Back to Basics

Back in the day I learnt my photography on a secondhand Practica 35mm SLR camera. About the only automatic function that I had was a little lever to check the exposure, other than that it was all manual. I’m not saying that I ever completely grasped the business of f-stops and ISO settings but I at least was able to fiddle with them and see the difference happening actually inside the camera before my clicking my shutter to a shot that I had some degree of certainty in.

Digital is a different kind of skill, but related (or at least related in a forgotten kind of way). I want to not forget. I want to be able to learn how to use my DSLR camera in a way that means I can fiddle quickly with manual settings have more chance of getting the shot that was in my mind’s eye.


And there’s the thing. Anyone with a half-decent digital camera can, come up with picture-perfect, stunning shots – the kind of shots that most of us would, year’s ago have dreamed of getting. But year’s ago (and by year’s, I mean actually, not that many years – 15 years maybe, tops, which is actually not that long…) film and developing were expensive and unless you were a photoholic like me you would only take one or maybe two shots of a subject.

Even so, now, if you have an idea in mind for a project – an illustration, brochure, or poster – and you need some source material to work from (and you can’t go and take it yourself) you’d be surprised at just how often when you look at the various online galleries and stockphoto websites there are lots and lots and lots of images that are all very much the same. Only the very few capture the idea that you dreamed up in your mind.

Which leaves me to think that whilst anyone, given some good kit and the opportunity can take a very, very, good photograph of something, only a very  few can take a truly unique photograph. Because that skill is in the mind, not the camera. That skill would be very nice, very nice indeed, to have.