Saturday, August 1, 2009

Instructions

Glancing back over my last few posts, I realize I'm in one of my rant-y moods (Don't swear on Facebook! Keep your internet comments friendly!). I don't know what it is, but every so often, things that don't really matter much (usually Facebook-related) send me into a tizzy and I feel the need to blog about them, or write a public "note" on my Facebook page (WHY am I still there?!), and then three days later when the irrational rabies-like madness fades, I look back at this stuff and wonder if the Captain slipped decaf in my coffee mug that morning. I don't much like an etiquette cop, but especially not when that cop is me. So, let's get back to what this blog is really all about. The many reasons I suck!

This list is longer than the grey hairs I keep finding on the top of my head, so there's a lot to choose from, but there's one that drives the Captain crazy about me. Something he's nagged me about for years: my inability to read instructions.

It's not that I ignore them completely. If I have to, say, put something together and I have absolutely no idea where to begin, I will skim the instruction manual, usually looking for a diagram so I can get my head around the basics. But if I can look at an object and see how it should logically go together, there's a good chance I won't even give the instructions a glance. What usually happens here is that I get the thing together and feel great about my natural mechanical ability. For about a minute. Because it only takes that long for me to notice that there are two extra parts and a nut left over at the end. Unless it's a serious safety issue, those extra bits and pieces will usually be whisked away to a drawer somewhere and no one but me will ever know the difference. This is why the Captain generally just likes to put things together himself.

Reading the instructions is boring. I want to take my shiny new thing and start playing with it right away. I don't want to wade through pages and pages of safety warnings and information about things I shouldn't do if I want my warranty to be honoured, blah, blah, blah. Besides, don't they know that telling me not to plug in the circular saw while I'm taking a bath will just make me want to do it more?!

For my birthday last year, the Captain bought me the greatest gift ever: my camera. When we were youngsters, I had this dream of being a photographer. But after a bad experience working at a portrait studio, I switched to a compact point-and-shoot and never looked back. However, the Captain knows I am driven by only one thing in life, the need to be creative. He calls it "living in Cut-and-Paste Land" but let's not get caught up in semantics. He bought me an Olympus E-510 with two lenses and some awesome accessories. It also came with a book of instructions. I admit, I did skim through this book, but eventually I kind of figured most of the camera out on my own. In the end, an automatic camera is an automatic camera. It does the focussing, speed and light stuff for you. All I have to do is find a good subject and set it up all pretty-like. But my camera does have one setting I didn't figure out on my own. This camera can be set up like my manual SLR of old. I can choose exactly how my pictures come out. It just takes some experimenting and, of course, reading the instructions to figure out how it's done.

So, I pulled out the old instruction manual and got to work reading up on the whole process. As it turns out, it took only one small page for the manufacturers to explain the two buttons I have to press to run my camera on manual. After almost a year of using the thing nearly every day, I have to say I'm a little embarrassed it took me this long.

This doesn't mean I know what I'm doing yet. Reading the instructions isn't the comprehensive education in photography one might expect. I do need to do some playing with this stuff, and that's the fun part. In order to learn the manual functions of my camera inside and out, I'm embarking on a little project. I recently came across a story in a magazine about someone who had decided to learn about her new camera by committing to taking it everywhere she went and taking one self-portrait a day for an entire year.

Now, I think we all know that I don't have the attention span to stick to one thing for an entire year, but since August has just begun, and it's my birth month, and it's the month we got married (12 years tomorrow!), and all the stuff in the garden comes up this month, I'm thinking I could come up with a lot of interesting ways to photograph myself (no nudity or boob shots, that's my written guarantee!). So, every day this month, I'm going to take at least one self-portrait using only the manual settings on my camera. I expect the first week, at least, will produce a lot of under/over-exposed, fuzzy, off-centre "art", but if I create anything noteworthy, you can be sure I'll post it here. Let the clicking begin!

4 comments:

Stephanie Faris said...

When I got my Instinct smart phone last year my boyfriend gave me the advice to read the manual beginning to end, saying I'd be glad for it over time. I didn't, of course. Then he got an iPhone a couple of weeks ago and has he read the manual? Heck no!

T. Anne said...

I'm the same with instructions! I always figure I could handle things on my own then of course don't use all the features I could have.

Dimple said...

Well, a few people read your stuff, anyhow!
I usually read instructions as I'm trying to do something--by themselves, without the whatever-it-is in front of me, they tell me little or nothing.
I'm looking forward to seeing some of your photos. I'm more of a word person, myself, but pictures add a lot to a blog.

Janine said...

I have missed a few of your posts you crazy woman you!! You have been a busy bee!!
Instructions... where do I begin???
If I can't work it in the first three sentences then it isn't making it out of the box!!
I can hardly wait for all the pictures you are going to share..
not the boob shots though..
And look at all the people who are reading your work...FABULOUS!!!!