Thursday, September 27, 2012


I enjoy photography a lot. In fact, Scouting has proved to be a great excuse to go out and photograph things that I wouldn't otherwise get to, like eagles wintering on the Great Salt Lake. Today's cameras, whether iPhones, PHDs (push here, dummy), or sophisticated D-SLRs are complex computers with a light sensor built in, and are capable of amazing results when coupled with someone who knows what they're doing. How do you get to the point to know what you’re doing, then?

Every camera comes with a manual. There are also third-party handbooks that build on the basics of the manufacturer's manual and point out capabilities that aren't necessarily obvious. But, you don't really need any of that, do you. A camera is easy enough to use, right? Turn it on, push the button, and wham! you've got a 'picher'. Well, if all you want is a picher, (yes, I know how to spell picture and pitcher, and what the difference is) fine. In my case though, I have a vision that I want to make a reality, specific images I’d like to create, challenging techniques I’d to master. But you have to know what's possible, and not settle for what merely is.

RTFM. Read The Freakin' Manual. It tells you how the machine works, which buttons do what, and how to fix problems. Learn the basics in the manual in order to be able to use the tools in new and creative ways. The camera itself is really just a big, dumb, black box that only does what you tell it to. The more you understand about how it works, the better to maximize results. Different tools will yield different results. Software is the same thing. I used to use a wet darkroom with paper, chemicals, filters and all that stuff and it was a blast. Now it all happens with software, and it's even better (though I miss the smell of D-76). The software has a manual, too, for the exact same reason - to maximize results, and make your vision a reality.

Scouting has all kinds of handbooks and manuals. They’re written by experts, through experience; some are even written in blood. Some give you the basics, others offer more advanced techniques.  All are designed to maximize results – to build young men who can, and are willing to be responsible for themselves, and to serve others. RTFM so you know what your tools are capable of, and how to use them effectively. Without the manual though, you'll only get what the big, dumb box thinks is good enough.

Sunset from my front yard.
This is the image I wanted, so I told my camera to give it to me.
From my Flickr feed

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