Photography course: Day 1

After receiving the payment for the use of my photographs in Metropolis a couple of months ago, it was a toss-up between spending it on a camera lens and enrolling myself on a short photography course.

I took two short photography courses many moons ago when I was still in the Philippines. The first was basic photography and the second one was black and white. Both were aimed at the absolute beginner and were geared toward film photography (digital was still out of the price-range of hobbyists then). Although I had heaps of fun in both classes, I wasn’t able to make the most out of them because I didn’t have an SLR camera.

I used my point-and-shoot for the basic photography course and wasn’t able to maximise learning about aperture, shutter speed and ISO. After all, most those settings are chosen by the camera for me and there was no way for me to adjust them. The black and white course was slightly better in that I managed to borrow the instructor’s camera and at least have some practice with it. Trouble was, I only had the camera to practise with when we have to do our photo assignment. Given a limited time to shoot, grapple with the idiosyncrasies of the camera, worrying about the subject for my photographs and trying to remember what I have remembered on the first course, it was small wonder that my photographs were rather simplistic and not particularly attractive at all. Heck, I was happy to be able to a sharp photo using manual settings during that time as opposed to the fuzzy ones I had the first few times. I didn’t care about lighting, composition and all the other things that would make a good photograph.

And so I opted to try for another photography course again, this time with a SLR and better idea of what I’m signing up for. I originally wanted to join last February’s session of the Melbourne Camera Club course but was told that it was quickly filled up and would I want to be register my interest for the August one? I said yes and I got contacted by email toward the end of May stating that if I am still interested in joining the course, could I forward my application and $250 payment by snail mail as the class is now quickly filling up and there are only 9 spots left!

I mailed my application and payment on the same day and crossed my fingers. People who don’t get on the August class would be offered places for the one in February next year but I don’t think I could wait another six months! Luckily, I was able to get on the class this time around and we had our first lecture last night.

There were several club members who welcomed us to the course, gave us our course materials, name tag, club’s programme of events for the rest of the year and a survey form. The class was bigger than the one I attended in the Philippines. Whereas the Alcove classes only had about 10-20 students, the one last night probably had 40-50 participants. This class also seem to be more diverse in terms of age and interests.

Although the topic for last night’s lecture was about the basics like aperture, shutter speed, ISO, lens and exposure, I still got some gems out of the session. It was good to see how a lens hood could make a difference when shooting against the sun, how to use AE Lock to meter, what settings to use for particular photographs and how to use different settings for the same scene to change the impact of a photo. Some of the examples used throughout the lecture were the instructor’s own photos and it was interesting to hear the stories about the photos as well as see his creativity at work. Questions from other participants also added to the lecture – the questions that particularly stuck me were where to focus when taking a landscape photo (1/3 into the scene if I remember correctly) and how to remember the relationship between higher ISO and noise (one club member had a particularly good analogy of imagining it as a volume control on a radio, the higher the volume, the more the noise).

Since we started slightly later than scheduled, we had to rush the last few minutes of the lecture and went into overtime for about 10 minutes. Robert, the course coordinator, then reminded us to bring our camera on Sunday since we would be having a hands-on session and would be taking about a dozen photographs. He then asked how many people would be using film cameras (a couple), and advised them that it might be better not to load the film prior to the session so that they could practise the settings on the camera without wasting film. He also asked for the survey form back where we are asked what kind of camera we would be using and what sort of photography we are interested in. After a few more reminders, the class was ended and most everyone quickly spilled out into the night.

Nothing mind-blowing in this first session but it was interesting nonetheless. Although I can’t wait for the practice session on Sunday, I still have to find time to look for and read my camera’s manual, get the concepts to stick and probably get some practice in.

Published in: on August 6, 2008 at 8:04 am  Comments (4)