I purchased my first SLR with my first significant bonus. I had been working for nearly two years, and decided that I deserved a “bonus gift”. A good friend of mine from college bought herself a Gucci handbag. I, on the other hand, bought myself a Canon Rebel film SLR. I had never owned a camera in my life. And I had no idea what I was doing.
That summer I took a street photography class at NYU. It helped me understand how to better frame a photo and forced me to take a roll of photos every week. The more I shot, the better I got – and that was probably the biggest lesson I learned from that class. It was the extent of my “training”. But at that point, I was still shooting in an automatic setting, and half of the functions of my camera were lost on me.
I’m not sure exactly where along the way I figured out how to use the manual functions of my camera, but I know it happened once I got my digital SLR. It gave me the freedom to experiment and know exactly what settings I used for which photo – something I found frustrating as I was trying to teach myself on my film SLR.
A while back, my coworker decided to purchase her first digital SLR. She ended up getting the Canon Rebel Xsi (I made a strong case for the Canon!), complete with a fancy camera bag from Costco. And when she asked to have a “geek date” – her words, not mine – I was happy to oblige. We went over what all the dials on her camera were, what aperture and shutter speed mean, and how to use the manual, Av and Tv modes (and even talked a bit about why you would choose to shoot manual instead of either Av or Tv).
Since then, my coworker has told me that our mini lesson was really helpful for her, and we’re looking to schedule our next geek date. I’m definitely looking forward to it, because, since I am clearly no photography expert, geek date 1.0 was as much a lesson for me as for her. There are many things about my camera I take for granted, and things I do I can’t explain. Trying to answer questions from my coworker was just another reminder of how far I need to go. We’ll likely soon reach the limits of my photographic knowledge, so I’ll have to challenge myself to have something interesting ready for geek date 2.0…and hopefully become a better photographer because of it!
Since photos always make everything more interesting, here’s a photo I took…the day after geek date. I had hoped to have more fun photos from geek date, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. So I took this while stuck in traffic on the way home from work.