Photo walk with a spot of training thrown in.http://www.randelljohnphotography.com/photo-walk-spot-training-thrown-in/
I had a great afternoon today, and spent it with my mates Mike Groake and Nobby North.
We’ve been trying to get together for weeks, but work commitments and holidays have been getting in the way, so it was good to eventually meet up.
Both Mike and Nobby are fairly new to using DSLR’s, but were keen to learn more and improve their photography, so I agreed to spend a few hours with them to help them along the winding path to taking better photographs.
Neither of them have ever had any formal training in photography, and up until now have been using their camera’s in Auto and Semi-Auto modes.
I was determined that by the end of the afternoon I’d have them both shooting in full Manual Mode, and that they’d have a better understanding of correct exposure, metering, and how important the quality and direction of light is in photography.
If I had time I was going give them a quick intro into using fill flash properly all without melting their brains in the process.
We started at mid day with a nice cuppa in Bridgend market, and I talked them through the basics of the exposure triangle, f-stops, metering modes, camera metering theory and went through all the different dial modes which in total took about and hour and a half. Smoke started emanating from their ears at this stage, so it was time to pick up our gear and head out into the sun.
Today was another beautiful day in Wales, with bright sunshine – Ideal for teaching purposes.
It gave me a great opportunity to show Mike and Nobby that hard direct light is still a very usable light source if handled with a little bit of thought, and the first thing we did was a quick practical on the ‘Sunny 16 Rule’.
We walked and talked as we headed towards Newbridge Fields and stopped along the way to discuss some of the problems harsh light can cause photographers. The underpass on Angel Street proved to be a perfect spot to demonstrate the difference that placing your subject on the edge of a shaded area can have in improving a photograph, while we were stopped I showed Mike and Nobby a few tricks to get their exposures spot on, including using grass as an exposure metering aid.
I also wanted to pass on some ideas on composition, lighting ratio’s and showed Mike and Nobby how I find and use directional light.
Turning one side of Mikes face to a light source (in this case the sky peeking through a gap in the tree canopy), I could create a three-dimensional feel to the image, that would be flattering for the subject, especially if we took the photograph from the shadowed side of the face i.e Short lighting.
We moved further into the park, and I thought it was time to start adding some more compositional elements into the shoot. I described some of the methods photographers use to add interest in their photographs and in the following example we used the slats of a park bench as lead in lines to direct the viewer’s eye towards Mike.
Mike and Nobby spent some time practicing selective focusing, and at the end of this part of the afternoon it was really apparent that reading your camera’s manual is really important. Understanding all the functions of the various buttons, as well as being well versed in the camera’s menu is so important when your learning how to take full control of your camera.
I wanted to shoot a high key portrait so we headed over to the cricket pavilion, where I knew a light coloured wall would make a decent backdrop.
Time was marching on and really wanted to do a little bit of flash photography with the guys, and knew a great spot where I could demonstrate the versatility of using your camera in Manual Mode – Reducing the ambient light with our shutter speed, but then adding flash to light the main subject of the image.
Was it a successful afternoon?
Yes, all but the melting brains bit. It was a lot of information for Mike and Nobby to absorb in such a short time.
The main thing though is that they’ve now been given some foundation to their photography, a starting point from where they can improve their knowledge and skill base. Whats more by four o’clock both Mike and Nobby were using their camera’s in full manual, and could see the advantages when you take control of the camera, just as it should be.
I also had a lot of fun hanging out with them, and talking some snaps. We’ll have to do it again sometime soon.
Thanks for a great afternoon lads.