I spent yesterday with five other keen amateur photographers and a very patient, experienced teacher in an artists’ retreat in north Canberra. The only distractions all day were cows, a brief but thunderous storm, magpies and a rather long wait for our coffees. This was Bradley Cummings Photography and his full-day workshop, Introduction to digital photography, a very thoughtful Christmas present from A.
I’ve been using a DSLR now for almost a year, carry it around with me wherever I go, and have learned how to get certain kinds of shots from the 50mm lens that I have used almost exclusively since I bought the camera. I’ve had some very useful tips along the way, especially from my good friend S., who taught me to zoom with my legs and to look in all four corners of the frame before taking a picture (which I often fail to do).
But this course, aimed at helping newcomers to DSLRs to get the most from their cameras, helped me to realise just how many more things are possible… like learning how to take the two shots below by using maximum and minimum aperture settings. It finally makes sense to my why photographers would choose to shoot on aperture priority mode.
It was much easier to conceptualise the impact of shutter speed, aperture and ISO when Brad pulled apart an old film camera to show us exactly what was happening on the inside. There was plenty of time to try out what we were learning along the way, and assistance for each of us as we pottered around the gardens experimenting. The workshops are run at the Strathnairn Arts Association, a beautiful and ramshackled collection of artists’ cabins, finished and unfinished sculptures and lovely gardens, set in what felt like the middle of the countryside, a few minutes from Belconnen.
Brad has a gentle, encouraging teaching style that helped us to cover a lot in a short time and in providing criticism that was helpful and kind. Indeed, he was so patient that the class ran over an hour over time, because he was answering every question as he guided each of us through the selection, editing and printing of one photograph of the day (mine is the go kart wheel, above). And while it was a full day, it was a fun day and not an exhausting one, and I was glad to get so much done at once.
And while I’ve tried to date to be fairly organic about my photography, learning bits and pieces myself as I go, this has inspired me to learn more about the technical possibilities and, of course, to keep practising.