I never Dreamed taking Photographs was so complicated, or is it Me?

Today is Memorial Day, there are so many people I want to mention, just the names would fill a blog. Once I was under the belief this day was to remember those who lost their lives defending our Country. I have come to realize it is more than that, I am paying homage to the ones that have come before me. I cherish the influence each and everyone had on my life adding to the makeup of what I am.

There’s always something new happening on, above, or in the slough, Wednesday was no different. Crows and Ravens do not tolerate one another, or so I read many years ago, it became an anchor statement. Wednesday two Crows and Two Ravens were on the far side of the slough together. Acting as all Crows do dodging the swarms of little birds constantly dive bombing them. I learned something today (I wasn’t careful enough to remain ignorant), Crows and Ravens do tolerate each other, the end.

My binoculars are generally with me all of the time they were when I spotted two Pelicans high in the sky flying West. One morning years ago the slough was full of the big white birds, there were several hundred that filled the waterway like snow. I followed the two Pelicans high aloft, their wings flap in a steady beat, not fast and not slow. Continuing to watch them approach the 15KV power lines strung across the Island on the far side one of the birds hit the line. Immediately tumbling the 50 feet or more between the cable and the ground if the impact hitting the line didn’t kill him the fall surely did. I did not have my video camera trained on them, flying birds are hard for me to video. Even if I was able to I don’t think I’d post it, there is no glory in watching animals die needlessly.

I like taking videos, I’m definitely not a photographer.

Twenty years ago my wife purchased a Canon digital camera, a Rebel EOS with a display screen, menu, and set up information. The camera has several knobs, dials, and buttons as well. Removable lenses, flash on top, and capable of taking videos. She purchased it to take photos of houses (she’s been in real estate for 35 years. However hasn’t used it for the past few years since becoming a caretaker for her 97-year-old mother, and a lesser extent me.

I asked her if I could use it, bringing it up to me she said if I had any questions to just ask her. The reason I want to learn how to take quality photos is my desire to have good ones on my blog. Yes, I am able to choose frames to be still shots, it works fine but the quality suffers. Most of them end up with a light haze lingering throughout the picture. My forte’ is fixing things, squeezing the last bit of life out of mechanical stuff, the camera is a mystery and out of my wheelhouse.

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

The CF card was missing, I didn’t know what it was so I googled it and researched which one I needed. I chose well it fit in the slot, and actually captured the photos, one step forward. I had to purchase a reader for the card so I could dump the shots into my laptop for editing. After waiting another few days it arrived in the mail, upon rigging it up I met success, I was able to save them. Next came the editing and quality check, I was greatly disappointed, four of seven were out of focus. Back to Google, I went.

My intent was to find a manual, I found several but it took joining a book group, giving up a credit card number was not a good idea. Each of the sites offering the manual was the same, sign up and credit card. Mrs. Lebec told me she thinks the book is in one of her stacks of very important papers, she went to look for it. I, on the other hand, decided not to hold my breath in anticipation, it may take a while.

Fiddling around with stuff is another great American pastime, I began to fiddle with it. My good friend Mike had the suggestion that maybe I should take some sort of class. Great idea, sometimes ex-Marines have them. For a moment of truth, I have to admit that I know nothing at all about Photography, nothing. There are many parts to being a Photographer, the least of which is having artistic ability, but there are two main parts as well. The first part is the Camera, Second is actually taking the pictures. I need to find a course that starts out “This is a Camera, it takes pictures”. Taking a course of how a camera works, what all the settings are, and knowing when to use them.

I looked a little more on-line for enlightenment, unfortunately, it was not to materialize. I found a YouTube video on this antique I was attempting to figure out. There was no audio and the presenter was rolling his Camera around in his hand, whatever it was he was trying to get across did not stick in my belfry.

I removed the lens, rolling it around in my hands I was looking at all the numbers and hieroglyphics on it. Not knowing what I was looking at or for there nearly on the bottom was a switch AF/MF, The sliding switch slid effortlessly into the AF position, that’s when I made a startling discovery. Looking through the viewfinder I slightly depressed the take a photo button, miraculously the view came into focus. Manual Focus/Automatic Focus, I had to tell my wife what I discovered.

“I told you to just ask if you have any questions.” was her reply.

I’m a chicken not possessing the wear-withal to counter with “I thought you wouldn’t know” comments like that (Mister) never end well, so I dummied up. “Yeh, I should have asked you”, I was showing my full array of Chicken colors, but it was the safe way out.

This is what I feel like trying to figure out that camera.

“Why is everything so far away in the photographs?” I asked her

“Oh, the lens I bought is best to take pictures of houses inside and out.” She replied matter of factly.

Whatever that meant I had not a clue, “OK, what does that mean and how do I fix it?” Mr. Fixit asked.

“You need a zoom lens.” She answered “Oh, Lord,” was my reply hanging my head shaking it.

Back to Google, Canon Camera Lenses was my search criteria, tens of millions of sites popped up, I chose the first one. In it, I learned there are no easy reference charts, no Lenses for Dummies, and worse of all no-one is capable of explaining them to an Old man that has no clue where to begin. There must be thousands of the things available, have I bitten off more than I can chew?

I started with learning what the magnification numbers meant, after reading several explanations I still got nothing. I want to be able to take a closeup of a two-foot tall animal from 300 yards, the subject I want to fill the photo. The zoom lenses range in price from a couple of hundred bucks to whatever a person wants to pay. I found one through my un-scientific method of selection, “here this one might do.” Then I looked at the price, $600.00 American. Another obstacle, I don’t want to pay that much for a single lens, here’s why.

State of the art current year model Cameras with all of the equipment I would need, along with three lenses costs $1200.00. Twice the amount of the lens alone, I would be better off buying a new camera with all of the lenses I need to be bundled together.

What if I don’t like taking pictures leaving me with an expensive piece of equipment and all of these accessories? If I were to purchase a bundle like this the reality is I still don’t know anything about Photography.

Camera shops rent equipment whether they are online or brick and mortar. That is a decent alternative, trial and error may be the way to go. I have plenty of other stuff to do so I better get at it, I’ll contemplate the lense debacle as I bounce around the garden.

Jacque Lebec Natural Self Reliance

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