Photography course – the results

As part of my 30 Before 30 challenge last year, I took an online photography course (run by Girl With a Camera) with the aim of learning how to use a digital SLR camera more effectively. Today I present you with the results, which have been sitting in my draft post folder for months!

Assignment 1 – Coffee Splash

The first assignment was all about shutter speed. I would never have known how to achieve a photo like this without it getting blurry, and it wouldn’t be possible with the camera set to automatic. I’m discovering that it’s all about achieving the right balance of shutter speed, aperture and ISO, and when you change one of those you seem to have to fiddle around with the others, as it affects the amount of light that gets into the camera. Anyway, with Lee’s help dropping objects into my over-sized coffee cup, and the Dimona for an interesting backdrop, I eventually succeeded in capturing this photo.

Coffee Splash

Assignment 2 – Levitation

I saw the example photo in the email assignment and my first thought was, “I’m never going to be able to do that.” However, it wasn’t too difficult in the end. With the camera on a tripod, I had to get a picture of myself draped over a chair (having got all the settings right, I got Lee to press the button), and then I got a photo with exactly the same framing without either me or the chair in it. Then it was a question of overlaying the photos in Photoshop and painting out the chair, so it looks as though I’m levitating. It didn’t work out quite as perfectly as I’d hoped, as the clouds had subtly changed position between frames, which affected the light levels between the two photos. This meant that when I painted out the chair, you could still see its outline, which was annoying. However, Lee helped me get rid of this in Photoshop, thereby rescuing my photo. It looks fairly dramatic with my scarf blowing in the wind!

Rach chair

Assignment 3 – Long Exposure

This was a challenging one. The task was to use a 30-second exposure – balancing the other elements accordingly – to capture a scene in low light. Lee and I headed into Stratford at dusk and these were my two best efforts. I particularly like the one with the traffic, as the streaking light effect is really cool. There’s a streak in the river one too – a boat. I give a lot of credit to Lee for being a fab assistant, helping me with the tripod, carrying stuff and generally being useful and patient.


RSC and river

There were a couple of assignments that I never got round to completing, simply because I needed Lee as a model and we just never really had time to do it. I think the course showed that, although I don’t think I’m too bad at composing a photo, I lack the patience for “proper” photography. I’m afraid I just couldn’t be bothered to faff endlessly with settings trying to get the photo looking right, and I got frustrated when the photos didn’t come out how I wanted them to. However, the course was good in that I was able to put the skills I’d learned to good use in Iceland, photographing the Northern Lights (I know the pic below is a bit blurry and grainy, but it was a big achievement to get them to appear on camera at all, and it’s also because although I’ve got better at photography, I still know nothing about processing images and have to rely on my iPhone photo editing app!). My efforts weren’t brilliant by any means, but they were better than they would’ve been had I not taken the course. So I’m calling that a success, and marking this challenge as complete!


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