So I bought this DSLR camera but this photography stuff is harder than I thought it would be?

I recently found the blog of lindygrasser  who is having new life adventures and capturing it with a new camera.  She posted for input on the new Community Pool forum and as I still remember my first confusing days with my camera I thought I would visit.

Lindy is doing a really brave and interesting thing, breaking out of the pattern her life had been, buying a new camera and capturing images every day.  So many *new* things to conquer all at once, usually just one is enough for most people :)  This post is inspired by Lindy and her quest to come to grips with her photography, its based on my own personal experiences. I hope that it offers some guidance to the people who have had their shiny new camera for a little while and are now beginning to wonder if they made the right choice :)

This is the first digital image I ever took

Doesn’t matter what you do in life we all have to start at the beginning.  It’s always scary and challenging, I didn’t learn to drive til I was 22 and I was terrified driving on the open road for about a year, until I finally got experienced enough to not be nervous all the time.  You make silly mistakes, never get anything right the first or even the 18th time you try and often want to give up because you never feel like you will finally figure it all out.

I think photography is doubly challenging because it is a combination of technical and artistic skillsets.  There is the technology behind the camera, what lens to use and why, what focal length, what aperture or shutterspeed etc.  Working out how to properly use a flash is about as challenging as university level physics or calculus in my opinion!

But unless you have some sympathy for the artistic range of what a camera can be used for, all the science is cold and soulless.  You can know everything tiny technical thing about your camera and how to use it but it is the art that gives the image its impact.  Having a feel for the art or having an ‘eye’ for it is something  I think you either have or don’t have.  I truly don’t think it can be learned.  Like people who pickup languages really quickly, or can mimic accents or other people, its an ability you are born with.  If you disagree with me, feel free to paint a Mona Lisa!

So many people capture snapshots, nearly everyone has a phone with a camera on it, and snaps or videos are instantly available, as well as the ability to upload them online to share.  Those are mostly throw away images, a record of “I was here, doing this/being here” to share with friends.  I have learned that the impact of an image is totally related to the amount of care and consideration put into creating it (and effort too).

This is the hard question though, what do I want this image to say? How should it make me feel when I view it?  Does it have a message? Tell a story?  Capture a specific moment?  What would a complete stranger who found it tucked into a library book think when they saw it? Hardest question of all, HOW do I make an image that invokes that kind of response?

Compare this image with the one below

Both are opportunistic shots, the top one is taken on a lesser grade camera, isn’t as sharp, the composition is untidy, the white balance is cold, background messy.  The bottom one has a cleaner background, is sharper, colour reproduction is better and richer, white balance is warmer, composition is better.  Both taken by the same photographer (me) but there is about 4 years difference of experience between them.

Look at the shot of the pink bergenia flower above, the very first digital image I ever took.  Its awful, out of focus and badly cropped.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew that I wanted to learn photography, to make images that held meaningful memories for me, but were also memorable for other people.  I bought my first digital camera back in 2006 and my first DSLR 4 1/2 years ago, and its only *now* that I feel I have started to get an inkling that I might have the ability to make the images I wanted to!

How did I get here?  First, when I bought my 40D DSLR I made a commitment to myself that I would learn to use it properly, that meant going beyond AUTO modes.  Yes I spent a couple of months actually in AUTO, just getting used to everything but then I pushed myself to turn the dial and find out what other options there were.

I read books and websites, joined camera clubs and forums, attended workshops and field trips.  Got up at dawn, planned roadtrips, got lost, got wet, walked and climbed and drove in all directions.  Talked to complete strangers, had adventures I never planned, and some I did and above all pushed myself out of my comfort zone whenever I could.  Always always learning, usually making mistakes but trying new and different things.

Not being afraid to make a mistake is a critical learning experience.  Too many people are afraid to try because it will either be too hard or they won’t do very well first time round.  Pushing yourself in new directions, trying failing and trying again, suceeding eventually etc are an important part of our own personal development.  Ask yourself, would this image be better if I climbed the hill and shot it from the top? Do I care enough to make the effort?

I got this shot because I made the decision to stop and see the opportunity.  Then I asked permission to access the land, and because I had permission I had time to spend wandering around, framing up shots and taking my time, rather than a rushed furtive snap and go.

I got this shot because I was prepared to take my shoes and socks off and wade into the middle of the water to get a better angle.

I got this shot because I went out to shoot friends doing the Mud Sweat and Tears race, and I took shelter under a tent of a professional shooter and shot over his shoulder to keep out of the pouring rain.  Convinced him to let me stay because I was only an amateur taking shots of my friends :) And I got down really low to get an intimate angle.

This is a Willy Wagtail, and this shot happened because I was in another country, walking around a zoo with my camera out and ready to shoot with the long lens on

I have learned if you want to make memorable images, as well as learning to drive your camera correctly, you need to walk further than you normally would, look around for different viewpoints, get down on the ground or climb up high for better angles, chase the light, sometimes just shoot with what you have on the day because thats your only chance.  Be a bit brave, a little bit crazy, go further, see what is around the corner.  Take a chance!  Ask questions!

One other thing I will add, there is a very strong focus on shooting fully manual in the photography world ie if you don’t shoot manual you are not a real photographer.  I really dislike this attitude because it is very daunting for the new photographer to learn to shoot manual.  I don’t personally, I tend to shoot in P or Av or Tv mode, depending on what I am doing.  The camera manufacturers spend $$$$ making these expensive camera bodies that are almost certainly cleverer than I am, so I shoot in a mode that gives me some level of control but lets the camera make the rest of the decisions.

Other than the challenge of having to properly learn what all the functions are so you can properly use them, shooting manual means you have to reset everything every image you take where the conditions can change quickly.  I don’t want to have to work out my aperture/shutterspeed/focal length/iso calculation for EVERY IMAGE I TAKE!!!

I want to take good images and have fun with my camera, and for me, shooting in manual is a tool I have access to when I need it but it is not how I want to interact with my camera all the time.  Fortunately the camera manufacturers agree with me, and they enable us to use the camera in the way that suits us.

Have fun with your camera, for many people snapshots is all they want to have as a record.  Instagram is proof of that :) For those of us who strive for more, better, different, to improve, to create art, to add beauty into our lives and others, our journey is longer and much more challenging.  Personally I think it is much more rewarding as well :)

Photography is like cooking, if you use boring ingredients, cook and present very basically, you get a bland and boring meal. 

EDIT:  I was a bit surprised by the deluge of comments on this post this morning, and I see during my lunch break that there are even more.  Wondering I look and see YES!  Freshly Pressed :)

About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
This entry was posted in Posts with my photos, Technique I have learned, Useful Tips for Beginners, Waffle and Burbling and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

216 Responses to So I bought this DSLR camera but this photography stuff is harder than I thought it would be?

  1. saltypalette says:

    Thanks, just what I needed to hear! I’m just starting out with my first DSLR… Thanks for sharing :)

    • lensaddiction says:

      Oh good, I wasn’t sure what the response was going to be to this post. Good luck with the camera. I have a few technical posts and reviews earlier on in my blog you may find helpful too :)

  2. Ronald Lawrence says:

    I’ve been taking pictures a very long time, over 40 years. It wasn’t till I got my very first DSLR, about two years ago, that I became totally addicted to this hobby. While I would have put my technical knowledge up against anyone, I hadn’t learned much in all those years about photography as the viewer, only the photographer. I was taking boring, technically proficient pictures. While they are much better now, I struggle with my geek side to get better, always trying to be inspired to do better. All of this to say, it’s not just the owner of that shiny new camera, with the manufacturer’s strap proudly declaring their new purchase, that needs help. Some of us will fight that battle on a daily basis, no matter how much we “know”.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hey Ronald, great comment, its nice to hear that you have seen the light and will join us over on the crazy side of the fence. I hope you have some fun and adventures :)

  3. LyndaMichele says:

    Thank you so much for this post, it is exactly what I needed to hear! My new Canon DSLR is sitting on my dining room table. I am equally intrigued and intimidated by it. I WANT to learn to use, and at the same time feel overwhelmed!

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hey Lynda, thats why I started my blog back when I got my 40D, it was self defence to save my sanity because I felt so overwhelmed as well :)

      I guess what I was trying to say in my post that it is scary and can be intimidating (some of the people can be quite unpleasant, condescending and self involved) but it also can be fun and if you embrace it, will change your life :)

      • LyndaMichele says:

        Well thank goodness for you, for NOT being unpleasant, condescending or self involved :) And for helping out all of us newcomers! Thank you!

      • lensaddiction says:

        No problem, I encountered enough of them (and still sadly do now and then) and I totally didnt want to be that person! So many people were kind and patient with my questions and bumbling around, and it wasnt really that long ago for me, and Im still learning, every time I get the camera out !

  4. Swashbuckler says:

    Thanks for sharing! I just ordered a Nikon D5200 and can’t wait to start shooting with it.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Good luck and have fun. I recommend the Digital Field Guide books to help you learn your camera better than the manual that they come with :)

  5. “I have learned that the impact of an image is totally related to the amount of care and consideration put into creating it (and effort too).”
    so informative and encouraging…i agree that photography is a lovely blend of understanding technology and pushing creativity…i lack the second completely..and the first one eludes me..though there is this love for the camera, it gets suppressed in fear and anxiety. your writing has given me some push..hopefully, i’ll get clicking.
    thank you and congratulations!

    • lensaddiction says:

      If you love what you do, I think you can only be creative, that passion will show if you really feel it. I hope you can relax and have some fun with your camera. It is scary sharing your work with other people but constructive feedback can help you learn, make you see things in a different way :)

  6. Matt Setlack says:

    Excellent post! I like the way you described how you got each of your shots. Thanks!

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thankyou Matt, there are much bigger stories behind those photos but that is the essence of it, being there at the time, making a decision that enabled me to take that shot :)

  7. Great post and images! I love the “made the decision to stop and see the opportunity” shot.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thankyou, it really was a decision I nearly didn’t make too, was at the end of a long day and I was tired but the light was so perfect and the trees were such strong shapes. I’m really glad I did tho. Did you see my black and white conversion (its an earlier post) and its quite dramatic :)

  8. From the looks of these pic’s I would say that you are well on your way to mastering your DSLR. Great Pictures! Angelia @ http://dixielandcountry.com

  9. justinframes says:

    Great post indeed, just grumbling to myself about howi should’ve read this post when i first ventured into photography years ago. It did however invoke nostalgia as i recalled the crazy moments i’ve gone through, including putting relationships to the test to get that priceless shot. What i must add is that all the extra and seemingly crazy effort we put in might not always produce the expected result. While that it can be a good thing, almost missing a flight because of a few extra shots and countless arguments with your loved one because of the trouble you go through to get better shots especially when travelling might be a great shock for many. Don’t let these things stop us from pushing the boundaries, but of course, be wise and smart.

    Anyway, loved your post. Cheers :)

    • lensaddiction says:

      Justin very sensible advice, I am lucky because I am single with no kids, so no one to argue with there, but yes I have been late to many dinners because I had to stop and get a sunset shot or something similar. My friends are very patient too :) Its nice to know that other people are out there being a little crazy with their camera too!

  10. matt says:

    Some of your comments remind me of some of mine when I bought my DSLR: Now that I have this nifty tool, I’m damn well going to learn how to do it. I don’t have any feelings of superiority for it, but I shoot in manual mode because I’m trying to teach myself what all the numbers mean and how they correlate to my final image — which means I wind up with a lot of post-moment frustrations and megabytes worth of stuff that makes me glad mistakes are free in digital photography.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hey Matt, good on you for trying manual mode and good luck. I found it too hard, and got really frustrated with so many people saying “oh its easy” when it really isn’t. Especially for a beginner who doesnt’ understand what the numbers mean quite often. I was lucky that I had a patient pro explain it too me one day in a way that made more sense. Hope it makes sense to you soon!

  11. MainerChick says:

    Reblogged this on Art Journal and commented:
    I had to re-blog this post. For my own benefit at least.
    I’ve got very basic point & shoot cameras with some options on the dial. Which was a hard adjustment from my old film SLR I had that had a zoom lens and such. I find several of the new digital SLR cameras that don’t have detachable lenses quite easy and quick to use which I love. I’m about the instant gratification with photography. (I don’t review my shots until after I’m done usually.) However I really would like to purchase a Canon 60D with two lenses. I have noticed, after using one, that they’re way more cumbersome than I like and quite heavy hanging from your body as you walk around. That and the price are a deterrent for me at the moment. However my ambition to be a photographer as waned over the years, especially since I hate…. HATE!! portrait photography.

  12. Alice L says:

    I loved your post! I took a photography class, but the professor taught us next to nothing about the camera, so I still very much feel like I’m learning. Thanks so much for inspiring everyone to keep at it. :)

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thanks for reading and finding it inspiring. I still feel like I am learning all the time too, every day the light does something different, the weather and the critters. Its always a challenge!

  13. Pingback: So I bought this DSLR camera but this photography stuff is harder than I thought it would be? | tinaroland16

  14. Great photography. Thanks for sharing. Connie

  15. bentchilliphotography says:

    THANKS FOR SHARING ~ i HAVE HAD MINE [DSLR] FOR 18 MONTHS AND STILL LEARNING TO DRIVE :-)

  16. glass spigot says:

    Hello, I really likes the information you provide on your blog. I found it on Bing.com while doing a search on this subject. I am going to share this with some friends if you do not mind and I think glasss spigot wil come back again soon. Cheers!

  17. hcfbutton says:

    I’m having fun with my new dSLR (60D) too. I went to the autoshow on the weekend just to have fun and experiment with the details. Some (obviously) turned out better than others, but it was fun just to take it and play with the settings. Also, it turns out some cars are just easier to photograph than others.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Lucky you for having an autoshow and all those lovely shiny cars to have fun experimenting with. Did you know you can help minimise reflections with a circular polariser filter? Good for reflective lakes and windows and stuff too.

  18. joeburciaga says:

    I very much enjoyed your blog . The photography is great . Your comments on not being afraid to make mistakes has inspired me to broaden my horizons . Thank you .

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hey Joe, I can’t be afraid to make mistakes cos I do it every day Im alive :) Part of being human so I learned to embrace it with my photography and use my mistakes as learning opportunities instead :) Good luck with your photos.

  19. iAmChan says:

    Nice shots and read. I have just made up my mind to follow my passion of photography, and reading these types things gets me more excited about the journey ahead. I will be sure to check here more often!

  20. redcactus says:

    I like your attitude! I am an amateur photographer too, I started when I was 11 with my very first camera, an Olympus XA, that had manual focus and aperture priority. I fumbled around for a while, but then I started taking better pictures. I have used that little wonder for 20 years, then it broke and I went digital.
    Fast forward, I have a DSLR now and I understand the importance of thinking before you shoot and experimenting with perspective and different points of view. I think knowing how to use the manual mode is the right thing to do for special shots, but you are not compelled to use it all the time, it takes the fun out of exploring!
    Looking forward to your next posts!

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hey thanks, it took me a long time to learn to slow down and think about composing my images, I still sometimes don’t put as much thought into them at the time. Get too excited while I am shooting! You should have a wander thru my archives, got lots of stories of adventures and travels and reviews etc too :)

  21. Reblogged this on A&E: Art and the Environment and commented:
    For all you photographers out there in various stages of understanding and growth – a good, honest blog post!

  22. I have a relatively small and inexpensive camera but I still like to make the extra effort to frame shots and make them worth looking at. People don’t always understand why it takes me so long just to take a picture!

    • lensaddiction says:

      Oh you can take lovely pictures these days with most modern cameras, even cell phones! I agree that there is a difference between a snap and an image that you ‘made’ ie thought about, composed and considered before you captured it. Take as long as you need :)

  23. Amen! I’ve had my DSLR for over a year and just now decided to explore my passion for photography. My first class dealt mainly with Aperture and Shutter Priority modes, NOT manual. I can’t wait to have my adventures!

    • lensaddiction says:

      I hope you have many exciting and interesting adventures. I am glad you had some teaching in the modes that are really useful. I never did classes and many times I wished I had :)

      • I just needed to be taught some basics about photography, but there is so much more out there to learn. I know now that a lot of it can just come from books and experience, but the class was well worth it.

  24. Great post, especially encouraging for those starting out. I don’t know about being born with an eye, but it certainly shows up very early. When I first started taking pictures, I was 18 crossing country on my own. Had a totally manual camera that forced me to slow down and frame photos, pay attention to the light meter, etc. I think that helped my eye, though I knew nothing about the technical aspects of photography. But the thing that most helped me develop my eye was having a passion for what I was photographing. Even when I don’t have a camera I look at the natural world closely and sort of frame scenes in my mind. Maybe you’re born with that desire to really experience a place, person, etc., but I really think it’s one of those things you pick up when you’re very young. Now I’m a much more serious photographer, and I’ve learned many of the technical aspects. But most of what you can learn about photography (by spending a lot of money on workshops) you can pick up on your own by shooting and shooting and shooting. For example the rule of thirds is something I already knew from shooting, well before I learned what it was called and why it works. By the way, I’m an advanced photographer and commonly use aperture & shutter priority, even Program mode when I’m street shooting.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thanks, I was possibly a little harsh about being born with an eye (now that I go back and read it) and yet I think of some people I have had dance lessons with, they had no rhythym at all, so maybe its partly true. Maybe if your passion is strong you can learn if you really try, like you say shooting and shooting :) Very few options for expensive workshops here in NZ, so I had to learn it all the hard way too.

      Appreciate you dropping by and commenting, and nice to meet a non manual shooter too :)

  25. Hi, I really enjoyed your post.
    The topic caught my eye because I’m planning to get a DSLR camera in the near future. You gave me lots of information about what to expect, and I admit that I felt a little more intimidated at first, but as i kept reading, your attitude turned my opinion around to your way of thinking! Thank you for giving me the push I need to take on this new opportunity to learn something new and exciting. :)
    Jennifer

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hey Jennifer, really glad I didn’t scare you away, that would have been awful :) I won’t lie, it *is* hard work, and scary too at the beginning, but I have had so much fun and wonderful experiences, and I hope when you get your camera you do too!

  26. halffull22 says:

    LOVE this! I’m 3 months into my new camera and I feel like I JUST got it. A little worried I’ll never learn the manual functions, but its fun trying to learn! :)

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thankyou, I found it much easier to learn lots about just one bit of my camera at a time ie for a while I would play with shutter speeds and experiement there, and then it would be aperture, and then low light. That way when I was ready to try manual I felt a bit more prepared. Having fun is the MOST important thing tho!

  27. v says:

    enjoyable post indeed. you’re doing great so far. keep shooting.

  28. Jenn Ad Astra says:

    A beautifully put post! As someone who has been starting in photography for a year, and by starting I mean owned a camera but been oddly scarred to play around with it, this is the kind of “you’re not alone” post I enjoy reading. One that points out that, yes, the art of photography takes work but just because you’re bad to begin with doesn’t mean you don’t have the knack or won’t enjoy it.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thankyou Jenn. Can I tell you a secret? I was afraid of my tripod, seriously! I had it for months and months but never used it. No real reason but once I did use it I felt really silly for waiting so long :) 100% true, promise!

  29. Huffygirl says:

    A wonderful treatise of photography. Just got my first DSLR and am having an awful time figuring out the manual settings. But, have not really sat down and worked on it for very long yet either. I just seem to have forgotten everything I ever knew about SLR photography since I stopped using film in 2004 and went point and shoot digital. I may be coming back looking for some tips.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Love to have you come back, I have lots of posts in my archives that might be useful for you. I recommend the Digital Field Guide books for helping learn about your camera, much better than the manual that comes in the box :)

      • Huffygirl says:

        Thanks. Are the Digital Field Guide books are series? Do you have an author? I will have to check it out. I want to get better with the camera before we go to Hawaii in April.

      • lensaddiction says:

        Yes they are a series, they do Canon and Nikon and all models in those ranges and a few of the other brands as well.

        The lady who has written my Canon ones is Charlotte K. Lowrie. Note they are not a guide to photography, just a better explanation of the bits of your camera and a bit about how they work.

  30. andy1076 says:

    Wow! these are beautiful photos! I can’t afford a DSLR at the moment but wow this makes me want to get it even sooner lol :D

  31. Heather says:

    I agree it’s the eye that matters. If you have a good eye for composition you can make a beautiful picture with any old crap camera.

    • im all in on what you said. i had to sell my nikon d80 2 years ago to get money for my family and havent had a camera except my iphone up until a week ago, when i purchased a used 7d. but all of the pictures ive taken with my iphone for the last 2 years have been just as great- if not better because of the need to produce a quality image with a crap phone. it isnt about the camera-its about having a natural talent for it and being able to seize the moment. =)

      • lensaddiction says:

        I have seen some amazing shots taken on cell phone cameras (usually iphones) and I agree, they make you work harder at getting a better shot. I hope you get to enjoy your 7d too, its a lovely body.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Heather I completely agree, having the newest fastest gear is nice because technology is always improving, but many talented photographers are out there with point and shoots or even cellphones. I see lovely work on Flickr all the time. Composition makes or breaks and image, absolutely :)

  32. love them. my photos always look wrong, like the wrong lighting or the fact that i do not even have any charge left on my damn camera!!!!! its nice to know others like photography

  33. Some beautiful photos you have here, as soon as your camera feels like your own the photos come naturally!

  34. Taking your time, taking off your shoes, taking refuge behind a pro: these are important things that go on before you snap the shutter that affect what happens when you press the shutter. Well done.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thanks Mike, took me a while to learn that making the image means you have to stop and think and plan, and sometimes do the crazy thing too :)

  35. ioniamartin says:

    Your photos are beautiful!

  36. Great description of the maturing process of a photographer. Loved the descriptions of what it takes to get a good shot. A friend of mine who is a professional photographer calls this “committing to the shot.” i.e. doing whatever it takes to get the best picture.

  37. Pingback: Learning to ‘really’ think about your photos | ctedds

  38. samokan says:

    I have not yet given in yet. I still have my point and shoot Fujifilm and now iPhone4s camera. I probably wont stop taking pictures once I got one:) Very nice shot btw.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Nothing wrong with point and shoot at all, I would still have one if I hadn’t been lucky and managed to save up enough for the bigger camera :) Shoot with what makes you happy!

  39. I am such a photography noob that I had to look up what DSLR meant, but I enjoyed reading your post! I love taking pictures and capturing beautiful moments, but I just have a simple digital camera that doesn’t have a lot of fancy features or a special lens. I am an artsy person, but don’t have money for a fancy camera… Maybe someday I will get more into it, but for now I will enjoy your posts. ^_^

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hey Alyssa, I am sorry I didn’t explain what DSLR meant, given it was a post aimed at beginners I probably should have! If you have heart and passion you can make beautiful images with whatever tool you have, big fancy gear can help for sure, but I have seen lots of average images shot on expensive kit many times too :)

  40. DAKOTA says:

    COOL COOL COOL!

    I knew these photos were in NZ!!! I’m in NZ too and also doing photography.

    Wish you well with your new DSLR! Enjoy!!!!!

    Regards,

    DAKOTA @ http://dakotad.com

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hey Dakota, nice to meet another Kiwi, had a quick look at your site, you have a really distinctive style, lovely rich colours . NZ is such a great place for photography, tho the summer light is pretty harsh, and sunrise is way too early in the morning!

  41. shelley says:

    Lovely pictures! Thanks for sharing…

  42. alexfinn2013 says:

    Thank you! Great post! Just starting out to take photography to another level.Thanks for sharing!

  43. Quite professional shots, though you new to DSLR.

  44. Good Lord! It took me a full minute to scroll down after the first 15 comments, just to get to the bottom of the page so I could drop you a line!

    After all is said and done, I have but two words for your post AND for your photos on just this one page:

    BEAUTIFUL…BRILLIANT ! ! !

  45. Hannah Cox says:

    What I REALLY like about this post is the behind the scene stories of how those shots came about! Every year I go and see the World Press Photo exhibition (press photography from around the world) and I always think what odd/uncomfortable/dangerous/ridiculous things did the photographer have to do to get that shot!

    My fancy new camera is on it’s way now and I’m nervous but really excited about blundering my way through learning to use it

    Hx

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hi Hannah I have many stories on my blog of the strange and interesting adventures I have gotten into with my photography, I have gotten drenched and muddy, and fallen up a cliff, and driven and climbed and got sunburnt and divebombed by seagulls and all sorts!

  46. Lola says:

    Oh my~ Lovely pictures, especially with the cats!! <3

  47. Red Toenails says:

    Hey, looks to me you’re doing great. My new thing…I’m learning to play the cello. At 43! Here’s to us!

  48. trap-ped says:

    Very inspiring, thank you.

  49. Storm says:

    The photo with the trees in the field is amazing.

  50. Cdreamgirl says:

    Love this one… – and ditto on what storm said. I like the kitty with the big blue eyes……. captures her sweetness and curiosity.

  51. Pippiness says:

    I have no experience in the photography area but have always wanted to buy a DSLR and start capturing…Your post has given me the push I need to take the plunge : D

  52. Loving your shots, thanks for sharing

  53. Such a great piece. I have been taking photographs for years on auto and got some great shots, but also some not so great. I too have recently bought a DSLR and have started leaning about the different modes. I have found that taking it one step at a time is the only way. If the picture doesn’t come out how I expected I google it and am usually able to find a solution. I have just about got to grips of the controls, but then there are all the different lenses to cope with…….. That’s my challenge of the moment. I am using old ones that I kept from my SLR until i decide/find out what the best options are.

  54. kingbwd says:

    Reblogged this on kingbwd and commented:
    its so tough

  55. garow311 says:

    Love to hear reactions and thoughts when first starting off. Hope you continue to me inspired! Feel free to check out my work http://www.garrettrowland.com

  56. I really like the photo of the people in the mud and the story behind it. I also like the waterfall and the tree stumps. Beautiful photos and great story. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  57. Marissa says:

    GREAT post! Thank you! Congrats on the Freshly Pressed.

  58. raajeshwari says:

    wonderful photography……

  59. I love all your photographs. I love the pretty purple flower the most and the pics of the cats. Informative blog post!

  60. love your photos and article….. I blessed my daughter with my last digital camera after taking maybe 100000 photos. Recently I borrowed a friends camera for a few hours in Iran and had a ball photographing the locals for my latest blog. Keep the pics coming

  61. SpurBoats says:

    I love this article. I am also trying to start photography, and have recently bought a DSLR. I am having a tough time finding the right angles and finding the beauty in each shot. (That is probably partly because I couldn’t afford an expensive DSLR camera), but I will be following this blog; it’s an inspiration! So thank you!

    • lensaddiction says:

      You don’t need really expensive kit to make good images at all. For some types of photography having better kit helps you get sharper images in challenging situations (sport or low light etc) but it is the *photographer* who makes the image. Don’t let that hold you back :)

  62. Katka says:

    Great article, amazing pictures. I am at the moment deciding between DSLR (probably Canon) and Nikon J1. I wonder if Im ready for a DSLR, but then, when is the right time? Maybe I just have to plunge into it :-).

  63. stefanieshaw says:

    Thank you for an awesome post! I just got my first DSLR camera at Christmas, after struggling with point-and-shoot. I was never able to get one for myself, they are expensive! But my husband and his family were VERY kind to me. I’m still learning, but it’s a lot of fun!

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hey Stefanie, lucky you, I hope you have lots of fun and take images of your family that you will all treasure as memories in the future :)

  64. cookievan says:

    Thanks for sharing your photography journey. I’m really inspired by your words. “Not being afraid to make a mistake is a critical learning experience. Too many people are afraid to try because it will either be too hard or they won’t do very well first time round. Pushing yourself in new directions, trying failing and trying again, suceeding eventually etc are an important part of our own personal development.” Thanks for sharing your incredibly beautiful shots, too.

  65. Love this! I did an 8 week course and bought heaps of magazines when I got my first SLR Canon EOS 50d. I forgot all the technical stuff pretty quickly and focussed instead on getting the right angle and shot. I think having a good eye for what will make a good photograph is much harder to teach and learn than the technical stuff, and hey, isn’t that what photoshop is for? Congrats on the FP it’s nice to see a photographer who has shown how they’ve evolved and not just posted all their ‘best’ shots.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thankyou, I have to confess I have a big pile of shiny magazines as well, but often there is some useful stuff to be learned, and the images can be very inspiring. When I have bad days I go back and look at my early shots to remind myself that I have learned ‘something’ along the way :)

  66. rmedina49 says:

    Great shooting style! its very beautiful!!

  67. Sherri Stone says:

    This is a great post! I have loved photography since I was a teen (many moons ago) but only purchased the d-slr in 2011. It can be overwhelming but thank goodness for the internet there is so much information to learn. I’ve been shooting Tv/A/M modes since this past summer. Manual is very tricky but I’m determined. It’s all about loving it.

  68. Simply Awesome!!! One of the most interesting post I read as of now. After reading this post I am remembering the time when I bought my first DSLR in 2011. I am still new to photography and in a learning phase. That’s why I also started shooting in AUTO but now I am shooting in Manual mode. Thanks for the post once again. :-)

  69. jimceastman says:

    Awesome photographs. You have captured them perfectly well. There’s truly fun in taking pictures. I have a great time reading your blog. Congratulations in FP and Thanks for sharing..Well deserved!

  70. Photography is a never ending learning process for us all. Just like you mentioned in your article, it can take you places you have never been before. Photography has taken me away from my comfort zone, helped me meet and connect with people I would have never had otherwise, and let me create an image based on my interpretation of the world I live in. This past year photography helped drive me through 12 countries in 9 months, and gave me some of the most incredible moments and experiences as a result. This is a great, inspirational post for new digital photographer’s out there to keep shooting. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thanks, there appear to be quite a few of us in the slightly crazy photographer club :) I hope to travel and see the world and capture it through my lens, got a bit of saving to do first. I will have to check out your blog :)

  71. Jamie@Swamped says:

    Wonderful post! I’ve been shooting all kinds of photos for more than 5 years, and am just now getting comfortable with using manual settings! I agree wholeheartedly that you must go farther, look differently, and see more, to take exceptional photographs. There is a phrase I love to refer to when it comes to photos… “The best camera you have is the one that’s with you” meaning, never miss an opportunity because you don’t think your equipment is good enough. That’s something I struggled with for a while.. best wishes and good light! Great job on being Fresh Pressed.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thanks Jamie, learning that you had to put the extra effort was something that I struggled with, but when I did and saw the improvement in my images it was a no brainer! I often wish I had a P&S in my handbag or glove box because you are right, the best camera is the one you have with you!

  72. siacopt says:

    Awesome photographs!! I also have a same problem about it. It isn’t easy to take a good shot. The shot that consists of feeling, moving, or others. But, it’s cool to take a photograph. I have learned many things from one shot. Taking photographs is like you’re seeing the world in the different way. However, great jobs! I like your blog!

  73. Brad says:

    Great post. You have a lot of awesome shots!! I agree that photography can be tough when you use manual settings. I am glad that I am learning photography in the digital age, so that I can instantly see the crappy shots and make an adjustment. I am mostly into graphic design, but got into photography about 3 years ago. I love both. If you would like to check out my work, please go to http://www.modelmayhem.com/1245479 or http://www.bradmeador.com . Keep up the good work!!!

    Peace,
    Brad

  74. varun321 says:

    It’s really incredible how much even a few months could make in how good someone’s photos are if they keep trying every day versus once a month. The best way to learn something is to do it and fiddle with it e.g. changing different things o the camera to adjust a photo. On a different note, I really loved the pictures!

  75. Jenny Cantu says:

    I’m not much of a photographer…more like an Instagrammer. haha! :) But I really enjoyed your post! I know that while you were creating this post, you were sharing (and showing) your love and admiration for photography. But for me, it spoke spot on to my interest: writing. Kind of random, I know. But it works…or at least in my brain. :)

    “I read books and websites, joined camera clubs and forums, attended workshops and field trips. Got up at dawn, planned roadtrips, got lost, got wet, walked and climbed and drove in all directions. Talked to complete strangers, had adventures I never planned, and some I did and above all pushed myself out of my comfort zone whenever I could. Always always learning, usually making mistakes but trying new and different things.” I think I just may have to do follow your lead and sign up for a writing class.

    I also liked your “before/after” pics of the cats showing your growth in technical and artistic abilities. The comparison reminded me that if you stick with something long enough, great things can happen.

    Thanks for sharing…and Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! Really happy for you! :)

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hey Jenny, I hope you do sign up for your writing class, after all, whats the worst that could happen :) Yes the before/after shots are important, I sometimes go back and look through my older shots when I am struggling a bit, so I can remind myself that there has been some improvement :) Totally overwhelmed by the FP response but I got to meet so many lovely people!

      • Jenny Cantu says:

        Hey there! Just wanted to follow up with you and tell you I signed up for a writing class earlier this morning beginning next month! Really excited about it! – and maybe a little nervous returning to a college campus too. But I can’t wait! Thanks for the encouragement! :)

      • lensaddiction says:

        Hey Jenny and go you! I returned to student life 3 weeks ago as well, I am studying a Graduate Diploma course, and its been over 20 years since I was a student so I know JUST how you feel:) And you will be fine!

  76. choppy123 says:

    I loved this, I actually really liked the first one of the cat, I couldn’t go past the mesmorising blue eyes. Although reading your comments on the comparison of the two I could see the difference. i have enough problems trying to take photo’s with a point and shoot camera on auto without venturing into harder territory, but maybe one day!

    • lensaddiction says:

      I quite like that first shot too, Skys beautiful blue eyes are really intense, and I shot that on a S3IS Canon P&S :)

  77. These are some great pix – love the ‘mud sweat and tears’ shot! Photography is indeed a challenge in so many respects – composition, technicalities of the photographic system and so forth. Quite apart from the art of it. Truth be told, I do switch my DSLR to semi-auto mode every so often, just to take the tech parts out of the calculation once in a while and let me focus on composition and the art of it. No – er – pun intended there.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hey Matthew if someone asked me to explain the technical parts in any detail I really can’t cos I haven’t learnt all the really detailed stuff. Just enough for it to make sense so I can use my camera. I want to learn how to use flash properly and I suspect I am going to have to make a lot more effort with the technical side of that. Its the main reason why I don’t shoot manual too, I like to focus on the image, not the camera :)

  78. Steve says:

    A good post. I am generally massively critical of my photographs, I am not 100% sure on all the technical bits, I have basic knowledge of aperture and depth of field etc and when I say basic, I mean basic. but I don’t think I have the eye for composition, and no matter how much I try I cannot get seem the get that.

    When I look at a picture from someone else that I like (and I’ve found many on sites like tumblr) I look on it as telling a story and it may remind me of something in my past, a memory of someone, a place ive been too etc and I dream up a probably over romanticized narrative in my head, whereas when I look at most of my pictures, I see the throw away pictures that are not that great. I am not sure why that is. (Although I stress that isn’t the case with all good pictures, some are just good photographs :))

    With your pictures of the Cats, I actually prefer the top one even though technically the bottom one may be better.

  79. HoaiPhai says:

    Nice shots! Don’t listen to what others tell you about how to shoot… manual is just fine for those carefully-composed landscape or studio shots but when you’re out looking to get an image of a skittish and elusive Willy Wagtail, there’s no shame in getting a little help from automation.

    By the way, I liked the top cat photo better… you never can tell whether your audience’s taste will differ from yours!

  80. lythya says:

    Wonderful post, teaching something I hear a lot: If you’re not failing, you’re not doing anything. If you’re not doing anything, you’ll never succeed.
    I have a Nikon and wish I were better with it. Alas, I haven’t put in quite the effort to learn. However sometimes I will go for walks with it and take my time with the pictures, and sure enough, those are a lot better than those taken at parties, excursions etc.

  81. Victoria says:

    Congratulations, on being Freshly Pressed!

  82. This is great. I haven’t bought a DSLR yet for the reasons you’ve mentioned. I really want to get my skills down before I invest in a fancy camera. If I can do awesome stuff with my point-and-shoot, I’ll be ready for an upgrade.

    • lensaddiction says:

      I did the exact same thing, started with a point and shoot and proved to myself that I could stick with the photography and not waste the investment if I went to DSLR. Good luck!

  83. CKH888 says:

    Reblogged this on Artopia 444: Art Music Photos News Culture Video and commented:
    Looks like this neophyte digital photographer is indeed off to a great start. Loved all of his posted photos. Have a look see.

  84. This is just what I needed to hear right now! I’m slowly getting into DSLR photography, and every so often I find myself getting frustrated for a few weeks before I have a breakthrough and make progress. This was definitely the push I needed. Thanks for some great tips (and photos)!

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thanks Jessica, I have many bad days too when I wonder why I even bothered :) But the feeling when you make an image that makes other people go Wow! is so amazing, it makes me keep trying (and trying and trying!)

  85. I especially enjoyed the photograph you needed permission to cross the land. The balance and composition are just beautiful.

  86. Pingback: So I bought this DSLR camera but this photography stuff is harder than I thought it would be? | John Waring Glendora

  87. yonaphoto says:

    Keep up the good work! Come visit for any kind of Tips ;)

  88. Anne Chia says:

    I bought my first DSLR five months ago and everything I have read is asking me to shoot in manual. I find this really frustrating because it’s tough to keep changing my settings for every shot! Thank you for this, I shall now explore P,Tv and Av going forward. Hopefully I can get some lovely shots too

    • lensaddiction says:

      Anne it is really frustrating isn’t it! Makes me really angry when beginners are told to shoot in manual and that its easy. Totally isnt easy at all. I really like P mode because you can change your ISO and aperture and it does the rest of it for you so you have quite a bit of control. Good luck!

      • Ron Lawrence says:

        “Makes me really angry when beginners are told to shoot in manual and that its easy. Totally isnt easy at all”.
        I learned on a manual camera with no meter. I’ve found it easy to learn WHAT to do on a DSLR, but these new cameras don’t always behave the way film did. It’s not so important to always shoot in manual mode, but I believe it IS important to know how to do so. Why? Because you don’t learn the relationships of light to the shutter speed unless you know how both behave. After learning to shoot in M mode is when the other modes can be used, but using them before learning M will hinder learning all of what the camera has to off.

        Just my opinion.

      • lensaddiction says:

        Oh I agree it is important to know how to shoot in manual and for the reasons you state. But asking a complete beginner to master all those different functions at once! completely unfair. It is an advanced level that should be attempted when the person is ready, and not forced on them.

      • Ron Lawrence says:

        LOL!!! Heaven forbid that they were handed a film camera built before 1980.

  89. Anne says:

    I agree with you that the challenging part of photography is that it uses two sets of opposing skills- artistic and technical. As an artist, I always struggled with the technical aspects of photography. I eventually just kept failing and making mistakes until I finally started getting better at it. Good luck to you!

  90. drpaskall says:

    Jenn, thank you for the post. I am just starting to learn basic photography on my 6 year old Canon DSLR, but I haven’t bought any lenses because I am not sure if it’s the right camera for what I want (mainly nature shots). Looking forward to reading your blog. Love your pics, especially of your cats and the bird.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Not sure who Jenn is but thanks :) If you are uncertain about a lens to purchase I recommend the nifty fifty – the Canon 50mm F1.8 – very cheap prime lens that is still a nice lens and a lot of fun to play with and experiment with. Because it is not a zoom it forces you to get up close and personal with your subject.

  91. I have been looking around the internet for what camera I should buy to step out of the amateur point and shoot box. This post was very helpful in giving me the extra push to commit. Beautiful photos

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thankyou, there are lots of options available now, if you have a good camera shop you can visit that is the best way as you can feel the size and shape of the gear in the hands and get an idea of how the menus work etc. That is how I would recommend it if you have that option, good luck!

  92. magnolia2935 says:

    Very encouraging! I got into photography in the 1990’s and learned on a very simple old black & white camera. I’ve recently wanted to get back into it, but have been a little afraid of the new-fangeled technology.

  93. Beautifully written and so are your pictures. I like how there is a story behind every shot you took – that you didn’t just take the picture just to take the picture. Inspiring. Bravo!

  94. Brilliant. Had my 600D for about a year now and have taken very few pictures which I actually like, have been meaning to get to some classes for a while, think I might do that now.

  95. Great photos! I have a Canon 600D! You are an inspiration :)

  96. aheneghana says:

    Great shots indeed. Comes on top of blogs about photography. Well explained.

  97. Louis Cobb says:

    very cool pictures!

  98. allforsahar says:

    I had to scroll really down to find the comment box…you have a great number out here and this article really deserve to have so :)
    I’m a big fan for what you wrote, “going beyond AUTO modes” is my daily concern, I have not got my DSLR yet, I’m still using my compact digital camera but trying to have my angles and corners from different point of views, just like you said. please have a look at my blog and hopefully you are gonna like it:

    http://allforsahar.wordpress.com

    • lensaddiction says:

      You definately are looking for the different angles and points of view. One tip I have to remind myself is to look around the edges of the photo and in the background – is it tidy or are there distracting things (brightly lit or eye catching colours) in the background. It can be hard to get a nice clean shot in an urban environment :) Have fun with your camera!

  99. Thanks for the read :) I like your attitude. My personal view is do what works and what you find fun. Don’t ignore the rules but don’t listen to them either ;) Learning how the camera sees stuff is important so you can make it see how you want…so I guess learning manual can help you understand the camera …….but I agree manual is not required. Everyone has there own style and vision.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thanks Charlie, I like to think of it as “learn the rules so you know how to break them creatively” and sometimes I even get away with it :)

  100. warpedmind2k8 says:

    these are wonderful shots:)

  101. great writing on this… and great to see the photo progression! best and truest line: “I got this shot because I made the decision to stop and see the opportunity.”

    Thank you for this posting! Be Well.

  102. amazingved says:

    great post…thanks for sharing you experience!

  103. Ippo says:

    This is hard because it is a whole profession. But I think you are already very good at it!

  104. bbankcopa says:

    Nice photos…I dabble in photography…love it, have never taken a class…don’t even know what a lot of the words mean, but can compose…it’s so fun! Thanks for sharing!!! I do mostly travel/nature photography…love your waterfall and cat.

    http://Adventuresofacouchsurfer.wordpress.com

  105. Reblogged this on beyonddascene and commented:
    Wow

  106. bhuwanchand says:

    Very nice snaps… you will keep getting better over the time…

  107. Catherine says:

    “Not being afraid to make a mistake is a critical learning experience. Too many people are afraid to try because it will either be too hard or they won’t do very well first time round”

    This is a beautiful quote for life. I use my DSLR for shots of my kids and not so much artistic eye. The pictures I take are fine but nothing to where you’re at. After reading that quote though I took a whole different sense of this article. I think it’s amazing how one decision to buy a camera has effected you and your life in such a positive way.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thanks Catherine, I am interested on what sense you got from the article before you read that particular line, am quite intrigued :)

      The key thing that I may not have really clarified is “that photography is what you want it to be” – if taking photos of your kids makes you happy, and you have precious moments to remember them by captured but not necessarily the most well composed or technically correct shot, who the hell cares!

      But for those of us who do struggle to learn, be it technical bits like fstop and aperture and ISO and exposure, or artistic stuff like composition and colour and balance, then it can be really hard work. Doing both at once makes it even harder! And the lady who inspired the post is doing that and training for a marathon and dealing with divorce and travelling around the US and and and :)

      Im only doing photography and after nearly 5 years am only just feeling like I am really getting somewhere and I wanted to share that sense of journey and struggle so that other people who may be in the same situation know that someone else finds it hard too.

  108. zamdezign9 says:

    Thanks for sharing a little about your photographic journey. I too have found myself in a similar position of being interested in photography for a while and slowly getting better and better gear and learning more and more tactics until I just about fully understand it. It was quite the process but a very rewarding one when you do have it all figured out!

  109. Great post, inspiring! I’m just starting out on my dslr adventure and I agree with everything you’ve said! bit.ly/YQFhfO

  110. Photography is not easy at all. It’s beyond taking a picture with a blurry background. I find it really difficult to get inspiration on what to take pictures of. I’ve been unsatisfied with the pictures I’ve take recently and it’s frustrating.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Sometimes you have to take a break until you feel some creative inspiration starting to simmer. Sometimes other stresses in your life mean that you struggle to find your ‘mojo’ I have had that happen a few times in the last couple of years. Go easy on yourself :)

  111. I completely agree with your article. I enjoy crude humor sometimes but there is a fine line between being funny and being a savage

  112. Great Post, i can relate. This year i finally decided to purchase a canon 600d my first DSLR and i only shoot in manual mode so i can get used to the camera etc im always with camera in hand, some people think im crazy! Your post is inspiring :)

    • lensaddiction says:

      Its good that people think you are crazy, cos I have the same thing :) They are the ones missing out – have lots of fun with your camera, and welcome to the club!

  113. Ryan Hermann says:

    Great Post

    I have a Rebelxs and have been taking quite a few pictures with it. Wow, there is a lot to learn and know with one of these things! I have quite a bit left to learn. On a side note, I have started taking pictures with a macro lense on my iPhone5 and have been getting some great shots. I post one today and will be posting a lot more to come.

    Gotta love photography!

    Great pictures by the way!

    • lensaddiction says:

      Gotta love photography indeed and you sure sound like you are :) I don’t have an iphone but there is a lot of interest in it as a camera and I have seen some impressive images from them. Have fun with your lens!

  114. Carlos says:

    I just started photography and have a lot to learn. Thanks for sharing.

  115. nellaurelia says:

    This is great thank you, really helpful, and encouraging too for a beginner as I am! Xx

  116. mewantcamera says:

    great post! i particularly love what you said about how to get great shots…:)

  117. yuantingtan says:

    inspiring article! thank you, I am just starting out too with a semi-semi pro :)

  118. weeenzy says:

    Reblogged this on Weeenzy and commented:
    The middle part of this post is the best. Photography is something that I will fail at a million times, but not even trying is far worse than that.

  119. weeenzy says:

    This is a great post. Looks like a lot of budding photographers are leaving comments and I am another. Add me to your tally of freshly inspired beginners.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Thanks, it has been quite humbling the response I got to this post, but I am really glad it has helped inspire people. Photography is fantastic fun and has really added value to my life in ways I never expected. This post being a classic example :)

  120. basiga says:

    I have gotten addicted to simple … phoneography. Why? Because its simple with all the available frills to make my photos look like something special. I’ve been afraid to pick up that new camera, a Canon T3i, I got for Christmas because I can’t take pictures, because I don’t know how, because I don’t know what I’m doing. I can go on. Thank you for the inspiration. Will be checking out your other postings.
    Ps I came to you by way of freshly pressed. I was attracted to the title. After my confession, it’s probsbly understandable. I’m a newbie. Sounds like this is the high of blogging, so congratulations. And many more!
    This is my current post. http://blogagaini.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/701/
    I started my site about three weeks ago. Thanks for sharing.

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hey congrats on getting the shiny camera for Xmas, but don’t be afraid of it :) When you are ready it will be there for you to branch out into, but if you are enjoying your phoneography then play there. Its important that you ENJOY your photography, whatever form it takes!

  121. Great blog you have here! It looks like you are figuring out this photography lark very well. Inspiring for me as a point and shoot and iPhone photographer getting close to stepping up to the DSLR plate!! Thanks for your encouraging post!

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hey Dean, thanks for dropping by and saying hi. Good luck with your move forward into DSLR territory :)

  122. Pingback: Rediscover the fun of photography

  123. Hi! Thanks so much for this post. I am new to my DSLR camera. I got it in February as a birthday gift from my hubby because I wanted to get into photography for a hobby. (I’m a full time CPA! Yikes!! I need some creativeness in my day). I JUST decided after reading a post on facebook along the lines of “Using auto is cheating”, to start a 30 day challenge for myself. 30 Days of pictures. Today i posted 3, yesterday i posted 1. We’ll see how each day falls out.

    I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind going over and giving me feedback. I don’t care if it’s negative or positive I’d just love some feedback.

    It looks like from just browsing the comments to this post, that a lot of people were looking for that, so hopefully I can reach out to them too. Thank you so much for this post!

    • lensaddiction says:

      Hey Emily, good for you! Its OK to use Auto to get used to your camera, think of it as training wheels :) I did that for a couple of months myself.

      If you want to have more control but without going to full manual try P mode. Lucky you having a hubby to buy you toys!

  124. Congratulations, never had a “freshly pressed” myself, but unless it bit me on the bum I might never know. 😎

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