Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fantastic digital photography workshops in Mt Tamborine

I love photography. I've been tinkering with cameras, both non-digital and digital, for as long as I can remember.

For me, wandering round a park or garden, or out in the bush somewhere, photographing nature, is as relaxing as it is inspiring. It doesn't matter if the pictures are not perfect; it's finding the details, scrutinising the minutae, seeking out unusual shadows and angles.

In searching for a birthday present for my Dad recently, I came across some photography workshops up at Mt Tamborine run by Bluedog. It looked like the perfect pressie, so I booked us both in.

Hosted by Danielle and Nick Lancaster, the Introductory Workshop kicked off with introductions and a brief description of which of the camera's functions we use the most.

"Er...the automatic function", was the general reply. "After this workshop, we want you to promise that you will never use the auto function again," said a smiling Danielle. "It's a smackable and sackable offence."

We started with a discussion about the three main variables we could control on our cameras, the ISO, shutter speed and aperture - all terms I'd heard of before, but really had no clue how to apply in a practical way.

Our first practical exercise was to test out different shutter speeds. Until then, I had no idea what shutter speed my Canon EOS 400D could go up to - nor what I could do with it at high speed.

Danielle explained that she would start pouring water over her fingers, and our task was to try to get a shot of the water, "frozen" in mid air. We started with our cameras on the slowest shutter speeds, gradually notching it up until indeed, the water started to form funky patterns in our viewfinders.

We discussed depth of field and looked through a bunch of photographs as a way of talking about composition - how pictures should be constructed. The Rule of Thirds, which I had heard about, came up, and we looked through batches of stunning photos taken by the Lancasters, to see how this rule worked in practice.

During the afternoon, we headed out for a practical session in the stunning Mt Tamborine Botanic Gardens. Danielle and Nick were on hand to advise about settings, composition and all of the stuff we'd talked about.

The gardens up at Mt Tamborine are definitely worth a visit for anyone remotely within the vicinity. They were lush and peaceful!

The final hands-on session took place back at the studio. It simulated night work, and let's just say, Nick did some incredible drawing work with a live sparkler. Who'd have thought my camera shutter could stay open for that long!

Bluedog also does retreats, and I'm definitely going to do more of their photography workshops. I learnt heaps on the Introductory Workshop, so I can only imagine what lays ahead in the more advanced courses.

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