Two weeks ago, I took a photography class with a good friend of mine (we’ll call her Sally – because that’s her name) at the Washington School of Photography (WSP). In fact, it was this class – the Digital SLR Camera Primer with Sam D’Amico. The class’s tag line is “how to get your camera off manual mode”.
It was a marvelouso introduction to the terms aperture, shutter speed, ISO, metering, and manual mode. The only thing you really need to know before you take this class is whether or not your camera is a DSLR camera (that and maybe how to turn it on). Sam shared a lot of information and broke it all down into layman’s terms so that even I understood (most of) it. I learned so much in those three hours that I felt incredibly smart and incredibly incompetent all at the same time. I learned just enough to screw up my pictures really good. 😉 Seriously though, I took the camera off manual mode and practiced with different settings. And felt comfortable doing that.
Sally and I were inspired to learn more. We felt like we kinda, sorta knew what we were doing but we didn’t always understand why.
So, we contacted Sam for some private lessons. We liked the idea of taking the class together but, after a lady thanked me in the first class for asking so many questions, we figured
we I might dominate the session too much.
Very honestly, Sam was expensive. Please know that it’s not that we doubted that Sam would be amazing – it’s just that, short of a contract with National Geographic, we thought maybe we weren’t quite ready to invest so heavily in our training.
I found Kim Seidl. Her workshop info is here.
And yes, I did take that fabulous picture. tee hee
Kim reinforced all that Sam taught us. Sally and I both agreed that we were soooo glad we had taken an intro class first. Apparently, we both learn best by repetition. And that’s not to say we’re slow, mind you – there is just a boat load of info to learn.
And then I came home and took these pictures…in manual mode….with either lots of light
or not so much light….
and of course one of the pooch…
I am especially proud of the one of Pepper because the room was dark and she was moving. Up until yesterday, I would never have even bothered trying to get a picture of her playing. (And just in case you are wondering, that is my son’s arm. He wasn’t willing to donate his face to the Science of my photography.)
Before our session with Kim, part of me was still asking WHY I needed take ever take my camera off of program mode – if the camera is smart enough to figure out what the settings should be, then why not just let it?
Now I understand the answer to that question. In the picture of my daughter in front of the window – the camera would naturally gravitate toward the lightest part of the photo and make her face darker – now my settings certainly are not perfect – but they are focused on her face. Aperture allowed me to make the background blurry and focus on her. In automatic mode, my camera wanted to use the flash and that put too much light on her face.
Kim kept asking us – what is the most important thing in the picture you are about to take? (detail, stopping motion, blurring the background, etc)
Then she would say – now, tell the camera that.
When we were relying on program mode – we allowed the camera to determine what the most important thing is.
The other thing that I will enjoy learning about doing (correctly) is stopping motion.
Now – remember I am an amateur, but here is an example of what I mean. These two pictures were taken within seconds of each other. See how one captures the drops and the other captures the flow? By using manual mode, I was able to tell the camera what was important to me. If I had used program/auto mode, the camera would have decided.
Now, you can see that the lighting is different in both pictures – that was based on settings. The available light did not change.
And if you are still wondering why you should ever take your camera out of its bag, nevermind out of program mode, consider hiring Kim to take pictures for you. She is truly amazing!
Anypic, if you see me with my camera, run the other way. I’ll be taking lots of pictures! 😎