Happiness Highlights: Shooting Blind

As I mentioned in a previous post, I went to Albuquerque, New Mexico last week to experience the 40th Annual International Balloon Fiesta. For nine days, hundreds of hot air balloons gather in one place to participate in balloon races and events. It is one of the most photographed events in the world.

As someone who loves photography, I was giddy at the idea. I could practically see the brightly colored balloons that would crowd the frame of my photos.

And then my camera broke.

Specifically, the LCD screen that allows me to preview shots taken with my Nikon d50 broke. It seems to be cracked and only displays a blinding white light. Although the camera technically still takes photos, I had no idea what the photos would look like until popping the SD card into my laptop hours later.

This is not how I learned to take digital photos.

At all.

I rely heavily on chimping – a term taught to me by a photographer for New York Daily News to describe stopping to look at what I’ve done! in between shots. I take a shot, check the preview, and make necessary adjustments to my aperture and shutter speed.

I need the preview screen!

But there I was, at a superbly photogenic celebration, without my crutch.

As luck would have it, weather cancelled most of the ballooning activities during my visit. However, there were still a few opportunities to take pictures of inflated balloons, rocky desert mountains, and a New Mexico vineyard. I snapped away, hoping I’d end up with a handful of salvageable pictures at the end of the week.

This weekend, after flying back to Pittsburgh from New Mexico to meet up with my family, we went to Fallingwater and Ohiopyle State Park. Again, photo opps abounded and I was heartbroken to be handicapped with a broken camera.

I made the best of it. What other option did I have?

I focused on my composition and tried to remember everything I’ve learned about proper lighting. I unintentionally slowed down, taking fewer pictures over all and more time with each shot. The results were not as bad as I had feared.






Did breaking my camera make me happy?

Not at all. I probably would have ended up with tons more photos if I’d had fully functional equipment and they probably would have been better photos.

But I’m pleased to see that I was able to adapt. It was a new challenge that forced me to practice photography skills I often let slip. I was forced outside my comfort zone and — as is almost always the case — grew because of it.

Getting better makes me happy, even if the method wasn’t at all my idea.

What made you happy this week?

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