“How did you learn to do (insert topic)?”
Yesterday I had a really interesting and nice time with my brother in law, his fiancé and my wife in the middle of a blizzard – taking photos. I know it might sound nuts to most people, but I was happy to actually feel like I was of use to someone, to actually do something.
Yesterday I mentioned with finding plain white paper sketchbooks that are inexpensive is almost impossible in Switzerland. IN the usa, I would wait for post holiday sales and school year supply times and load up on cases of sketchbooks that no one wanted that were in the reject bin.
I have no problem looking the uncool reject sitting in a coffee shop brainstorming. One of the issues most people have with trying to fit in and look a certain image is that I really don’t care too much what other thinks of what I look like. I care more if they can look me in the eyes and have a conversation that goes beyond “nice weather, today” or “where did you get that darling (insert piece of apparel)”
Yesterday my brother in law asked for his camera back to take some snow images for his wedding buildup – then he called back, “would you take some images?”
“Heck yeah! Get me out of the house!” Was what went through my brain? Then I was like “oops, digital camera in a snow storm, this is not very bright, electricity and water – bad. Add to it that the camera is an amateur point and shoot and not the top of the line Nikon, that is made to take more bad weather and you can see my trepidation.”
I always lamented photographers that would machine gun images, but guess what, yesterday standing in a snow bank with sneakers, wind and snow howling around me, and two love birds with a pretty good idea of what they wanted for images, I ended up doing my first blizzard photo shoot.
The well thought out strategy – “shoot as much and as fast as possible – something will work out fine.”
After looking at the images, there was a very nice selection of blizzard shots with warm, smiling, and a loving couple warming up the shots. I just had to adjust the curves to make the snow “white- white” and crop a bit because my hands were so cold trying to adjust the lense.
Later, I thought about, “how did you learn to shoot decent images?”
I guess it is simply how I learned to become decent at many different things, yet, I really am not a specialist at anything – it was the mother of necessity.
I can relate most of how I had to learn about everything to when I put my first bid out for the 3d spatial audio system idea. At that time, digital audio and protools was just coming out – most of the world was still analog and aside from Lockheed martin doing a test in the 1970s of imploding audio into a space, I was unaware of anyone on the planet wanting to hear music and sound the way I envisioned. So when I went to figure out some rigging to hold various speakers in places to test ideas, I was greeted with one metal worker coming back with a bid of 11 or 13,000 dollars for 8 metal trusses.
“You are kidding me, you want how much for 8 basic pieces of metal that are welded together?”
“It is a great deal!’
“I am really sorry, I figured a few thousand at the most, the raw steel costs this much and a welder, this much…” was my logic.
After I hung up the phone, I figured perhaps all the people working around Washington, dc were used to the defense contractor/taxpayer funded world where a toilet seat would cost $995.00?
I remember going up to a home depot, walking into the tool section with a sketchbook and showing the manager what I needed built with the metal rigging for the speakers, “I don’t need anything to be super precise, our tolerances are simply for proof of concept. I am going over to that starbucks to get coffee and brainstorm, how much time do you need to assemble all the tools I would need for a basic shop that would allow me to fabricate things?”
He said, “Give me 2 ½ hours. It will all be here in shopping carts for you.”
I will confess that when i walked back into the home improvement store and saw all tools, i gulped, "my god, what does all this cost?"
Then the manager explained what it all cost, and it was a fraction of what the one steel frame for holding the very first 360 degree audio immersion test would have cost. I thought, i guess it is time to learn how to use some tools.
til this day, about the only material thing i really value, is the tools to invent, build and create ideas - a fancy car, house, or baubles - really doesn't impress me anymore
The aforementioned story is how the first bash space started. Today you have wonderful tech spaces and maker spaces that I wish I lived near, as I would be in heaven with the idea that you can spend a few hundred a month and have access to decent equipment to prototype – as well as be around kindred spirits and souls who simply love to solve problems and create.
It was an interesting time, learning how to vacuum form, how we made our own tools to model and sculpt (because the industrial sized stuff was so expensive) I lamented that at the time a 3d printer started at 500,000 usd – where as today, you can get in the game for 2,000.
As for the variety of skills that had to be learned, it was simply like learning how to use 3d modeling, audio, animation, composting and graphics. You spent a lot of time trying to do something, usually failing, until you found a solution.
In a sense, it is how I learned to take photos. I was 37 years old when I actually “took pictures’ all because an actual photographer was drunk or passed out in the corner to shoot an NFL game.
Yes, my first rolls of taking sports imagery really sucked, but I was smart enough to show up on time and listen
“Give me pictures of two visible faces, the ball, and contact between the two people – in focus.”
Yesterday in the blizzard, I thought about how many people I pestered, or how many books I read in libraries because I didn’t have funding to afford high end equipment for lab work – I simply did the best with what was available and learned how to use a myriad of different tools and techniques.
When you make your own skunk works space – it truly is amazing what one can accomplish in one day.
This is why I guess I get confused how one is to fit into a normal world. It is polite, kind, everyone talks a lot to each other about stuff – yet – my mind seems to be thinking on ideas for the future – not what happened yesterday, in the past. When I do go there, I seem to remember how it is that you can accumulate a great deal of experience by simply thinking, “I am going to try to learn….”
Then you go try. Usually the result is no where near what your mind imagined it could be – then you simply keep trying until you start to get closer to the wonderful image in you head that you saw as the idea.
That is how you can go out in a blizzard and shoot pictures with the confidence that you will get a few that are “keepers.”