#6 Newbie-to-newbie tip: The one thing to do when feeling intimidated while out on photo outings

I accepted a friend’s invite to join him and his friends to shoot the lanterns as they are lit for the lunar year celebrations. I brought along an ultra-wide angle lens (10-22mm f/3.5-4.5), a fixed lens (50mm f/1.8) and just because I have room in my bag, my 75-300mm lens. The most important item was my tripod, of course. Standard bring-alongs were the cable release, spare battery and a circular polarizing filter. They dont take up space anyway.

When I arrived though, I felt like I wanted to leave immediately. Here were 5-6 blokes who had their big-boys-lenses on their DSLRs, mounted on their ball-head tripods. They had found the angles they wanted, and were in position, ready to snap away as soon as the right time approached. And me? It was my second trip to Thean Hou temple up Robsons Heights in KL, and the first time with a camera, and with an intention to capture the lanterns against the golden hour of twilight. Was I nervous? You bet I was. They were talking to each other about some hot new lens with remarkable bokeh while I unzipped my tripod case. I smiled around and they smiled back, but that was about it. I was both happy and dismayed to see my friend there – happy because it’s always good to catch up with friends, dismayed because now that he had seen me, I had zero chance to escape!

So I decided to just do ONE THING. Focus on the task at hand. I asked myself what kind of pictures did I want to make? I started looking for my own angles and set up my tripod a couple of feet away from the guys. Several test shots and recalls of pictures I had seen, stuff I’d read on the golden hour and previous experiences shooting in low-light conditions occupied my time and thoughts for the next half hour. When the staff switched on the lanterns, it was just minutes until the greyish sky turned bright blue and we had a very small window of opportunity to get the striking backdrop before the inky blue-black night sky would take over. It turned out all right – I had loads of fun, experimenting with different shutter speeds, aperture and points of view. I have one or two favorites, and the picture accompanying this post is one of them.

What did I learn from this evening’s outing? Just relax, focus on the task at hand, and being a newbie means you get more opportunity to explore, experiment, and develop your own style in telling your story. So for any newbies out there, join a club – talk to friends, go out there and shoot. Remember to enjoy photography. It IS fun. 🙂


3 thoughts on “#6 Newbie-to-newbie tip: The one thing to do when feeling intimidated while out on photo outings

  1. Good that you learned, or reinforced what you already knew, about shooting surrounded by other photographers. If they’re really pros and/or are concentrating on their craft, nobody’s going to be noticing what equipment you brought or how you use it. Everybody accepts that all shooters approach the same assignment in different ways and no one way is either right or wrong.
    Having said that, one thing that has hindered me over the years is lugging too much equipment. It really gets in the way sometimes. I’ve found that one body-one lens often is the best way to go. But, then, maybe that’s just me.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Louie – and I’m honoured someone of your calibre’s visiting my blog.

      What you said about lugging equipment around is so true. Sometimes I join my flickr friends for a photowalk and I must admit I’ve been using the one body-one lens approach more. Having a great bag that’s light and just the right size helped me too otherwise I’d be trapped into carrying more things.

      Love your blog – especially the post on snow, with the pic of snow on the tracks.


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