In My Nikon’s Memory: Switch to Manual Movement

I want to share with you some of the heartache I’ve been facing over the last month, and how I’m working through it. There are affiliate links in this post. These links will not cost you anything, but I will get a small commission for referring you to the site. Thank you for your support!

I purchased my first DSLR in 2010, right after getting married. I used some of the money my parents gave us for the wedding and went to Best Buy and bought a Nikon d3100 kit. It came with a standard lens and a zoom lens, and a camera bag to hold it all. I was SO excited to learn how to use this thing. I got it because my new husband was leaving to go to boot camp for three months, and our lives were changing. I wanted to record our memories in the highest definition, so when we looked back at the time he missed with us, he could see clearly. It would almost be like he was there with us.

I had no idea how to use it, so it stayed in auto, giving me mediocre pictures. Occasionally I would get super lucky and find an awesome amount of light and the auto features would produce a beautiful scene. It wasn’t common though, and I had no real control over what I was shooting. As embarrassing as it is to share one of those first few pictures I took on my Nikon . . . Here is one of my first images. I’m not sure if I intentionally focused on the ticket or not, but the intention of the picture was to show my two brothers and how different they are. One sitting silently listening to music while the other happily befriends the person next to him. We all start somewhere, and I’m not ashamed of the journey I took to get here. 

I had no idea what I was doing. How do I hold a DSLR? What is ISO on a DSLR? How do I get my DSLR to focus? Where was the step by step guide to DSLR usage? I needed a photography for beginner’s guide.

In 2010, it was hard to find help without spending a fortune on classes, so I did. I went to college at my husband’s first command and learned how to use my camera, Photoshop, and Lightroom. It was the whole reason I wanted to get this camera in the first place.

I learned about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, composition, and ultimately how to shoot in manual. My photography took off. It was slow at first, I took lots of pictures and learned what to change to get what I wanted out of my camera. 

After years of practicing and eventually getting a new lens, (I recommend this to everyone!) I had honed my skills and eventually became great at photography. When I take pictures now I’m confident and I enjoy it. I feel good with a camera in my hands and I love seeing what I can create.

Then disaster struck. 

My husband’s ship was set to leave one last time before we transferred to a different command on a Saturday. There was rain in the forecast, but not until later in the afternoon, so I thought we were safe. Looking back at the pictures now I am surprised I let myself bring my camera out. When it rained it poured. We had a group of seven kids and three moms. The children were screaming because the rain was so hard on them and their faces. We rushed as fast as we could away from the rain and back to our cars, but the damage was done. After eight beautiful years with my camera, she was gone. This is the last picture I took with her, of my son yelling goodbye to his Daddy’s boat. 

We tried to save her. We replaced the back screen and cleaned it up as much as we could, but the damage was done and she couldn’t survive. My heart is broken over this seemingly simple thing, it’s just a camera. She brought me more than just wonderful images. I found confidence, happiness and lasting memories. She has seen all of my children grow up, and it was awful losing her. I feel like I learned who I was with her. 

In the weeks after, dozens of friends offered their sympathies, and a few even offered me their cameras to loan until I can get mine back together. “You’re much better at this than I am!” and “it’s just sitting in the closet anyway!” were a few things my friend’s said to me. It was wonderful to hear of everyone’s confidence in me and my abilities. 

But it also broke my heart. So many moms I knew bought or received a DSLR with the intention of learning to use it, and then never did anything with it. I couldn’t believe how common this was. My camera helped me discover so much about myself and my family. I want to give this gift to everyone. 

I have to do something about this. There are too many moms who have great intentions and then life gets in the way and they never take their camera’s off auto. Let me take my sadness and turn it into a way to help others. I’m working on a guide to help you learn how to use your camera in manual. I understand how time consuming it can be, so I’m going to send you little bite sized chunks.

Sign up below and I’ll be sending out the first email next week. 
Did you miss the beginning of this challenge? Fear not, friend. Still sign up! This is an ongoing challenge. You can sign up to receive the original challenge, and you’ll still get the weekly challenge to follow along with when you’re ready. 

Ditch Auto Mode Forever

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