I’m going to show you a picture and while it won’t mean much now, it will all make sense by the end of this post.
That is a picture taken in my back yard a few weeks ago of the northern lights. Now if I could have actually gotten my camera to focus, and my settings were what they should have been, what you would have seen was the nice tree line, a few city lights, a couple power lines and the majestic glow in the sky of the green and purple aurora borealis.
But nothing was in focus, I couldn’t figure out which settings were best and I was lucky to even get this shot because out of 47 attempts I could only get my camera to take two pictures.
(insert curse words here)
Most everyone has New Years resolutions. Majority of them are to lose weight or get in better shape. Travel more. Eat healthier. Be more laid back. Try something new or make an effort not to scream at your kids as much. Those are my LIFE goals people, I can’t just narrow that down into a year!
Goals. Goals are what we are after. What can I do that in a year from now I can look back and say, “You know what, I got this shit down!”?
We bought my camera for Mother’s Day last year. I can confidently say I’m moderately good with it. I have some pictures I’m really proud of and I have A LOT that aren’t worth mentioning. I have worked really hard to learn though. From reading countless articles, and chatting with people close to me that have a lot of photography know how. Shooting and practicing whenever I can. Studying other people’s work and taking notes on how I can incorporate that in my own style. Learning about my surroundings and the elements I live in to better my skills when shooting. I can proudly say I can shoot in Manual mode on a regular basis with confidence. While that might not seem extraordinary, to me, it’s leaps and bounds from where I started.
Night photography is a BEAST though. It’s been my biggest struggle since I’ve begun this journey. I’ve been patient and been a student of the craft the best that I can. I’ve researched and invested in a really good tripod. I’ve practiced and tried, practiced and tried, with many nights just ending in frustration. This is ultimately where I got with it.
Is it nice? Sure. Pretty? Definitely. In focus or what I intended for it to be? Absolutely not. Closer though. All about those baby steps.
That night was cold. I mean, hovering above zero, had the car running with the heater on full blast, jumping out fully bundled head to toe to take a few shots before hopping back in to warm up your already frozen body. But my persistence paid off. I managed this.
I realize Nat Geo isn’t blowing up my phone with job offers, but it’s not bad! It’s progress and that’s all I needed from that night.
I continued my studies and worked on not much else besides those late night shooting sessions. Then I discovered the magical button that overrides my auto focus. And a few key settings that made all the difference when outside shooting with that dark night sky.
Last night, mere moments before the midnight countdown began, we noticed the northern lights out and I rushed to set up my equipment. My efforts paid off.
I absolutely realize these are terrible pictures, and I’m confident most iphones could get a better picture, but these few blurry grainy pictures are everything I’ve been working towards. It was a personal breakthrough. While every picture I took was just shy of focused and crisp, the more I worked with it, the better the colors. The better the angle. My tripod stayed where I needed it to. My hands weren’t freezing and I wasn’t scrambling to see my camera buttons to fiddle with settings. For a split second, I felt like I knew what I was doing, and it felt really really good.
No matter how big or small, all it takes is a push in the right direction to feel like your on the right path. Regardless of what your resolutions are, maybe you didn’t even make any at all, I hope that the new year is a fresh start for you.
Even more so, I hope that each and every one of you gets that little breakthrough we all could use.