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Thread: Back to square one?

  1. #1
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    Back to square one?

    Learning the art of photography is a humbling experience at the best of times, but when you combine a few months of inactivity with a new piece of kit it really hits home just how much time and practice is required to even maintain some level of competence - not that I was particularly competent to start with.

    For the last few months I've had little choice but to sideline my photographic exploits whilst Real Life (tm) has taken a front seat. I also find that while I'm not shooting I'm less inclined to visit the AP forums and it quickly becomes a downward spiral of neglect. Perhaps somewhat paradoxically, I also ordered my SB-700 Speedlight, which arrived several weeks ago and was used somewhat arbitrarily in an exercise whose point was little more than to confirm that it actually fired.

    This weekend we headed up the coast for a few days to attend my sister-in-law's wedding and on the way out the door grabbed my camera and shiny new flash. At this point I hadn't done more than flick through the SB-700 manual to check that it did in fact contain an English chapter. I was somewhat hesitant to start shooting over the weekend but managed to fire off a few shots at the beach and around the rental house the day before the wedding. For the ceremony the camera was locked in the boot of my car, but I brought it out at the reception, full of hope that my SB-700 would produce stunning after-dark / indoor results.

    I must say that I am bitterly disappointed with my efforts, both with and without the flash. One particular shot - a candid of the groom-to-be standing ankle-deep in water, underneath an umbrella in driving rain on the beach, no doubt organising some last-minute detail of the wedding on his mobile phone, whilst his soon-to-be bride swam with her bridesmaids - had me confident that I'd captured a poignant moment. One destined to become a favourite of the newly-wed couple, perhaps hung above the fireplace or a favourite wall of the study, and the envy of the official wedding photographers. Alas, try as I may, I can't coax more than a passable mobile-phone-quality snapshot out of my efforts, regardless of cropping or processing, and it'd be lucky to make my Facebook page... and that was the best of them. Not a single keeper amongst them.

    Sadly, my flash-assisted efforts are embarrassingly woeful. I'd like to make it very clear that I am in no way placing any blame with the equipment what-so-ever; that falls squarely on my shoulders. I've read enough about flash lighting to know that it's a learned art, and not something I can hope to simply throw $$$ at. My failing is not a lack of willingness to put the time and effort into it, but rather a lack of time to be able to do so - at this juncture anyway.

    My point is, I have taken some decent photos in the past - some of which I'm very proud of - but I was totally unprepared for my dismal failure rate of the weekend. SB-700 aside, I would attribute it in part at least to a complete lack of practice in the last few months.

    Anyone else feel that their skills seemingly take a dive when they're out of practice? Or is it like riding a bike for you?

    It's all a bit of a worry since our 1st born is due in about 6 weeks (hence the SB-700 purchase) and I was hoping to be somewhat competent enough to take a few photos worth looking at...
    --
    Nikon D90
    Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II, Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G
    Nikon SB-700 Speedlight
    RRS BH-55 Ballhead & B2 AS II Clamp
    (no legs yet)

  2. #2
    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    I agree, and with regard to riding a bike, yeah you can get back on and do it after years, but you are no where near as fit, co-ordinated, or happy to go downhill at top speed, when you first get back on. It takes time, practice and renewed confidence to get your bike riding photography back to where it was.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

    Constructive Critique of my photographs is always appreciated
    Nikon, etc!

    RICK
    My Photography

  3. #3
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    I would say that you won't be going back to square one, it is just a reminder that even though cameras are promoted as easy to use to get great results, it is not always the case. Sure you can get some good results when conditions are good, but as soon as light is tricky or framing is challenging, it really puts your skills to the test...and to develop those skills, you just need to practise and keep learning. Nikon manuals have never been my favourite way to learn their products either!
    As far as how much time to keep skills up, depends a bit on how confident you are with them...if you have a solid grasp of something, you can leave it for a while and it will come back pretty quickly. i find if I don't have a really good understanding of somethng, it is pretty much going back to basics if I leave it for a while...maybe that is age creeping in, lol
    As for your impending arrival, you will have control over lighting and location, so I am sure you will get some lovely images....if in doubt, ditch the flash and rely on soft natural light.
    Cheers, Lani.
    Bodies: Nikon D700, D300 Primes: Nikon 50mm 1.4, 85mm 1.4G, 105mm VR 2.8, 300mm f4. Zooms: Nikon 14-24 2.8, 24-70 2.8, 70-200VR II 2.8, Sigma 10-20mm Processing: Photoshop CS5 extended, LR 3.2.


  4. #4
    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Tc-dev. Your self-deprecating missive would have convinced any arbiter of photographic decorum of your sincere penitence.
    Nay! It is not punishment that should be meted out to such as yourself, nor indeed any penance that should be required.
    Yea, for you have suffered of the ennui that visits all as time passes and life's surge becomes hard to bear.

    Now, indeed, take up thy tools and go forth and practise the calling of an artisan of the light. Submit henceforth such fruits of your labours as you would share with us; for here is a willing assembly that will give you succour, as also you will have done to the like deserving.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 20-03-2012 at 10:47am.
    CC, Image editing OK.

  5. #5
    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    So you have a comfort zone. Then introduce something new to it. You need to learn about (and practice ) it before you realise a new comfort zone.
    Don't reckon your old skills took a dive. Maybe you didn't practice the new skills you needed.
    2 cents.
    "Enjoy what you can do rather than being frustrated at what you can't." bobt
    Canon 80D, 60D, Canon 28-105, Sigma 150-600S.

  6. #6
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    All wise words and good advice - thanks!

    I really think I need to start a 52 or 365 project... hmm...

  7. #7
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    Since swapping brands in February I too feel like an absolute noob

    Practise does make perfect!
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    Nikon D7000
    Sony a65
    Canon 5D MKII

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