Boot Camp, Day 1

Reported for duty at 5 pm…4pm, actually, my anticipation & nervousness dictating that I not be late.  As my tripod had arrived just as I was leaving the house I sat in the lobby of the Hampton Inn putting the ball head and tripod together and trying to figure out how the whole thing worked.

Up to the 5th floor to meet Mike Moats, our drill sergeant, who, as it turns out, is actually not a drill anyone…just a very affable, casual, slightly disheveled-looking, and humble guy…far more so than he comes across on his website and in his e-books.  A self-taught photographer he insists that he does everything backwards and many things wrong (e.g. shoots in jpg rather than raw).  But what’s that saying, he asks, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?  It works for him, and he’s not about to change at this point.

All that humility aside, though, Mike knows his stuff, and he’s done some exceptional, award-winning work.  Tonight my head swims with sorting out discussions and demonstrations of camera equipment…all the macro lenses (their benefits, drawbacks, and particular uses), tripods, reflectors, diffusers, LED lights, plamps (plant clamps that can also hold reflectors and diffusers), camera equipment backpacks that carry tripods as well (I want one of these puppies!). 

We learned what a basic tool kit should contain (knee pads, a tiny flashlight for lighting in a dark wooded area, tweezers and a small brush for removing debris, scissors to clip away unnecessary or unattractive details, a multi-tool, and a water spritzer to create dew (who would have thought?).

  We talked of design elements and touched on post production in Photoshop, and we learned a simple process create backgrounds for flower images: find some grass, or a grassy meadow, or a field of flowers, set the focus to blurry, take the shot, print on matte paper, and place behind behind the object.  How cool is that?

We saw a collapsible wind shelter built essentially of plexiglass and duct tape with instructions to view the how to’s online by Googling Mike Moats Wind Box.

Finally, we delved into the camera functions of ISO settings, white balance with its various settings, use of the Kelvin color temperature scale, and the magic of ‘live preview (by the way, Craig, this is the red square that’s showing on your monitor…just thought you’d be relieved to know).’

It was a lot to take in in just three hours, but I’m ready for the hundred pushups tomorrow morning…9am sharp…Sir, yes Sir!

And there was ‘stuff’ to buy.  And, of course, I bought.  How can you not with all those goodies sitting in front of you for three hours?  I came home with 2 pair of knee pads (1 for me, 1 for Craig), a plamp, a reflector, and a diffuser.  I’m gettin’ serious about this gig!

What fun…all thanks to my darling Daniel (thank you and goodnight, babes!).   I love you.

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