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Learning By Messing Around

currant close up

When I was just starting out in the business world in the 1980s, Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr. wrote an international bestselling book called In Search of Excellence. One of the concepts the authors wrote about was an idea they called MBWA – Management by Wandering Around.

During their research they discovered that managers who got out from behind their desks and regularly talked to people built companies of greater openness, trust and creativity. That simple idea always resonated with me, and I think of it to this day when I get stuck. Get up! I tell myself when I’ve been at my computer too long. Get out! Wander around and explore. Stop thinking and planning, and go out and make something happen!

I’ve taken photography classes and studied my camera manual, but I’m really a student of LBMA—learning by messing around. I love to tinker and explore out in the field. The close-up photo of currants above is one I took yesterday while experimenting with macro lenses again. I was lying in the grass and the sun was already too bright, so I only snapped a few shots.

I was hoping for a pretty result because I love this currant bush. I had trouble even digging a hole for it eight years ago in our rock-hard clay soil, and then Dad died and I totally neglected it. But the bush flourished nonetheless. The currants are tart and sweet, and I eat them off the bush because I read that they’re a good source of phytochemicals. They also make delicious homemade booze. But I digress.

When I looked at the images closely later, I was disappointed because they were overexposed and slightly out of focus. Here’s how the image above looked straight out of the camera:

red currant

But part of the fun of learning, for me, is experimenting with photo editing. Using Photoshop Elements, I cropped the image, adjusted the colors and tones a bit, and increased the contrast. I experimented with the program’s Sharpen feature, and that improved my shaky hand.

While it’s not a photo that will win any awards, I was happy with it and learned a few things in the process. Because I have to shoot in “manual” mode with the camera’s macro lens, I need to make slight adjustments in the focus and shoot several versions of each image to increase my odds of getting that nice, sharp focus. I need to experiment more with the aperture settings, and a tripod would be a good idea, too. I also need to get up a little earlier in the morning if I want to capture the pretty light on this currant bush.

How about you? Could you do 15 minutes of LBMA today? Let’s go!

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is the author of 17 books, including Small Bites, 101 Things To Do With Bacon, and BERRIES. She enjoys sharing ideas to simplify cooking, gardening, and home projects. She is also the owner of Cross Media, Inc. and founder of the BENSA Bacon Lovers Society.

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3 thoughts on “Learning By Messing Around”

  1. Another 15mins in the journal. Was difficult today as it’s been a very long day, but sat down and did it anyway. Feel better for it now.

    • Hurray! I’m so glad you “did it anyway.” I’m always glad when I write, even when I’m tired. Proud of you! 🙂

  2. I love the LBMA concept! My project for the day (or week or month depending on how it goes) is to try to replace the screen on the patio door with a new pet resistant variety, because a certain kitty of mine has put a pile of holes in the old one and I’m growing tired of getting bug bites inside!

    Anyhow… what kind of macro lens are you using? I have so far been too cheap to shell out for the “real thing” but I’ve done some experimenting with el cheapo options. The first thing I tried were some things called “macro tubes” that basically just extend the lens… they work OK but you don’t get as much light into the lens as usual and the auto focus doesn’t work when they’re on, so they’re problematic.

    Then I discovered these wonderful things called macro filters. They’re basically like a little magnifying filter that you screw onto the end of your regular lens and they allow you to take macro shots – and the autofocus still works with them (there was great rejoicing.) I bought a set of them for about $10 a few years ago and they’re great! I’m sure you don’t get quite the same effect that you would with one of those super duper expensive macro lenses, but I’ve been really happy with the shots I’ve been able to get with them.

    Anyhow, have fun with your messing around! 🙂


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