One of my favourite parts of blogging has been discovering a love of photography. Over the last year or so my interest has grown and I’ve enjoyed experimenting with composition and playing with my Nikon.
But I’ve got a confession to make. Most of the time, I use one of the auto settings on my camera, rather than switching it to manual.
For the most part, I’m happy with the photos I’ve taken. Sure, there are always duds in every batch, but I’ve managed to get some good shots and develop an editing style that gives this blog a consistent look.
I know that learning to use the manual settings properly will only improve the photographs I can take, as I’ll have more control over each shot, over the lighting and the focus.
After Christmas, I was inspired to start experimenting with manual, mostly because I’m off to Iceland soon and I would love to capture a few shots of the Northern Lights. Photographing the Aurora Borealis is a little more complicated than my usual landscapes, meaning it’s pretty much essential to turn off auto focus and get to grips with ISO, aperture and shutter speed.
Unfortunately, my experiments haven’t turned out so well. I understand the basics of the theory, but putting them into practice has been harder than I anticipated. One afternoon out walking yielded a couple of hundred shots that usually would have included some strong images. But on this occasion, pretty much all of them came back blurry. See sample photo above.
Clearly I need a bit more practice.
But my lack of confidence with the camera made me realise a couple of things. I managed to get myself pretty stressed, worrying that I wouldn’t be able to snatch a decent Northern Lights photo.
Until I realised that experiencing the moment is more important than photographing it. If we’re lucky enough to witness the phenomenon, I don’t want to be one of those people who are so busy with their face pressed against the camera, adjusting the settings, and faffing about trying to set up the tripod properly, that I forget to look up and actually enjoy the moment, away from the camera lens.
Yes, I’d love to take a few photos of the Northern Lights. But I’d rather have the memory of them, standing in the dark with my husband beside me, gazing up at the sky in wonder, rather than struggling frantically with my camera equipment, stress levels rising.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got some time to practice my photography skills before I head to Iceland, and I plan on being prepared, just in case of a Northern Lights sighting.
But I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself to master manual photography. I can take a decent picture on auto, good enough for this blog and my own photo album. Hopefully one day, with enough practice, things will become a little easier and I’ll wonder what I had so much trouble with.
For now though, I’m happy to stick with auto.