Getting the picture

An attempt at 'painting with light'. I call this one
An attempt at ‘painting with light’. I call this one “Breakfast”….

You remember I said I was given a digital camera as a present? Photography seemed a good retirement project.

The first thing was to get to know how to use the camera. I had two choices. Read the comprehensive manual that came with the camera. Or go on a course.

I decided that reading the manual would give me all I needed. I learned about shutter speeds and apertures; about composition and depth of field. I reflected on what I’d read, and how I’d be able to put all of it into practice.

Then I joined a course.

The course was based in a building that was once a boys grammar school. It was the school that I went to. Now I was returning as a pupil, 50 years later.

There were 12 of us in the class, nearly all of us retired men and women trying to learn new skills and ways to occupy our days.

The tutor, in his 40s, curly dark hair, wearing a short-sleeved shirt on a cold January morning, sounded bored as he went through an introduction he had clearly had to do too many times before. “After that, we can stop for coffee, which gives me the chance to get out of the room,” he said encouragingly.

He asked everyone to write down what each of us wanted to get out of the course. I wrote: “Being able to take photos.” I wasn’t setting my sights too high.

“What you’ll really want to know about is printing,” he said (no, or at least not yet) “but that’s…” and he made a vague waving gesture as he wandered out of the room.

It got better. Over the weeks we learned about composition, lighting, exposure,  and editing.

I’m still not especially interested in all of the technical aspects of Photoshop and production, but I’m fairly competent with the camera. I’d say I’ve achieved my admittedly fairly limited objective.

And I don’t have to read that manual again.

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