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Not Mechanically Inclined

On Explore, June 10 - Thank you :-)


Years ago, I was fired from a job because I wasnt "mechanically inclinded". The job involved running these duplicating machines for copying audio tapes. Some tapes were on cassette, some on reel, and some on other types of storage. The machines to do this scared me to death. Too fast! And I was warned I could loose fingers if Im not careful. Well, that fear resulted in poor performance from me as an employee, and well...........I got fired. Go figure!


So, I decided to get into numbers. Today, thats what I do. My calculator isnt as scary as those duplicating machines back in the I think after 16 years on this job, its safe to say I wont get fired for being calculator


Anyways.........there is a point to my story. Bear with me.


When I got into photography, I used point and shoot cameras. And set it on Auto. Point and shoot and viola!, photos!! Life was good. I could take photos of anything and everything and delete the bad photos. Didnt have to worry about technicalities. The only thing that mattered was composing the shot. Learning the rule of thirds, etc.


I decided I like photography and wanted to get more serious, so I purchased a digital SLR. For some reason, I thought the idea of having the capability to change lenses seemed even more cool than simply having photography as a hobby. So, I bought my current Nikon. Brought it home, took the box out of the bag, set it on the table, and for the next week, ignored it.


I felt so intimidated by this new camera, I cant even describe how I felt except that I was wishing someone would fire me from this hobby for my lack of mechanically inclinededism (haaaaaaa, new word........not).


But, I did take the camera out one night. Out of the box, that is. Sat down with the owners manual, turned the camera on, and set the clock, date, etc. I felt like I had acheived quite a lot and put the camera away for that The next day, I actually took it out..................side......................and shot some photos.


Now mind you, I shot in AUTO. Auto everything!! Auto focus. Auto aperature. Auto exposure. Auto White balance. Auto f-stop, auto this auto that, auto EVERYTHING! The only thing missing was the setting to AUTO REFILL MY GLASS OF


After a while, I became my own worst critic. Eventually, I decided I was getting nothing worth writing home about with the photos I was getting from this camera. While I had other smaller cameras that I carry around with me all the time, I was finding those cameras were producing better photos than this big expensive one. What was I doing wrong? Was it me? or, was it the camera?


I kept plugging away hoping to figure things out and get the photos I was hoping for. In the meantime, I started checking out lenses and trying to understand the difference from one lense to another. Because of this goofy unmechanical brain of mine, it took me months to understand lenses, f-stops, light, mm's, etc., and as you know, my one and only lense broke, so I was forced to buy a new one. And I did. And I figured maybe the new lense would produce better shots. Wrong!! So rather than try to understand what I was doing wrong, I resorted to using my Sony H50 as my primary camera. And back to the table my Nikon went. To collect dust. To be ignored.


Well, last weekend, I was reading up on the Nikon D80 and thought it was time to figure out the manual settings. Maybe THIS will produce better shots. I played around with different settings and compared the EXIF info from one photo to another. I noticed the ISO was jumping all over the board. One shot would be ISO 100, another would be 500, another 1200, and so on and so forth.


I'll be dipped!! No wonder my photos look like crap most of the time. The ISO was screwing things up big time. Can you say NOISEY photos??? And that was it!!!! The ISO was set on AUTO and no matter what settings I used, it would go to whatever # it wanted. Its a fluke with the camera. I read all about it. I hit my head like that commercial..............I could have had a V-8. Geeze. I knew it had to be a setting!!!


I changed the ISO from Auto to OFF. And then set the ISO sensitivity to 100. Played around with settings, shot pictures, reset the settings, shot more picutres, so on and so forth, and would you beleive it? My photos were coming out nice and clear. My new lense was doing a great job. I couldnt wait to get out and really play around with some scenes.


The photo above is after 3 days of going out and playing around with my "new" camera. For the first time since I have owned this thing, I finally understand how to use it!! This, from a person who is NOT mechanically inclinded, is quite the moment. A red letter moment. A moment to write home about. A moment to write about, period!!!


With all the cloudiness, I knew this location would be perfect to practice shots like this, since it is this type of scene I look for to shoot all the time. I shot several frames using different settings and felt this particular image was the best. The detail in the trees is maintained along with the detail in the clouds, both close and far. The reflections in the water and color/lighting look good and there arent any blown out areas in the lighter colors. Overall, I am pleased with this result. The settings for this shot are:


Exposure: 0.013 sec (1/80)

Aperture: f/4.5

Focal Length: 18 mm

ISO Speed: 100


This is my first manually set photo. I think maybe I might not be afflicted with "mechanically inclindededism" This is just the beginning. Onward and upward. Bring it on. Its me against manual settings. Im ready. *grin*


I have a lot to learn about settings so if anyone has anything to add, by all means, please share your thoughts. I would apprecate it.

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Taken on June 8, 2009