It’s amazing how important people think you are if you have a fancy camera.
Last Friday, I found myself waking up at 6am (much to my dismay) to get ready for a photowalk with my Photography/Photoshop class. If you know anything about photography, the light is best during the early morning and early evening, never in between. My professor wanted us to capture the foliage before it disappeared, so with Starbucks in hand and a full tank of gas, I headed to Ridley Creek to pretend to be a photographer.
My GPS decided to take me along scenic, windy back roads (which I didn’t complain about because it was gorgeous in the early morning sun) and within forty minutes, I found myself at the beginning of a paved trail and automated directions to “walk to my destination.”
7:46am. I was a half hour early to meet my class, but I had to leave a half hour early so I decided to start walking and snap some shots. Phone battery: 76%. Perfect. Just enough to power my GPS on my ride home.
Grabbing my camera bag and tripod (oh yea, I had a tripod. Can you say fancy?), I began my morning walk through the woods. It was peaceful. It was pretty. It was cold. Even though I had bundled up, I didn’t have gloves and my fingers were numb in a matter of minutes.
“It’s chilly out here today!”
“Must be pretty important to be out here in the cold!”
There were a bunch of runners on the path. The majority of them actually slowed down to comment about my presence, probably provoked by the large camera bag on my shoulder. I nodded and smiled. I wanted to tell them that I’m just a student taking a photography class, I’m not a photographer but I let them think whatever they wanted.
I came to a small bridge that overlooked a stream. Sturdy trees with lithe branches holding clusters of golden starbursts flanked the slowly flowing water. Looked photogenic enough to me, the amateur non-photographer. And considering I couldn’t find my class, I decided to snap away.
Photography Rule Number 1: If you’re taking landscape shots, you want a small aperture (yea I know what an aperture is, get at me) and a slow shutter. Aka you need a tripod because other wise you’re going to get blurry pictures every time.
Knowing this, I proceeded to set up my tripod with great difficulty. First I couldn’t unzip the tripod bag because my nearly-frostbitten fingers (okay they were just a little numb but go with my melodramatics) couldn’t function properly. Then I couldn’t physically get the tripod out of the bag (for similar reasons). Once I had it standing, I couldn’t make it level (EXACTLY level, as per my slight OCD would want it) and then I couldn’t find the little-thingy (technical term) that attached the camera to the tripod. Then I did find the little-thingy (it was in a random pocket that I didn’t know existed) and attached it to the camera and could not for the life of me figure out how it snapped into the tripod stand. I resorting to referring to multiple manuals (fancy cameras need multiple manuals) and finally somehow got my camera on the tripod. Great.
Snap. Snap. Snap. Focus. Snap. Check the screen? Looks good. Moving on. (Note the meticulous process. This is real photography.)
I looked at the tripod and camera. There was no way I was going to reassemble this monstrosity again. So, like a “real” photographer I guess, I collapsed the legs of the tripod with the attached camera, threw it over my shoulder, grabbed all the bags (so many damn bags) and walked on.
The woods were really peaceful that time of morning. I don’t blame all the runners for choosing to wake up early to run through them. With the sun glinting off the leaves and the stream, it made me glad that I had a method capturing nature that was more advanced than my iPhone and an Instagram filter.
I set up my tripod again and started taking pictures.
“You must be doing this for a class right?”
Another runner stopped to chat. I must look like someone whom people feel like they can chat with. I think I smile too much.
“Um yea, I’m taking a class at Villanova University! It’s just a basic Photoshop class. Nothing fancy.”
“Oh that’s great! Well my son goes to Temple…” [insert multiple jokes about the rivalry of Philly schools] “And I think I saw some other kids with cameras down there…” [insert more jokes, this time about us being like real photographers in the cold morning, etc. etc.]
The nice runner finally continued well, running, and I continued to, well, take pictures. Since I’m a real photographer, apparently.
Eventually I met up with my class and my professor gave us some tips about cool angles and landscapes and such. He also told me that my camera wasn’t fully tightened on my tripod and if I weren’t so careful, it could have come off and crashed to the ground. (Still think I’m a real photographer, runner man?)
After I felt like I “found my shot” (aka I just had to leave because I had to get back to campus by 10:30 and I had enough pictures to be somewhat adequate), I headed back to my car.
I pulled out my phone. 9:44am. 46% battery left. Okay. Still enough to power my GPS back home. Reaching my car, I try plugging in the address of school.
My phone dies.
I power it back up. 32% battery. I try to plug in the address of school. Loading, loading…
I look around. I’m in the middle of the woods somewhere in Pennsylvania. I CLEARLY need a GPS to find my way home, considering I took all small back roads to get here. But instead of freaking out, I was oddly calm. “Yea, I can totally find my way back. I can just back track, I’ll totally recognize it.” Um no Kasia, you won’t.
I pulled out an old, outdated GPS from the middle console of my car. I try to plug in an address and it keeps asking me to “Clear Route?” which was unhelpful to say the least.
I tried powering up my phone again, plugging it into a car charger that, surprise!, didn’t work, and started to drive. 11% battery. I’m driving sorta in the right direction when my phone finally connected and started giving me directions. But since I was afraid of it dying, I tried to memorize the step-by-step directions instead. My front seat was straight shamebley at that point, with tangled wires everywhere and multiple GPS’s trying to connect and give me some semblance of hope that I’ll make my 10:30 appointment on time.
Directions are coming quick and I’m not paying full attention to driving (sorry mom) so I started making all sorts of illegal U-turns but eventually I make it to the highway and I know how to navigate back.
10:23am. I see campus. Clearly there’s not enough time for me to park my car in the main lot and walk through campus. So I do what every Villanova student would do: Pull up to the Public Safety guard gate by Bartley/Health Center and lie you have a doctor’s appointment so you can park in the garage right there.
Walked into my appointment at 10:29am. Clutch. Maybe I can be a real photographer after all.
Here’s to fancy cameras & sticking to writing.
(PS- I’ve included one of the pictures I took. It was one of a few good ones out of 100. Beginner’s luck?)