This was my very first weekend shooting on manual, and I learned something really important: I am going to take some really bad pictures, but the awful, horrible, and cringe-worthy photos are as valuable as the framable ones. They’re just as important, but for a very different reason.
I opened Max’s door at the end of nap time on Saturday. He was awake, working on his Kindle and so still. I thought it was the perfect time to capture the sweet curve of his lips, his long lashes, the way he taps his cheek when he’s thinking.
His room was dark, so I set my aperture wide open. I lowered my shutter speed and raised my ISO because his room was dark. And then I started taking pictures.
Maybe 10 pictures in, I looked back through my camera’s LCD and realized that most of the photos were awful. No. Really. They were so so so bad. They were too dark, muddy, unfocused. I made some adjustments to my camera’s settings and took some more shots. These were better, but they still weren’t great.
Honestly, most of the pictures were crap. And I flipped through them wanting to delete the entire folder. The perfectionist in me cringed.
But I made myself stop. Look closer. Think it through. And look for the lesson. From them I learned that I need to pay more attention to the light in the room. I need to focus on more than just my f-stops to make the photos rich in color. I need to pay more attention to the images as I take them, and make small adjustments as I go rather than at the end of shoot. And my eye might not be as reliable as the camera’s focus.
I learned that when it comes to something as elaborate as complicated as manual photography, I need to take the lessons where I can find them. And the bad pictures are where I will find some very important tutorials.
I went back and I reread the “Manual Mode” section of Courtney’s The Unexpected Everyday. Those reminders, combined with my hands-on lessons helped me feel better when I picked up my Nikon the next morning at breakfast. And I know that tomorrow, I’ll feel better when I look through the viewfinder again.
I just hope those pictures will come out better next time.