Friday, June 25, 2010

Lessons Learned: Photography Class

Image courtesy of Bob Krist for National Geographic

I went to a photography class a few weeks ago, led by two travel photographers for National Geographic. Although the class was interesting and entertaining, I would have learned more if I actually understood the basis of using a DSLR camera. Unfortunately, this class only comes to Houston every once in a while, so I had to take it before I take my basics of photography course. I just tried to write down everything I could, so I can go back and read it when I have a more of a clue.

Here's some of the useful stuff they shared:
  1. You can "shoot from the hip" to get candid shots of people by using a 35mm lens and prefocusing to one meeter.
  2. Good photographers look for juxtapositions and anachronisms to find good shot.
  3. Architecture is always more interesting if you add the human element.
  4. When booking a helicopter for aerial shots, look for an outfitter that will open the door/window for better shots.
  5. "Inspiration is for the amateur--professional need to be proactive."
  6. The best time to shoot architecture is one hour before sunset."
  7. Photography helps you be in the moment.
  8. Switch ISO depending on the situation (preset 100 or 200; push to 400 or higher in low light).
  9. Ask "What is the brightest thing in the shot? Am I blowing it out with overexposure?"
  10. You can't judge exposure from the LCD monitor; you have to read the histogram to make sure it's not over the edge on the right.
  11. Photography is a physical skill. The more you know your gear, the better you will be.
  12. Use soft light and non-distracting backgrounds for head and shoulders portraits.
  13. To blur the background, move the camera at the same speed as the moving object.
  14. Include objects that provide a sense of scale.
  15. Use flash in high contrast situations.
  16. You can make something look like night by underexposing the background and using a flash.
  17. In terms of gear, if you can't carry it all day, don't buy it.
  18. Only ever show your best work (even if it's only a couple photographs!).

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Kimberly said...

Good notes! I need a class - I have a DSLR that I bought refurbished off of eBay and the thing's so intimidating. My last photography class was in high school. Many many many years ago. And it involved developing film.

Sharpiegirl said...

first thing we learned in my photography class is to put it on Manual.
Second...start with the lowest ISO you think you can get away with.
Third...set your AV to 5.6 to begin with. Remember small number=big opening and lots of background, big number = small opening and a blurrier background.
fourth....choose spot metering
fifth....set your light meter to custom. Focus on a white object set the meter to 0 take a picture at +1 and then at +1 1/2 Then focus on a black object, set meter to 0 again then take a picture at -1 and -1 1/2 play around with it until you get the look you like THAT is the correct setting, not what a book says it should be.
That is pretty much what we learned the first 3 weeks of class.

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