Starting from practically zero with a little old Kodak point and shoot, I have worked my way up to a practically pro level mirrorless camera with assorted lenses, which I still mostly have to learn how to use. Add to that a fascination with Photoshop and the door is open to the weird and even weirder. Photoshop has a massive learning curve and I’m only partway up the slope but, once conquered, one can do just about anything with a photo. Excellent online tutorials show you how to make buildings disintegrate and people fly and giant birds stomp through alien landscapes on the moon. It also means no photo we see today is trustworthy. Plain reality now looks dull. At the very least, there be will smoothing, retouching, colour enhancement, seamless removal of any distracting person or element. Those vivid eyes staring up from magazines have had tone, contrast and that brilliant sparkle added, all the better to mesmerize you.
I’ve always had an interest in photography but could not indulge it much in analog days due to film and development costs and what do you do with 300 practice pictures of the cat? Hail the arrival of digital photography! You can take a thousand photos if you want, erase them and start over, all for free. Joining the local photo club, full of avid shutterbugs, provided a monthly theme and the goal of producing ever better photos for the meeting slide shows which are viewed by many highly expert eyes.
As for me, I can’t wait to get my hands on the total tool kit. Photography is good for writers who tend to live inside their heads. Photography makes you look closely at the real world, noting previously unnoticed details and compositions. Everything becomes a possibility, from the cattle in the pasture to the birds at the feeder to the cars that skid and take out my mailbox. Insects and macro photography (still to be conquered) open up the tiny universe most of us don’t bother to see. I can’t do astral photography or take a decent picture of the moon but, after a club outing involving steel wool set afire, (who knew it would burn) I know how writing with light is done.
Every unlikely thing is checked for interest. For me, that is the prime directive: there must be something of interest going on. That philosophy must be working. Each year I’ve belonged to the photo club, I have won some kind of award. First for Funniest Photo, next for Best Mode of Transportation and thus time for Best Altered Reality. So another year has begun. This month’s theme is “Winter Fantasy”. Now that opens the door to a lot of fun mischief. I shall re-watch the tutorial on the mysteries of shutter speed and brave the winter snows.