Trigger-Happy: Learning to Shoot With My Nikon D80 – Part 1
I took a photography course which I mistakenly had thought was taking place in Deptford! Just outside London and about 2hrs drive from where I live. Mea culpa! It was in Southwark an area outside the square mile that was the old City of London. Quaint place with lots of pubs and lots of history. There were five of us, all women in the class. Three of us had Nikon cameras – a D40, D70 and a D80 (that’s me), one Sony and one Canon. We met at the entrance of the London Bridge Mainline Station which is not the same as the London Bridge Tube Station. I got it mixed up and had to walk back where I came from to meet up with my group. Long long or what? Most stations have the mainline/overland trains and tube under one roof but with a million entrances so you need to find out precisely where you are supposed to go to meet people or which train to catch.
Anyway, our workshop was a wokabaut workshop which meant no classroom yipeee…That for me was a great way to spend a Saturday. I was of course late joining the group by about 10 minutes, was quickly forgiven and with smiles all around we set off. Our wokabaut photography workshop was along the timeless River Thames and our instructor, guided us on our route which was packed full of great sights and subjects. Lots of families were out and about. It was an on and off sunny day with a slight overcast which came and went but did little to bother us. I had my umbrella so rain was of little concern to me. This being London it is always a must to carry a small umbrella like having your purse/wallet – always with you.
Our first stop was a spot overlooking the Thames. The sight of the water was a really pleasant surprise for me. Our first lesson was to set our camera dials to the ‘P’ setting and take as many pictures as we liked on that setting. No more ‘Auto’! I reckon ‘Auto’ is really a security blanket for amateur photographers – I am in that category. I guess we get so used to the liklik compact ones or as some call them ‘idiot cameras’ – don’t have to think about it -just point, frame and shoot – most people just point and shoot and so you know what the results are. Usually you end up with beheaded and amputated subjects! That’s what happens when you don’t frame your subject. Well, we live and learn! As we were clicking away, I realised then why we were asked to have fully-charged batteries and spares as well because it was a very practical class – alot of peaceful bloodless shooting! Oh yes and we looked like a motley crew of wannabe paparazzi. Well, hidden talents come in handy when you need them one day.
Our next stop was in a building housing a small but impressive photo exhibition. I can’t remember the name of it. I had a quick look at some of the photos and was quite impressed. They were shots of ordinary things every day stuff but in their photographer’s mind these are transformed into subjects of beauty to behold. Our next lesson was to shoot this clown with the light infront of us. That was really something. With the lesson behind us I took these shots with the light behind me. This was an imposing sculpture. I estimated it to be about 12 – 15 feet high.
Should have found out who the sculptor is of this impressive and imposing figure. It was right in our faces when we walked into the building. Quite clever that behind the blue is a grey piece which looked like bell bottoms or typical clown garb. I’m not sure whether it is carved out of one material or an ensemble of different materials pieced together to create this sculpture. I’m still wondering how it was put together.
Our next lesson was on ISO settings. We went through the Hays Galleria. Wow! the building was something else. Really lovely inside but lots of pigeons flying about which was a tad worrying because you didn’t know when they need to answer nature’s call and where. Nevermind, we went to a sort of arcade where we had our lesson on setting the ISO. We were instructd to increase and decrease the ISO settings on our camera to see what came up. I think I much prefer doing this manually but only when not in a tearing hurry to take a shot of something or someone. I think this was set on 200 ISO.
On our way into Hays Galleria I took these shots at the entrance. Quite an impressive building. I loved this shot – not part of the lesson though.
The next lesson, before we broke for lunch, was the setting ‘S’. Again we are instructued to take as many shots as we liked on different settings to see which one works best for us respectively, and we learnt what a histogram is. That was cool. A few years ago if anyone would have asked me what a histogram is I probably would have said something like, “never ‘eard of ‘im”! Anyway, these are those funny charts that show up on the back of my D80. I used to try to get rid of them – slow huh! Here are some shots on the ‘S’ setting. We were laughing, cameras clicking away – we must have looked a sight! I was excited because I was learning alot from the workshop and discovering how much we each had in our hot little hands.
Then it was time for questions and sharing of discoveries. Instructor and class take a short break to enjoy the sights and sounds along the Thames.
On our way to lunch at one of the many Cafe Nero coffee houses in London, I took some shots of scenes and subjects that interested me. I love photos of buildings. Here’s one I thought was impressive, taken in ‘P’
This is the end of Part 1. I’ll be posting Part 2 shortly so watch this space. In the meantime here are some more scenes along the river taken on my wokabaut workshop.