November 15, 2011

R is for Road

Road is my ravishing R word for ABC Wednesday, and to that I will add a raving recommendation. I'm also linked to Outdoor Wednesday.

A standard dictionary defines a road as a long, narrow stretch with a smoothed or paved surface, made for traveling by motor vehicle, carriage, etc, between two or more points.

Not all roads are created equal. Take for instance the roads we traversed in Hovd, in the far west of Mongolia. Occasionally it was smooth driving on solid pavement, as here approaching the capital of the aimag (province).


Hovd, 2007

More often, the road was rather tenuous. [Enlarge for panoramic views.]




And a few times we rode on no road at all.


Yet the journey in these rough parts did not fail to exhilarate.

A bit like life itself, don’t you agree?

Which brings me to the more abstract definition of road: a way or course, as in the road to peace. Today I write a little about my road to learning photography.

As I’ve shared on my So where exactly IS home? page, I’ve literally been on the road since the beginning of my existence. That much is clear.

But my history with the camera is a bit of a blur. When did I first use one? When did it become important to me? Not really sure.

Now I can feel in my bones that I’ve come to a proverbial fork in my road.



No, not to fret, this is not the profound Soul Purpose kind of question, but nonetheless one I increasingly want to put my mind to.

Not long ago I made a remark about my “recent hobby” when my adult nephew retorted, “But I’ve never seen you without a camera!” And he is right, to a large extent.

For at least the past two decades I’ve traveled the planet I've carried and used one, as well as on many major trips years before that. I have two dozen thick photo albums on my shelves and numerous private digital albums online to serve as souvenirs of the many splendid corners of the world I have visited. And – shamelessly blowing my own horn – perhaps fortunate for me and others who view my photos, I have a pretty decent eye. It doesn’t hurt that many of these places are exceedingly photogenic.

Then there came a point in time not so long ago when I got the urge to go beyond recording my been there, done thats. I credit the internet in general and blogging specifically for inspiring me to look at the camera as a tool for more artistic expression, to look at what is in front of me from new angles, and to capture scenes in more creative ways. I’m at the very (very!) beginning of that road, with many more mountains to climb.



Among the key lessons I must learn is to master the tool. For me the first step is to get beyond the auto modes of my camera. Since using a DSLR I generally shoot in aperture priority, and I do adjust ISO for night or day, but I’ve not yet had the nerve – or the knowledge – to go into complete manual.

Frankly, to date I’ve been both lazy and a bit intimidated by the technical side of photography. My head refused to bend around the F-stops, shutter speeds, ISOs, and never mind how they all worked together to get the effect I wanted. Dang, most of the time I didn’t even stop to think about an effect at all! My SOP has been to catch sight, compose and click!

So I repeat, I’ve been inspired, and I want to step up my game.


I was therefore most pleased to stumble on this e-book at almostfearless.com (a cool travel blog!) that lays out the basic principles of manual photography in an easy, clear and non-technical way:  Getting Out of Auto written by Bethany Salvon, a seasoned professional photographer.

I’ve just finished reading it and can’t wait to start playing and experimenting. 


Where this road will take me is still a mystery to me. However, I do suspect that photography will remain a parallel road for me, not my main one.


But I’m on my way; I’ve taken the first steps. I'm moving along on some kind of road.


A number of friendly visitors to this blog of mine over the past months have commented in ways to tell me that they too have an interest to take their point-and-shooting to a higher level. So in the spirit of sharing, if anything in this post sounds like you, I recommend you take a look at this informative review of the e-book*.

If photography intrigues you, too, where is your road to learning leading?

* NB. Yes, I get an affiliate cut for the e-book; and no, I do not intend to place advertising for random product on this blog. I am still considering the option of reviewing and linking to selected stuff I care about and believe may be useful to my blog’s visitors.

57 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

I've been thinking about roads a lot. How, in the West, if we have to endure potholes, which don't get fixed because of diminished budgets, what pathways will survive?

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Jedediah said...

Gorgeous road photos.
Go for the manual mode of your camera! Just play around with it, never mind about learning the technical terms and such first. Don't get frustrated by the photos that don't work out, you'll develop an understanding of how things work quickly.

joo said...

Well, I would love to hit one of these roads here! OK, I'm always ready to set a journey, even the shortest:)
Road is a great subject!
Hugs
J.

photowannabe said...

I think I am almost at the Fork in the Road too.
I'm going to take a look at the info you shared.
This brain of mine is a bit addled so this may be a long process.

Rajesh said...

Wonderful variety of roads.

Nanka said...

Exhilarating just to look at the photos of the roads!! Really a rough terrain!!

Birgitta - foto CHIP said...

Oh I love your R word and entry Francisca! Wish I have found it :) The life road is the most exciting :)

VioletSky said...

These roads that appear in the middle of nowhere have always intrigued me. How do thy know where to put it when there is so much open space around?!
I used to know about f-stops and such, but have forgotten most of it and now have lost confidence in using the manual settings on my camera.

Karen said...

I enjoyed "travelling" along your roads. I am also experimenting with foreign manual modes on my camera!

H said...

I love that second photo, especially enlarged!

I haven't travelled much at all but, like you, I have widened my understanding of photography through blogging. I now find that I am looking for the unusual angle, the best composition or the feature to add interest. I haven't however, moved beyond the basic settings of my compact digital and I wouldn't know where to begin with an SLR.

Carver said...

Wonderful post for R. I enjoyed seeing some of the different roads you've traveled. I like dirt roads except in a storm, then it can become a little scary.

Tina´s PicStory said...

i think in germany i will not find roads like this. very nice shots! :)

Carola said...

Outstanding post. Francisca, wonderful how you mix this awesome shots with your thoughts about your photography.
Road is fantastic. That are the roads I like.
I do like aperture priority and manuel settings.

cieldequimper said...

There is one road I hated and that's Cormac McCarthy's. Your roads are invitations and this post is simply marvellous.

Jo Bryant said...

great post for R - I actually loved Cormac's The Road...

tapirgal said...

What a creative road post! I really enjoyed it. I've left a little something with you in mind on Astoria Daily Photo today.

Birdman said...

They looked like travelled roads. I'd take one. The adventure begins anew.

Kay L. Davies said...

I so agree with Cieldequimer. I also hated Cormac McCarthy's "Road"! Ghastly book, but I read it, and have recovered from the experience.
I'm going to take a look at the eBook here, Francisca, even if it's just to give me insight into what you're up to. I'm currently experiencing vision difficulties for the third time in my life and no longer have "a good eye" but I'm fortunate to have a traveling companion who has come a long way along the road to photography, from snapshots when I first met him, to some fairly decent arty shots now.
Good luck with your manual settings!
K

Andrea said...

That is a very beautiful post. I am so privilege in finding your blog way back, because of the awesome photos and well written articles. In fact, you will remember that I reserved copies of the coffee table book, which is not impossible to arrive. And now you are saying that you are just starting to take your camera seriously! I hope when the time comes that you're "already very familiar with photography", you will still be the old Francisca i know, very helpful and inspiring. Thank you very much for being such, and we're so lucky to have you here in our country.

Kim, USA said...

Wow it looks like a never ending road. I have seen a single soul in these photos where are the people in this place?

R- Red Rays

J Bar said...

Great shots.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Ms. Burrito said...

Those are beautiful photos.

Light and Voices said...

mmmm, taking one of these roads would certainly be an adventure. Nice job on the photos.
Joyce M

ladyfi said...

Great post - and what scenic roads/paths?

I shoot in Aperture or Time - and sometimes, by mistake, in Manual - or just for fun to see what kind of effects I can get.

This book looks like the ideal thing for me too!

chubskulit said...

Long and winding road!

Rosary Beads

Ann said...

On a journey, I like the destination. The long and windy road is a torture to me.

Arnab Majumdar said...

So many wonderful definitions of one word. So many inspirations. So many things to write about, now :)

Felt nice reading through this one...

Cheers,
Arnab Majumdar
ScribbleFest.com

Shooting Parrots said...

I think I will take your recommendation and invest in the e-book. I tend to leave my 'intelligent' camera to sort out the settings while I worry about the composition, but sometimes I'm disappointed that it didn't capture what I saw!

Wolfgang Gressmann said...

Thanks for sharing. Reminds me on the famous quote by Yogi Berra:

"When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it."

T. Becque said...

Great roads and post. Sounds like you've chosen the road less traveled :) with going in the direction of "M" on your camera! Good luck, you can do it!

Veronica said...

Phew...you wrote this post for me..stuck in auto~~ as a novice~~~ need to get out of it and learn all them buttons!! Your story is wonderful and the pics de lovely and I will be taking a look at that blog to help me outta auto!!

Thanks

Veronica

Reader Wil said...

I am too lazy to study my camera manuel, but I am also often disappointed that I didn't manage to get a photo that shows what I saw, like Shooting Parrots said. Anyway your roads are impressive!

Barb and Dell said...

Francisca, What beautiful road pictures! I love taking the back roads here in Minnesota. You never know what you will find.
Thanks for vising and your comments on Niagara Falls.
Barb

Genie said...

You go Girl!!!! I am SO proud of your for branching out. I am going straight from your blog to the book and will get it. I , too, use the appeture mode but that is far as I have gotten. I kick myself every time I set the dial on the green. Gotta move on. I will watch you as you progress down your road, and I hope you will watch me as I climb my digital mountain. Hopefully, we will both end up in the same place...our of free float and into art and creativity. Hugs, genie

Mama Zen said...

Gorgeous photos!

Genie said...

FYI... I did it! Just downloaded it to my computer. Cannot wait to start reading it and LEARNING. Very exciting. Thanks for the info. genie

Cezar and Léia said...

Bonjour dear Francisca,
You did a fabulous work about this theme, a great Reportage!
I'm enchanted by the perspective , the pictures are excellent.
And thanks for all interesting information.
hugs
Léia

JM said...

Just as I think Mongolia looks like. Awesome!

Lowell said...

Really, now! You are quite rascally - raving rather like a raging lunatic regarding roads often and rarely taken, reveling in the glory of the reality you have rendered digitally regularly for our pleasure.

Then as a rich tapestry is riddled with rising and rolling folds you regale us with your dream of mastering le camera and the ribbon of that road rolls out right in front of our rapturous eyes!

Lowell said...

Oops! You asked if that was a post office on Ocala DP: Yes. A small one. The prison is up the road on the left. A big facility. Lots of women there.

Lois Anne is an angel!

EG Wow said...

Thanks for the tip, Francisca! I'll be checking this e-book out.

Carole Meisenhelter said...

well I appreciate the insight and link to e-book; I too would love to explore more with my camera, away from auto modes. It takes some nerve! :) Thanks for visiting my blog...

Ann said...

You travel with people like my husband, you feel the same too. You travel on and on for a whole day stopping for half an hour. Then I suffer from car sickness.

Roller coaster, 2 mins and is done. Actually as I grow older, I stopped going on roller coaster rides.

Kalyan said...

Simply beautifully captured shots...lovely!

PⒿ @ $ € € ₦$ ₣®0₥... said...

Have you written travel guides to distant lands and exotic places? Or sold some of your amazing photos to magazines?

I love this blog.

lina@happy family said...

Enjoying your road photos. Very dramatic for me...

Ms. Becky said...

you've been on the road forever! and they're long, winding, and beautiful. Mongolia is such a vast land and stark but I love your photos of it. good for us that you love to travel and take photos. and thanks for the tip about the e-book. I'm going to check it out. I too use aperture priority, but would like to learn how to better us my own camera. happy day to you Francisca.

Pat Tillett said...

You know I love dirt roads. What an amazing place this is. Thanks for the tours of places I'll likely never see in person.
About the auto mode on digital cameras. Every time a new digital is released the auto mode is usually better than the verion before it. In many instances, the camera makes a better decision that the photographer would. It's fun to tweak and adjust in manual mode, but isn't it really more about the eye of the photographer than anything else? I sure think it is. One of the best photographers I know, uses only the camera in his phone. Anyway, experiment as much as you want, but please know that you don't have to, because your photos are already REALLY good...

Halcyon said...

I'm not sure I could concentrate on the road with so much scenery like that. Very nice shots. I enjoy seeing the "real life" of other countries.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

This is great Francisca... thank you! I have bookmarked the page. Because I am too 'busy'* being on the (literal) road right now to deal with the book, but I will come back when we're settled in and re-read your excellent post and click on the link. Thanks!
*(Or at least just riding along as we're on the road, which takes up quite a bit of time)

Cindy said...

What a wonderful post! Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment on my "Autumn Reflections," because it led me to your very interesting blog! I just read your "Where Exactly Is Home?" and you've lived my dream life! I've never been outside the U.S., although I have dreamed, so I will be following along on your travels.
Best wishes, Cindy

Traveling Hawk said...

I always wondered how Mongolia would be. Then I flew over it in my flight to China, and I saw. Now I know. Thank you, Francisca, for sharing.

jennyfreckles said...

Your photos are so good, I thought you had it all sussed! But we never stop learning and, like you, I am loving the adventure. I will take a look at the e-book when I have a few minutes spare.

Stephanie - The Travel Chica said...

I have heard really good things about this book. I think it is time for me to learn a few more photography tricks too.

Linnea said...

Thanks for sharing your roadway to photography. Many of these shots remind me of the scenery in Nevada and Arizona. (Maybe I should go there and pretend I'm in Mongolia!) I too use mostly automode on my SLR. My problem is that I can't see the little setting numbers without putting on my reading glasses! I'll check out that book you're sharing! Enjoy the day and thanks for stopping by. I always enjoy your visits.

Elisa said...

Thanks Francisca!
You are so kind:)
Have a nice day
Elisa, from Argentina

Anita Johnson said...

Lots to think about here...I even had to check out a map to see exactly where you were...I need to travel more! (o:
I'm not so sure about shooting in manual...so often the camera does a better job than me. I will check out the links you included...thanks! These photos, as usual, are beautiful...