Thursday, March 23, 2017

Photography Class

Over a year ago now, I won a Facebook competition for a photo session with Magda Coulter Photography. She'd done my sister's family pictures that year and I knew I loved her style. We had her do our Christmas pictures this year, and as we were in the session, we got talking about photography. She mentioned that she teaches a beginner photography class, so I signed up for it.

This is the third time I've taken a beginner class. The first time, I walked out after the first session and never came back. SO FAR over my head and there were over thirty of us in the class, so I knew I'd never catch up.

The second class was great, and I learned a lot in the class.

BUT THIS CLASS IS BLOWING MY MIND. If you live locally, and you need a refresher class, sign up for this.

My first homework assignment was to submit my favorite picture I've taken and one that shows what I aspire to.

My photo:

This photograph is by Scott Bakken, one of many brilliant photographers I follow on Instagram. So much inspiration there.I love this photograph. The picture is crisp, the colours vibrant. It's framed perfectly and the mist and light are perfect. I'd love to master this.

For my second assignment, I had to take 3 photos and edit them. There were no other criteria.

 The first two classes were very technical in terms of equipment. I wasn't sure I was going to learn a lot in this course, and we actually lost a couple of people after this class. But this is when things got interesting. Our third class was on focus and creating sharp images.

We learned about focus: manual focus, auto focus and continuous auto focus. Then we had to practice.

 We went over the homework in our next class and I realized I did the continuous auto focus shots all wrong. Hah! No wonder I had so much trouble with them.

Now we learned the elements of good exposure...metering, ISO, aperture and shutter speed. This is when I knew this course was going to change my life.

I figured I already had aperture sussed.

Then I managed to capture motion using slow shutter speed - I didn't have a tripod so I balanced my camera on a picnic table.

This was aperture again - small aperture to keep everything in focus.

And fast shutter speed to capture motion again. David and I had a lot of fun dropping strawberries in milk to get this one.

 If you like photography, I highly recommend playing with this site. You'll learn about the ins and outs of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Very informative for me.

Next, we learned about portraiture, both posing and lighting to get the best photographs.

 Also by this point, we were required to edit our pictures and submit a finished work. I'm still relying on free picmonkey at this point, but the results are satisfactory until I learn Lightroom.

 We had to submit a self portrait. In true fatgirl style, I cheated.

 Next lesson was Natural Light. In addition to learning where to place your subject to make the most of light (shade, direction, time of day) we learned some tools - like reflecting and diffusing light to help our subjects. I need a real assistant to come and help me one day and we can practice this one more.

Magda made our homework trickier by requiring that all our homework be submitted in complementary colours.

 In this picture, I tried to balance the negative space. I love how it turned out.

 That assignment was difficult, but fun!

Last week we learned about the power of composition. I knew most of this from taking art and design courses, but it's still always good to relearn things. Magda is never satisfied at having us just learn the lesson, there's always a twist. Apparently the most difficult light is usually in the kitchen and the bathroom. So we were challenged with taking two pictures in those rooms, and practice what we'd just learned.

Rule of thirds, in the kitchen:

In this one I think I'm using extreme composition, by filling the frame. One of the tips we had was if you think you're too close, go closer. For this picture and the one above, I tried my hand at Lightroom. I'm going to have at least a month off between level one and two photography classes, so I'm going to try to learn Lightroom online in the time in between.

We learned about Juxtaposition. This was my attempt at Intentional Mismatch.

 And this was Juxtaposition: Old and New.

Tonight we're learning about nighttime photography. I've been practicing ahead of this class. I love feeling like I'm in control of my camera. I can't say I've ever felt that way before.

 These two pictures were taken within seconds of each other, different shutter speeds and apertures.

And a 30 second exposure of a train. Nifty, hey? I didn't have time to set up my tripod so I just tried not to get blown over as the train whipped by me and kept my eyes closed the whole time!!

Thought I'd add my last homework submissions for this class. We learned about landscape photography. This was probably the class in which I learned the least; yet I do feel as though I was able to build upon everything else I'd learned through the course to do these pictures.

Our first assignment was to take two photographs in the forest. We were also instructed to try for wide scape photos, and not our usual closely cropped pictures.

I scrabbled down the side of a bridge, near Elisabeth's school to get this shot.

And this one was in the forest behind her school at twilight.

 Then we also had to take two water shots. I knew we were going to Victoria to visit my dad. I desperately wanted a picture of the lighthouse.

This isn't quite what I had in mind. The overcast skies, and the fact we were there right at noon made it difficult to get the exposure pleasing. Something was always overexposed. And there were a LOT of people here that day.

However, just as we were leaving the last battery, I looked down the hill and saw this. And well, it felt perfect.

I'd also wanted to go to the breakwater near downtown Victoria. But we started to run out of time, so we opted for Oak Bay instead. Here's my photo of the marina.

And finally, glass beach in Sidney. I usually turn the other way and take a picture of the pier and blue buildings at the end. But today I wanted to capture the rain. Good grief we've had a lot of rain this month. It hasn't made for the prettiest of pictures for my homework, but I like how this turned out.

My final assignment was to take a picture of my neighborhood. Ideally something I could see from right outside my front door. The magnolia trees aren't in bloom yet, but this bush is.

 Not sure which edit I like best. I submitted the top one, but I like the moodiness of the bottom one too.

Tomorrow night we'll learn about painting with light and night time photography. Hoping to add some pictures from that class later :)