Diary of a Wimpy Shooter – Canon Photomarathon 2014


Last Saturday, November 8, was my first Canon Photomarathon. It was also my first time using a DSLR, and using it under time pressure, getting to know, and fumbling all the time, what the prime and kit lenses could do, and my first time shooting in full manual. The first time I get to use a Canon camera and it’s a big, chunky DSLR, though a starter one – an EOS 1000D – with a battery grip to add to the bulk, and so the entire contest period – from early morning to mid-afternoon – was tiring.

But I’m not complaining. All the images in this post (except for the first one, where my participant name tag is shown) are hard-earned and taken from a borrowed Canon – even if most of these shots are so very nearly failures.

Last Saturday was also my first time exclusively composing my shots via the optical viewfinder, which turned out to be a practice in meditation, which means a tug of war between anger and frustration versus deep breathing and patience.

I’m just so used to arm’s length composing via my own compact camera’s display – what you see is what you “should” get. And that’s not always the case when you rely on an OVF – what you want to capture in your mind’s eye, and then hedge your bets on capturing when you peek through that hole, and then throw a prayer as you press the key, is nothing short of a gamble each time. Especially when I’m fumbling with every other shot.

So it was an entire day of getting to know “you”. What can you do, chunky Canon camera? What do I want, amateur that I am? What’s out there to witness with a lens? What’s the theme again? Will my battery die midway? Will I lose my SDcard like that poor guy over there? Will my brother, the owner of the camera, laugh at my shots, knowing I’m used to a compact mirrorless on full auto all the time?

I picked up my first camera December 2012, a mirrorless non-Canon compact, a gift from my wife, and I shot in full auto most of the time. I didn’t need a zoom lens for my work – tech product shots and events didn’t require such.

I also relied on my LG G3 for sudden this-will-be-gone-soon moments. So needing a full DSLR never crossed my mind. Until I used my brother’s camera and won, in the media raffle, my own Canon EOS 1100D.

Some people who helped along must be thanked. Ted Claudio and Raffy Pedrajita who walked me through how to find the serial numbers on the Canon camera I used. That’s one thing about Canon users, they’re there to do the hand-holding. Eli Villagonzalo for helping me set the date on the EOS 1000D, as well as other last minute fine tuning tips – I did tell you I was a novice, a first-timer, a pledge, a greenhorn, a padawan. My younger brother, Dennis for coming all the way to Makati on a weekend to loan me his camera. And of course, my wife, Anne, for cooking the Sinigang na Baboy – attuned to my taste, naturally – that always inspires me.

See you on the next Canon Photomarathon.


Irwin Allen Rivera loves his wife's cooking so much he's now twice the man he used to be. His English essay won a Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature in 2012. His philosophical-horror story appeared in Philippine Speculative Fiction 8 (2013). He was managing editor and lead writer of Sites and Symbols 2 (2005), a coffee-table book about buildings in UP Diliman - his alma mater (BA Philosophy; MA Creative Writing continuing). He worked at the UP Diliman Information Office before shifting to web content writing. His sudden fiction, "Notwithstanding Pigs," initially a Friendster testimonial, appeared in Philippines Graphic (2006) and in Very Short Stories for Harried Readers (2007). He used to write for www.technoodling.net.