I hesitate to write this post as I expect my son Gus will read it.
When I signed up for the photography course I didn’t own a camera. I still don’t. I aimed to learn to use a camera before buying one. Unlike most people on the course. And my husband. It surprises me when people spend quite a lot on swanky equipment but then don’t use it because they don’t know how to. So until I knew what all the knobs did, and had a chance to experiment, I wasn’t sure I would trade up from my very acceptable iPhone. I actually considered going on a course on how to use the iPhone camera better as it is surprisingly versatile and to a large extent does everything a camera does when you use the automatic settings.
Once I had signed up for the course I whatsapped the family and asked if anyone had a DSLR (ie a real) camera, that they could lend me, and Gus offered up his camera. I was very grateful.
It arrived like this, only in a plastic carrier bag.
Hmm. You may be able to see the cracked viewfinder. You may be able to detect the generally grubby state. It lacked a lens cap or camera bag and the lens may have got a little damaged. The state of the camera was not too surprising (you should see his flat), but to be honest I didn’t care too much (beggars can’t be choosers).
Sadly I have returned the camera to him. I just couldn’t grapple with the focus. I found the size and shape of the camera to be cumbersome and the first six weeks of the course were very frustrating as I combined complete beginner naivety (I didn’t know how to focus), with a complicated camera, which also had some quirks I cannot sort out by using the brochure (down loaded from the internet). Also the act of getting the photographs I did take onto my computer so I could look at them, was irritatingly complex and I broke the little thingy with fine wires in that I had to plug into the computer.
Also everyone in the class has a different camera and our tutor (naturally) doesn’t know all about all of them, so flicking through the instruction booklet (poorly translated from Japanese), plus trial and error, has meant that my learning has been hit and miss.
As I say, after six weeks, I was exasperated. I wasn’t able to do the half term “story” project – ten photographs that communicate something. My pictures were not coming out as expected and I was not handing in homework as I couldn’t achieve the correct outcomes. I suspected I was a bad workperson blaming her tools, and just like when I started knitting I had this feeling that I would never learn.
The syllabus so far
Nevertheless I listened intently to the lectures which covered
- What is aperture?
- What is depth of field?
- What are shutter speeds?
- Alternative ways of calculating exposure
- Reciprocity Law
- Exposure shooting modes
- Using Light
- White balance
Unfortunately I missed the reciprocity law class due to having to be at work, but Nick explained it to me (in outline). The class also includes a slide show, looking at the work of an important photographer, and by class members sharing their work which is then subject to critique. The classes have been very interesting. But I was like the kid without the equipment – it was mainly theoretical for me as I couldn’t successfully complete the homework tasks.
- Pick subjects which are appropriate to a shallow or deep depth of field and take a picture to indicate this. Use Av or A mode for this
- Freeze and melt – shoot images which exploit different shutter speeds using Tv or S mode for this
- Half term project – ten photographs to tell a story (these were the dawn and dusk landscapes that didn’t really come out, that I shared last time).
- White balance shots indoors and outside; shoot the model using daylight, tungsten (incandescent) and fluorescent settings.
So now I have handed Gus his camera back (with a new bag, a spare battery and an extra memory card), and will be using Nick’s camera for the rest of the class. This way we can both learn about one camera, and help each other. By the end of the class if we both become very active photographers then maybe we will buy a second camera. But this seems to be something we can happily share. And I love it!