One of my favourite Christmas presents was a gift voucher for an evening photography class with BlueDog Photography, it entailed spending a couple of hours on the beach at dusk with a small group of 4 photographers and 1 instructor, each of us capturing different perspectives of our surrounds as the sun set. Being the least experienced (the rest of the group already working primarily in manual mode) my intention was to learn more about the technical aspects of low light photography, how to balance the exposure during a sunset and capture a shot of the city at night without upping the ISO and losing colour.
Tripod in hand I clambered over rocks and set up in the sand, my tripod is very light and easy to carry but I learned that it wasn’t really sturdy enough to cope with my camera and the 300m zoom lens and it wobbled a little, regardless I found a spot and set about taking photos of the surf, skyline and seagulls. With such a small group, it was close to having one-on-one tuition and our instructor encouraged me to experiment with slower shutter speeds and white balance to create different effects, the slow shutter speed was great for photographing the water washing over the rocks, not so good with seagulls who have a tendency to move as they keep a watchful eye out for food. One of the most useful tools a photographer has for changing the perspective and getting creative is their feet, not content with staying in one spot I moved around a little, wary of soft sand and water creeping in as the waves rolled over the rocks. I have to admit, I struggled with composition a little and my photos all look very similar, in the end I didn’t worry so much and instead focused on the effects I could get experimenting with shutter speed and white balance.
What did I learn?
- A cable or wireless remote is essential for avoiding the wobbles and getting a sharp image (don’t leave it behind)
- Take a torch, it is useful for changing the settings on your camera in the dark
- Adjusting the white balance to ‘cloudy’ provides a cool effect to a night time shot of a city skyline
- You don’t have to up the ISO to get a great night time shot if you have a tripod and a remote
- Focus on what it is you want to get out of the activity
- I must get a more sturdy tripod
Overall it was a fun evening, and I got a few shots that I was happy with even though a couple of them could be a little sharper, doing these types of classes really does encourage me to get out and about a little more and experiment with my photography – just have to choose my next location (within driving distance) and go.