Now is a time for learning!

As most people know I have a lot of difficulty physically, my Neurofibromatosis makes it really hard some days. Pain can be a real barrier for me so trying to do much or even committing to anything is pretty much impossible. Even today with all the excitement around me I had to stop what I was doing for a while Sad smile 
Anyhow this is in the Photography section for a reason…….I am now signed up to do a 24 week course at the Photography Institute!!! I cannot tell you all how excited I am about this. Its all online so I can work at my own pace and if need be I can take up to 12 months to finish the course.
A few days ago I purchased The Ultimate SLR Photography course and bundled that with a Photoshop for SLR photographers course. I bought these with the intention to use as a back up for the Photography Institute course, little did I know how fast that was all going to happen!!
I am so very excited to be doing this course, well courses, I have been wanting to learn more about SLR photography for a very long time now. It was an interest well before I got my first SLR camera too. Once I got my first SLR all I wanted to do was know more, learn more and be better at this wonderful craft. I wanted to be more confident with what I am doing and understand the how’s and why’s.
So it’s now the very first days and I hope that I do improve, I hope my confidence is better and then see where it al goes to…… So peeps, keep your eyes peeled as I progress…


Module One, Day One.

What can I say but, WOW!! I logged in and downloaded the very first module, thanking my lucky stars that our internet is now finally working. (what a saga that was) In front of me was an 88 page PDF file, totally jam packed with information, so much information that I am going to read over it again today. Just on the different types of camera out there is truly amazing, here was me just thinking SLR, Bridge and Point and shoot, I did not know that there was so much more than that! OMG the other world of lens attachments and not just tubes I am talking about…Seriously one could go broke if one was into buying every possible toy! I cannot express how excited I am that I am doing this course, it is already tying together a lot of things that I just did not know. It reminds me when I was in hospitality for all those years and then decided to do my trade certificate; even though some days were utterly boring the wealth of knowledge that I bought away was worth its weight. Just one lesson backs up my very strong belief that you cannot set out to do something like this on just passion or talent, you really do need to get the theory side in. All the top photographers have done it and any photographer that is doing well out there has invested a good portion of their time not just taking photos but understanding the fundamentals behind the lens. From short course, long courses, workshops, magazine subscriptions and even forums, there is a world of information out there.
Later today if not tomorrow I will begin to work on my first assignment, I am SO excited, seriously if my year 7 teachers could see this now they would want to swat me one! I was not the most energetic one could say!! LOL
I have forgotten to say that my new camera body arrived the other day and already I can say its’ a whole different camera. I think that there must have been some serious flaws with the previous camera. I am so glad that I went to a proper store to buy my camera, I shudder to think if I had bought it elsewhere. This also backs up my belief that for the big things, go to the approved supplier, you do not want to get caught out on such a big purchase. 


The First Assignment

Today I am beginning to work on the first assignment, seriously I wish that I had more computer screens so that all I wanted was in front and not minimised. I am nervous as heck and I am not even near the submission stage! It’s been a very long time since I submitted school work, more than 10 years I think…. Yikes….Well I better quit the blogging and get back to my assignment…


I did ok, if anything I over thought things and ended up confusing myself, I should have gone with my gut instincts and I would have been fine. Oh wells, not worried though, it’s all a part of learning!!

The Second Assignment 10/10

Hmm what was that about over thinking???
This module was based on Shutter’s, Aperture, ISO, so shutter types, F/Stops, Circles of Confusions, Hyperfocal Distance, Depth if field and so much more as well as putting it all together. So yet again a lot to absorb but I am sure one of those things that the more one is exposed to it the more one will understand them and they will become second nature;  
So just like the first assignment, I did overthink this one, I took a bit too much time than what I originally planned too, but it was well worth it. I was really able to understand so much more, I did the required tasks but I also put those tasks into practice so that I could better understand the how’s and whys. I worked really hard on each of the questions and the practical assignments that were required to be done. As for part D of my assignment which was in a nutshell to use what was learned in the module and then get some object from the house and photograph it in a creative way. Well this one kept me up at night, all I though of was ways to photograph things, every chance I got I tinkered and I tinkered a LOT. Poor Bill had a drawer full of bit’s and pieces, he came home one day to find I had pretty much emptied his drawer out and shot the lot!! I had a few ideas for what I wanted to submit and this is what I submitted …

I liked this photo and when showing it to friends they liked it too, it was the one that I felt the most confident in. I had used one of my older lens’s and attached macro filters to it. It was a bit annoying as the filters seemed to keep fogging up. I guess that’s what you get for an eBay cheapie!! LOL So it was a bit of fiddling about to get the shot, but I persevered, after all it is a learning experience and what is the point of putting nothing into to it and getting nothing out of it?? Anyhow I am really proud to say I got 10/10 for my submission, I am SO happy, it really was so well worth all the work put in, plus I really enjoyed myself. 
Now on to module #3!!

The Third Assignment 10/10

Wow what a module that one was!! It took me a while to get my head around it and there was a LOT of procrastinating I enlisted the help of a local photographer and cannot put into words the wealth of knowledge Alan Foon has, he was able to help me piece together so many things and it was quite funny that the mistakes that I had been making really were simple. This module involved finding out the dynamic range of a camera and creating a zone ruler. It also taught various forms of metering and the different techniques that you can use, such as palm metering. Now one of my questions was WHY do I need to know this, WHAT will be the benefit of this and HOW will this affect my photography? Well turns out that knowing this is a very important, all to often I read that people don’t need study, or don’t need to know the ins and outs but really there are things that really are vital. I was watching a TV program last night, Top Chef, there was a chef that claimed to be the top of his field and knew everything; he was asked to do something really simple and butcher a secondary cut of pork, a basic really and he had utterly no idea whatsoever, and was promptly eliminated. It might be great he can cook nice things but you do need the fundamentals.
Learning how to create my zone ruler and understanding how it all worked, learning metering techniques and dynamic range was very hard to begin with, but once I kept trying and kept practising and my time spent with Alan it all pieced together. I was amazed at how sometimes you just cannot rely on what you see in your viewfinder, sometimes it may mean you seemingly over or underexpose an image to get the correct exposure. Using the zone system, a grey card, a meter or even the palm metering technique all are helpful to this. The “Sunny F16 rule, was like a magic trick when I tinkered with it, another incredibly helpful technique to have. As for understanding the dynamic range, WOW! One I spoke with a friend who is a printer and had something personally printed it really began to make sense, I even tinkered with printing out my zone ruler using my printer and was really amazed at the difference from, camera, to monitor to print out. 
I am so stoked that I got full marks on one of the most difficult assignments that I will have to do in this course. I have to add that I want to learn more about this and am signing up for some workshops, its one of those things that the more you understand the better it is and thus far it really has made a huge impact on the way I use my camera!

The Fourth Assignment 10/10

This was very much a history based module understanding about the Camera Obscura how it worked, early film making techniques different chemical processes used to develop film, the histogram… The assignment was to take a photo using the full dynamic range of your camera and then over and underexpose the image then write about your findings. The next part was to take a variet of phtoos from flat lit scence to really contrasty one take the photos over and under exposed and then look at the histogram, then attempt to “save” the most challenging photo.

My overexposed and “saved” shots


The Fifth Assignment 8/10

This was about the colour spectrum, colour temperatures, photographic filters, white balance, custom colour balance, lab colour… This brings me back to Module 3 and dynamic range and it’s becoming so much more fascinating about not just taking a photo but right through to the printing process. Not that long ago a great photographer friend blogged about the difference of where photos can be developed and the vast differences there is from professional grade labs to everyday places. It’s amazing to see the differences and this module helped me to understand why this is, it’s not just a paper and an amazingly good quality printer either!! The module also made you think more like what a camera sees rather than what you see, understanding your camera and how it works is a powerful tool!! I don’t man just how to turn it in and how to set it to different settings, it how to understand why those settings are needed. The more I learn the more buttons I realise I have to play with, the more  I understand what I can do, the more I understand the power my camera has. Pre-visualisation what a word but it really sticks like glue really and yet again due to the course and all the reading that I have done but really helps me think more about what the end result is I want versus what I think it will look like. There were many exercises in this module showing many different ways to convert a photo to black and white. I already knew how to do this and had tinkered with  B&W conversions for a long time but to find more techniques and ways to do the same thing is just wonderful, in fact one to the techniques I am now using a lot more as the end result is so much better.
Using my camera in Adobe RGB I had to take a photo of an outdoor scene ensuring there was blue sky and then convert it to B & W using the various different techniques and then talk about my findings. The second and third parts were about taking correct meter reading exposures and then over expose and under expose by 3 stops, essentially one was a dark scene the other a bright scene or a low key and a high key image. I made an error on my low key and really quickly realised once it was pointed out, sadly it was after the submission and hence why I lost two marks. I am happy though at least I know why and what went wrong and know how to repair this in the future.


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