Exploring my new camera: Provincetown

boats on the ocean with pretty sky

A few months back, I decided it was FINALLY time to invest in a real, actual camera. You know, the kind with lenses and a viewfinder that you actually look through and a button you press to take a picture.

Why, you ask? Well, it’s mostly because, and this is really kind of dumb, I like the tactile feel of a camera. I feel cool when I cradle it in my hand and bring it to my face. And because I need a project. I am surrounded by creative people all day and I’m a little jealous of their “artist” label. Because try as I might, I can’t make “arts marketer” into a legit artist label.

Back in my high school years, I learned photography with actual film. Mr. Swedberg, my teacher, taught me, and I loved the darkroom most of all: the chemicals and the magic of burning and dodging. Today we don’t have film and our darkrooms are our laptops. And too many people tell me I’m a “good photographer” for me to really be ok with it, considering that every picture I have taken in the last 8 years has likely been on an IPhone. That feels like cheating.

So, I saved up and decided to go for it.

I scoured blogs and asked advice from my social interwebbers, and eventually landed on my Canon Rebel EOS T5. And then, I took it out and shot some stuff, and it was fun and pretty and I was pleased with myself for photos like this:

Pink flower

Then, my former college roommate started sending me blog posts and challenging me to contests like #niftyfiftyfriday, and I realized how little I actually know about taking photographs from anything other than a “point the camera at something I like” standpoint. See, there’s MATH involved. Ugh. And on these newfangled cameras, more settings and buttons than you’d think you need to take a pretty picture. So I bought a prime lens, and set out to figure this stuff out.

Anyway, this has been a good exercise for me, to really dig into something I know nothing about, and to find that it’s really damn hard. I still don’t get a lot of it. The math seems unreasonably unintuitive. I still do a lot by instinct and gut. But I have noticed that, since I started thinking this way, I take fewer photos. I know that doesn’t make sense. But I’m spending less time clicking away on my IPhone and more time thinking what I’d need to do to capture a scene with my Canon. I find this intriguing, without really being able to ascribe meaning to it.

It’s also worth noting that most of the photos are lousy. This is also intriguing, part of that whole “you’ve gotta break stuff down before you can build it back up” cliche.

So, anyway, I thought it might be fun to share some of the not-as-lousy-as-others recent photos with you. I’m currently vacationing on Cape Cod (yeah, I know, doesn’t that sound so, well, New-Englandish?) and plan to spend hours photo-ing beaches and dunes tomorrow, so I thought I’d share a few less epic subjects here.

You will quickly discover that I love boats. You’ve been warned.

Photo of boat named Hindu

Sailing ship mast

What I wanted with this photo was the red boat in focus and everything else blurry. But I was using my 50mm lens and had no zoom and so I couldn’t figure it out. But I liked the reflection on the white boat on the left.

Red Boat

I should mention that all of these photos were taken in Provincetown, on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The whole harbor is such a mess of boats. I loved it. Lots of Boats

Keens seem to have a special place in my summer adventures. This one is for Jennifer and Lisa.

A row of colorful Keen sandals

While my travel buddy was chatting with a client, I went on a little binge and found some neat things to try to capture.

Part of a rusty ship's wheel


Flowers in pots on stairs

And it was on the last one that I had some magic happen – a tiny bird hopped onto the railing above the flowers I was shooting. I clicked as fast as I could without time to change the settings, and managed to get this little gem.

Bird perched on a railing near potted flowers

As the day came to an end, we wound up at a little bar overlooking the water, and I snapped some more boats. I think it’s fascinating that turning basically the same scene (just a few degrees counterclockwise from my perch) into black and white makes it look so much more ominous.

boats on the ocean with pretty sky

Photo of boat

So, as you can tell, I have a long way to go to learn to use this new tool, but I’m finding that I am more excited about the stories behind how I got the photos than I am by the technical details. That seems to jive with my life in general. 🙂 Thanks for coming along with me on this little journey through P-town.

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