First day out with camera – Practice assignment #1 — photographing an individual at work: Swim coach

It was one of my mother’s final wishes that I keep up with swimming. My lovely mother passed away on 8 January 2013. I was with her in California in her final weeks along with my siblings and father. We each said our good byes, and she expressed what she hoped for each of us and what she wanted us to know especially.

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She shared many poignant things with me during our special time together that I will never forget. She was lucid until the very end. After her most pressing wishes and thoughts were released she then followed with a few other things that came to mind for her in the moment.

Among her afterthoughts:
–“Dede you are a good swimmer, strong, with good stamina. Keep it up.”
–“I swim all the time thanks to you mom,” ….. “You made me take lessons at the YMCA and to this day I love it and I swim all the time.”
–“I know”, she said, “so keep at it.”

I noticed that in the three times swimming since my talk with my mother that I enjoyed it a little bit more than even before. I think this is partly because it makes me feel like I am honoring her. So, swimming has new meaning for me. And, as my mother (the doctor) kept me healthy during her lifetime, she continues to do so from the other side.

Hence the subject matter for my first assignment: swim coach.

As for the assignment itself, it took me a while to get into the groove. I took about 250 pictures before I even got close to the right controls, given that I was required for the assignment to use all manual controls with no flash and limited ISO. I was not going to give up until I got a decent product. I was at the pool for three and half hours. The pool area was also very humid and the lens would fog. Furthermore, the coach was constantly moving and gesturing, providing an added challenge. In all, I took 720 images and only about 20 came out reasonably okay.

But … it was a great day. I was at the pool – in my comfort zone, with nice people, having fun with my camera, and learning. By the end of the set, I was more comfortable with manual exposure and manual focus of my camera. It had been quite some time since I had operated my camera that way and I was reminded of the control it offers.

This set is dedicated to my mother.

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