Learning to see

I had a yoga teacher once who said that people who are good with words have poor spatial awareness. It's a phrase that continues to comfort whenever a yoga teacher gives an instruction like, "Place your right elbow on your left knee," and I'm in a knot trying to figure out which knee to adress.

Photography feels that way, and so for years, impatient with the-exposure-depth-of-field-light-source physicality of it all, I've mostly pointed and clicked and hoped for good images, leaving the science and expensive hardware to those with more concrete minds.

I haven't bought a camera since 1994, a 35mm automatic Olympus that used film. Parsimonious by nature unless we're talking yarn, digital photographic equipment has always been down on the priority list with cell phones and cable television. These pages have been populated with photos taken with hand-me-downs, cast-offs and a lucky freebie. Until today.

Last week, I bought an entry-level DSLR, a little Canon EOS Rebel T3i--a good deal at Costco with two lenses, bag, cords, memory card and instructional DVD, which I have to stop every two minutes for 15 minutes of camera fiddling. There's a lot to learn--the viewfinder itself displays 18 bits of information, a hieroglypic of flash and exposure icons, highlight tone priority, red-eye reduction and on and on. Dazzling, really.

And, the medium itself, so rich, so complex, you can see why it's an art.

It's going to take awhile, but I can already tell by looking in the viewfinder of this nice tool that there's a lot to see.

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