I think I probably mentioned back in 2015 that I bought a new Nikon DSLR camera when my old Kodak ‘point and shoot’ died, and then I took took a 6 month photography certification class (cert II).
I was originally intending to take the full year class (cert III), but between my inability to understand the later assignments and the fact that most of the second half of the year was about studio work, I decided to just keep working with what I had learned in the first half. (The last thing I needed on a fixed income was the impression that I need an expensive studio setup!)
The class did exactly what I was hoping it would. It taught me how to get off automatic mode an into manual mode, and it gave me the information I needed to teach myself more.
There were assignments, especially toward the end of the course, that I missed entirely because I just couldn’t wrap my mind around what the instructor was asking for but I have a notebook of the assignments and my first results. I can redo the class as often as I want to now and learn more every time. I also now understand enough to make sense of YouTube videos and articles on Photography sites. Score! I won!
For the last three years, Jack and Rod and I have been going out on photo walks every few weeks, as time allows. I learn a lot from what catches their eyes, so that I am able to stretch out of my comfort zone even further. It’s been great fun!
I have continued to play with my kit lenses, the pair of zoom lenses that came with my camera and I have gotten to the point of being pretty happy with at least some of my results on every outing.
Zoom lenses are convenient. They let you shoot many different kind of images without changing your lens. Between them, my lenses ranged between 18 mm and 200 mm. That was super convenient and I got very lazy and attached to zooming rather than moving to get the shot.
However the thing about kit lenses is that they are intended to be inexpensive and to give maximum flexibility to a beginner who doesn’t yet know what they “need” in a lens. They are intended to be replaced eventually by a higher quality lens – possibly a prime lens – as the beginner becomes an experienced photographer.
There is nothing wrong with a kit lens. A good photographer can get stunning photographs with them! There is no equipment with which a mediocre photographer like me is going to capture a world class image.
Still, I was curious. A prime lens is smaller and lighter and is easier to travel with. A prime lens has higher quality glass because it doesn’t need to move as the camera zooms. A better quality lens should give crisper results.
Unfortunately I couldn’t figure out how to try one without buying it. And although they are available in a range of prices, I couldn’t justify a new lens when I have two perfectly good lenses and I didn’t even know whether I would like using a prime lens.
Then TJ, my oldest son, gave me a New Year’s gift. My first thought was to squirrel it away for a rainy day…but that lens just kept tugging at me. Rod encouraged me to indulge. So we went to look.
As it happened, we arrived at the camera shop on a day when a lens of the type I was thinking about was on sale. A much better lens than I was ever likely to consider was available for almost exactly what TJ had sent. I crumpled and left the shop the new owner of a 50 mm prime lens.
It gives a very different result than I am accustomed to, in part because it is a wider angle than I usually use. I have brought it out several times around the house to try various ideas and to try to see how I can best use it.
It’s almost like the feeling when I first got my first camera- it’ that different.
What a wonderful challenge! I’m having a blast!