El G bought me a wonderful Nikon D40x for Christmas 2007 and after 6 months or so of trying to work out what the hell the buttons did, I decided that it would be better for me to have a teacher tell me what to do (try as I might, the numbers and diagrams in the books I bought didn’t help me much).
So in summer 2008, I did the beginners digital SLR course run by Zoom-In which randomly took place in the upstairs room of the Bread and Roses pub on Clapham Manor Street. It ran for three Saturdays in a row, from 10am to 1pm (note to self – it would have been better not to be hungover on at least one of those days – doh!). The price for this was around £180 – steep yes but pretty good compared to the other courses I looked at, and in the end I think it was worth it.
Our teacher was a professional photographer and she started by splitting us into Nikons and Canons (sorry Sonys, not a great camera apparently) and showing us how to work the basic functions. So if you know all this already it might not be for you. It was GREAT for me – she showed me how to install all the right settings on my camera, to change the focus points, and what the different shutter, ISO and apperture settings were. The first lesson showed you how to do different shutter speeds, do effects like blurring, and focusing on foregrounds and backgrounds, and more importantly when you should use what settings and the effects of all this on your photography. She also showed us cool effects like panning and zooming (in fact the photograph on the homepage is a pretty rubbish attempt of mine at panning).
She gave us homework to take photos using the settings we’d learned and trying out some of the effects. This was a great part of the course – there was a “show and tell” in the next lesson where we commented on everyone’s pictures. Some of the other guys on the course were really artistic and I loved seeing the photos they’d taken which inspired me to try different things.
Sadly, we didn’t have much time for composition and we didn’t spend any time on after-effects (photoshopping etc) so I may do another course later on. However, I reckon I know my camera a lot more now, and I’ve managed to take some pretty cool photos on holiday.
I think its all about practice though – some of my (really bad) photos are on here, and I’m going to use this blog to make myself take more photos. Hopefully I’ll post some of them on here soon!
UPDATE: I came accross the name of my teacher the other day, it was Niki Sianni. Check out her website for some wonderful examples of her photography.