An Unexpected Gift

I pulled my elbows in closer to my belly, trying to steady my hands. As I exhaled, I got ready and put the camera in focus. Then, I took the shot. The shutter clicked as fast as lightning and I sat back to take a look at the result. It was perfect. Nadia’s face and her cup were out of focus in the background, while strands of her hair and part of her hand were in perfect detail, with the sunlight reflecting off of them. It took me a few shots, but I finally found just the right balance between the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. As I looked at the photo, I felt such a rush. I had achieved the intended effect.

Less than twenty-four hours earlier, I had no idea of what all these settings did. I didn’t know how anything on a camera works, other than pressing the button on auto mode. To be frank, I could never understand the allure of photography. Perhaps it was because so many people my age seem to be into it simply because it’s popular, so I considered it a cliche. Or maybe it was because I felt intimidated. It seemed so complicated – all the different settings and techniques that you need to know. Hearing someone talk about photography always made me feel overwhelmed because I didn’t understand any of the jargon. This Christmas, however, all of that changed.

It started with an unexpected gift. We were seated in the living room. Nadia was right next to me and her family was gathered all around. As I unwrapped my gift, I closed my eyes, so as to not see what it was until I fully unwrapped it. Once I was ready, I opened my eyes and threw off the wrapping paper. I couldn’t help but let out an “Ooo.” It was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one – a Nikon D3200 camera. It came with two different lenses and a bag.

Since I’ve never been particularly interested in photography, I can’t say that I was overjoyed with my gift. But, I was happy to receive it and excited to try it out. Being a complete novice, I had Nadia and her father show me the basics. They taught me how to switch out lenses, and what the various buttons and dials on the body are for.

At first, I took a few shots in ‘auto mode.’ Then, Nadia showed me a few of the other settings and I made shots in ‘portrait mode’ and ‘macro mode.’ My interest began to build as I played with the different settings and learned more of how the camera works. After taking about fifty shots, I decided that I needed to learn more. I watched a YouTube video that explained the basics – all of the different modes, as well as ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. After this, I began to take shots with ‘program mode.’ The next morning, I was already taking all of my shots in ‘manual mode.’ I quickly came to realize that photography is not complicated at all. It is just complex. And it just so happens that I love complexity. So, after one evening and several hundred shots, I was hooked.

So, this is the story of how I have recently picked up a new hobby. I am excited to learn more and grow in my skills; and, I am excited to share my progress with you! Here are a few shots that I have made over the past couple of days:

The Photograph described in my story.
My first successful macro shot in manual mode.
Catching drops of water as they fall from the lid.
Shot at night-time. The only light sources were very faint – the TV and the Christmas tree. No flash.
Water vapor in the shape of a heart.
Christmas Lights Outside

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