Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Michael's Eight-Month Pictures

I promised myself yesterday that I would get Michael's eight month photos done today, and I did. However, I'm pretty disappointed with the results this time. In general, I feel like my pictures lately have been progressively worse, instead of better, which frustrates me. But the truth is that I've continued to put off taking the time to 1) really learn how to use my camera and 2) read up on how photography is supposed to work. I guess it comes down to perception, too: initially, the pictures I was able to take once I achieved a basic knowledge of how to use my "fancy" camera were so much better than any I'd ever gotten out of a point-and-shoot that I felt like I was experiencing some immediate and magical level-up in skill. In reality, I think I was riding on the talents of my camera and Speedlight, rather than on any true, earned, capability on my part. And now that I'm not seeing any growth beyond that initial boost, I'm feeling as though I've plateaued, or perhaps even regressed.

I'm trying hard not to let it get to me. It would be foolish of me to expect to see any real improvement without putting in work and research, and I simply haven't committed the time. Also, the circumstances today were less than ideal, even if I had had a better handle on what I was doing. I waited until late in the afternoon to set up, when most of the sunlight that I planned to utilize was gone, and what little was left was coming from the wrong direction. There was also quite a bit of cloud cover outside, which meant that the level of natural light coming in was almost constantly changing as the clouds shifted in the sky.

I did not want to have to illuminate Michael with the Speedlight, so I kept it pointed at the ceiling and walls, rather than at him. But there really wasn't enough light to go around without it. My attempts to work around that by upping the ISO to 1600 and slowing the shutter speed only served to make my pictures grainy and slightly out of focus all-around. And in the end, almost all of them had to be brightened in editing (which could really only do so much for them).

However, I haven't the strength to set it all up again, so it is what it is. Here are my favorites of the bunch:

It was at this point that Michael started to get bored, and dragged himself to the edge of the sheet, where he found a stray piece of paper to play with. I let him go with it for awhile, but this picture was the only one that didn't come out too dark to include.

And it was at this point that I had to confiscate his new plaything, and switch it out with an actual toy, because he had begun to eat it.  You can see a bit of chewed-up paper on his chin and hand.

In the time it took to do that, the light had changed again...

As you may have noticed, Michael really wasn't much into smiling today, though I did finally coax a few out of him.

I hate that this one didn't quite focus (and that it's so dark, even after editing).  It was the most joyful picture I was able to capture.

But that's what tends to happen when I have to set a low shutter speed, and then pop out from behind the camera between shots to get little Michael to smile. I have to react quickly, before I lose his attention, but I need to take a bit of extra time to get back in the frame and situated; the camera can't compensate very well when it has to take the picture so slowly.

 More changes in light...

And, quite understandably, Michael began to grow bored again. When he started to "make a run for it" a second time, I decided it was time to call it.

Happy Eight Months, Michael Joseph! You're not quite there, yet, but I hope you get your "crawl" on soon.