Thursday, July 17, 2014

Still An Amateur

There are times when I pack up my camera equipment, strap it onto my back, and head out to capture whatever moves me. Be it a rural landscape, an urban skyline, a person, or something abstract, I love snapping photographs.

And when I see the results of some of my work, I think to myself, did I really take that? It's beautiful!

Of course, I like to share my best photos with family and friends, and whoever cares to look at them on The Brown Knowser, on Flickr, or on 500px.

I'm not delusional: I know that not everything I take is good. I don't even think half the shots I take are decent. The majority of what I shoot ends up stashed away, never looked at by me again, let alone shared with anyone else. I almost never delete a photo, unless it's terribly out of focus or blurry, is improperly exposed—beyond the ability of my photo-editing software—or is pointing at nothing at all, except the bare ground or vacant sky.

But I like to think I have my shit together when I set out to take a photographic journey: my camera and flash batteries are charged, I have all of my lenses and my tripod, and all other accessories that I may need to capture an image.

I never worry about insufficient space on my SD card: at 32 GB, there is room for thousands of frames, and I always make a point of emptying the card at the end of the day, of transferring the files onto my laptop and external hard drive.

I'm a creature of habit, who plugs his camera directly into his laptop with a six-inch, standard-USB to mini-USB cable that I always keep tucked in my camera bag.

Unless I'm at my computer with my camera but without my camera bag. And I'm too tired and lazy to get up grab that cable, in which case I take the SD card from the camera and insert it into the thin slot at the side of the laptop.

Which happens maybe once in a couple of months or so. As was the case on Monday, when I downloaded the photos of beer that I shot for Tuesday's Beer O'Clock post.

Tuesday evening was gorgeous. Mild, with clear skies. In the dying light, I decided to take the short drive to the newly opened Strandherd Bridge, whose white arches glow under bright floodlamps. For nearly an hour, I stood at various ends and pointed my extra-wide lens at beam-stretching angles.

The mosquitoes didn't bother me, nor did the June bugs. I conversed, briefly, with a bullfrog, reassuring him that I saw him and wouldn't accidentally step on him.

I arrived home, happy with the clear sky, the faint rays of light peeking over towering storm clouds in the far distance. I knew, from the preview that came up on my screen right after snapping a shot, all of them 30 seconds long, that I had a few great shots.

Some, even good enough to earn a spot on my 500px site, which I reserve for the best of my images.

At home, as I plugged my D-SLR into my laptop, I wondered why the camera flashed an -E- across its LCD display. The batteries were charged, the camera performed as expected. Perhaps I'll have to put the SD card directly in the computer, as I had the other night, I told myself.

And then I remembered.

My hand lightly felt along the left edge of the laptop, toward the SD slot. And there, protruding slightly from the computer, was my SD card, still there from Monday evening.

I had just taken photos with no memory card. With my camera set to full-manual mode, there was no indication I was shooting blanks.

A rookie mistake. An embarrassing blunder.

I shall return to Strandherd Bridge on the next nice evening, when the light is just right.

My card is back in the camera, where it belongs. And where it shall stay until it ultimately fails, if ever.

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