I Caved

I have a few friends who are professional photographers. Weddings, newborns, families and general artistic endeavors. I love what they do. I’ve thought about dropping some cash and tooling around it as a hobby, like so many millions of people already do. But as we set out on this grand RVing adventure I thought, “Self, do you really need another hobby? Especially an expensive one??”

I’m the first one to admit taking up photography while living a life on the road seems pretty obvious. But sometimes I can be a bit obtuse. Since I had to crate and store my piano in order to live this lifestyle I brought along my guitar. The difference? I know how to play the piano. I’ve been doing it since I was about 6 or 7. The guitar is a new instrument to me – a whole 5 or so lessons under my belt. Which explains why I haven’t touched it since we left New York. My reasoning with not getting a “nice camera” was, “Don’t start something new when you have something right here to keep you occupied!”

Granted, both are artistic outlets. Clearly this is something I presently feel lacking my in life. But there was something that struck me as we drove across barren west Texas and New Mexico on our way here to Phoenix. Beautiful landscape has always interested me. Ansel Adams has continually captivated me. Give me a realistic photograph of breath-taking scenery to hang on my wall over a painting any day.

For those of you who may not know, my dad is a high school art teacher. What’s so neat about his classes is that in his advance art classes he teaches neat stuff, like pottery, silk screening, casting jewelry and many years ago, photography. (back in the 80’s when the arts were properly funded!) He taught the basics of using a 33mm camera and how to develop the film. I was too young to be in his classes in those days but I remember him trying to teach me the basic of the camera and taking photographs: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. (The perks of being an art teacher’s kid!) We even had a dark room in our basement. When he wasn’t developing pictures I like to built forts in there. Gimme a break, I was about 10.

I was tentative to snap pictures back then. I was shooting on expensive 35mm FILM. *GASP* Plus, you couldn’t tell if you were doing it right until you developed said expensive film. And I was 10!!! Or maybe 11… But I still remember holding the huge camera in my hands and fumbling with all the levers and buttons. Winding the film after every shot. It made me feel very important and adult-like. Much more grown-up than my Polaroid!

Cameras on our phones have come so far these days, as have the filters and what-nots that are accessible. But I accidentally got a big tax refund this year and decided to just go for it. All my other hobbies, expensive or not (piano, big power tools to build things with wood, gardening, beer making, sewing) are packed up in storage. Might as well start a new one!

At the advice of a friend and long-time photographer, I purchased a Canon EOS Rebel T5i bundle. (Danelle, as a side note, on your advice I did buy an extra battery!) It came with a bunch of lenses and bells and whistle extras. I’ll eventually get to it but right now I’m focused on learning how to shoot it in manual mode. I want to learn my camera like my dad taught me how to drive: I was only allowed to drive the family minivan after I was proficient driving his manual truck. If you can drive a stick you can drive anything.

As tempted as I might be to set this amazing piece of technology to “auto” and start snapping, that defeats the purpose of buying this particular camera. Otherwise I would have bought a really nice, expensive point and shoot. But that’s not what I wanted, so I didn’t. But it takes practice and perseverance.  My friend suggested I buy 2 books with the camera (which I did!!)  The first is camera-specific, Canon EOS Rebel T5i/700D Digital Field Guide and the second is a general book on exposure, Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition. I have found both of these exceptionally helpful and enlightening!

Am I going to start flooding the blog with pictures from my new camera? Probably not. At least not yet. I still have a long way to go before I feel like I’m taking half-way decent images. But hey, isn’t that what learning a new hobby is about?

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