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Pictures or photographs?

Over the years I have had a pretty close relationship with the camera. The best one I ever had was a Mamiya 645. It had a built-in light meter that was spot on for the work I was doing. The shop I had at that time was full of natural light so I never had to worry about lighting or shadows or any of that. But I hated the darkroom and the chemicals. When digital photography started to become popular, I got a digital camera but it was pretty low res and could not measure up to film quality.

A few years back, I finally got a really good digital SLR. The problem was it was too good. The one thing digital cameras have in common is that little green "P" on the settings dial. The temptation to just use the program mode and let the camera do the thinking was just too great. As a consequence, my digital images have never been as good as they could be.

A few months ago, I did what I should have done in the first place. I sat down to decipher the almost incomprehensible manual. I totally focused on the section on using the manual (no pun intended) mode and the shutter and aperture priority modes. I have discovered that this camera, like my old Mamiya, has a built in light meter that, once you understand the hieroglyphic icons, will help match the shutter speed to the selected aperture to the appropriate shutter speed and vice versa.

This might all sound like pretty basic stuff to a competent photographer. But I have never called myself a photographer, much less a competent one. Photographers take photographs. I take pictures. Maybe I'll graduate one of these days. It all depends on how good I get at figuring out what all those little icons mean.


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