This past weekend, I took a beginner photography course with The Hairy Goat. I have always wanted to learn photography beyond just using my iPhone. I take pictures of everything – all the time. I had a DSLR for a few years, but had no idea how to use it and thought it was too big to carry around everyday. I recently got a smaller Ricoh GR, which is great because I can throw it in my bag and quickly grab it to take a photo. It also produces great photos – it did even when I had no idea what I was doing! With that said, I am so glad I took this beginner workshop because I learned the basics that I did not fully understand before. If you want to improve your photography, learn how to use your camera more efficiently and most importantly, learn the basics – take this beginner workshop.
We met at Waterloo station on a Sunday and walked over to Southbank – which I loved as it’s one of my favourite places in London. The workshop ended up being only myself and one other girl, who had about the same skill level as me, which was great because it was like having a one on one session and we could both learn from each other. Corinna, the instructor, was phenomenal. She did an awesome job at running us through the basics in such a way that it all made sense because we put everything she was teaching us into practice. Corinna helped us set up our cameras properly in Aperture Priority mode which I am now confident enough to use instead of auto!
The first basic step Corinna taught us was how to change our aperture settings and the effect it will have on our photos.She also taught us how to focus our cameras on the subject we want to focus on using autofocus and lock points. A larger aperture will always be a smaller number, to put it simply. The largest aperture my camera has is an f/2.8. Aperture also controls the depth of field, which is the part of your photo that will look sharp. A larger aperture will produce more bokeh (the blurriness) in the areas that are out of focus, while a lower aperture will produce less bokeh and more of the image will be in focus. We put these two principles into practice with rubber ducks. As you can see below, you can see a difference in each image as I decreased my aperture and focused on different ducks to produce different effects. It also helped us learn how to compose a shot better – each image has a completely different look because of how we arranged the ducks.
The next principle we went over was ISO, which prior to taking this course, I had absolutely no grasp of at all. ISO is the level of sensitivity your camera has to available light. A lower number is always best. For example, ISO 100 would be used on a super bright and sunny day and your images will come out extremely sharp and clear. A higher ISO would be used in a low light setting, however, as the ISO increases, so does the noise in your images.
This photo was taken at ISO 320 – as it was still a bit bright out despite the rainy weather. Corinna told us that with the London weather, the ISO settings will be set to 400 the majority of the time. It was taken at F/7.1 – as I wanted to the majority of the photo to be in focus, and the shutter speed was 1/400.
The last principle we ran through was shutter speed – the length of time a camera shutter speed is open to expose light into the camera sensor. Slower shutter speeds allow more light into the camera and are used for low light and night photography, while fast shutter speeds help freeze motion. Corinna told us that to freeze a motion, use a shutter speed that is faster than the object is moving. I set my camera to C-AF – continuous shooting – autofocus to get the below images.
When you have figured out the correct aperture, ISO and shutter speed, you should end up with a photo that is well exposed.
In addition to these three key principles, we also learned about exposure compensation. We learned that our cameras naturally tries to make darker colours more grey than they actually are. We took photo a photo of my purse which is black and it turned out to look grey. We took a photo of a white piece of paper and it also looked grey.
Exposure compensation comes in to play when this happens. To make a black object appear it’s correct colour, turn down the exposure settings. To make a white object look it’s actual colour, turn up the exposure. This can work in other scenarios as well, such as making dark rain clouds appear to be more dramatic or less dramatic.
Overall, I learned so much more during the course than I ever would have just reading online. I can’t thank Corinna enough for all of her help. For anybody aspiring to take better photos or look the basics, I highly recommend taking the class. I am definitely going to look in to taking the intermediate class in a few months time. Hairy Goat has several other classes and tours too! Check them out by visiting: http://hairygoat.net/.
If you have any basic photography tips or tricks, please comment below!