This fall, I discovered and joined the local photography club and found my fun. I am a rank amateur so I take to the organized outings, challenges and required contributions to the monthly slide shows. Now I have structure and a reason to keep on snapping. The club is sprinkled with pro photographers, graphic design people and so on who have been tempted to the county to retire. However, the point and shoot camera folk are also very welcome. The meetings are crammed with avid listeners. Perhaps this is my niche.
Between the slide shows of member photos, there are speakers on various topics, way above my head. Infrared photography: you can get the manufacturer to convert your current camera to an infrared camera for about $600. Photographing stars and galaxies: Nikon, Canon, etc. produce special cameras for this purpose. Who knew! You can get a tripod head that moves your camera at sidereal speed so there are no light trails. If you are doing a small part of a distant galaxy, you fix a camera on a star in that galaxy via a telescope and that camera will obligingly send messages to control your other camera all night long. Phew! Then there is the processing of these hours of photography. The speaker, just back from the Atacama Desert in Chile (driest place on earth with telescopes and good restaurants) said it took him 13 years to truly get the hang of it. I guess so!
And who knew just printing a photo could be so complex. You can buy a $600 widget to sync your printer’s colour range with that of your photo software on the computer. And you never use photo paper from any old place, like Staples. You order directly from the printer’s manufacturer specifically for your printer. For best results, go to a professional.
I’m unlikely to take up infrared or sidereal photography or possess the awesome equipment I’ve seen toted around on outings. My humble bridge camera does just fine for now. I’m chugging through Ben Long’s excellent Foundations of Photography online course on lynda.com (free via the public library) which finally enlightened me about how a camera actually works. I learned about the early Renaissance “camera obscura” in which a pinhole in a blocked window would project the street outside upside down on an inner wall. Artists then painted along the lines and astonished folks with the accuracy of their street scene. So “camera” actually means “room”. Which has entirely changed my ideas of what politicians were doing when consulting “in camera”.
Mostly, I just want to mess around with Photoshop, which I’m not sure is approved of by the purists, and I need photos for the mix. Beautifully shot scenes in natural light are all well and good but I like something going on in picture. The meddler in me seems determined to insert some kind of movement, some kind of story to make the thing interesting. Isn’t that why Normal Rockwell is so universally loved? Each of his paintings is really a flash narrative that goes straight for the heart. I want in on the action too.