Digital Photography: Why I enjoy making mistakes.

I’ve done a lot of silly things in my life and I’m very fortunate to have lived through them.  I’ve climbed a cliff face in Idaho and come face to face with a rattlesnake at 2:00 in the morning.  At least I thought it was a rattlesnake, it could have been a garter snake who was very good at impressions.  I’ve walked smack dab into the middle of a den of rattlesnakes sunning themselves on the volcano rock.  I’ve learned what it was like to nearly drown swimming by myself in the Snake River and I’ve had a partial parachute malfunction at 3,500 feet.  But I’ve gotta say, I love making mistakes.

Let’s fast forward to 2 years ago when I purchased my first digital camera.  It cost about $1,500 and a friend of mine was team roping with his brother in a hole-in-the-wall rodeo.  I knew little to nothing about shutter speed.  I barely knew anything about the camera I was using.  I didn’t own an external flash at the time, but I was determined to get some good rodeo pictures.

Come to think of it, I didn’t know much about chimping at the time either.  But, I had the batteries charged, the memory cards, and the strong desire to have some fun, so I started snapping away.  I had my camera set for multiple shots, (the little overlapping rectangles, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t catch the action in sharp focus.  The shutter speed was just too slow.  Here are some of the “mistakes” I made that night.

So what does all of this mean?  If your shutter speed is too slow, the pictures will come out blurry.  Is this a bad thing?  NO!  Sometimes blurry can actually be a good thing.  The rule of thumb for shutter speed for hand-holding lenses without any image stabilization or anti-shake functions on the camera (the things that make your pictures look still) is “Never shoot with a shutter speed that’s slower than the lens you’re using.”  Okay, let’s say the lens you’re shooting with is a 200 Millimeter zoom lens extended all of the way out, what that means is you should not shoot with a shutter speed that’s slower than 1/200th of a second.  (1/100th of a second =blurry; 1/50th of a second=blurry; 1/25th of a second=blurry; 1/250th of a second=sharp).

Now that the rule is out of the way.  Let’s have some fun.  How can I make this work for me?  Go out and find a bunch of jelly beans in a big jar, a pretty flower garden, or anything else that has a lot of really cool colors.  Set the shutter speed on your camera to slower than it’s supposed to be set.  Point the camera at the pretty colors, press the shutter and move it in circles, diagonally, side-to-side, have fun.  (But don’t drop your camera, that’s what the wrist strap is for).  You will come up with something like this.

Cool, Huh?

Now go have fun!!

Digital Photography Basics, Posts with my pictures in them, Travel and Photography Samples , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Shane

    That is cool. When I was in film school I would pray for serendipitous accidents to happen (as they almost always do). Things you would never have planned for or imagined can turn out really great… and if you’re smart you never tell a soul that it was a mistake!

    Hypnosis – Change Your Thoughts and Change Your

  2. Every day your posts get more fun!!!! At first I was kinda lost in the jargon, but now I am really enjoying them (except the snake parts).
    Sonya Lenzo

  3. Hi Dewayne,

    oh those look really beautiful. I particularly like the rodeo cowboy shots. I have not yet been to a rodeo live, so I am certainly envious of your having gone. I have only watched it on tv. One of our favorite commentators uttered, “Cheap shot by the bull!” is a favorite expression in our family. Mistakes offer wonderful opportunities to experiment with new things. I admire the attitude with which you approached your photography that day – “Determined to have fun.” Mental mindset makes such a difference in all we do – in love and life.

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    Single Boomer Dating Expert

  4. Dewayne – cool looking picture at the bottom. I have never thought of doing that.

    It sounds like you have had an exciting life – dangerous also.

    It sounds like you could have been in the military.

    I like your excitement about photography and how you’re willing to make mistakes in order to learn.

    You know a lot of tips – i have never heard of the ratio of lense size to shutter speed before.

    Thanks for the tip.

  5. Those rodeo pictures look like pictures I would take! I love digital cameras because now I don’t have to pay to develop all the crappy shots that look like one big blur (and I mean the non-intentional blurs)!

    Lisa McLellan
    Babysitting Services, Nanny Services, and Nanny agencies

  6. Shutter speed I always find frustrating while you are trying to take pictures. I have kids that do things I want to photograph…but our camera is to slow..any recomendations?

  7. Thats why they put the Sports and Landscape modes on the SLRs, so us chimps could use ’em…

    Seize the Day,

    Simple Family Survival Tips For Disasters and Emergencies

  8. Now you are taking pictures like me. Sports and Landscape modes. I wandered what they were for.

    Safety Is Everyones Business

  9. That would be a very cool color combination for a quilt!!

    Rattlesnakes? Ew! I get scared of a garter snake!

    Peggy Larson
    Quilting – Colors and Fun!

  10. I try to take shots of model rockets taking off. They go from 0 to 200 mph in less than 4 feet. I’ve got lots of blurry smoke trails. Got a few more today…

    I am the chimp behind the button.

    Tim Van Milligan, helping you Make Money Online, God’s Way!

  11. I think you should call your blog: Digital Art ! Your photos are so beautiful and creative. Thanks for the suggestions on how we can do it to – and get something out we are proud to show others 🙂

    Mixing Romance, Feet & ESL lessons
    Enjoy Being Online here!

  12. After your first paragraph, I thought you were going to show us pictures of snakes!
    Thanks for a very simple explanation of shutter speed and how to determine what to use. What setting do you use when the subject is standing in front of a waterfall, you want them in focus but the water with motion captured vs. sharp image of water… not sure if that makes sense or not…?

    Direct Selling Advice, Leveraging Relationships for Long-term Profit

  13. Your photography skills are so far beyond where mine will ever be. I like the tip to shoot a jar of jelly beans or flowers, etc. One of the favorite pictures I’ve taken is of me and Andrew outside Treasure Island in Vegas waiting for the pirate show to begin. The picture was snapped as some lights were flashing on the marquee and it made a really cooll effect of ropes of light in the foreground.

    Sabrina Peterson, NASM CPT,CES
    Corrective Exercise for Every Body

  14. I would have never believed that you did this by mistake. I think the pictures are great.

  15. Just call me chimp # 22. 🙂

    Actually your mistkae photos look better than most people’s deliberate action shots.
    Really enjoying learning more about how to take quality photographs!

    The Success Secrets

  16. I would have never known that those photos were a mistake had you not mentioned it. I thought that they looked cool .
    Scott Sylvan Bell
    Now go implement!

  17. These types of photos can be some of the coolest and most unique. With digital, there is a lot more room for “mistakes”, because it doesn’t cost anything.

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