Grandson's camera time an eye opener for two generations

Don Fleming's 12-year-old grandson, Cameron, shoots in the yard during a summer visit.

Don Fleming's 12-year-old grandson, Cameron, shoots in the yard during a summer visit.

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Photo courtesy of Don Fleming

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Photo courtesy of Don Fleming

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Photo courtesy of Don Fleming

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Photo courtesy of Don Fleming

This summer our grandson, Cameron, spent two weeks with us in Walla Walla and I wondered what a 12-year-old would like to photograph.

Cameron, like many children his age is very tech-savvy: He can operate an iPhone, iPad, computer and play all the new electronic games with ease. Translated, this means he can spend lots of time indoors.

My goal on his visit was to imagine being 12 again and try to see through the world through his eyes, and I thought one of the best ways to do this was though the lens of a camera.

As the sun rose early one August morning and the sprinkler system was on the last station in the backyard, Cameron and I had a chance to sit out on the patio and explore his interest in photography.

Soon the sun would peek through the trees and cast its warm glow on the plants. I mentioned to Cameron this would be the best time to photograph bugs sunbathing on the plants.

As Cameron listened intently I attached a 60 mm macro F2.8 lens to the Nikon D7000 that would be his camera for the morning. I used this lens because it was evident to me that a 12-year-old would enjoy viewing subjects close-up.

I have learned over the years while mentoring adult photo skills that sometimes small events in life can be magical and having a camera in hand can capture those precious moments.

Cameron and I were now ready to embark on a backyard photo shoot, and the setting was perfect as the yard was bathed in light and dewdrops glistened on all the plants.

As I placed the camera strap around his neck I showed him how to hold the camera with two hands and asked him to remember to remain still when pressing the shutter-release button. Then I turned the camera mode dial to programmed auto mode, as I did not want Cameron to worry about the camera settings.

I told Cameron he would have to pick out the scenes he wanted to photograph and if he had any camera questions just let me know.

When he said, “Cool,” I knew we were ready to explore. First, he leaned over and caught drops of water on some plant leaves, then he lay on the ground and was taking pictures of the grass.

With no prodding from me he walked around the yard and appeared to be searching for something and there it was: a blue dragonfly resting on a leaf. I did mention to him that bugs tend to move around a lot, so be sure to take several pictures of each subject.

Adjusting to the camera with ease he then found a variety of scenes including a ladybug on a leaf, a spider’s cobweb filled with dewdrops, and several other bugs perched on leaves.

After a couple of hours exploring I wanted to introduce him to some minor digital editing with aperture, which he quickly grasped. He then asked, with a smile proud of his photographic accomplishments, if he could send his pictures to his friends back home via e-mail and Facebook.

The real lesson I learned from this summer photo experience was whether you are a parent or grandparent, mentorship with youngsters is so important, and you might be surprised who gets more out of it — you, or the child you take outside.

Don Fleming can be reached at don512@me.com. He will teach “An Inspirational Journey,” a five-week Quest Class at Walla Walla Community College, beginning Oct. 3.

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