I was not one of those mothers who cried at the kindergarten door. I was one of those mothers who skipped back out to the parking lot full of plans for what I could do all day now that the kids were at school. Not that I didn’t love them, but I had stuff to do!
Summer is like that, too, when I have all day to myself to do whatever I want. The kids are gone. I don’t have to drive and drive for them. I don’t have to cook as much. It leaves me some actual “free” time that I can organize however I want, based on nobody’s schedule but my own. I fill up the time and there’s still never enough of it. In fact, I know that these next several weeks will fly by and I won’t have accomplished everything on my to-do list. But that’s okay. I’ll enjoy what I do get done, and wallow in the freedom of being in charge of my own time. If I got everything done, no doubt I’d just invent more things to do.
One of the things I’ve decided to do this summer is learn to operate my new camera on manual. My previous camera was very similar to this one. Both of them are Canon mid-range cameras–mid-range meaning they’re not simple point-and-shoots yet they’re not full-scale SLRs either. They can operate completely on auto, or they can operate like a full-scale SLR to a limited level. If operated completely on manual, you are left to set the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO on your own. Scary stuff. I’ve long had a mental block in grasping these functions. Or a lazy block. But I want my next camera to be a full-scale SLR. (What I have now is this.) I can’t even afford a full-scale SLR right now, but I want one–someday. First I have to prove to myself that I can use it. Thus challenging myself to turn the dial to manual….and leave it there.
In a way, learning to operate a camera manually is a sort of affirmation to myself that one day I will be able to afford that camera–in the “build it and they will come” way. Of course, it takes me longer to take pictures on manual because I can’t just walk outside, point, and shoot. I have to stop and think and fiddle with the settings. Which makes it a good summertime endeavor. I have more time right now to take it slow, stop and think. Life in the summer, not just my camera, is on manual. No racing through it on automatic.
This little challenge to myself has the side benefit–I hope–of improving my photography overall and helping me to tell you stories better. Sometimes I have stories I want to tell and I’m just not good enough to take the pictures to support them. Animals move. All the time! I take zillions of pictures trying to just get enough that aren’t too blurry to tell my story. Point-and-shoot auto is actually great for many things (many things that are NOT MOVING), but not for taking pictures of animals. Manually controlling the light and speed of the camera makes a big difference with animals. In some cases, you can use the Tv–shutter priority or Av–aperture priority on the mid-range cameras that include those options and take a great photo. (Those options are a partial manual, partial auto.) I used those settings occasionally on my previous camera–with mixed results, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Forcing myself to control it all manually will teach me more.
I’ve never been able to take a photo of a cat licking themselves previously–when they’re licking, their heads are in constant motion. NOT that taking photos of cats cleaning themselves has been some kind of lifelong goal or anything. Just sayin’. I couldn’t do it before, on auto. I’ve been practicing on the cats now. Since it’s not hard to find a cat licking itself, they make a handy practice target. (See photo at the top of this post with Spice. Photo taken on manual.)
I’ve been frustrated a lot lately with the puppy. He moves. CONSTANTLY.
Here he is running toward me–photo taken on auto.
Here he is running toward–photo take on manual.
(This photo is far from perfect–there’s a light issue–but it’s a big improvement. He’s not blurry.)
Manual lets me “stop time” and take pictures of Casper being completely ridiculous–while he’s in constant motion.
I’m telling you, this dog chews on everything. Even himself.
He’s really quite sweet.
Or I’m sure we woulda thrown him over the hill by now.
In other news, yesterday most of the rest of the garden got planted! A weekend with no rain. We have a garden after all! ALERT THE MEDIA. And I made butter and cheddar cheese. And it was fun. I like life on manual.
Two quarts of heavy cream divided into four jars for shaking into butter–a leisure activity of an evening in the country.
Is your life on manual or auto this summer? Did you cry at the kindergarten door? (I think boot camp is a lot harder than the kindergarten door…… He didn’t come home on the bus at 3 pm.)