Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I just had the gift of another trip to Manitou Springs, Colorado. This time, my sister delivered her son for his senior year playing baseball for Colorado State, and since they drove his car from California, she asked me to come and get her in Pueblo. CO. Since Manitou is just forty minutes north of Pueblo, a Manitou weekend was a no-brainer.

At one of the entrances to the Garden of the Gods Park, there is a magnificent giant boulder, sitting impossibly on a rock formation. They call it Balance Rock, and at any one time, there are 50-100 tourists there – taking pictures of each other pretending to hold up this rock. My sister is a lover of this type of photo, so we stopped there too. It was very hot, but she scampered up the rock and waited for me to take her picture.

This was complicated by the fact that only one person can stand at the correct vantage point at a time and there were lots of would be picture-takers.

And the person currently occupying the spot was a woman who could not figure out what to do with her point-and-shoot, which obviously must have belonged to either the husband or son, who were both baking under the Balance Rock waiting for her to press that shutter and get their picture.

As MUCH time went on with no progress, the natives were getting restless. My sister was making faces and gestures in my direction which meant (when translated) “Take that damn camera from her hot little hands, and take the picture for her before we all turn crisp!!”

I hesitate to do that sort of thing. It’s like letting someone sneak into a traffic lane ahead of you or holding the door open for folks. The stream of recipients of your kindness just keep streaming, and where do you stop?

I had my “big girl” camera on my shoulder, and several of the strangers were making the same kind of faces and gestures at me as my sister was. But, selfishly, I did not want to spend the next piece of my life figuring out the buttons on twenty brands of pocket cameras.

The lady did finally hit that shutter with the help of another person in line who maintained that she didn’t know anything about it either. Our turn came, you can see my sister holding up Balance Rock, and all is well.

Later, I was trying to capture the haunted feel of the windows in a wonderful old blue building in downtown Manitou. To keep the windows squared up, I was shooting from across the street with a long lens.

When you have a long lens on your camera, people think you know something. A very sweet couple from Tennessee ambled up and wanted to know all about their digital camera. We chatted for ten minutes or so, and decided they needed a new camera for the wildlife they wanted to shoot (not right there in Manitou, although we did have deer and a bear cub at our hotel that morning – luckily, at different times).

It is estimated that 100 million digital cameras sold in the United States last year, and that does not count the ones in phones.

All of these cameras are magical in what they can do, and so few of these hundred million camera owners know what they can do or what to do with them.

It’s a good thing the cameras can take OK pictures by themselves or we would be truly overrun with bad photography.

Well, we are ¬†overrun with bad photography . . . but it could have been a lot worse if the cameras didn’t at least know what they were doing.

How about you? Do you know much about your digital camera?

Here’s just a tiny bit of a quiz:

Do you know how to take that kind of photo where only the subject is in focus and everything else is a lovely blur?

Do you know what ISO is? (It’s the light sensitivity of the image sensor). Do you know how it affects your photos? Do you know that if you have your ISO set high and you shoot in bright daylight, you can blow your photos out to white?

Did you know that the camera’s flash should be avoided most of the time?

Did you know that all the blurry red flowers in your photos have nothing to do with bad focus?

Did you know that your camera will not focus within a certain distance from the subject?

Did you know that zooming in on a subject flattens the depth of the subject?

I could go on and on, but I won’t.

Do you want to know any of this stuff?

Tomorrow begins the last session for this year (and maybe the last live session forever) of my Art of Digital Photography Workshop, which I think is the best workshop you can take to learn all about your camera – and about photography. I could be more modest about that, but it would not be fair to the workshop.

If you would like to join us, you can click the Art of Photography logo in the sidebar, or this link:

Sign-ups are accepted through the first week of the workshop.

Now, here are a few more of my sister’s “tourist shots”.

You gotta love a town that has a giant school desk sitting by the side of the road, and Cass really wanted to sit in it, but her legs were not long enough to get her up there.

And here is Rainbow Cass . . . anything interesting and she is there!

And, this trip, I was determined to visit, taste, and photograph all eleven of the natural mineral springs for which Manitou Springs is famous. I will be sharing much more about this art project as it takes shape. Meanwhile, Cass got Mom in on this shot . . .

I collected water from all the Springs that were functioning. I will be painting each of them with their own water and some other interesting things.

I wish I could show you the video of Cassie hula-hooping in Walgreens. I will if I can figure out how to get it from iphone to You Tube or my Mobile Me Gallery.

She is fun on a trip – I am thinking of renting her out.

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