate hairstyle (I'm shuddering just thinking about it now). I had also just started my teenaged career of rampant oily skin mixed with pimples and blackheads. Yeah, I was looking good (not)... Well, the poor photographer tried, he really did. "Tilt your head up a bit... drop your chin slightly... up slightly... turn away slightly..." This went on and on for what seemed like thirty minutes. In the end, he gave up and just took the shot...

Three weeks later as the teacher was handing out the photographs, she said loudly "the photographer got a beautiful shot of you ..." . Thinking that "he sure as hell took his time over it", I honestly believed that I had a good picture; and why not, photographs of the other girls in my class were truly lovely. Alas it was not to be: suffice to say that I defaced the picture, got rid of it and ABSOLUTELY refused to pay for it.

It took me many years to realise that if I didn't want to be in front of the camera, I needed to be the one taking the photos. As I started taking photos, I realised that (1) I found it next to impossible to load 35mm film, (2) I kept forgetting to take the film to the photo developers, and when I did remember it was so old that the film had corroded anyway, and (3) the photo rarely came out the way I thought it would, assuming the film wasn't two years old already. Over the years, I overcame the 35mm film problem with a Pentax Efina camera. It has one of those APS film cartridges that slots in like a battery - remember those? Then I moved on to a Sony Cybershot DSC-T7: a beautifully elegant slimline point and click digital camera. It would have been perfect ... if I could understand the graphics which were all in Japanese (long story). Alrighty then, better get a camera that I can actually understand the instructions and graphics on-screen... Enter the Sony Cybershot DSC-W90: I loved this camera, actually, I still love it. But... I still can't quite get the photos I want. So next, I'm loving Photoshop which I bought to manipulate my digital images. I'm no expert, but my pictures are improving.

So where does the unpleasant person come in you ask? Well a couple of months ago, the BF & I visited a National Trust property with another couple. I had heard what an unpleasant person the wife was from a number of people, but thought "no one can be so unremittingly awful". Suffice to say I was wrong, they were right. So there I am with my little point and click camera, and the supercilious (... insert rude word) pulls out this all singing all dancing digital SLR, and with a contemptuous glance at my camera starts taking (what I'm sure are) fabulous photos... Grrr... I find it amazing that I'd been wittering on about buying a dSLR for a couple of years, and it took one glance from The Madam too galvanise me into action.

So here I am with my brand spanking new Nikon D90... and I don't know how to use it! I have signed up for photography lessons, and attended the first one last week. Our homework for the first week was exploring exposure and depth of field. Whilst my photo isn't very good, for the first time I took a photo and generally got what I expected... Result! The only way is up.

[I have no shame, I plan on inserting my picture when I've uploaded it to the computer! And here it is...]

This weekend the BF & I went to a photography exhibition put on by the local camera club. What an inspiration! They were so friendly, knowledgable and willing to talk to a rank beginner that I'm going to join.


Robynn said...

Congrats on delving into the photography world - I totally relate! I would also do that out of sheer spite. Silly eh? But it's a great outcome anyway. Personally I am far too lazy to faff around with fancy cameras; I've tried learning the ropes on Armin's but I just can't be bothered. So it's point'n'click for me, and he can do the fancy stuff. Even my little Powershot has all kinds of settings and could take great pics if I only learned how... lessons would definitely be the way to go, but it's not going to happen. I look forward to seeing the results of yours though. Depth of field is my favourite trick.

shelly said...

love your photo here! i so want a nikon d90 too. i have been a nikon girl all my life and have the old nikon fe2 camera. it was great; it still is great. but i need to be digital and video capable.