Saturday, December 13, 2008

Nikon School

One of the first times that I showed up at an outing with my new digital SLR hanging around my neck, I was asked “Are you one of those f-stop people?” Shamefacedly, I had to reply no. My fancy new camera was set to automatic. I was letting it do all the work, determining how my photos came out. In other words, it was a very expensive point & shoot camera.

The manual was unreadable. It was written with an amount of assumed knowledge that I simply didn’t have. I found a book at my local library that was quite helpful. After I finished reading it, I grasped the concepts of digital SLR photography, like ISO and aperture, but the details eluded me. I purchased my own copy of the book in the hope that closer study would help me overcome my math phobia.

That was the big problem: all those numbers and all those ratios. In my youth, I was in the honors program at school in every course except math. While my peers headed off to the rarified realms of “pre-Calc” and “Calc”, I slunk into the “dummy” math class and desperately tried to make sense of the numbers that the teacher wrote on the blackboard. As much as I enjoyed crafting essays and studying the grand sweep of history, math was a total mystery to me. Word problems were gibberish. Equations baffled me. Tests had the power to induce catatonia. My brain simply shut down at the sight of numbers.

I was determined to learn to actually use my camera so I went to school, Nikon School. And I’m glad I did. The instructors (there were two) were professional photographers who explained arcane concepts in language that even I could understand. Instead of going into detail about the exact lighting and distances of each setting, they said things like “if you want to get this effect, use this setting”. Bingo! Following instructions is one of my strengths. The instructors were so good that I finally understand white balance.

One of my co-workers is an avid photographer and often utters cryptic comments like “the camera has to know what color white is”. Huh? White is white. Except in the paint store. It turns out that what he has been saying is that light has color. What we see as white, is actually slightly different in different lights such as sunlight, fluorescent light, incandescent light, etc. You can adjust for different types of light or not, depending on the effect you are after.

Nikon School is a two day event. The first day is for beginners. The second day is for more advanced photographers. You can attend one or both days. I opted to attend the beginner’s class only. It turns out to have been a good decision. I can’t wait to get out and try all the new things I learned today. Once I have mastered those skills, I will get a lot more out of the advanced class when I go back to Nikon School next year.


joey said...

Don't you love it! Your camera is much like a garden ~ a lifetime journey finding ... 'the best of the best'!

OldRoses said...

Joey, I feel like I am discovering photography all over again.