In playing with the manual mode on my camera recently something occurred to me. Something obviously really. Photography should be taught in schools. Like grade schools when the mind is still a dry sponge aching to soak up the liquid knowledge from every interaction. I say this not just because I would like to be a natural at manually focusing an image by now and feel pretty jipped that I’ve had to teach it to myself in my 20’s; but because it teaches an important lesson.
The scene is what’s going on around you. The reason that you’ve intentionally picked up your camera to capture it in some way. Mine happened to be a slightly less productive chunk of time on a day off that I decided to get some side projects done and was literally just staring off into space in the direction of my sleeping dog next to me on the floor. I was thinking about random things. When I slowly realized the uniqueness of my current scene. My dog is fluffy and black and the rug we were both on is dark gray shag. Since he was a puppy he’s always blended into everything in my house (Yes I know, I’m a stereotypical designer who worships black. Get over it.) But I’ve always loved his back feet cause they have these little patched of white fur on the middle two toes. So I grabbed my camera.
It was a great time to play with manual mode, since my dog was very asleep to the point of snoring and most likely wasn’t going to move his feet. And I needed some mental concentration on something since my mind up until that point was just a whirling cluster of crap. So I got started. Turning, twisting, button pushing, huffing, clicking, snapping, not breathing, breathing suddenly, turning again and so on. After about 30 shots the lesson become clear.
What demands the focus isn’t necessarily what should be given the focus.
Whoa! I know. Deep right? Yea. But the lesson really applies to life more than photography best practices honestly. I wish it was great for both, it would make this post way better, but it’s not. In photography focusing on something different than the subject makes for a great shot about 50% of the time. It’s polarizing in the way that it is either is super mind blowing or looks to have been taken by a toddler with an iPhone.
So the reason manual shooting photography should be taught to younger people is simple. It would teach kids to choose their own subject. Maybe doing a close up of the paw pads centered in the shot isn’t how they see the world regardless of how obvious it is. Maybe they focus on the bit of carpet pile in the foreground, the toe nail, who knows. But the act of selecting what gets the most importance is the lesson. A lesson we could all learn. The things that demand focus in my life right now are currently getting most of it. Because adulting is a b*tch like that but on my days off I like to intentionally turn that lens to make simple things important. Focusing on things I might normally blur.
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