I have a confession to make. I have a beautiful Canon 550D camera and, despite using it for some months, I had never had the courage to move it off automatic. Worse than that, the setting that I thought was automatic was actually the setting that returned the camera to the default settings. I have to say that given my ineptitude, the digital camera has been incredibly forgiving.
When I discovered that WINTEC, our local technical institute, was running a three-day photography course in using DSLR cameras run by Mark Hamilton, I knew the course was a must attend. My goal was to discover what the various knobs and settings on my camera meant and how to maximise the quality of my photography in a variety of light conditions. Objective achieved, thanks to Mark’s patience and infinite knowledge.
In addition to teaching the group of us some of the technicalities of photography, Mark blew us away with slide shows of his photojournalistic images from trips to Palestine, Israel and Bosnia. Mark loves structural designs and black and white photography. His portraits, many of older faces, were deeply compelling and moving.
Mark also experiments with the art and science of using basic cameras and traditional methods, creating images that are somehow less blatant than modern digital photography. These crafted images were reminiscent of the grainy images of my youth, with flashes around the edges where the light got into the film. So retro. So nostalgic.
On the final afternoon, Mark showed us a television documentary of the work of the late Robin Morrison. Robin’s style was to capture provincial New Zealanders, dressed in their choice of everyday clothing in or outside their homes. No glamour shots here! But what intriguing personalities and places.
Something else I learned on the course – I have so much to still to learn! However, I do hope you like this selection of some of my first efforts experimenting with manual settings.
First of all, some portraits:
I asked Mark how to make the light bounce off shiny surfaces to make sparkly star shapes. This is how my image of a motor scooter’s chrome turned out:
I think learning to use the camera properly is going to be a bit laborious, like learning to touch type after years of seek and peck typing. There’ll be plenty of photographic “typos” for sure as I refine my craft. However, just as touch typing delivers more professional results, perhaps one day I will have the same kind of efficiency with the use of my camera. Thank goodness for the multiple attempts that digital photography allows.