Took a class last Sunday to learn how to actually use my camera.
I’m not one to read manuals unless it’s something like a piece of furniture or a barbecue (something I frequently put together in my younger days working in the grandparents family business). I guess I’ve always preferred hands-on learning in a classroom setting with someone more knowledgeable.
I wanted to get the basics of a digital SLR, so I requested as one of my holiday gifts a camera course. I did a bit of research and found one that sounded solid which ended up being from a place called Brooklyn Central in Dumbo. The course was Field Guide I: The Camera–and it was well worth the $120.
It was a 6-hour crash course with plenty of hands-on time and personal attention from the instructor who was excellent, patient and answered questions nicely. She is a practicing photographer and filmmaker–and she knew how to structure a class (it was much like a college class).
I re-learned ISO, aperture, shutter speed and how one affects the other–as well as how to adjust between indoor, outdoor, movement and blurring. Most importantly, I learned where to adjust these things on the camera itself. The instructor essentially knew where you could find these things on a range of camera makes and styles (some people had mirrorless DSLRs). When I say ‘re-learned’, I mean I had taken photography for three years in high school, but that was on a old-school, manual SLR camera where we shot and developed in black and white. I knew some of the principles, but had forgotten the interplay, and how and when to apply them.
The good thing is that these principles have not changed all that much, but that digital SLRs give you a lot of options and conveniences–and so much room to practice and experiment without costly development. I am sure it would be cool to shoot on film again at some point, but practicing on digital in manual is the way I see things being for me for the near future.
All the images on this post are from this class–the one above here is the Manhattan Bridge. Not a great image color wise, but this was one of the first ones. I think I had my ISO set high here. We had been shooting inside and I forgot to readjust for the outdoors. I could have used a few more shots of this one at different settings. At least the brick color was popping here a tiny bit, but the sky was grey, so no blue sky background contrast.
If there is one thing I took away from this course is that by learning how to shoot manually, you can adjust to the lighting that is available. The camera is pretty smart, but it’s not as smart as you knowing how to better wield control over the situation.
It was pretty damn cold this day and shooting outside was a rough on the fingers, but it was worth applying what we were learning in class. I took a few shots on our lunch break, and some after the class. I learned one of things I had been doing had a name: Bracketing. By taking multiple shots of the same thing at different shutter speeds and aperture settings, you capture a range of light effects. By bracketing, you also get to know your sensor better.
I am considering taking the Field Guide II class when it’s warmer outside. Below are a few more images from after the class near sundown (when it was still cloudy). I ended up liking the images that tipped a bit toward the darker side on the light meter.