Friday, July 30, 2010

It happened one day in New York City...My first DSLR.

It happened one day in New York City. That was the beginning of it all. And the end of it all too.

Another hobby, another pursuit of happiness, another nickel tossed down the ol' mineshaft...wait where was I? Oh, yes, New York City.

We stood huddled around each other, a hot mess of sweating teenagers and a few exhausted adults. We'd been out all morning, canvasing the streets of Queens, mostly the Forest Hills area. Handing out tracts and giving the gospel. We had taken the subway over to the area called Woodhaven and walked a couple blocks until we finally arrived at the corner of 80th and 87th street. Now, we were waiting. Waiting for our fearless, yet somewhat spastic guide to arrive and show us what he would like us to help with next.

Anyone who knows me understands that I do not stand still, doing nothing, very well. So I glanced over at one of our Youth Workers. The large mass of beautiful, black plastic hanging from her neck was calling my name. It had been tempting me all day. I resisted the urge to ask to 'see' it several times. A few moments later a teenager had it in her hands. This was my chance! I asked if I could look at it, the girl said "sure," and handed it right over (cue evil laughter).

I started clicking. It felt so right. I was moving in and out of people, shooting bushes and doorhandles, rails, concrete steps. Anything I could, just to 'see what I could do'. As I looked back over my work, I was amazed at the ones that turned out. I of course was shooting in green mode, completely unaware of the work the camera was trying to do for me. Having no earthly idea that I could manipulate the focus by taking it off of dummy mode, I kept getting very frustrated. Knowing what I know now, I'm lucky I didn't break poor Mrs. Teddy's camera trying to manually zoom with it in AF while in green mode. Idiot.

The girl looked over the pictures and exclaimed, "Hey, there's some good ones in here, Mrs. Tori!" And I was smitten. I needed one of these lovely pieces of machinery for my own. It needed me to take it home and take good care of it.

Well, it didn't take me long to let Tyler know the exact make and model and cost. And it didn't take any longer for him to look at me, raise his eyebrows and nod. This meant, "Forget it, Are you crazy," in Tyler language. Feeling a little defeated and covetous at the same time, I continued to play around with Teddy's camera. I could see each shot in my brain before I took it. I knew what I wanted it to look like, I just wasn't sure how to make it work. Day after day, until the end of the trip, I messed with the delicate piece of equipment. If I were Teddy, I might've slept with it under my pillow. Good thing we were in opposite hotel rooms, or it might've come up missing once or twice.

It was time to head home. I told myself to stop the nonsense running through my brain. "I'm pregnant. We will never have money for that silly thing. Who am I kidding?"

The months passed and I decided that I would get my Nikon Coolpix point and shoot repaired. It was only a year old and worked great except for some reason one day it quit focusing correctly. So I sent it in under the 1 year warranty and they fixed it for free. 

I was getting along fine with my little point and shoot when I found out that one of the girls that had just graduated our youth group was selling her old camera, a Canon Rebel xs. And it just so happened to be the same one that Mrs. Teddy allowed me to drool over for a week. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I told my mom, my brother, my brother-in-law (he wasn't impressed - Nikon user) my husband, and even the little guy in my tummy. I even prayed to the Lord, "It might sound silly God, but, I really want a great DSLR to take pictures of my kids."

Well, the baby was born and we got some good video with my point and shoot. We even got a few cute pics. But then, one terrible day, I did something stupid. I was taking some pictures of my 3 week old baby and I dropped my camera, Lens Zoomed! It jammed. And with no money to get it fixed (it was past the warranty by 2 weeks) I was in complete despair.

I cried. I had no camera to take pictures of my newborn. No Camera! I cried to sleep that night. I cried the next day, Christmas Day. I moaned and complained all the way to my in-laws house (five minutes down the road). I sat in the living room of their house disheartened. No pictures on Christmas Day. First Christmas with my first child, lost in the abyss of no-cameradom.

Time to open gifts came. We tried to do it one at a time. My turn. Some cool Aloe Vera socks and a camping sporknife (I think that was Zach's idea, but neat, nonetheless). Cute little books for Will and a Crown College warm and fuzzy blanket. And then a rather heavy box was lifted over the back of the couch. The medium-sized box was headed in my direction. "This is from us and your parents, Tori," said my mother-in-law. I had wondered why there was nothing marked "To: Tori" under my tree, from my parents that morning.

I began ripping the paper off. I believe I revealed a Coffee Maker box? Or something of that nature. But it was what was inside that counted! "Well, thanks guys! A coffee maker! You didn't have to, really." They told me to open the box, so I tore into that thing like I was 8 years old again. And you'll never guess what was inside...A Canon Rebel xs! In fact, the one that my photog friend was selling. Along with the manual, an extra battery and a bag to put all of it in!

I don't think there could've been a happier girl in the whole wide world that Christmas morning. I had a brand new three and a half week old baby and my first DSLR! I don't think I'll ever have a better Christmas morning...unless of course my husband wants to buy me the Canon EOS 50D 15.1MP Digital SLR Camera and maybe stuff a Kelly Moore Hobo in mustard yellow, down in my stocking???

A few pictures from the very beginning, before I had even 1 clue.

                    Nasty flash and this is like the worst position Will could've been in.

This is adorable and sad at the same time. Sad because it's just not interesting, oh, and ya the crying little Will makes it pretty sad too, I guess.

Cute, but not near enough light and how much more unoriginal (word?) could my shot of this sweetness be? Not much more unorginal, it's pretty boring. And it's not Lauren's fault.

Awww...but no, this flash is hideous. That and I focused on the monkey instead of my child's face, I suppose. Dummy focus. A dummy was using it, that's for sure.

No, this was not during his jaundice days. He's orange because there wasn't enough light. Ew. That's all I can say. Too bad, cause it was kind of a cute picture. Can't ever capture this moment again :(

I love this picture. I just wish someone who knew what they were doing had taken it. I wasn't taking the picture because of Pawpaw Gillit, but that's obviously who my camera decided to focus on.

Anyway, now that we've all had a good laugh. I'm glad I have improved a little. Thanks to a lot of practice, some serious Internet time and a little help called text messages from ElisabethCarol Photography. Elisa has been such a HUGE help. I can't even begin to tell you what a great photographer and plain ol' great person she is. Check her work out for yourself!

I still have a LOT to learn, but I'm having a blast doing it. I might even have some to post here soon of my "practice run" with Elisa and my first shoot from this coming Saturday! Check back for updates early next week! :)


  1. Ahhh!! I am obsessed with photography and trying to glean all of the info that I can. This was so fun to read. :) About a year ago I go my first SLR camera - a Nikon D60. Certainly not the "top of the line" - but a truly wonderful first SLR. I am having so much fun trying to learn it.
    You do a great job taking pictures!

  2. A D60 may not be "top of the line" but that's a pretty stinking awesome camera!

    It's good to know I'm not the only one! I have to pry myself away from the computer. I tend to get myself stuck, reading photog blogs, checking out photog websites and clicking on every tutorial that I can. I know how you feel Wendi! You have a few more "subjects" to practice on than I do, at this point though :)


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