A couple of weeks ago I wrote how I've been hankering to a) do some really simple, colorful paintings (I hadn't painted for a long while!), and b) learn how to use my camera, take it off automatic and take much better pictures. By saying so here, perhaps I was more likely to follow through -- you know, putting one's intentions out into the Universe? Last week I did a first simple painting and I signed up for a photography class.
This week I've done a couple more silly little paintings:
Fun. (Did you know that about robots? I bet not.)
As for photography, I bought a new lens, and I'm really excited about it and can't wait to get out and do some experimenting! It's a 50mm 1.8 -- numbers which until very recently would have meant nothing to me. One of my dearest friends has been getting into photography, and she was telling me a while back that I really need to get a *fixed* lens, that is: a non-zoom. She said, "You zoom with your feet." Ha ha! Wait. What? You actually have to move closer to the object you're photographing? How lame. But seriously, I couldn't imagine how a fixed lens could beat a zoom. I just have no sense of the technical aspects of photography. But I've been gradually learning teeny tiny bits of information here and there and beginning to grasp (in a teeny tiny way) some of the basics.
I promise this won't get technical because I don't know enough to get technical, but here's this basic thing: depth of field. You know how some photos have a sharp foreground object/figure and then the background is softly out of focus, beautifully blurry? Well, using my zoom lens and having my camera set on fully automatic, I never in two-and-a-half years took a picture that looked like that. If I photographed a flower, everything behind the flower would still be in focus -- distracting and super-duper-amateurish. I didn't know how to manipulate depth of field. No clue.
Okay, I still don't, but I'm beginning to know how to try. I've learned (at last) that it's aperture that determines depth of field. Basically, it's how much your lens opens to let in light (well, it's actually how much it opens in relation to how long it is, but I'm not going to attempt a real explanation.) My old lens could only open to a maximum of 3.5-5.6mm, whereas my new lens can open to 1.8 (that's a lot!), and at that setting I can get that really shallow depth of field that makes the background all buttery and soft. Cool! The lens just arrived yesterday, so I've only snapped a few quick pictures and I'm not saying they're great, but I love the way the leaves on the trees get all like coins of light:
Isn't that neat? (You'll be happy to know that Jim did not devour the baby!) The above would be a more dramatic demonstration if I had pics at a smaller aperture for comparison, but I don't. It's this week's assignment in my photo class, though, so I'm sure I will! Oh, the other great thing about the 1.8 fstop is that it lets in a lot of light so it's good for shooting indoors or in low light without a flash! The particular lens I bought is fondly known as the "plastic fantastic" because they're really *cheap* (relatively) at just over $100, whereas the good one from the same company is more like $500.
Anyway, I'm just really excited by the prospect of new knowledge and cool pictures. This is making me want to go on little neighborhood safaris and maybe out to the apple orchards in Hood River. See and do new things, see with new eyes. AND take better blog photos! Next time I make cupcakes or something crafty or want to set up an artful still life, I'll be able to get a much more interesting/pretty shot. Ooh. Maybe I need to make pretty cupcakes this week to use as subject matter for my assignment . . . Or heck, I could buy some cupcakes! They'd be prettier than what I could make. Or . . . donuts! Hm. Donuts are photogenic. . . Must photograph something delicious :-) Stay tuned!