Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fear & Loathing in Los Angeles

I have to confess and because you are my friends and love me, I know you'll understand, empathize, offer suggestions and generally be very consoling. Okay, who am I kidding here? You'll point, you'll laugh, and then you'll never think of me or my petty, ridiculous confessions again.  And that's okay, it's part of your charm.  But still, I will confess.

I will confess that I'm afraid to turn off the auto setting on my camera and actually use the darn thing on manual.  I am.  I know, it's silly and stupid and I'm never going to learn and grow like this.  I'm intentionally stunting myself photographically.  It's a psychosis, I'm sure.  However, despite knowing all of this, I still can't bring myself to take photos I might want to keep without the manual setting. 

Sure, it's all fine and dandy when I'm sitting at my desk, messing around taking photos of a chair.  I have no interest in chairs.  If the chair photo comes out blurry or distorted or blown out or so dark you can't see it, I won't cry.  When I'm taking photos of my kids though, or my friends, or my friend's kids,  it's a whole different ballgame and back comes the good ol' standby - auto setting.  It's a crutch.  I know it.  I do!  I just can't help myself.

I even know that that auto setting isn't perfect.  Look at this picture, I don't even know what the camera and it's all knowing auto setting was focused on.  Do you? Can you tell? I sure can't.  I cried over this photo.  I did.  There were real tears man, that's how into this photography thing I am!   And maybe that scares me even more.  If the auto setting on the camera can't get it right, what hope does this lowly blond have?  None! None I tell you!  And if I didn't love photography so much I'd give it up.  But I do, so I won't, and you can't make me.  So there!

So tell me my friends - after you stop laughing - what are your suggestions for me?  What can I do to convince myself to turn off the auto setting, not cry when great shots turn out horrible, to give myself a chance to get it right on my own without the camera's help? 

Seriously.. Thoughts?


  1. That sounds like the perfect reason to use the manual setting...because the camera doesn't have a brain. You do. You can pick what to focus on. Or to be safe, you can use the shutter priority or aperture priority modes. It's not all the way manual, but still gives you some control.

    I'm taking a very rudimentary SLR photography class through our community ed program, and I'm getting pretty good at adjusting my own settings. I say that now...but I'll find out later this week when I go to Alaska. I do usually flip it to one of the auto settings for a few last shots of whatever I'm taking a picture of, just to cover my butt.

  2. What I did to actually learn how to use my camera was I went to the Japanese Gardens on a Afternoon in the middle of the week (Yes I took a half day off!) THEN I spent 3 hours taking all sorts of pictures at various settings and took notes on what the settings were for reference! Including using the flash for shaded areas. It REALLY helped. I have much more confidence now and a better understanding of my camera. I'm ordering lenses for it too! If it's a family shot and I'm really concerned I will fall back and rely on the auto shoot and point way. But overall I'm getting much better :) Good luck!! Wendy

  3. "I'm intentionally stunting myself photographically. It's a psychosis, I'm sure... What can I do to convince myself to turn off the auto setting?"

    Your motivation could come from not wanting to be known as the Crazy Auto Picture Midget.

  4. I love this topic. I to must admit I use the auto, I did what Margaret said, I started out using the shutter priority or aperture priority modes. I took notes and I have captured some amazing shots using the manual setting. Hey just keep practicing, (using all settings) You will get it.

  5. Thanks for the encouragement Lynne! I know I have to get brave and keep trying. I really like the idea of taking notes to figure out what I'm doing so I can reproduce it if I like it.