Learning Again to Play

When I let go of perfectionism and my need for control, there’s room, I’m learning, for play.




I love to play, but I’m not always very good at it. My default tends to be focussed and somewhat driven. It’s easy for me to forget how to be playful. But when I let go of perfectionism and my need for control, there’s room, I’m learning, for play.

This week our photography homework has been to experiment with shutter speeds and f-stops. Because I am such a beginner with these concepts, I can let go of the outcome and truly just play around. I’ve been tromping through pumpkin fields, and wandering the local woods and beaches. (It’s the first time in years that I’ve wished I owned a pair of rubber boots!)

I’ve been setting up my camera and just playing around.

What happens if I set the aperture to 4.5? What kind of shutter speed do I need? Now what happens when I change the aperture to 22?

I’m immersed in the process, messing around with the controls on my camera, and trying to remember as many steps as possible. Because I can’t yet predict what a particular shutter speed or aperture will do to my image, I’m not worried about what the image might actually look like. I can be guided by playful curiosity and experimentation alone.

A couple of days ago, I set up my tripod at the foot of our local pier. It was a beautiful, clear evening, and I wanted to see how high I could set the aperture. I was hoping to capture the rosy sky and the faint snowy outline of Mt. Baker in the distance. When I looked at the images afterwards, I was surprised by the blurred figures in the foreground.

So that’s how photographers do that!

Now I want to go and mess around some more and see if I can capture blurred swirls of water around ocean rocks.

I might need some rubber boots for that kind of play.