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Photography – part 3 (final)

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This is the final part to this ‘series’.  The final day with Red Cloud Days Photography course was better then the first day.  We were taken out to Wollaton Hall & Deer Park. The weather had cleared up a little, stopped raining and was even a little warmer then it was on Saturday, much the relief of everyone in the class.  There would be no need for the waterproofs I’d bought the day before Smile



The intrepid explorers in the class and our fearless leader set out into the park

To carry on reading the rest of this post go ahead and click the link .. I’ve split this as it’s gonna be rather big for the front page of the blog. BTW, click on any photo to go to Flickr to see it in a bigger size. I’ve only kept the size down for faster load times.

We started the class with a quick review of everything we’d learned on the Saturday, going over the Exposure Triangle. Focusing on light levels since it was a bit of a dull grey and cloudy morning.  After that we’d bundled into a couple of cars and headed to the park.

I’ve uploaded pretty much every picture I took on the day, Click here to see them. I’ve not edited them or even remove the bad photos.  I’ve uploaded everything to show the progress of the day, bad photos included.  I’ll get around to making descriptions of the photos at some point (maybe), but by looking at the photo properties you can see my camera settings and may spot what went wrong (or right) with the photos.  Remember, it was a day of learning and you can’t learn without mistakes.

Throughout the class, Simon kept on us about trying to use the rule of thirds when composing our photos.  For me this is a new concept, one that I have never clearly worked out myself in the past, as I’ve noticed while looking through my old photos.  It doesn’t always have to be used and in fact in some cases you shouldn’t or simply can’t stick to it.  It really depends on what your shooting and the desired result in the end, but as a general rule it’s one that people are encouraged to use.  I’ll leave you to read the link on Wikipedia and the other 1000’s of pages that come up in a Google Search on the subject.

We had a bit of a goal to get a number of photo types, wide angle, zoom, landscape, portraits of people running, freeze frame, blurred motion, etc.  It was a challenging day because of the light and the make up the park.  You were quite often under the cover of trees in low light so so had to try and make the camera work.  Everyone on the course had stock lenses on their cameras so no one had the benefit of any of those fancy low f-stop lenses for low light .  A couple of us had long lens with us and really discovered how badly they can perform in low light as well.

These two photos were both taken to try and demonstrate blurred motion and freeze frame.

DSC_7191 Focal Length: 300mm
ISO: 400
F-Stop: 16
Shutter Speed: 1/20th
A smaller aperture but the slower shutter speed allowed a longer exposure
DSC_7192 Focal Length: 300mm
ISO: 400
F-Stop: 5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/800th
A much larger aperture, the high shutter speed reduced the exposure

Next up was some pictures of flowers and trees.  The aim here was to get some shallow Depth Of Field (DOF) pictures.


The three photos above show various levels of DOF, extremely shallow in the first one and less so in the last one.  All were shot at ISO 1600 (yeah yeah don’t ask, was fiddling and forgot to undo it), Shutter Speed was 1/250th and different F-Stops and focal lengths. The first one was f/8 @ 135mm, second was f/13 @ 300mm and the last was f/16 @ 185mm.

Spotting an over abundance of Ladybirds I decided to do a little macro work.  My Tamron 70-300 as a macro mode on it but it’s a bear to use because you’ve got a foot and half of lens hanging out in front of you and you need to be a good 3-4 feet back from your subject to get it to focus.


as you can see, it’s an OK macro but not brilliant.

After a little walk along the fence line where we entered the park, looking for the deer that live in the park, we could see them about 200m into an area of the park people aren’t allowed and as with most wildish animals they failed to listen to our pleas to come and pose.  Fine then, we’re off somewhere else. Smile


So, now trying to get photos and using the rule of thirds, and lighting and colours in the photos was fun haha  Here are a few of the “better” pictures from around the park.


Having come from mostly a point and shoot and full auto past I really had to think about things when I was shooting.  It was a constant battle to make sure that I had the right mode, Aperture Priority ( A ) or Shutter Priority ( S ), ISO was correct, etc. etc.  A real learning curve in the field.

One of the most useful buttons on the camera that Simon showed me was the Exposure Compensation.  This really helped with the low light levels and high F-Stop on my lens, especially the Tamron AF 70-300. Once I was shown that I could get brighter photos when no compensation was used.  You’ll see that if you look at some of the photos from the day in Flickr and check the EXIF info on the photos, it should reflect the EC level used.

The day finished up back in the class room by us all going through our photos to select 10 of our best and Simon cast his critical eye over the photos to let us know how we did, he provided not only negative feed back but also positive feed back which is just as helpful since it’s fine to know what’s wrong (or could be better) it’s equally good to know what’s good with the photos.  After having reviewed all the selected photos the owner of the photos would select 1 to be entered into the little contest for best photo of the course.  Once those 4 were selected we all voted on the one we liked the most and the winner received a small prize.

One of the biggest changes in me after the weekend was a huge boost of confidence in using my camera because of the skills I’ve learned.

So, a very quick recap of what I learned over the weekend:

  • Stop using Full Automatic
  • Know the upper and lower F-Stops of my lenses, so I’ll know what it can and can’t do
  • Be sure to select the correct “program mode” for the situation, Aperture or Shutter Priority, for example
  • Be sure the correct ISO level has been set (Lower is always better), and check that from photo to photo as the situation may change
  • Consider taking the White Balance off auto and using the appropriate WB setting for the situation, use Auto if really unsure
  • Try to obey the Rule Of Thirds when possible, but rules are meant to be broken too Smile
  • Get out and take photos and have fun!!!


If you’re looking for a course for beginners to learn to come to grips with your DSLR I can’t recommend enough that you give the great folks at  Red Cloud Days Photography.  They have courses all over the place and they seems to run quite frequently so you shouldn’t have to wait long to get on.  The value of the course for the 2 days is unbeatable, in my opinion.   I won’t hesitate to go back for more training.  I’m already considering the Landscape course they offer and perhaps even the Studio Course .. but I’m scared the Studio course might just end up in having a dream to setup a Studio and buy a lot more gear I don’t really need Smile Best not go for that one just yet.

I hope you’ve enjoyed by ramblings, I haven’t blogged this much in months and suddenly I’m venting  like Eyjafjallajokull.  I’d love to hear your comments, suggestions or whatever about photography.

1 thought on “Photography – part 3 (final)”

  1. Terry Maltman

    Good report Rob. Your last bullet point is the best piece of advice of all.

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