Playing around with my camera

The Pinelands High School runs a Continuing Education Programme, which offers short courses in all kinds of interesting and unusual topics.

Last year, I’d attended a couple of these (a Drumming workshop, a Nia Dance workshop, a class on Creating a butterfly mosaic, and a fascinating – and alarmingly hands-on – talk about spiders!).

This term, I signed up for the Digital Camera Photography course, which is run by Ian Walton, who is a professional photographer. We had our first lesson (of three) last Tuesday, and it was very exciting.

We learned a bit about how cameras in general work, and about the pros and cons of digital versus film. He also taught us about pixels and image compression. The part of the class I enjoyed most, though, was to look at photography as an art form and to learn a little about the principles of basic composition.

In particular, he suggested that we ask ourselves three basic questions when taking a photograph:

  • What is the subject of my picture? What do I want this photo to be ‘about’?
  • How can I best draw my viewer’s attention to the subject? (Lighting, framing, positioning, horizon, contrast, etc.)
  • Is there anything unnecessary in the shot that I can exclude?

I confess that, although I’ve taken tons of photos (as my very full hard drive can attest), I have rarely asked myself such questions in any conscious or deliberate way. Hm….

When I got home, I felt so inspired that I even opened up the digital manual of our camera to have a look at the more advanced settings, which I’ve been too timid to try thus far.

I learned, for instance, that it has a super-macro setting – although this only works in certain modes (like program or custom etc., not in the pre-set modes), and that it has a colour accent mode, which allows you to have only the color specified in the LCD monitor remain and to transform all others to black and white. I also played around with my new tripod (a Christmas present).

So here are some of the better pictures. Nothing spectacular or award-winning, but I sure had fun!

Holy bamboo (Nandina domestica)

Holy bamboo (Nandina domestica)

Brilliantly orange crocosmia

Brilliantly orange crocosmia

Orange highlight

Orange highlight

Super-macro of pink bromeliad

Super-macro of pink bromeliad

Playing with the colour accent setting

Playing with the colour accent setting

Purple pansies

Purple pansies

A rock pigeon on the water fountain

A rock pigeon on the water fountain

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