I am spending some quality time this weekend with my Canon S5, and can already recommend that you not practice on hummingbirds your first time out with a new camera. Better to use tree trunks or landscapes or a husband swiveling peacefully on a deck chair while nursing a Budweiser after a day’s work.
I’ve been browsing the book that came with the camera. Between ISOs and apertures, macros and manuals, stitch assists and shooting modes with all those adorable little icons, I have a long way to go before achieving any proficiency. It’s almost as confusing as learning about computers years ago. Hours of mystery followed by confusion, frustration and angst.
This is the fun part though. A new technology puzzle to figure out, another skill to add. I love the challenge of learning something new, especially if some kind of “gadget” is involved. I carve out the time to drag the how-to manuals into my den and study them, page by page, practicing on a piece of equipment or manipulating some new software. I enjoy rounding the bend of the learning curve and have come to realize that frustration and anger are just signposts and nothing more than indicators that it might be time to walk away for awhile and let the information filter down into the appropriate places in my brain.
I call the intial confusion of learning something new “the cloud of unknowing” (borrowed from the title of a book by the renowned theologian, C.S. Lewis) where I will wander for an undetermined amount of time. Comprehension has not yet set in, it seems like I will never get it, who the heck thought this thing up anyway and they should be shot. But I have learned to stay in the cloud because connections will build up, like static electricity, until suddenly, there is a spark of understanding. One connection leads to the next until ideas fire off and voila! I get it. The cloud clears up. It can take a long time, or almost none at all, but the process is the same. Put yourself in the cloud and keep going. You will come out on the other side with another layer of learning intact. You will own it as much as it owns you.