"I wasted time, and now doth time waste me."
Two of the toughest things I have to tell someone taking a class from me is #1 -- read your manual and #2 make time to practice photography. No one likes to read a manual -- even me. But the way cameras are set up -- you need to read all of what that most excellent tool can do in your hands. Some of the best features on a pocket camera are hidden on menus; you can reach only by pushing certain buttons. So it is best to just accept that you need to read -- but do like I do -- look up in the index what you need to know at the moment and just read that part. If you read it cover to cover -- you will still have to go back and look things up when the moment arrives.
OK -- now beyond reading a manual -- you need to set aside time to practice and get to know your camera. This is really where I lose people. 'Set aside time? I don't have any time for what I do now.' I know -- I feel that way too.
I have the most excellent elliptical machine setting in my bedroom. I used to use it a lot and then I kind of fell off the wagon. Time -- I needed time to get on it. All I wanted was 30 to 45 minutes a day. But I had no time. Enter Sadie and now I make time -- to walk the dog. We walk about 30 minutes in the morning and about 40 minutes in the evening. So I did not find 30 to 45 minutes extra a day -- I found over an hour! It is a great way to spend some time -- I like it, Sadie likes it, and I have lost over 10 pounds since May.
Learning to use a camera and learning to take better photos is no different than if you were learning any other new activity. If you woke up one day and decided you wanted to play guitar, you would need lessons and practice. You could not expect to pick up the guitar and play a perfect tune -- it takes practice.
I am experiencing this first had with my attempt at life drawing. Monday nights I go to a life drawing group. There is a live model striking poses and we sketch. I take along my camera to record the pose. As I am sketching I think -- OK -- this is not too bad and tomorrow or later this week I need to get out the photo and sketch and work on it a little more. I have been going to this class since September and have yet to find the time later in the week to rework a sketch. To check out the artwork from the group leader visit Studiowasteland. I have about three sketches from this class that I like and one I am thinking about for an abstract type of painting soon.
Many people begin a project to give themselves a push to keep to a practice schedule. There are a lot of 365 projects -- meaning a photo a day. One of my friends paints very well and takes awesome photos. He started a photo blog (he already had a blog for his painting). This is really committing to the task and daily exercise. The more you shoot -- the better you get.
Blogging is fun and a great way to spend a little time per week. Some people say that they don't have the time to blog. At the end of 2008 I made a commitment to myself that I would post more blogs in 2009 -- and I have. I also feel that I have improved at blogging.
I think about that time I spend walking the dog and wonder -- what did I do with that block of time before? I thought I did not have 45 minutes to spare -- but obviously I did. I am sure I have more time that could be spent productively. But -- we all need a little veg time. So I don't push it too much. If it ever gets to be like work -- half of the fun is gone.
"Time is on my side, yes it is."
-- The Rolling Stones