Friday, 26 July 2013

WordPress Daily Prompt: Back to School

If you could take a break from your life and go back to school to master a subject, what would it be?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us MASTERY.

Jesuit Church, Solothurn

Not that I ever wanted to be an architect, but the ceiling of the Jesuit Church in the town of Solothurn, Switzerland is the perfection of mastery.

Photography is the subject I would like to master. We always had a camera at home in the dark ages, but they were only used for holiday snaps. No great Ansell Adams works of art. You took the film to the local chemist and had it developed. After a week the result was delivered and either you took a perfect photo of your thumb that was hovering over the lens, or you had the objects you wanted. Taking photos of landscapes, buildings, events were not the thing to do. You had a photo of mum, dad, aunt Lil, cousin Steve and Uncle Tom Cobbly and all.

Eventually my chance came, digital photography was invented and I was no longer restricted to holiday and family photos. It was Mr. Swiss that brought home the first digital camera. When he bought his second better camera I became the hand-me-down for the first camera. That was the beginning. I was taking photos of everything that moved. My turnover in photography was double Mr. Swiss turnover after the first month. Over time I progressed to a bigger better camera and enlisted for a course at the local day/evening school. I still did not have a DSLR camera, but a so-called “bridge” camera which was a sort of interim solution before the DSLR.

After the course the time had come for the DSLR. I was annoying the felines with taking photos when they were eating, sleeping, walking, and fighting to the extent that they hid when they saw me coming with a camera. They were not keen on close-ups, I was in paw distance and that could be dangerous. I was taking photos of food, flowers in the garden and even the insects started to hide when I approached with the camera.

In the meanwhile I was saving and eventually the time had come when I announced to the family and felines that I was ready for the DSLR camera. Everyone uttered a sigh of relief realising that the days when I was breathing down everyone’s neck with the camera were almost gone. With the DSLR and long range lens I could take my close-ups with a twiddle of the lens. Armed with Mr. Swiss, for support, we visited the local handler and afterwards a few thousand Swiss francs lighter, I became the proud possessor of a Nikon D7000 DSLR camera with two lenses. My felines were happy not having a camera stuck under their noses every so often. I could stand back and take my monumental prize-suspicious shots. I still have to get close for a good insect/flower photo, as the macro zoom does not work so well from a distance. Oh yes, I am saving now for a macro lens. I learnt in my course that a proper macro should be taken with a proper macro lens.

I enlisted for two further photo courses at the local school with my new camera. Both were cancelled due to too little interest, but I have not yet given up.

Of course, I had to find something to fill in the time when I was not learning to take my prize winning photos. In between I studied Arabic for a year, but had to give up. That one really got me. I learnt to write and read arabic, but unfortunately Arabic is not Arabic. Every arab country seems to speak its own dialect, even own sort of Arabic language. Learning high Arabic was OK, but it seems it is only spoken on radio and TV, or in the Gulf States.

I managed twelve years Russian while I was bringing up the kids and working a full time job: once a week for three hours in the evening. This was one of my teenage ambitions. I stopped about ten years ago, but can still read and write Cyrillic and hold a basic conversation with a Russian lady that works on the till at the local supermarket. I also found Russian to be a key to understanding Serbo-Croat, Slovenian and Serbic or how they are all called. Ex Yugoslavian languages all seem to have their basis in Russian.

What else did I learn? My cats taught me Meow, so now I know when a plate of tuna fish is required and when the cat tray has to be emptied. I even learned to cook and enjoy it; Swiss/French/German/Itallian style and can still knock up a plate of fish and chips English style.

I attended a dress making course fifteen years, one a week three hours in the evening and at this time made all my own clothes. There was a reason for this. The boutiques and dress shops did not realised that there was a species of tall women with strange proportions, so I decided to do it myself. Today I can buy jeans in all sizes and my need for wider shapeless clothing for the top is covered.

My life seems to have been one long educational trip. I have been permanently mastering all my life. I am now in the golden oldie stage. I think I saw an advertisement at the local evening school advertising a course in quantum physics which would be something completely different.

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  1. Funny how once again we have some parallels. Of course, the main one being photography. I always had a keen interest in the old days before digital, but the costs were prohibitive, particularly in getting photos developed. I was restricted mainly to holiday snaps. Along came digital and my photography was finally given the wings it needed. I think photography is something that we are all continually seeking to improve our skills in, I know I am. I'm constantly looking at ways to push the limits of the cameras I have.

    Your final paragraph brought the biggest smile to my face. I have always have a keen (but amateur) interesting in the 'high' sciences.....astronomy, particle physics, quantum physics, M-theory, string-theory. If I could go back to my school days and change anything, I'd make myself study harder, rather than bunking off school to mess around with friends, so that there would have been a possibility of making a career out of my interest. My total disinterest in mathematics at school was probably the biggest barrier to a career in those sciences. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. A pity we don't get it in advance!!

    1. Digital was the key that opened the door to photography for me. I discovered you can do other things with a camera than just take holiday photos.
      If we only knew then what we know now, we would have done a lot differently probably, although I was always into learning a foreign language.