"All you need is one good A shot," Mark Kauffman used to tell his Cal Poly photo class. I’d come back with one adequate shot in the middle of a full roll of film and the former Life magazine photographer would graciously accept it and encourage me to keep up the good work.
In addition to an awkward relationship with the darkroom, I seemed to lack the natural talent required to become one of those reporters who could cover a meeting and carry a camera.
And then one day not so long ago, and more than 25 years since I touched the hem of Kauffman’s photo vest, I took a portrait that I was pretty proud of. It was obviously time to invest in a digital SLR. Digital lets you find your “one good shot” among hundreds.
All of the excellent fine art photography and photojournalism that I see on a regular basis ought to be just the inspiration I need to stop reading about taking pictures and start taking pictures, but I am stuck in that time-wasting newbie research phase.
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Various potential mentors have been popping up to offer encouragement. Atascadero fine art photographer A.J. (Jim) Vincolisi has partnered with Margarita Adventures, best known for its zipline tours, to lead photo excursions through Santa Margarita Ranch. He made room for me in the van at 7:30 a.m. on a recent Sunday and we tooled around a bit of the 13,900-acre ranch zooming in on eagles, discovering new angles on legacy oak trees and finding neat shots of wooden structures.
Once a month, Vincolisi takes on the role of a favorite family member ready to point out interesting shots, give advice if needed and lend a hand or a lens. Ranch co-owner Karl Wittstrom came along on our tour to share his love of the ranch and note the importance of stopping to really appreciate and think about your surroundings. Good advice for all and especially for photographers.
My other potential mentors await in the Central Coast Photo Club, a group offered through meetup.com, which meets occasionally for a tutorial and photography outing. I have joined the group but have not yet met up due to the fear that everyone’s lenses will be bigger than mine.
A starter lens didn’t keep one of my Tribune pals from taking to the streets of downtown San Luis Obispo last month for a four-hour photo lesson to take pictures using various settings. “Useful and fun,” she said. Visit http://prophotoslo.com.
I’m off to read about tripods.