Well, finished day 1 of the Red Cloud Days Photography course. So far I’m pretty impressed.
Simon Bolton, the instructor is quite good, sometimes the material gets a bit dry, but what can you do, there are some technical aspects that need explaining. Simon has done quite well at not going into techno overload whilst explaining various bits to us, which is good. I think he’s got it a bit easy on this course. He’d mentioned normally they have classes of 12, but this weekend there are only 4 of us on there. I’m the only non-local, as the others are from the Nottingham / Beeston area.
I’ve picked up a load of very good info that finally brings together how Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO settings all gel to make photos what they are. On their own I suppose they’re all very simple concepts and I’ve read a lot about each of them, but I’ve had a problem getting good explanations on how they work together in what’s known as the Exposure Triangle. This was explained to us in the class room, then we put it into practice and saw the results back in the class room. It was a very basic exercise to say the least but one which made us see how it all works.
First thing we covered really was Focal Length (simply put, the distance between the lens and the sensor / film in the camera body). That lead into Depth of Field (DOF) and how that can be used and abused in photos both to improve the focus on the target and for artistic points of view. This also included some discussion on how various sized lens will affect the perspective shown in the photo, ie, a wider angle lens such as an 18-55mm will give a good depth and show details such as ground contours in a landscape, but a long lens such as a 200-300mm will be flat and show nearly no contours. This was something I’d noticed myself but never really gave much thought as to why this was, but that was explained in the class and I get it now haha
Next we’d gone into ISO (film speed, or how sensitive the camera sensor is to light) and how that affects photos. Simply put, the higher the ISO the more sensitive to light the sensor becomes, but you trade off the high sensitivity for quality by risking a “noisy” photo with a more grainy look. Lower ISO’s provide the higher quality photos, but in low light they won’t perform as well, so either more lighting (natural or artificial) will required. It was explained that ISO really should be a last resort change when making setting changes in the camera. Aperture and Shutter Speed plus the correct lens for the job should be used to get the job done.
We also discussed White Balance (WB) settings too. This is certainly something I’d not really considered playing with and on all my cameras I’d simply left that on Auto, but having played a little today with the settings and seeing the results I can certainly see some uses for changing that when the situation requires it.
Shutter Speed was something we’d spent some time on in the class room using some props (a ping pong ball on a table), using various speed settings to see the effects with the goal to using a speed that would completely freeze the ball in the air with no indication of movement. We’d started at 1/60th of a second and worked up to 1/1000th of a second, very noticeable differences. Then we’d stepped outside to do the same exercise but this time with cars as they passed the entrance of the building, we were shooting out the covered entrance (about 15 foot long and 10-12 feet wide). So the window area to shoot through was rather small with lots of traffic passing by. Again, some very noticeable differences in speeds, from 1/20th right up to 1/4000th of a second. For these exercises I’ve got a bunch of pics HERE. I’ve added descriptions to the photos of the basic camera settings (of course you can look at the EXIF data to get all the settings used).
That was pretty much it for day one. Tomorrow we head out to Wollaton Hall & Deer Park. Here, we’ll put what we learned today to the test. We have a list of photos that we should get using the different techniques we learned. That should take a couple hours in the park, then it’s back to the class room to go through our photos and pick our 10 best pictures to review and critique. There will even be a little competition for best photo of the day with the winner getting a gift voucher for £10!
So, watch this space for another update either Sunday night (if I’m not too tired) or early next week.