Learning Something New
Stemming from my time in school, I have found the best way to remember a place is to draw it. Most of my memories from the year I studied in Rome, Italy were of humble or monumental spaces where I sat drinking a cappuccino and drawing my surroundings. But now that I am not a student, I have to visit places on a more strict schedule. Though I almost always have a pencil and sketchbook in my bag, it is much quicker to capture buildings, landscapes, and sights with a camera. But as convenient and advanced as a camera phones have become, they still often are limiting in how a scene is captured. I have a semi-decent digital camera that accompanied me through my year abroad, but I had found myself wanting to take a step back and learn the basics. So I went on ebay and spent $40 to buy an Olympus OM-10 35mm camera. This camera is one of the first and most popular aperture- priority camera (meaning in a standard mode you adjust the lens for the amont of light you want to be exposed to the film and the camera controls the shutter speed and length of exposure) introduced about 35 years ago. By taking film back to analogue, it becomes fairly evident how important it is to learn what every knob on the camera and lens do in order to successfully capture a subject. The first two rolls I took, I wrote down the aperture setting, focus range, and weather/sun conditions to cross reference back to the developed photos. By doing this, I did not become an expert photographer by any strentch of the imagination, but it quickly built a foundation of knowledge and taught my brain the thought process for using the camera.
Photography has been a very fun and rewarding hobby to dive into. It has also helped exercise my architectural design thought process. The same elements that go into creating successful designs for buildings and sites; proportion, composition, rhythm, heirarchy, etc, carry over and contribute to capturing a beautiful, expressive photograph. It has also served to heighten my awareness to the details of a project. Taking photos without a wide angle lense makes capturing landscapes and overall building shots very difficult. Therefore, it's important to develop an attention to detail to see a subject at a more human scale, paying closer attention to details and elements that are not necessarily apparent from 50 feet away.
Learning manual photography has been exciting, challenging, and rewarding. It has been a fairly inexpensive way to find creativity outside of architecture and also to create memories of my experiences. But most of all, learning photography has stressed the importance to me of not becoming pigeon-holed. Finding diversity in your hobbies and activities work to build skills that carry over to all things you do. Take a ceramics course for a month, read a different genre of book, or walk around the block during lunch. You'll never know how new experiences will change or improve your every day life!