When I first bought my camera, I sat down with the manual, determined to master the intricacies of aperture and focal length so that I could take good photographs. By page 60, my head was spinning with symbols and acronyms, so I flicked back to the Quick Start section, set the camera to automatic and started shooting. The photos looked alright and automatic became my default setting. After all, why would the camera manufacturers spend time and money devising so many scenic modes if they didn’t work. Every now and then I set the dial to the mysterious A or S with varying degrees of success and then crept back to automatic.
Recently I picked up the manual again and realised there were many things I could do with my camera if only I understood and remembered the instructions. So, when I saw Gillian Allard was teaching a Learn to Love Your Camera workshop at Slamseys, I signed up straight away.
The day was wet and miserable so we started inside as Gillian explained some camera basics and we then discovered how much fun you can have with a camera and a set of fairy lights as we painted with light.
After an easy to understand tutorial in white balance the weather improved a little, so we went outside to put some theory into practice.
We photographed around the pond and sculpture paddock with Gillian on hand to guide and explain different techniques and then we returned to The Barley Barn to review the photographs and wind up the day.
Perhaps the most useful thing I learned (apart from realising how much more there is to learn) was that no matter how sophisticated the camera, the key to a stunning photograph is setting it up correctly. So from now on, I shall be looking beyond the obvious shot to something more creative and spend a little more time looking through the viewfinder instead of trying to rescue a badly composed photograph with editing software. I’ll now explore my camera’s capabilities with more confidence and mostly, I won’t be using the automatic settings.
Gillian Allard is currently showing photographs in THE AFTERLIFE exhibition in The Barley Barn at Slamseys.