Boy does it have a lot of buttons

I spent this last weekend at Port Ludlow, hosting and teaching at the Strung Along April retreat, but you all know that – and I don’t want to go on about it (although it was seriously one of the most awesome things and I am not even kidding you a little. A fantastic combination in every way. Great students who were a perfect foil for each other, great teachers, great food, great goodie bags, great wine, great weather… I’m on the edge of gushing, I know, but it really did go just so perfectly well. I’ll shut up.)  Instead, let me tell you about this.  I got my new camera.

newcamerafront 2014-04-17

I’m so thrilled I can barely hold it together. Look.  See what I just did there? I’m so excited about my new camera that I took a picture of it with my other camera. (Also, it is not the first picture I have taken of it. There’s a smallish gallery developing.)

cameraback 2014-04-17

(See that? I did it again.  Be glad we are not friends or there’s an 80% chance that I’ve been texting you pictures of a camera for days, just like it’s a new puppy or something.) That second picture is part of what I want to talk about.  From the front, this camera looks a lot like my old one. From the back though? Holy smokes.

marketplacepic1 2014-04-15

(I’m pretty happy with this picture. I took it at the Community Marketplace on Saturday night. That’s ridiculously beautiful Local Color Fiber Studio yarns, and yes. I did buy a little. I’m only human.)

It came with 374 page instruction booklet and I’m only on  page 89, and It’s clear to me now that I’m going to have to read the whole thing and go to school on this.  It does so many things that I keep turning pages in the book and waiting to find out that it’s not just a camera, but a tiny little coffeemaker – because really, I think that’s the only thing that could make it better.  Right now – the experience of taking pictures with it is super exciting, but the pictures aren’t.  I’ve managed to take only a very few great ones.

winebeadsnice 2014-04-17

(I’m almost happy with this picture.  It’s my current project, or what was my current project until I discovered that somewhere between Toronto and Port Ludlow my tiny little crochet hook for beading departed my company. Super frustrating – and now this is on hold until I can get another.)

partyfavours 2014-04-15

(This is a picture of the table set for dinner the last night of the retreat. We had such beautiful party favours, courtsey of Habu – but it took me about 26 shots to get this one.  I have 25 others that are too light, too dark, too blurry, and one that is spoiled by the presence of Debbi’s arse, which is not to say that her arse isn’t perfectly nice, or that the camera screwed up that one. It was just an accidentally intimate picture.)

ballwinderout 2014-04-17

(The weather was so nice that we set up the ball winder on our balcony. It was nice to be out there, but more fun to watch people below try to figure out what we were doing.)

The first bunch I took were out of focus (then I figured out that it was on some crazy 39 point autofocus thing that predicts the movement of objects like birds – but somehow can’t cope with yarn.) Then the next bunch had the white balance all wrong, and I looked up those pages. Then the bunch after that were all screwed as I figured out how I wanted the metering set up.

mountains 2014-04-17

I can admit that the last few days have been disappointing – I think there was a tiny little part of me that really hoped that money could buy skill, and that my photos would automatically go up in quality in a way that was directly related to the quality of the camera.  I saved up for four years to buy this, and I think that I had the experience built up in my mind into something totally unfair.

flights 2014-04-15

On some little level, I thought that out of the box, this camera would be just like my other one (even though it is nothing like my other one) and everything would work the same way (which is nothing short of insane) and that it would solve every photographic problem I’ve ever had without me having to learn anything new – which is also a big fat slice of crazy pie, complete with a nice dollop of delusion right on the top.

judithfindsaslug 2014-04-17

(That’s Judith finding two really big slugs on a bracket fungi.  I am in love with the look on her face, and I’m just glad that I was able to get the exposure right fast enough.)

The truth is that this is going to be a lot like anything else. It’s new. It’s complicated, and that means that I’m going to have to do three things that aren’t instant.

cedars 2014-04-17

I’m going to have to learn. I’m going to have to practice, and I’m going to have to suck for a while while those first two things happen.  (That’s the part I hate.) I think maybe things will get worse before they get better. Stand by.  I’m reading the pages on “Bracketing” today.

(PS. I updated the gig page.  In the next few months I’ll be in Minneapolis, Buffalo and at Squam.)


153 thoughts on “Boy does it have a lot of buttons

  1. Congrats on the Nikon — bet you’re gonna love it. after all, how many other kinds of cameras have ever been immortalized in a Paul Simon song?
    Please tell your publisher you need to come back to Indiana! Last week, I met the knitter who manages Books and Brews, a new pub here that also hosts craft nights, and it turns out that we both were at your last bookstore talk here — way back in ’07? ’08? She agreed that your Hoosier fans would be very happy to see you again.

    • I also vote for an Indy visit! I had not yet heard of Books and Brews, but it sounds like my kind of place. Must check it out!

  2. But Stephanie, we are all your friends! You just don’t have all our emails in your contact list, so we just get to see your photos of your lovely camera on your blog instead of our inboxes 🙂
    The collection of photos you have shared so far are lovely, and though it will require patience and practice, you will learn all the tricks of your camera, and we’ll have fun watching your photos along the way!
    Have a fantastic long weekend! I hear it’s supposed to be reasonably nice weather in Ontario (double digits and sun here in Peterborough Sat & Sun), so maybe you will get to practice with your camera outside!

  3. Stephanie.. My son is an expert on this photography thing. He takes photos of animals. he works at a zoo. they get published, turned into art and all.. The main thing he said when he advanced his skills .. a course is needed, photoshop is a must, its all about editing, and the ability to take lots of photos and spend time chosing the best ones. He probably trashes 50 to 100 photos for every one he saves and he does all this fancy stuff with color and highlight./…

    I hope to see you in Minneapolis at Yarnover.

  4. I felt exactly the same way when I bought my 35mm digital camera. I too took a picture of it and posted it. Can’t wait to see your pictures when you learn how it all works. It took me a good 6 months to a year before I learned how all the gizmos work. Have fun!

    • Me too, when I bought my digital SLR (also a Nikon, but several versions ago.) After a week or two of fumbling my way through the various controls, I promptly signed up for a three hour workshop specific to my exact camera model at Henry’s Cameras. Best use of three hours as I finally felt confident to change settings to get the effect I was after. You’ll feel like you can hit the ground running.

  5. You seriously do NOT have to learn everything at once with your new camera. I remember when I got my first 35mm SLR and was immediately intimidated by the plethora of controls and the thickness of the manual.

    Here’s what I would do (did) – put it in automatic. Auto-exposure and auto-focus. The only two things you really have to set are the ISO (which you normally would want at 200 or 400). And the auto-focus to center-weighted (which it sounds like you’ve already done). Normal white balance should be fine 95% of the time, but if you don’t feel it is, certainly adjust that.

    This getting overly long for a comment, so I’ll stop here and just say – be fearless! With digital, a bad exposure is not the end of the world – you can see it right away and adjust. Try stuff and fail and try again. It’s great!

  6. Years back (like, 20) I took several college photography courses, learned to use entirely manual cameras, and used a darkroom.

    Your new camera would scare the ever loving crap out of me 😀

  7. Have you seen my iPhone camera? Yeah, that’s kind of where my love of complexity stops. I love looking at fantastic pictures, but I have the attention span of a gnat for learning about them. I have other skills I prefer to hone. We all get our share, it’s what we do with ’em. Enjoy!

  8. I have always thought your pictures were great! I guess I’m just not astute enough to see how they could be improved upon.

  9. Well I think your pictures are looking pretty great! I’m not sure what your old camera was because I haven’t been following the blog that long, but if this is your first camera with all manual settings then I think there’s just a few things that you have to get down pat: ISO, shutter speed, and f-stop. They are all related to getting the amount of light in your picture how you like it, but they all have different effects on the quality of the photo. Shall I make a mini summary? The higher the ISO the brighter the picture. However, high ISO will be grainier – test your camera’s limits and use low ISO when you can. The lower the f-stop the brighter the picture will be but the range of focus (depth of field) will be small (blurriness in the background). The slower the shutter speed, the brighter the picture, but any movement will be blurred. It’s all a balancing act between these three things. Then get your white balance right and the rest is doodads if you ask me 🙂

  10. Stephanie, are you signing books at the Minneapolis event at any time? I looked at the schedule, but I couldn’t tell; the only booksigning event (the luncheon) was for Amy Singer.

    I know I can’t come, but my brother lives in St. Paul, and maybe he could swing by and buy a book for you to sign (if I beg hard enough), which he could then send to me. (I already bought one, but coffee got spilled on it, so another wouldn’t come amiss.) I know he’s not going to want to take a class or hear a lecture – he doesn’t knit. But maybe he’d read your new book, since I can tell him how great and funny it is.

  11. see you at SQUAM…i am in your fri/sat class and CANT WAIT! congrats on the new camera, i bought a Pextax recently and it scares the crap out of me.

  12. I took a great online photography class with Flying Photo school. They have groupons once in a while that make the class very affordable.

    It’s a beautiful camera and I can see why you are having so much fun with it!

  13. Enjoy Minneapolis – we got a little more snow last night, you’ll feel right at home! :p

    The great thing about the digital cameras is that you aren’t wasting a bunch of money on developing all those learning/experimental shots. Looks like you’ll get the hang of it soon – you’ve got some great shots there!

  14. Wait a minute! So many of these manuals are published for the North American market, and so are printed in English, French and Spanish. Are you sure it’s 374 pages for you to read? Whatever it is, I am jealous, and hope you have fun with it.

  15. Congratulations on the new camera, and I can’t wait to see the pictures to come!

    I also think it will be an inspiration to knitters everywhere–not just because of the photos, but because of the learning progression made visible (as I think of the woman who told me lace was just too hard so she wasn’t even going to try, while I thought, with that attitude, you’re right, it is.)

    Have fun learning!

  16. Oh No! This means I now have to read the manual on my camera too.
    I love the term “accidentally intimate”, I tend to take unintended nostril shots.
    But, the cedar picture is beautiful! Keep going!

  17. 1. I hope they gave you something besides yarn to eat and

    2. The quality of the pictures we see has more to do with our monitors than it does with your camera so I would just take your time to learn it and use the old one for the blog.

  18. I decided a year and a half ago to learn to play the organ. Music I’ve been playing easily on the piano since I was twelve has to be relearned with a new technique. It sucks. I suck. But one day I’ll get there, and so will you.

  19. The photo of Judith is priceless.

    Don’t try to rush the learning process. Learn what you need as you need it. I’ve had my fancy Canon for 3 years and still haven’t made it through the book, but I looked up the features I wanted to control, and learned those first. Each photographic event, I learn a few new tricks.

    But you’re a knitter. You know this.

  20. My 100% unasked for, unsolicited advice: ditch the expectation at the door and have lots of fun with your new toy. We’re not here for the photos, though your most recent ones are really quite pretty, we’re here for you, and I’d like to think we’d all agree that we like you best when you’re having fun 🙂

  21. I bought my first digital SLR over a year ago and I’m afraid of it. I need to use it and take some bad pictures! your camera sure is snazzy. I’m looking forward to seeing you at Squam!

  22. That’s the best part of digital cameras: you can take a zillion crap photos and just delete them; you don’t have to wait for your film to be developed to discover that you had one good photo out of 24.

  23. I took some college level photography courses many years ago. One of the teachers said all photographers make 10,000 mistakes. Your job is to get on with it, make the mistakes, and then stop making them. And another one said that the difference between someone that takes snapshots and one who takes photographs is that the person who takes snapshots shows all of them to everybody. The photographer (who has taken just as many bad ones) never shows anything but the best.

  24. I have a new Nikon too, that I waited years to buy. I am still learning, but that’s part of the fun of it. I did have a friend figure out the initial settings. I still don’t know everything it does, and though I took a couple of short videos with it awhile back, I haven’t been able to figure out how to repeat it. Have fun. Just keep taking the photos as you go. You might need to buy more TBs for your hard drive. Just sayin’…

  25. Your photography skills have improved immensely since the inception of this blog. I re-read some of the earlier posts and was really surprised by my reaction to the photos of your projects in those posts. The new camera and your eye for fair images are already worthy of a second peek.

  26. you might think you don’t know what you’re doing, but i can TOTALLY tell the difference between your old photos and these ones. the camera is amazing, and your skills will only make the pictures better!

  27. Forget the buttons — the screen on that thing looks more than complicated enough! As if you could use it to plot a course from Earth to Vulcan, check the warp core, and diagnose a replicator malfunction!

  28. Yay – you’re back! I was getting withdrawals too. The new camera looks scary as crap, but if you can knit crazy lace shawls, you can do this. The most important thing you’ve already got down – an amazing eye for a good photo.

  29. I love the one of the ball winder gazing longingly across the water. You have an instinct for storytelling, and it comes across in your pictures.

    It’s actually a good thing to have your eye develop faster than your skill, because you understand where you’re trying to go. At least the “film” is now free.

    With technology, one of the core challenges is not understanding what a feature is, but when and why to use it. Kinda like, oh, maybe knitting…

  30. I love the photos, but I hope you have better luck with the system update than I did. A week later I’m still cursing Apple….

  31. Oh, honey. Those are just little European red slugs. Maybe the snazzy new camera made them look larger. For a proper Northwest slug experience you want to roust out a good eight-inch banana slug, at least. 😉

    • I second this! Those don’t compare to the local banana slug. I do appreciate the photos of our local flora and fauna, though — it’s a good use of the new camera!

  32. Judith looks like I must look too non-knitters. Slightly crazy, slightly obsessed, in knits that only another knitter would recognize as works of near-art.

  33. Congrats on the new camera!!! I can totally relate to your excitement! I got a new camera in December, upgrading after 6 + years and I am smitten.

    Have fun with it — your pictures are looking beautiful!

  34. I got my first fancy camera just before my son was born and I left it in automatic modes for a long time, trying to get a handle on motherhood before the camera stuff. But I did really want to play and learn.

    This blog really helped me out and my shots of the kiddo are getting much better.

    Next up, a new lens. DH is so pleased that knitting is a much more economically manageable hobby.

    So many people recommended that the best way to get better was to take pictures everyday. (like a Project 365). Just like spinning, a little everyday is the best way forward. Have fun and say hi to Mpls for me. Even though the weather is beautiful in Glasgow today I miss my childhood home.

  35. At least it is digital. You can analyze what went wrong…then delete them!

    And great photographers have a lot of bad shots too.

  36. Sucking at something sucks, so alternate those episodes with things you’re really good at, like knitting and teaching and keeping track of tiny crochet hooks. Oh, wait…

  37. I want a new camera, in fact about 30 minutes ago, I mentioned it to one of my co-workers. Mine just isn’t up to snuff anymore and truly, I don’t care how people feel about their iphones, they just don’t take that great of a pic. I want a new camera. And the pics that you posted are just loverly.

    p.s. come to Cleveland. The last time you came, I think I was in Dallas.

  38. Keep an eye on the shutter speed, try to keep it above 1/60, that will help with the motion blur.

    Leave the white balance on auto at this point. It’s right most of the time and if you’re shooting in RAW you can change the white balance after the fact.

    You could even put the ISO on auto for now. Those full frame sensors do a great job even at crazy high ISO.

    Good luck.

  39. Whoa, quite a purchase, Steph! I have a lowly D90 and it took me quite a while to read through the manual also. The pdf version is handy to put on your iPad and search for what you’re looking for as well. Your photos look pretty fabulous already so they’re only likely to get better – I’m looking forward to seeing the results!

  40. When you first posted the dinner table shot I thought it was a professional. Absolutely gorgeous. (And if my camera actually would make coffee I would read the damn manual. It doesn’t, so I haven’t, and the resulting pics are about what you would expect.)

  41. My husband is a photographer. Two things I’ve learned from him that apply here. 1. Pixels are cheap! (Take many pictures). 2. Professionals take tons of pictures to get a few usable ones. The first year my husband had his digital camera he took over ten thousand just personal pictures. He edits (deletes) ruthlessly. We have a fairly normal number of family pictures, but they tend to be good ones, because that’s all we keep.

  42. That is hands down the best photo I have ever seen of Judith MacKenzie. It captures her expressiveness perfectly, and even though it’s not a traditionally smile-y expression, she looks perfect. It could be an author picture on a dust jacket. I think you and your new camera are well on the way to being great friends.

  43. OMG. I feel the same way with cameras! I always think that newer, improved technology will just do the trick without me learning anything new. Alas, that has also not been the case for me. However, the photos that you posted are gorgeous and with practice, it’ll be easier to get the shot that you want the first time! I’ve heard from professional photographers that the key really is to just take a LOT of photos and then editing with the software of your choosing and going through 100 photos for the 1 photo you really like is basically the key to good photos. Which isn’t really what I wanted to hear…I like instant gratification and little to no effort on my part…seriously, how am I a knitter? 🙂 Anyway…I guess much like knitting, there’s a learning curve, you get better with practice, and then there’s the extra bit with the editing thing. Which might equate to weaving in ends, stitching pieces together (as in a sweater), and all those non-knitting things that knitting requires. Just think…the weather is turning warmer, sunnier, and less dismal out, which means that you’ll want to be out in it, taking more pictures! I give you major props for saving for four years for it too!

  44. Try getting the Field Guide for your camera. This book is actually written in human English and makes it a lot easier to understand the workings of your new camera. You should be able to find one at Amazon or maybe your local camera or book store.
    Welcome to the 21st century camera wise!

  45. To replace your tiny crochet hook, I recommend one that tatters use. Mine has a short decorative wood handle with a hole for cording so that you can hang it round your neck to keep it handy.

  46. I have a D90 and mainly leave it on auto, but the one thing that has made the most difference is pushing the button down half-way so that it focuses where I want it to. Practicing this on pussywillows is, mm, not the easiest thing I’ve ever tried. The trees are about to leaf out here and I’ve had a lot of fun practicing with all sorts of budding trees and plants.

  47. HEY!! Glad you had an AWEsome time in Port Ludlow!!! I’m no photographer….but I sure do appreciate a good picture & that one of the ship by the dock with the mountains in the background…you NAILED it!!!! Have a grrrreat Easter w/e!!! Janie ((:

  48. Wow! Congrats on your new camera. It’s a beauty although it would scare the bejesus out of me.

    From the quality of photos you already have produced, even with your phone, I’d say your pretty photography-smart. (Who taught the world to Kinnear after all?). Enjoy your new baby!

  49. Ahhh you got a Df! I love that camera! It reminds me of my old Nikkormat ft (but way more sophisticated). When I was in Vistek the other day the salesman was kind enough to let me play with their floor model while I waited for my sensor to be cleaned. It’s a great camera, congrats!

    I’m a little hesitant to suggest this because you might think I’m weird…well, to be fair I am weird but not in a dangerous way… but I’d love to meet up with you for a photo walk around Kensington or something to help you past the early learning curve. I’ve been a photographer for 30+ years so I know a few things that might be useful. Kind of like a bit of payback for all the things you’ve taught me about knitting through your blog.

  50. Love the new camera! I’m partial to Nikons anyway, since that’s my main blog camera (when I can find the little bugger.), but that’s definitely a snazzy camera!

  51. Oh, I feel your pain! I just got my first ever DSLR! It’s a Canon t31, and I’m beyond thrilled. I’m also beyond intimidated!!! I am dreading reading the book, but I know that’s the only way to really learn it!

  52. That is a fantastic capture of Judith! Love it.

    Next you’ll slip down the camera slope a little farther and start collecting new lenses to expand all the possibilities. Can’t wait to see what you produce!

  53. Anybody watch Top Gear? “Some say…that he has over 1000 photographs of his own camera.”

    Wait, does that make Stephanie the knitting version of The Stig?

  54. I saved up for a few years to buy my Canon EOS digital SLR. I love it! I was instantly pleased with the quality of the pictures, which WERE improved by the better quality camera. After a while I realized that I know nothing about photography and felt frustrated with the camera. Now, I’ve read up a little bit, and I take Millions of pictures, because the “film” is free! So cool! you can make lots of mistake and learn, and eventually take pictures you are happy with.
    Don’t sweat it, have fun!

  55. congrats. I have had my DSLR for almost 3 years and have learned a lot. I’ve found tons of websites with lots of information on f/stops, ISO, and aperture. The best advice I ever got though is to get out every day with your camera.

  56. Also when I was first learning how to use my DSLR I used to keep it on either “Auto” or “Program” (Canon 60D). Then one day someone told me that using those programs basically make the camera into an expensive point and shoot. Now I tend to shoot more in Aperture Priority (I set the Aperture and the ISO, the camera chooses the speed) or in Tv (Time value – I set the speed of the shot and the ISO and the camera selects the aperture). Keep playing!

  57. You got some lovely shots! Even if there are twenty times as many discarded shots, it’ll only get better as you get the hang of the machine’s settings and quirks. The best thing about new, improved camera gear is it gives you room to grow.

  58. OMG, I didn’t copy my post before failing the human test. I’ll try again, but it feels weird repeating myself somewhat – it doesn’t feel spontaneous, lol. 😛
    VERY nice camera! Nice shots already. I really like the one of the ball winder. And the table setting – so generous of Habu and you gals! The boat one is amazing, beautiful location. And the one of the pile of yarn, is that the booth display or your new stash?! 🙂

  59. Oh, and Judith’s expression over the slugs is priceless. But better there than stuck squished between the toes from running through the grass barefoot. Ugh, they need a special cleaner for that.

  60. Speaking of buttons….do you have an online source for buttons? I’ve got a cute baby sweater here that is in need of some panda buttons, but not the modern sort of chinese-art sort of pandas, just the cute ol’ traditional panda buttons that will look adorable on a black baby sweater. the nearest button shop from me is 30 minutes and it isn’t reliable for cuteness. Thanks! (Someday I’m going to get to a retreat of yours….ever think of planning something in CT, we’ve got some gorgeous places around here!

  61. Ooooh, how I’d love to have your camera! All the bells and whistles! Yu-uuum. Looks to me like you’re beginning to get the hang of it. You got REAL close with the wineglasses, and the cedar(? hemlock? whatever) branch is snazzy.

  62. The mountains were out!
    Wish I could have been there.

    I know you and your camera will become good friends!

    (Also, the verification thingy is offending me by insisting that a treble clef is a Music Note. No. No, you’re wrong.)

  63. I love that last picture of the evergreen. Ugh – I’m scared to delve into all the various settings on my camera (which is not terribly fancy, I think is considered a point and shoot, but has a bunch of settings that I’m sure would make my pictures better) so I just use my phone. (It is a tiny bit more convenient to use my phone….). I even bought a book about how to take better pictures of your crafts. So I get mostly “ok” pictures and a lot that are crappy and blurry. Some day I’ll get crack-a-lackin’ and work on it! 🙂

  64. Pingback: …the f-stops here.. | Goddess Knitters

  65. The great thing about the digital cameras is that you aren’t wasting a bunch of money on developing all those learning/experimental shots. Looks like you’ll get the hang of it soon – you’ve got some great shots there!

    very good

  66. Congratulations. I have had my DSLR almost three years and have learned so much. I found a ton of Web sites with lots of information on the ISO and aperture f/stop. The best advice I ever got though is that your camera out every day.

  67. Congratulations. I have had my DSLR almost three years and have learned so much. I found a ton of Web sites with lots of information on the ISO and aperture f/stop. The best advice I ever got though is that your camera out every day.

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