If you are a blogger, or happen to know any, you will know just how much bloggers love taking photos. For me, I've always loved snapping away; in the days before digital cameras I had literally hundreds of photos in albums, I should have bought shares in disposable cameras. Now I have a blog, I'm always thinking about taking pictures for content, and for social media of course. I love it when people email to ask if they can use photos from my blog, and then laugh when they ask for high res images. High res? I always use my iPhone and accept the blurry consequences. I've known for some time that it was time to get a DSLR.
I'm starting off basic with a Nikon D3200, and thought what better place to get acquainted with the camera then at the Nikon School on the Getting Started With DSLR Photography course. This is a one-day class and the school is just off of Oxford Street. Twelve of us arrived with our cameras, and were greeted by our very-serious-but-knowledgeable teacher, Mark. As we all introduced ourselves, it became clear that we were all at very different levels of experience and had very different cameras. Some people had staggeringly expensive Nikons, and should probably have been on a more intermediate course. Mark was great though at helping the less experienced amongst us get up to speed on each of the practical assignments. Throughout the day, we'd sit in a classroom as Mark explained different functions of the cameras and the techniques we could achieve, and then he'd send us out onto the streets to see if we'd remotely understood what he was on about.
This was a really good way of working, as photography is the kinda thing you need to learn by doing. We went through aperture, shutter speed and ISO, different angles, and white balance. Mark helped everyone with the functions of their particular cameras, proving himself to be a Nikon fount of knowledge.
The price includes hot drinks in the breaks, and a lunch - which was actually quite nice. A wide selection of wraps, including multiple vegetarian choices! (Only fellow vegetarians will probably get how amazing this was). We also had fresh fruit and cookies.
After lunch it was back to work, this time looking at how to take pictures in relatively dark rooms - useful for restaurant and bar photos, bloggers! Everyone was really nice and friendly - except one guy who overly fond of the sound of his own voice. He even challenged Mark on some points, and said "I don't think you mean that..." Woah - how can you challenge fount-of-knowledge Mark? He was getting on everyone's nerves (seriously, why is there always one person like this in every single adult education class?), and he took annoying to a whole new level during the final practical assignment.
We were given a challenge to go out and take a photo that used one or more of the techniques we'd learnt in the class, and the three most creative and technically competent pictures would win a prize. I spotted a green bicycle chained to a post and thought this could make a good photo. I tried taking it from a low angle, and aimed to get a contrast between a blurred background and sharp object in the foreground. As I'm taking pictures, along comes Mr. Douchebag and says "Can I ask you to get out of the way?". Er, no... you can't come along and nick someone's idea and make them get out of the way in order to do this. Of course I was too polite to say this, so I left him to it. Idiot. Back in class Mark looked at all our photos and I was amazed to be picked as one of the three winners - me who had not even taken my camera out of the box before this class was now an award-winning photographer (of sorts). It was also a huge in-your-face to pompous rude man, and I enjoyed this petty victory immensely (he won nothing). Turns out my idea wasn't that unique as Mark said someone in practically every class will take a picture of the green bike, but he thought mine was the most creative he had seen. Thanks, serious-but-knowledgeable Mark! What a compliment. I haven't had a chance to practice any photography yet, which is a pain, but I am going to get braver about taking my DSLR to events and getting sharper pictures for the blog. I think you can tell in this post which were taken with the Nikon, and which are iPhone. A brilliant starter course (though it might have been easier for Mark if we'd all been at the same level), and they do a whole range of different courses. I'd love to do the macro class, as obviously my blog includes a lot of object close-ups (mostly beauty products and goody bags!). Thanks, Nikon! Awesome day!