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What does this button do?

‘What does this button do?’ aptly describes my ability to use my DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera or at least it did until I recently attended my first photography class; a Beginners Digital Photography course with Fab Photography.

Andy and I had long discussed getting a ‘proper’ camera. Up until now, we have been more point and shoot type photographers and to be honest I’m not totally convinced that just because we have the equipment, means we have graduated far from this level of usage, yet. We undertook a certain amount of research to come to our purchasing decision.  I canvassed opinion from my photographer friends on Facebook so in essence we had some qualitative market research amongst our peers. Andy trawled through a multitude of retail and photography websites and conducted a site assessment at Jessops (where would he go now?) to get a hands on perspective. Once he had decided what he wanted, he invited me for a test drive too. We’ve always been Canon people (in the way that some people prefer Coca Cola and others prefer Pepsi; I dislike both!) so to be honest any recommendations for other brands were likely to fall on deaf ears. In the end we plumped for a Canon EOS 650D and we’re pretty pleased with it so far. A bit like getting a new car, up until the course, I hardly dared touch it, let alone take pictures with it, for fear of damaging it or more likely putting it on some setting that I could not recover from.

The course itself was too much presentation and not enough practical application for me. I would have much preferred to have been presented with a series of exercises and given some practical tips on how to take the best photographs. In fact the only tip I do remember, because we were given an exercise, is that when taking a photograph of someone/something where the light is behind them/it, turn your flash on to fill in the light (examples below).

IMG_0474With flash

Without flashWith flash

Unfortunately, we were largely shown a series of PowerPoint slides and then after a couple of hours, we were sent out on our own, armed with our cameras, to take photographs of anything that took our fancy. I attempted to tinker with the aperture, shutter speed, ISO and exposure (I do at least know where these buttons are now and what they are supposed to achieve) but without the practical experience and mentoring from a pro, I’ll be honest I was a bit lost. The other ladies (including my mother who attended the course with me) at least had the benefit of being able to compose a decent shot.  Later when we returned to the studio, we were treated to a display of Photoshop acrobatics by the pros who managed to turn a nothing shot into art. Here’s my prize shot of the day.

Beer canBeer can

And here are my mother’s…

Kite Reeds

I feel heartened by the following quotes I found from professional photographers:

“ You don’t take a photograph, you make it. – Ansel  Adams
“ Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst. – Henri  Cartier-Bresson
“ Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.  – Ansel Adams

Although I am still finding that I take better photographs when my camera is on the automatic setting, at least I am no longer afraid of a my camera and armed with my ‘Canon EOS 650D for Dummies’ book, I feel certain that my best shot is yet to come.

‘I Did It Mummy’ fundraising for BIBS –

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