I am a firm believer that the only way you’re truly going to learn the inner workings of your camera, your lenses, and exposure as a whole is to make the important decisions and make a lot of mistakes. As a self-taught photographer, I have learned more from my own mistakes than I have in any online tutorials, books or other sources of information. Don’t get me wrong, I have done my fair share of lynda.com courses, and read plenty of books, but I am one of those people who learn more by doing than listening or reading. That said, I am a huge fan of the photography tip, “Throw it in to Manual and leave it there.” I have been shooting with an SLR for close to nine years and none of my cameras have come off manual for about eight of those. The result? I have taken a whole lot of
somewhat okay ok, well, crappy photographs but learned a whole lot about how to improve for the next time and ended up with a few gems.
For me, that tip not only applies to exposure settings but also, at times, taking my lens off auto and getting a little creative with manual focus.
I decided to do just that when I was shooting at the Slea Head Famine Cottages on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland this past May. The cottages, which were homes to the poor, Irish farmers during the Potato Famine, date back to the 1840s and hold such a rich history. Similar to my experience walking around Dachau Concentration Camp in Munich, Germany, walking through the cottages, set up with furniture and housewares to give you a feeling of how they lived, the history was almost palpable to me. You could just picture what a typical evening would be like for a family living in one of these cottages. Now, that said, if you go there, I will warn you, while the antique furniture is awesome, there are some seriously creepy mannequins set up throughout, including a hideous little child that looked more like a Chuckie doll, or, well, maybe the comedian Carrot Top, than a little girl… but I digress…
When I walked through the partially open door of one of the cottages, I was immediately taken with a table with some framed vintage photographs in the background. I knew that I needed to take the lens off auto and rely on my own intuition to get the slightly hazy, partially blurry shot I had in mind. Today’s Photo of the Day, “The History,” was the result. In the end, I wanted a slightly haunted feel to the photograph, and, hopefully I accomplished that. (oh, and you can see the silhouette of aforementioned creepy “Chuckie doll” girl perched up at the top just in front of the window… imagine running in to that on a dark, rainy night)
Maybe this photo of the day should have been saved for a Friday the 13th post??