Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Big Mistake

It was one of those days when you get up, the sun is shining,  your feet are itching for a walk, and your fingers are itching to hold a camera. I decided it would be the perfect day to go on a photo walk at Lake Catherine. This would be my my first visit to this Arkansas State Park even though it's only an hour away. I'd done a little research and discovered that one of the trails near the lake led to a waterfall. Thankfully, the two-mile trail which was along a beautiful creek was fairly easy to hike.
I was a little disappointed when I got to the lake. The sun had gone away and clouds had moved in. I had fun anyway eagerly snapping away.  I took tons of pictures along the trail and of the waterfall. I was excited, invigorated from the walk, and happy that the waterfall had been flowing well and was beautiful.  I was happy, that is, until I got home and uploaded all those images! Then I felt like crying! The pictures were not great, some were keepable, but most were absolutely horrible! Such a big disappointment!
The mistake I made was in adjusting my camera for the overcast conditions.  I had over adjusted and they were blown out around the edges, way too light! Evidently I had set the ISO too high and who knows what else I did wrong!  Did I mention that I was using my new 50mm lens? Double disappointment! I thought I'd be taking some really great shots, not bad shots!!
The only thing that halfway saved the day was my point and shoot camera. I had taken it along and had used if several times. Oh, how I love my trusty point and shoot. It has saved me many times while learning the settings on my "big camera."
At first I was disappointed in the photos and then I became frustrated! I wanted to just kick myself for not putting the camera on Program Mode and letting IT pick the setting!  Usually I'm pretty easy going when I make mistakes, but this time it really bothered me. I had made the drive and walked the two mile trail just to take these pictures! It's irritating to keep making mistakes. Learning to manually set my camera settings brings to mind the old saying "one step forward, two steps back." I'm struggling with getting correct exposure.

Much later after thinking about it all evening, I realized it wasn't the end of the world when my pictures didn't all turn out. I had salvage enough!  I also realized there were valuable lessons to be learned from this day. Here's some of things I thought about and learned:
  • If I go back to using the Program Mode, my learning will come to a screeching halt!
  • If I'm unsure about the settings, check the Program Mode to see what is suggested.
  • I need to finish reading the book Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.
  • I need to rework through the exercises in Digital Photography Basics ebook by Kat Sloma
  • I'll keep on trying and trying and trying - giving up is not allowed.
  • I will not beat myself over the head when I do make mistakes.
  • My  point and shoot camera will be in my pocket and I'll take a few shots just in case.

I've chosen to look at this day in a different way. Instead of making the day about the photography, I've chosen to remember the day as an outing where I walked peacefully through the woods, listened to the babbling creek, absorbed the quiet and was at peace. Oh, and as a bonus I took a few pictures to remember my trip. It's all in how I look at it!  Do I bum about the mistake or do I learn from it?  I choose to let it go and learn!
This photo journal is linked to Kat Eye Studio. I'm taking another one of her wonderful courses "The Journey of Fascination."  Don't you love that title?  Photography is fascinating!
Find Your Eye


  1. It's so interesting that you'd make a post about this. I ran into the same thing this weekend. I actually went to an event with a semi-well known person, who I wanted to take photos of. The bad thing, my camera's shutter speed wasn't set for indoor lighting, and my image came out under exposed. I learned a few things to - shoot in raw, and maybe next time, I'll also be able to salvage some of my images. But I am glad your experience wasn't wasted ... and you still had a nice adventure!

    A Day in Durham

  2. I can understand how frustrating that was! There's always so much to learn, and I admire your perseverance. It's embarrassing to admit that I still shoot most of my images in Program mode. I think I actually knew more about photography (technically) back in my film camera days than I do now.

    I love that you chose to remember the pleasures of the day, learn a lesson from the mistake, and let it go.

  3. The day you describe would indeed have been a frustrating one for me too. It seems even after learning the basics, it really takes practice to get the technical stuff to come naturally. For classes, I have done the manual settings as the teacher directed and learned so much. But after the fact I can't remember exactly and panic and go back to Program mode. It seems like any art form there is much to learn to hone the skills. You have a fabulous attitude and a great selection of books to continue that journey.

  4. How frustrating! great that you were able to be positive in the end. You'll definitely have to go there again & give it another go.

  5. So frustrating when this happens - especially when you make a special trip to someplace new. This usually happens to me when I travel - I always have such big expectations when going somewhere new, thinking about all the great photos I'm going to get - and then I'm usually disappointed. But I like how you have re-framed this experience and the lessons have taken away from it.

  6. Glad to read that you were able to look at the experience from a new perspective and find the good in it. It sounds like a great outing, and one worth repeating. We all mess up our setting sometimes, don't we? You took some lessons from the experience -- thanks for sharing those. Looking forward to seeing your photos from your next trip to the lake.

  7. This experience was certainly perfect for the topic "Letting Go". Next time you go back, and I am sure you will, I bet you will have some awesome pictures. It takes so much learning from mistakes to finally get it right. Definitely don't go back to Program mode. You can do it!

  8. We all have disppointing times with our cameras don't let it get you down. Going manual was the best thing I did for myself but it is always a learning curve no matter how long I have been shooting this way. Keep shooting and reading. Understanding Exposure was one of the best reads for me and doing the exercises.

  9. So sorry the sun wasn't playing along with you today! Good practice anyway!
    I read Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure" and thought it was very good. I probably should take another look at it!

    As long as you keep moving forward, you're doing good! I think that's what I love about photography, that I can always learn something new!


  10. Your walk sounds great and that is what you should remember from the day. Sometimes, the mind's eye is the best and most lasting picture. But, I hear that practice does make perfect. (I still use "auto" if I just want a quick shot and don't have time to fool with settings.)

  11. man that's so frustrating! i hate it when technology gets in the way of me trying enjoy this hobby. i think though that your attitude makes all the difference - appreciating the adventure and the time outdoors.

    as far as camera settings go, i have found that aperture mode works best for me in most situations. i can control the DOF based on what i'm trying to capture. and then if i am shooting inside, i set my ISO to either 800 or 1600 (depending on how bright the light is) and if i am outside i usually set it to 200 or 400 (depending on the light as well). i then let the camera decide shutter speed. sometimes if there's alot of backlight or in weird light situations i will shoot in manual, but 90% aperture priority works good for me.

    keep up the good work cathy because i love going along on nature walks with you...no matter what kind of camera you use. love, kelly

  12. Oh, yes... such a hard moment, when you upload and discover those images you anticipate to be wonderful aren't wonderful at all! I like how you have chosen to reframe the situation, because you are right - you will never, ever learn without making mistakes. Going back to an auto setting will not help you learn more! Thanks for sharing your response to this exercise.

  13. Great job turning a "not so great" thing into a learning and positive experience! :) Thank goodness for the point and shoot - again!

  14. I like your "mantra" ...."I will not beat myself over the head when I do make mistakes."

    I think I'll need to start using that myself. Yesterday, after posting my response to this assignment, I got in a hurry AGAIN and made some of the same mistakes. Someone in the office where I work celebrated an 80th birthday, and though I was there with my camera, my brain was at home. I did not take time to consider some basic settings.

    Can we all say a collective "aaarrrggghhhhhh!!!!!" ? Oh, yeah. I will not beat myself over the head when I do make mistakes.

  15. Hey Cathy. Sounds like you and I had a similar type of mistake. Uber frustrating. I like your idea to check program mode. I don't do that...but I remember when I first had my camera I did to try and figure out what the hell I was doing wrong. Might be a good place to verify (it's like "tips" right there on your camera).
    Another thing I was thinking, that place is only an hour away, so there's a great chance you can take that lovely walk again, and bring the camera along just in case you're inspired to try again. I do like this image you've posted, it feels very tranquil.


Thanks so much for stopping by!!