Tuesday, December 19, 2006


As I mentioned in my 100 Things, I have long been fascinated with photography and would love to become a great amateur photographer--but a Kodak EasyShare point and shoot isn't exactly conducive to that kind of thing. Yes, the photographer's eye is as important as the camera--but the lag time on a cheap camera alone is plenty frustrating. After talking to some people whose work I admire, I found the universal recommendation to be a Nikon D70. Holy really nice but expensive camera, Batman. An amateur like me does not need a camera that fantastic, fun as it might be. Thankfully, Nikon also has a D50, which, although still pricey, is cheaper than the D70 and supposed to be nearly as good--only missing highly technical features that an amateur like me wouldn't understand anyway.

Steve and I decided to splurge this year for Christmas; it won't be a regular occurrence, but by combining Christmas and birthday and saving up discretionary money until, oh, 2008, we're buying each other items that will, we hope, end up being long-term family investments (producing lots more gifts down the road). He's getting a table saw from me and my parents, and I'm getting a Nikon D50 from him and his parents. And thus begins my foray into the expensive exciting hobby of photography. I am expecting this to be a lifetime camera (it will take me at least half that long to master using it).

I actually got the camera a few weeks ago, when Steve bought it on sale, and he gave it to me early (not because I begged--I was perfectly willing to wait--but so I could figure out how to use it before going home for Christmas). Ever since then, I have been spending my walks with Hank every afternoon imagining what pictures I want to take. I think our daily ventures through our neighborhood--which happens to be the town's historic district, packed full of gorgeous old homes of every shape and size--will be a perfect time for me to practice shooting and developing my eye. We don't have kids, and you can only take so many pictures of a calm and easygoing dog like Hank, cute though he may be--but in our neighborhood, I don't think I'll run out of things to photograph anytime soon.

As I walked yesterday, mentally framing fences and windows and trees and choosing perspectives and angles, it occurred to me that pretending to take the photos, rather than actually grabbing the camera and getting started, is a lot like my writing.

I can imagine myself to be a great photographer. I can pick out what I think will be striking shots, and tell myself that with my spiffy new camera, they really will turn out that way. I can fill my Flickr account with as-yet-nonexistent but beautiful photographs I've captured, even compose creative, artistic titles for them. But the camera still sits in the box. It's as though I'm afraid to actually put the strap around my neck and start clicking the shutter button--because once I do, my illusions of greatness will dissipate like the ghosts of poems in my head, ones I'm sure would be masterpieces if I wrote them down.


Kerry Woo said...

Amy! Just start shooting away - pretty soon that gift and desire will rise to the top; with a digital camera you can take multiple shots - start by walking the neighborhood and shooting houses, dogs, cats etc.... There are lots of great links out there to inspire you such as:


I look forward to seeing your photos soon!

Bethany said...

Oh I am so excited for you Amy. You are going to love it. Digital is such a great way to learn because you can see your mistakes right away. I think the hardest thing to master with digital is white balance but it just takes practice. The biggest thing with photography is light...after all it is painting with light. So noticing light how it plays, how it falls, what color it is etc. Contrary to what most people think a cloudy day is better to shoot than a bright sunny day because you get diffused soft light. In your house look for soft light that doesn't produce harsh shadows. (granted harsh shadows and sun can work in photos but work with magic light first...learn the rules then you can learn how to break them) Can't wait to see your photos. What is your flikr name? I finally signed up fot that but probably won't add a lot of photos until after Christmas. Too busy still.

Anyhow, I am so excited for you and your new camera. You are going to love it. And if you ever visit Los Angeles I would love to give you tips in person.

Anonymous said...

Cool, that's what we did too! I wanted the D70 but it was just too much. So then it came down to the D50 or new D40 which is replacing the D50. After reading some reviews we went with the D40 because of the bigger and better LCD. I just got it over the weekend but have been too busy with getting other people's gifts ready even look at it! I'm hoping Wed. night to sit down with it and have some fun so I'm ready for Christmas pictures.

Andy Axel said...

(Crossposted to Nashvilleistalking...)

A few words of advice that I got from Vincent Versace (www.versacephotography.com) in 2005...

1) Photographers take photographs. So shoot.

2) "I suck" is the single most important phrase for you to eliminate from your artistic vocabulary.

For what it's worth.

I've taken a lot more shots than I've ever shown to anybody (my wife included), and they're not all "wowzers."

The ones that are, though, make it worth the effort.

Cades Cove

Denali NP

Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge

My own front yard

(I shoot primarily D2X & D200.)

Anonymous said...

Hey Amy,
That's a pretty cool Christmas present. You'll have fun with it! I know Mom has really enjoyed the camera that she got...
BTW, what is your Flickr username? I tried using Shmamy and Amy Kannel, but neither worked. Just wondering!
Hope everything is going well in TN.
Everyone from Nigeria says HI!

Amy said...

there already was a schmamy in Flickr...so my Flickr name is "schmamy318" (my birthday).