Today I was practicing the same skills I used yesterday. The Skyline Building in downtown Bellevue provided the perfect subject for today.
This morning I took a look at the “homework” that was emailed to me from the photography teacher. The homework isn’t turned in or graded, it is simply a tool to use to give me practice using the information I learned yesterday. I printed off the pdf and was quickly overwhelmed by the number of shots and types of shots he suggests we work on. Eek. I’m not ready for all this!
I figured it would be best to tackle one type of picture first before moving on. Today (and the near future) I will master my favorite type of photographs, close up shots of an item with a low depth of field.
Yesterday I attended my first photography class. It was a one time only 3 hour Beginner Photography course and there was a lot of information crammed into three hours. No, I take that back. There was a lot of information crammed into 2 hours. The first hour was an overview of why people take pictures and the types of pictures people take and what we will learn in this first class.
Finally, after the hour long introduction, we were introduced to f-stops and depth-of-field. After discussing aperture and how that affects depth-of-field we were sent outside with our cameras set in aperture priority to take some photos practicing using f/3.5 and f/22. This made complete and total sense to me yet some of my pictures were bleached out and others were really dark. Come to find out, I also have to adjust the ISO. And apparently this will automatically adjust the shutter speed. WHAT? What do I adjust the ISO to? Why can’t it be a standard number? Now a feeling of information overload is starting to settle in.
After we take 30 or so pictures we head back inside to look at the snapshots we’ve taken and we also look at the fstop, ISO, and shutter speed used on each picture. I feel like the instructor is talking in Greek. About the only thing I pulled away from the last part of the class is that a lower ISO will produce better quality prints and for right now I should keep my shutter speed between 1/100 and 1/1000.
I leave class knowing I need lots of practice yet still very overwhelmed with how fstop, ISO, and shutter speed work together. Wanting practice I stopped by Snoqualmie Falls and took a few shots. I’m not entirely happy with the lighting but I know with practice I will nail these new techniques.
I call myself a casual photographer. I like taking pictures. I guess you could call it a hobby. It’s not one of those hobbies where I plan an activity with the goal of filling up my SD card. Rather, if I am headed out somewhere and I think there might be some photo opportunities I will grab my camera as I head out the door.
Over the years I have used a few different cameras. The first camera my parents bought me used a 110 Film Cartridge. I was probably about 10 years old and I look a lot of pictures of the family cats. Later I was upgraded (if you would call it that) to a Disc Camera. This camera was also used to take a lot of pictures of the family cats. In high school I was given my first 35mm point-and-shoot. This camera took a lot of pictures of my friends and me goofing around.
As a senior in high school I had permission to borrow my dad’s Canon SLR for photography class. I learned photography basics and took scenic black and white shots I developed in the dark room. As I recall the only function we changed on the camera was the f-stop. Most of the class centered on the composition of the pictures such as using the Rule of Thirds and paying attention to the background (you don’t want trees growing out of people’s heads when taking snapshots outside).
Now I have a real camera. I have a Nikon D7000 and it has all kinds of bells and whistles on it but they scare me. They scare me because I don’t know how to use them properly. I’ve tried using some of the manual functions a few different times but I didn’t like the way the photos turned out, especially when compared to the photos I took using the automatic function. Sometimes the pictures were too blurry, other times they are overexposed. Sometimes I just didn’t have the time to play with the f-stop or shutter speed. Whatever the case, the auto function has become my photography best friend.
I have had my Nikon for a few years and I have said more than once I need to take a photography class so I can learn to use my camera properly. I guess all that talking inspired a friend of mine. I was given two photography classes as a thank you gift. And now I start a new chapter in my photography journey – Mastering the Manual Functions.