Last week, I did something I promised myself I would this year – I took a photography workshop!
I’ve had my little Sony NEX for over a year now and, to be honest, I’ve only ever used it on auto mode. The quality on auto is still amazing, but I knew if I really wanted to have professional looking, high quality photos that I could be proud to use on this blog, I was going to have to take a workshop someday. So I’ve been saving up and looking for a good course I could take. I finally found one with Venture Photography Studio.
Venture Photography offered a great one-day Getting Started in Photography course for beginners looking for instruction with their first DSLR camera. It was a great price at $260 (some of the courses I’ve looked at were really expensive) and they’ve had great reviews so I signed up right away!
The reviews were more than well-deserved. Our instructors, Seng Mah and Denis Coldham, were really lovely and friendly and explained how everything worked so well that I had no problem understanding. They were always very patient with us amateur photographers and one of them would always be walking around the room, helping those of us who couldn’t quite figure out which controls we should be setting our cameras on. I had to admit, I was quite nervous prior to coming to the workshop (I kept having this suspicion that everyone else would somehow already be a professional, experienced photographer and I would be left well behind!), but everything was explained on a step-by-step basis that was really easy to follow.
In the past year, I’ve done a lot of reading online and playing around with my digital camera a bit on aperture mode and the like to try and figure out stuff like aperture, ISO and composition using the Rule of Thirds, but could never quite figure things out entirely or how to put them together. Photos would constantly come out too grainy or overexposed or I’d accidentally set the camera to an incredibly slow shutter speed which left me panicked and sure I had somehow broken my camera. Seng and Denis did a great job of explaining terms like aperture, shallow versus deep depth of field, ISO and shutter speed. They also taught us how to read a histogram, how to take photos of moving subjects and what’s the best way to take a photo at night or in dim lighting. And finally they taught us how to put it all together in manual mode, something else which I was fairly nervous about. However, when we finally came to that part, I found that thanks to all the steps we went through previously, I was able to understand everything fairly well.
One other thing I thought I’d note as well – though it was a one day workshop that lasted about six hours (including a half-hour break in between for lunch) and there was plenty to learn, I never felt the dreaded ‘information overload’ or felt distracted or tired. In fact, the time flew by quickly for me and I never felt overwhelmed once.
In the last hour or so of our workshop, our group went on a little photo shoot excursion with a couple of models. We spent the time practising what we had just learned. Unfortunately, I had to be careful about how much I used my camera during this time because by then I was running a little low on battery (I had fully charged my camera the night before and had felt fairly confident about its long battery power since I’ve used it constantly on holidays without having to charge it for at least a few days. Still, I must have underestimated just how much I used my camera during the workshop!).
These are some of the shots I took during the photo shoot.
This is my first time working with actual models. It was interesting and fun to be able take photos of such a photogenic pair, though I have to admit I found it a little disconcerting to have them staring, as it were, straight at me through the lens of the camera! It almost threw me off and I was actually quite glad to have the camera to hide behind! *silly me*
When I look at my photos and later at the photos Seng, our instructor, took, I realised that clearly I have a long way to go in understanding more about framing and composition and also I realised I needed to work on focusing my subjects (in the third photo, for instance, the model is kind of out of focused, which wasn’t at all the intention)! But overall I’m pretty pleased with the photos I did manage to snap on my first try using the manual modes and I’m ready to start practising with my camera! Watch this space for better pictures!
All in all, I’m really glad I took the workshop and would highly recommend it to anyone. The studio also offers other workshops and photography outings so I hope to be able to look at that in the future. Here’s to improving photography skills and finally understanding those pesky manual controls!