Sunday, August 21, 2011

Photography Course

I have had my Canon EOS 500D SLR for nearly a year. I am still using the auto settings. I need to learn how to use the different settings and also work out the best way to take photos taking into account exposure, depth of field and shutter speed etc. I decided to book for a one-day photography workshop to get more out of my camera. I did some research online and there are numerous courses to choose from. In addition, there were also quite a few offers on Living Socials and Groupons to confuse me. In the end, I decided on a one-day course with Andy Piggott. When I read the course outline, I liked the idea that the class is conducted outdoors at Hyde Park in Sydney and covers the topics that I am interested in. It is also a hands-on class. I didn't like the idea of sitting in a class listening to the theory of how a camera works.

I woke up the appointed day, anxious and excited about the class. It was a a little sunny with some clouds about and light drizzle from time to time. I met Andy and 8 others at 9:15am near the Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park in the city. The class was split into two sessions:

Morning Session
Topics covered include how to control motion with shutter speeds, using apertures and Depth of Field to blur backgrounds (or to keep them sharp). Exposure compensation, Exposure bracketing.

Then we had a 30 mins break for lunch.

Afternoon Session
The afternoon session expanded on the morning's learning and explained the advantages of RAW files, how to optimise White Balance. Learn how to make better portraits and close-ups. We also did some "panning" and explore perspective. "Panning" was an interesting exercise. All of us lined up on Park St (Hyde Park side) and took photos of passing cars, cyclists and ambulances. It is not an easy skill to grasp, it will come with practice. But when you've grasped this skill, it's a great way to take moving objects - cars or children or animals. We received some strange looks from people passing by as we stood on the side of the road like a row of paparazzi.

I went to the class with some expectations and I must say the class has met them and more. My head is spinning now with all the information Andy has covered today. I won't say that I am confident to use manual settings but at least I know what all the different buttons and settings are for. I am still a long way from taking awesome photos, but I hope this will come with practise, practise, practise. Andy did provide great notes for review. He also gave good advice about the different types of lenses, flash, memory cards and why it is best to shoot photos in RAW form.

I am looking forward to more practice during our upcoming holidays in East Malaysia and Singapore. I have to stop using the Auto settings and use P, AV and TV. I also have  shopping list of things to add to my equipment.


  1. How wonderful that you went for the photography classes. I am sure it will help you in taking better photos. I would love to take to that class because I am dying to improve on my photography. I don't use auto settings on my canon 500D. I use manual most of the time. Seldom use AV, P or TV. Looking forward to your tips on how to take better photos after you put what you learnt in practice:D

  2. I learnt how to shoot using the manual settings by watching youtube videos.. so if you need a refresher course, you now know where to go. You can do it! And yes, all it takes is practice and more practice. Just play around with the settings. :)

  3. Hi Charmaine, love your name.
    And you have a good camera there.
    One of my hobbies is portrait photography....I take portraits of women, mostly mature ones, make them look beautiful thru my camera lens.

    I have 2 jurassic film SLR cameras, my Yashica Electro 35 with its 55 mm lens...38 year old camera I use as back-up.
    And my 14 year old Nikon F-601 film SLR with a 35mm- 135 mm portrait lens.
    I use this one with my accessory flash and tripod for my portrait shots.

    Only recently I bought my digital pocket camera, a Nikon Coolpix also has projector lens.
    This to fool around with.

    When you take your shots, if with people, good to use a flash as to avoid shadows on faces.

    Also when taking someone, pending subject's height, you bend down a little.
    If you are tall, person is short, he or she might look out of bend down or even kneel....

    And always look around before taking your shots, make sure nothing to spoil the shot, like maybe a garbage bin, a pillar, behind....etc.
    Take your time...and always, I repeat, always relax your, crack jokes, then snap....and snap at least 3 so can select best one to keep.

    Finally.....remember, it is not the camera, no matter how good or expensive the camera, but the person behind it. You.

    And the best pictures are the ones your subject loves.
    Have fun, and keep a song in your heart.
    Best regards.

  4. I like Uncle Lee's tips and comments. Charmaine, pretty good with your choice of Andy Pigott's class and your articulation of how, what and why of the class conducted yesterday. Good timing for you to now proactice ahead, especially with the overseas trip coming up soon.

  5. Charmaine, come one...share and show us some samples u snapped during this course. Can't wait to see what you have catched on that day :)

  6. Thanks everyone for your comments. I played around with White Balance today and I could see the difference in the photos taken under the different WB options.

    Uncle Lee: thanks for the tips. Will keep those in mind too.
    Chin Nee: I will upload some samples. Need to take to process the photos since I took them in RAW format.