Let’s Do This!

I love taking pictures, and you must too or you would not be here.  Or, you are my beautiful wife checking to see what her crazy husband is up to now.  Either way, thanks for taking a few minutes out of your wandering around the internet to read some of my thoughts on photography.

I will be honest…I’m not a professional photographer.  I’m just a guy with a camera that enjoys capturing life’s moments.

I began taking pictures with an old Polaroid my parents gave to me.  Most of the time it didn’t even have any film it, but I would still look through the viewfinder and snap away.  I have always enjoyed looking through the viewfinder of a camera, any camera, still or video.  I am not sure that any of my pictures were actually worthwhile, but I enjoyed doing it.  I also loved going to Kmart or the local grocery store to drop my film in the envelope and wait for the pictures and negatives to come back.  I miss that.  Fast forward many years and many “automatic” film and digital cameras later and I have found myself wanting more out of my photographs.

When I was in college I had to take an art class because it was required.  I went to school for a Bachelor of Science, so art classes were not high on the list and I took Art 101.  As with any college class we had to do group projects and my group was doing photography.  I believe at the time I had a 2 or 4 Megapixel Point-and-Shoot camera, nothing special.  I decided that we should show a different perspective on objects that we could easily pass by on campus, so we did macro shots and had the class guess what they were looking at.  There is nothing fancy about the setup here, hit the flower button on the camera, get close, and take a picture.  I found myself taking about 20 or 30 shots of each object from different angles until I found the one I liked, something I couldn’t do when I was using film.  Long story short, the presentation went great, I got an A, but that wasn’t what made me remember this project.  When we were finished presenting and still on stage (our class was in a theater) the professor asked who took the pictures, and I told her I did.  She was sitting on a stool and made an elaborate bow forward and declared in front of the whole class that she was quite pleased with them and that “Ansel Adams would be proud.”  What does she know, she is an Art 101 teacher at my small university?  But it meant a lot and we left the stage.  She kept me after class and asked me if I would consider framing my pictures and entering them into the photography contest at the school?  I didn’t.  I thought about it, but I didn’t.

It was in that moment that I began to respect photography more and my desire to learn and grow my skills began.  I no longer wanted to point-and-shoot.  I wanted to compose a photograph and capture a memory.  I wanted to get more out of my camera and learn what all those extra settings were about.  I wanted to go beyond auto.

Digital has taken over the photo world.  The major film developers have closed their doors.  Everyone has a camera in their pocket on their phone, and therefore everyone is a “photographer” these days.  We can all take an instant photograph, crop it, apply some filters, and share it with the world without even thinking about it.  If that is all you want out of a picture, this site is not really for you.  Stick around anyway and pick up a tip or two, but that is not my main audience.

I am however here for you, yes you, with that Digital SLR you got for Christmas or your birthday.  Maybe even you with the camera that is a little cooler than the typical point-and-shoot variety.  You know the one with the extra buttons and features that you don’t use.  Perhaps you have a nice camera, maybe even a couple lenses for it, but you just want to learn a little more, you’ve come to the right place.

You see, that was me a few years ago.  I have a Canon Rebel XSi, which is a great camera to play with and take some great photos with.  I think they are up to the T5i or something now.  Either way it is your typical consumer entry into the DSLR market, several years old, but still kicking after 20,000+ images.  I wanted to learn a little more so I took an “Introduction to Photography” continuing education class at the college I went to.  It was me and 25 older women, I may have been a little out of place.  I learned a few things in there, and I taught a few things as well.  The instructor knew that I would know the answers to his questions, but we tried to give the others a chance.  Needless to say, several of these ladies would come to me after class instead of the professor to ask some questions, I felt a little bad.  They told me that I should teach a class on photography, but teaching is not really my thing.  That may have been 5 years ago and I still think about it, so here we are.

I am not a professional photographer, and you probably aren’t either.  But I would love to show you what I have learned along the way when I started Going Beyond Auto!

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