Second Try

comments: 55

Secondphotos1I really do appreciate your comments yesterday — good advice, reassurance, commiseration, encouragement. I liked what Hannah said, that she often thinks she has to know everything about something before she can do anything. Taryn said to learn one thing at a time, which of course didn't actually occur to me. And so I set out to learn maybe one thing every day.

I took a bunch more pictures yesterday, just setting up a bunch of different stuff. Cassi, what would I do without your pincushion. I really think it's the most photogenic thing on the property. If you want to practice focusing on stuff, flower-topped pins work pretty well. I'm starting to love the big black already, people, though it really prefers the tripod. And yes, I think the color on the Fuji seems more realistic, more sophisticated, really — it has a more soulful quality. I really do think that. But I also think that when I understand the white balance among other things, I can control that a bit more. The depth of field is just deeper, more thorough. Here's one with the focus on the glass vase (thanks Steph, and thank you for the bowls Natalea!).

Secondphotos2 It occurred to me that learning about the camera feels a bit like Latin, like learning Latin felt. I only studied it for one year and have, of course, retained nothing. But I remember our teacher talking about what a "clean" language it was — there were so few irregulars, you just had to know what to do, what ending to put on, to say what you were trying to say. It was so beautiful that way, he said, the most beautiful language, no gray areas, no kinda-sorta right. Obviously, if you didn't know a thing, you couldn't make it work. But if you knew what it was that you had to know, you could do it — it wasn't personal, it was technical. You didn't have to cajole it, you just had to turn the knobs.

Secondphotos8 It reminded me of something I hadn't thought of in so long. It was this one autumn afternoon when I was sitting in the McDonald's drive-thru, waiting for my hamburger, small fries, and orange drink with my mom. I was about ten or eleven and had just finished my horseback-riding lesson. Riding was never easy for me — if it was a good day, I loved it. If it was a bad day, I hated it. And I really felt like I had no idea whether it was going to be a good day or a bad day, and didn't really understand my own role in either of those kinds of days. I thought sometimes the horse "listened" to me, sometimes he dumped me on the ground. I was convinced he was dumping me, as if I had nothing to do with it. I see now, when I look back on those years, that riding well or riding poorly had everything to do with me, and my own confidence in myself. Occasionally, other environmental factors applied, or the horse felt her own emotions, such as they were, but still, as the rider it was my job to consider and respond to all of that, and still get us over the fence. It was too complicated! It was too much! As I sat in the passenger's seat of my mom's car in the drive-thru, I started thinking about this, and got progressively twitchier, and more upset and irritated. "Agh!" I said. "Agggghhh!" My mother passed me my Happy Meal, pulled the car back onto the road, and said, "My god, what is the matter?" And I bleated, "YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE! YOU JUST HAVE TO TURN THE WHEEL AND PUSH THE PEDALS AND IT DOES EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT IT TO DO!!!" And then I probably started with the sobbing, or at least the gulping, blotchy earnestness, all still in my riding clothes. To that end, I offer Exhibit A:


Mmm-kay. Yep, that would be me, circa 1980ish. How my mother did not fall over laughing while taking this picture, which I made her do the day I got this outfit, in front of the garage which I felt looked most "barnlike," I don't know. Sigh. But anyway. About the camera.

Secondphotos5 What I'm trying to say is that the camera is nothing like this. It is nothing like a horse. It is like Latin, obviously, or the car. There are things about it that you need to know, and when you know those things, you can set the dials how they need to be in order to go where you want, say what you want. You might have flair, or something say, or an urge to drive fast, but, you know, you gotta know how to use the clutch. I, of course, approach the camera as if it were the horse. I look at it suspiciously, and believe it will feel my insecurity through my fingertips, and dump me.

But I think I'm feeling better about it. I just have to practice some more. And of course get a book.


Good for you to get back on and ride the camera this morning!

There's nothing quite like those awkward pre-teen years, is there? I had the same glasses.

Pictures are looking good!

I knew you could do it! Glad it is getting better for you.

Aww, you look so cute in your outfit, I had glasses just like that back in the 90's.

Wow, I love todays pics even better! Again, I think the colors are incredible and also, it is so clear it's like I am right there at the table with you! Like I could reach over and pet B. , hmm and then she could freak out and run away, LOL!

Your pictures are looking great! What camera are you using?

Pictures look great-- your post yesterday took me back to the day my husband surprised me with my DRebel. I wept, partly with joy and partly convinced I would never learn how to use it and by receiving it I had squandered our family's money. In five minutes I mentally had the boys saying "please sir, I want some more" in the poorhouse or at the sample cart at Super Wal Mart. I am SO glad I didn't overreact.

I slowly learned to use the camera to deal with the lighting and focus situations in which I found myself, then began to create with the camera.

And bit by bit, the camera started to feel more like my very favorite utensil in the kitchen. Good in my hands. Sure. Capable. Good.

Have fun! that photo of you! You are very wise in your thinking of how to get to be in control of your camera. The manual that comes with the camera is all you need, it tells you everything and that's the best way to learn! I use a brilliant programme called Photobrush to edit most of my photos as it is so much quicker to get results and cheaper than Photoshop. I also use Picassa which is totally free...Anyway, I love love love photography and if you need anyhelp just email me and I'll try and answer your questions :^)

Now you're just freaking me out about the camera. I was so hopeful yesterday but now. Freaked. out.

I totally GET this.

Last week I wrote my to do list with little shadowed boxes (little shadowed boxes are more fun to check off :) and one of the things on my list was:

be patient with yourself, you are a tree growing.

I liked checking that one off but I wish it was on my to-do list everyday. For that matter I wish I had a to-do list everyday ... or at least a row of shadowed boxes. :)


Ahhh. "...of course get a book." You are definitely speaking my language. I was just thinking this morning about my belief that there are very few problems that can't be solved with the right book. Charge on!

Alicia, this is one of my favorite posts. I was a twitchy kid who never wanted to do anything unless I could get it right immediately. Now I'm a twitchy adult who feels the same way!

Oh, and I think the pictures look fabulous.

Oh Alicia:

While I have been in the mind set that I 'must go get more cat food' I cannot help but squeeze in just one last thing.... times 10 or so. I have been meaning to get back to your blog for a few days and to my delight have finally had a moment (before stalling in going to get cat food) to read the past few days worth of posts. I must tell you that sometimes it is eerily funny how similar our likes and dislikes are as I am sure many who read your posts will agree. Cameras are somewhat of an intimidating contraption with so many options and bells/whistles to use or not. But, like having any other tool in the house, it is such a relief to be able to get to that point of actually being comfortable, and dare I say confident, in using one to the best of ITS ability. I will have to agree with one of the other posters above that these photos you have posted with the new big black camera have a much more serious tone to them. There is more that seems to be said in these... I think it has everything to do with the lighting. The ambiance just seems more deep somehow. And isn't it peculiar that a small square diameter of matter and light can spawn such memory or likeness to quiet moments stored away in one's mind...

PS - You're loveliness was with you even as a young girl. How very proud you must have been (be) of that riding uniform. Your snapshots of time are so pleasant and meaningful to view. Thanks for sharing these moments in time with all of us.

i feel funny even suggesting this, but if you love the canon and don't even really care about the research and how you get to the decision to buy, why not go back and say, "Hi, this one worked well, but is there a Canon that does it too? I'm more familiar with Canons."

You already know the Canon language, so why not try a canon that you can print an 8x10 with? Ask to take a look at the Canon PowerShot S3 IS!

(I am biased, as I love my Canon with a passion second only to my husband and family :) )

I always think a book will help me solve a problem, but in the end I am dissapointed in the book. Most of the time I feel the book made promises it didn't deliver i.e. webpages for dummies.

I like this site for photography

Above all don't sweat it.

Kay in Atlanta says: April 19, 2007 at 10:47 AM

Hey, I know how you feel. I bought a fairly expensive camera about three years ago. I finally found out how to load a picture into the computer and was to have been selling things on Ebay but I haven't worked all that out yet. You're way ahead of me. I just haven't MADE myself jump in there. I tend to get lost in other knitting.

I think your photos look great. Sometimes you just have to do the "Practice makes Perfect" thing and get to know the little bugger. I took thousands of really bad photos before big black and I became good buddies.
And then there's always Photoshop...

The pictures are fantastic, as always. Big Black will soon be your best friend. But the thing that caught my eye today was the spotted bowl. It's the 2nd blog in 2 days featuring a spotted bowl. I LOVE THEM! Where is everyone getting the spotted bowls? I need, need, need. But enough about me (oops). I love your earnestness and commitment to beauty, and I'm thrilled to read you every day-ish.

Oh, I love your stories! I love your use of analogy. . . gives me something to think about while I sit and recuperate from a nasty cold!
Keep on crafting, girl! The world needs more people like you

the photos look amazing. i went through the same thing when i recently bought a lumix. its now one of my most favorite things in the world... my sister-in-law who is a professional photographer bought me a gorilla pod tripod which i think is the most amazingly helpful and versatile thing in the world. it made me love my new camera that much more...

and the picture of you is charming. seriously.

I took Latin when I was a freshman in high school ... a long time ago. I remember two things. Magna cum caleritatis (sp?) - with great speed, and Romani in Gauli sunt - the Romans are in Gaul. Not very helpful in everyday life but it's not bad for a dead language.

Oh, honey. I LOVE exhibit A. You look so. flippin. cute. So dedicated.

You'll figure this out- find your camera legs in no time!

You are having fun with this new camera! I'd like to compare it to having sex if I may. With very little knowledge or interaction, you can get the job done, but ... if you take it slowly, learn everything you can about it, you will be amazed at what it can do and what (oh dear!) pleasure and satisfaction it can bring you.
I'm looking at getting a new camera this spring. I'll be interested to hear more about this developing relationship ...

The irony... I also own a powershot (A75) and I adore it, but I felt it time to move on to a new camera. Mine should come in the mail tomorrow and I know now I will be thinking of your post as i try to figure it out. I only hope the colors turn out as beautiful as in your first photo of this post! Love the cat's photo at the end too! :)

That photo of you is a scream. The photos are fun to follow with the wording. I like to style and develope. Shooting is too mechanical for me. I am glad there is love for the big black box. Oh, did I tell you I have a left and the other left. No right in my life. It won't be long before the new camera will be your favorite. I can not wait to see more. They have a softer feel rather than the crispness of the other. Depends on what you want to end up with. I like both. Did someone mention reading the manual? Smarty! Have fun!

Nice mention on AT yesterday. That wall color pops out of every picture.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at