For as long as I can remember, I have had a keen interest in photography and a camera on hand. I went from a film compact during childhood to a digital compact in my late teens and am now the proud owner of a Canon EOS 70D DSLR. My friends and family would be the first to tell you that I am always taking photos of everything and anything! But despite being an enthusiast, I have never actually been on a course. Instead, I have learnt manual controls through my own research and practice. So when my boyfriend and family bought me a Going Digital voucher for my birthday last year, I was excited to book a workshop.
After perusing Going Digital’s website, I was torn between two: Explore Your Camera, Part 1 – Get Off Auto and Part 2 – Developing Skills. As my knowledge had come from bits read online, I opted for Part 1, with the main aim being to confirm what I’d learnt was right.
I arrived at the National Trust’s Snowshill Manor in Gloucestershire and hurried to the dry classroom where the course began. Paul Southall, from DCZ Photography, was our tutor and after the introductions were made, he dove right in and got started.
The content was great…but mainly for beginners that are only operating on ‘Auto’ modes. Paul talked us through how a camera works and the basics of the photographer’s trinity: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. He also touched on how to minimise camera shake and finding the best composition. If I had not spent two years doing a DIY job of learning, it would have been extremely useful. I would 100% recommend it to those starting their photography journey or wanting to take more control their camera.
That’s not to say that I didn’t learn anything though! One subject that grabbed me in particular was changing the focal point. Somehow, I’d managed to miss this entirely – oops! Changing the focal point improved my images immediately; I can’t believe I lived so long without it!
After lunch, we got to the part of the course that I was most looking forward to: using our cameras.
I had never visited Snowshill Manor but I already know I’ll be visiting again. It was gorgeous! It’s a country lovers dream. Buildings steeped with local history and beautiful gardens, surrounded by fields and rolling hills. It’d definitely be a place to visit on a sunny day!
Unfortunately, the rain didn’t stop for the hour but that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. We practiced blurring the background behind a subject, getting detailed landscapes using the rule of thirds and how to get a decent image in dark conditions. A few of us couldn’t resist capturing the adorable lambs as well!
Paul then displayed all of our images on the projector when we returned to the room. He did a great job at explaining what we could have done to improve bad shots and commending the good! It was fascinating to see compositions and perspective’s from the others and interesting to get tips from a professional too.
In hindsight, Part 1 was a bit too basic for me, but I can’t deny that the day was enjoyable. It was fun, Paul was knowledgeable and I came away feeling positive. It’s good knowing that I have been on the right lines and I’m excited to play around with focal points more.
Thank you to Paul for hosting the Going Digital workshop and to Dave, Mum, Nick, Gran & Auntie Lesley for the gift!