Day three -the workshop begins…

It’s a Saturday at Carmel…  lots of coming and going and a Chiropractic Convention adding to the hustle and bustle. After a buffet breakfast in the dining room, Sissy and I ventured out to do a bit of exploring. Before anyone decides to ask, Sissy did not join me for breakfast. 🙂 I should have checked much sooner and I had every intention of doing so, but… somewhere about this time I discovered that one of the parks didn’t allow any dogs. Not even when left in the car. This had me scrambling to come up with an alternate plan. The yellow pages came to the rescue with a listing for a dog sitter just blocks away from the Inn.

Our first meeting of the workshop started at 2pm with the usual meet and greet and some explanation of what was to come. That evening we were scheduled for a sunset shoot at Garrapata Beach. I was the rank amateur in the group and it was suggested I make an attempt to go to manual or semi-manual mode rather than the automatic I’d been using. Note, I said suggested.

Now, I used to do manual back in the day before digital – there was no auto option back in that day. I had no problem with it. But then the combination of an older and slower brain and all these new fangled buttons, not to mention the temptation to just let the camera do the thinking for me……IMG_8905

Well….  I was lost. I felt helpless and frustrated and here I was in Big Sur -definitely one of my favorite places on earth and I was fumbling around not getting the results I wanted or had come to expect. This is not to say that Don and his assistant, Mike, weren’t trying to help… but I wasn’t retaining the instructions and I’d bet that the frustration wasn’t helping me cope either.

IMG_8919Fumbling with a heavy tripod wasn’t helping matters either. Given the splenditude (I think I just made that word up) of the scenery surrounding me, it just wasn’t happening. I was getting shots that I very nearly could have done at home. Not to mention the utterly helpless feeling of not being able to deal with the buttons and dials and gizmos and such.

IMG_8934Since I wasn’t having much success with the sunset, I turned and looked behind me and managed to snatch this lovely pink cloud popping over the mountain. But again, it wasn’t conveying the beauty and majesty of Big Sur. It could just as well have been taken at my usual beach, or very nearly so.IMG_8951I had a lot of stairs to climb back to the road, so I started up ahead of the group as the rest of them were starting to pack up. That’s pretty much the group except for me and one gal who was still out of sight to the left. Oops, someone else is missing since there were eleven of us altogether, including the two instructors.

The next post will cover my first night shot……

If you’re interested, Don Smith’s website is HERE… or his blog at WordPress is HERE


49 thoughts on “Day three -the workshop begins…

  1. I very much liked Holycowgirl’s comment and wonder if there’s more than a little bit of that in you…even though this was Day One…. I understand the frustration…so very much…and am glad you still had a wonderful time in such a beautiful place….


    • I can’t disagree with either one of you on a certain level, but you’ll see in the next post that there was no real pressure from either instructor. Their methodology was to present what they knew and to let me fly at my own pace…. providing guidance and instruction as I asked for it. The frustration was never created by them. It was impatience with myself at not “getting it” as quickly as I wanted or expected. It’s always been that way…


  2. Do hope you got to grips with those new fangled buttons – they intimidate the hell out of me! Shots are superb but guess the real fun and games come with the post production? How incredibly lucky to find a place for Sissy at such short notice.


  3. I think your images are quite effective in conveying the majesty and solitude of your moments at Big Sur. Incidentally, an excellent alternative to full manual mode is to use a semi-manual mode. You set the aperture to control depth of field and then you let the camera figure out the shutter speed. Or set the shutter speed to ‘freeze’ a moving subject and let the camera automatically figure out the aperture. Keep at it and thanks for sharing your photographs!


    • Well, I used to know how to do all that stuff with the old SLR. These days it’s been mostly laziness and the convenience of auto mode that kept me from figuring out how to do what I used to do back in the day. What you’re hearing in this post (and the next) is the frustration at the learning curve. I’ve never dealt very patiently with that.


  4. the first shot and the one with the pink cloud are my favorites! I would love to lay on the beach and just sit back, close my eyes and listen. What a great looking place!


  5. As familiar as I am with the camera, I find it easy to make mistakes if I am not “exercising” with it regularly. During my cruise I often played with the settings to get the shots I wanted . . . only to screw up other shots because I would not remember to reset all of them. I even shot a series forgetting I had the camera in manual focus.

    In part that from some of the shots being a fleeting opportunity, and rushing to get the shot done, splitting the concentration between setting the camera and making sure I still had a shot.

    Looking forward to the rest.


    • The focus in this workshop was (mostly, though not exclusively) landscape as art. I seem to do two decidedly different sorts of shooting. I want the skill to take advantage of manual settings when I need them, yet much of what I do is what I refer to as ‘opportunistic’. Auto mode is wonderful for shooting on the fly…. though the instructor started out as team photographer for the San Jose Sharks (hockey). I would bet he manages manual even for those sorts of action shots… then again he’s had years of practice. That’s not to mention what age seems to have done to my short-term memory…. sigh.

      At the very least this workshop has encouraged me to do some stretching with the camera skills. A good thing in itself. That’s not to mention the truly magical location.


  6. Your photos are beautiful as always and I see nothing wrong with using the ‘auto’ mode. There’s just soooo much to learn on these new cameras. I’ve been playing around with other settings on the camera with poor results. I think I could benefit from a class or workshop. In the end, I hope you enjoyed the workshop!


    • There have been times when I have been disappointed with auto mode. Besides, I figure this old brain needs to do some stretching. I’m sort of stringing this adventure out a bit, but you’ll see I totally enjoyed every bit of it. I would do it again in a heartbeat. But only after I’ve had a chance to become a bit more familiar with the vast possibilities that are available in manual mode. I fully intend to start working on that learning curve.


  7. I can understand the merit of scholarly instruction. But wonder if your unhappiness didn’t also
    come from knowing how you do things and like it that way. I have been frustrated with schools since birth,
    kept at it in a highly aggitated state until I had enough in me and left. Schools mostly provided me with
    introductions to new tools I was unfamiliar with and not likely to find on my own with a lot of search or
    by accident.
    I don’t think there’s much to match your photographs, especially Solitude. You’re not in the process of making
    picture postcards and that’s the good news. Your best shot was the independent 190 to the pink sky behind you, away,
    incidentally, from the masses. The second best is climbing the cliff alone, from afar.


    • I definitely hear what you’re saying and agree for the most part, but stay tuned. Keep in mind this was the very first day. I really needed the push out of lazy auto mode because there has been equal frustration with previous occasions of not getting the results I wanted when I let the camera do the thinking for me. What you were hearing this first day was the pain of pushing against the comfort zone….


  8. I think it’s great that you’re stretching your photographic muscles here. Like you, I’ve become accustomed to letting my camera do the thinking for me and I know how frustrating it is to not get the results I want. Good for you for stepping outside your comfort zone. And what a beautiful location in which to do so!


    • I agree – it’s just too easy to let the camera do your thinking for you. I think the biggest thing the workshop accomplished was to show me the possibilities that open up when you learn the camera (not to mention post-processing) and to inspire me to stretch my photographic muscles (as you so aptly put it.)


  9. That’s a hell of a leap on your first day Gunta. No wonder you sounded a little frustrated. There, you’ve hooked us in again, you didn’t used to write scripts for soap operas did you? I’m enjoying this post but desperate now to see how the leap to manual pans out as the workshop progresses. I think your second shot is beautiful as they all are. 🙂


    • Thanks footsy. Could very well be from the Spanish since Southern California has an abundance of Spanish based names. I’d think sand fleas to be more likely than ticks, unless them nasty suckers were found on the climb up.


    • Oh I loved my old SLR, but I don’t miss the money spent on film and processing or the waiting to see results. Seems like there are always trade-offs to be had.


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