My parents have decided to start taking photography seriously. I’m delighted about it – they subscribed to a 10-week course about the subject and started lessons last week. The problem is that they are in a class where the average age is 17. The couple that brought me into the world, however, are both in their sixties. The obvious problem was that their tutor, quite rightly, skipped the technical basics to jump straight into the “exciting stuff”.
Most of the tutorials around the internet are either far too basic or at a level which can’t be reached by the uninitiated. There is one niche which I don’t think is really tapped yet. You find it in some books, but I haven’t really seen any decent sets of lessons which start from the ground up.
When I started learning photography I was lucky enough to be taught in an old-school way by an old-school (or just plain old) teacher. Given that I form part of the “instant-coffee” society, I wasn’t too amused to learn that we would not be touching a camera for the first five lessons or so. Even though we were already firmly planted in the digital age (this was 2002), he insisted on teaching us how to use a dark room to develop our pictures.
I think that we are now really and truly past the chemical photography stage, especially for beginners, but most of what we learnt in those first few lessons have stuck with me forever.
We learnt a hell of a lot about the physics behind photography. Why light acts the way it does and what effect this has on our images. We were taught about how and why aperture affects photos and the reasoning behind variable depth of field. How many young photographers you know can tell you why a wide aperture reduces depth of field?
The result? Did he turn me into a brilliant photographer? Nope – well not yet.
There is much more to photography than knowing the science behind a picture, but he did make me love the science behind every photo I see. He taught me how to criticize my photos from aesthetic, technical and scientific perspectives. He taught me how to translate the photos I imagine into settings on the big heavy box I carry around with me.
So as of next week I aim to start a new set of articles about photography from the ground up. I’m christening them Photography for Ignorant Geniuses (or PIG in short). Ignorance (see definition below) is simply a lack of knowledge, and that is what I will aim to cure in this series of articles.
Lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular: “ignorant of astronomy”.
Geniuses? Well, I expect the people who will be interested in my articles to be on the older side, the kind which had the patience to learn a subject slowly but surely. People who are interested in knowing the logic behind the facts. Therefore I christen them Geniuses. It also feels kinda good to be teaching geniuses something.
As to the other problem – brilliant photography, well you can only get there with lots of practice and dedication. The ball, however, will be in your court there.
(#13 of 366 X 2012 project)