Photography Course Part 2

posted in: Bucket List, Review | 0
About a month ago I went to Clumber Park to do a Going Digital course to learn more about my DSLR – the idea being to learn how to get the results I want without taking a gazillion photographs or the good ones being a fluke.

You can read about that first course here: http://splodzblogz.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/photography-course-part-1/ (please do!)

Yesterday I drove back to Clumber Park for part two of the DSLR course, hoping to build on what I learnt in part one and come away with even more enthusiasm for photography than I had already (if that was possible!). My trainer this time was Jan, the founder of Going Digital, and she was obviously a very experienced photographer with a lot of knowledge. She also had a lot of experience teaching people like me who know a little but want to do so much with photography.

The day took a similar format to the first course back in May – a presentation in the morning followed by an indoor ‘assignment’, lunch, another presentation in the afternoon followed by an outdoor ‘assignment’. It was a shame we got rain which shortened our time outside in the afternoon, but it didn’t make any difference to what I learnt. Jan went over aperture again and also talked a lot about changing shutter speed using Shutter Priority and ISO, and also concentrated a lot on exposure and getting that right. The assignments were all about putting those particular things into action and seeing in photographs what changing each thing does to your pictures.

One of the indoor exercises was to photograph three blocks that were arranged in a row but each slightly further away from the camera than the last. We were to demonstrate depth of field by leaving the camera alone on its tripod and only changing aperture and manually focussing the lens to first get the left most block in focus with the others blurred, followed by the left and middle, and finally all three.

Blocks exercise... front one in focus, f5.6
Blocks exercise... front one in focus, f5.6
Blocks exercise, all three in focus, f36 (and 30

Both of these were taken with my ISO set to 100 (hence the very long shutter speed on the bottom one), so I reied it again on ISO 1600 (the highest my camera will go) to see what difference it made to both shutter speed and noise:

Blocks exercise... all in focus, f36, shutter speed 2.5

You can see that there is alot of noise on this shot, but the shutter speed was reduced considerably and the photograph as a result is sharper.

Dodging the rain showers we had in the afternoon we did a few exercises outside to demonstrate exposure compensation and also shutter speed.

The first of these was to photograph the same ‘half-sky, half-ground’ scene (boring shot but useful!) at five different exposure compensation stops to show that in the majority of cases it is impossible to get the correct exposure for a bright sky and a dark foreground in the same photograph.

Demonstrating exposure... sky looks fab with exposure compensation set to -2
Demonstrating exposure... sky looks fab with exposure compensation set to -2
Demonstrating exposure... set to +2 to expose the grass more pleasingly, but sky is burnt out
Demonstrating exposure... set to +2 to expose the grass more pleasingly, but sky is burnt out

The second was to take a photograph of a spinning umbrella with three effects – first to freeze the motion completely and get the whole thing perfectly sharp, the second was to allow some blurring to show movement but to still show what it is, and finally to completely blur the movement so it looks like it’s spinning at a really high rpm.

Freezing steady motion... shutter 1/1000s
Freezing steady motion... shutter 1/1000sMovement... shutter 1/60sSpinning... shutter 1/50s
Movement... shutter 1/60s
Movement... shutter 1/60s
Spinning... shutter 1/50s
Spinning... shutter 1/50s

The thing this also demonstrated for me was tweaking ISO to help with the exposure of the shot. Taking the top one at SO 200 made it far too dark, but upping it to 400 was just about ok (800 might have been better). ISO 200 on the middle one was completely fine, but I needed ISO 50 and also some exposure compensation to get the bottom one looking anything like it did in real life.

As with the first part of this course I found there was an awful lot of information to take in but that it was presented and explained well. The ‘assignments’ were a great way of putting some of the techniques into practice and now I’m at home allow me to go back over my notes and see exactly what was meant – kind of like a crib sheet in images – so they are firmly saved and labelled on my computer so I can look back at them to remind myself of each concept and how they work together.

Another really great day and I certainly did come away knowing much more about how to get good images and also the limitations of my camera… I’ve now got my eye on the two wildlife courses Going Digital do – one on birds of prey the other on tigers and cheetah! But first I need to practice practice practice so watch this space for even more photos on this blog!

For more info about Going Digital visit www.goingdigital.co.uk

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