Always something to learn

Today I spent the afternoon at a Blue-Dog Photography class on Mt Tamborine, it was the second half of a workshops recently cancelled due to bad weather and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. We traipsed through the rainforest to a rock pool and waterfall, the path well worn making it reasonably easy to spot snakes sleeping in the sun. Mt Tamborine has a number of national parks that are perfect for short or long walks, it is an area of the Gold Coast that I never tire of although if you visit the main street on a weekend you might wonder why. The main street is known as Gallery Walk and it is extremely popular with tourists, lots of shops and lots of cafes.

Surrounding the waterfall is an environment that is home to glow worms, you can’t see them during the day which fools people into thinking that nowhere is out of bounds as they clamber over the rocks towards the waterfall. Glow worms are extremely sensitive and their environment easily made uninhabitable by hapless humans, our teacher Danielle lets visitors know that it is a ‘no-go zone’ because it is obvious that they cannot read the signs.

Waterfall, Mt Tamborine

Waterfall, Mt Tamborine Waterfall, Mt Tamborine

After struggling with my tripod, my shaking hands and my camera settings I finally succeed in getting some shots that I am happy with. Learning how to use the manual settings on my DSLR is a slow process, but the class has helped immensely and actually having the time to practice is even more important. Today we played with white balance to create a different mood with our images and a slower shutter speed helped get that dreamy effect I love to see with waterfalls, using a remote shutter release helped with the shaky hands. Local wildlife showed up for a brief period, this really tested the brain and gave me the chance to see if I could capture a creature without resorting to the P setting on my camera. I’m pretty happy with the result 🙂

Water Monitor, Mt Tamborine

Gold Coast at dusk

Rolling waves at Burleigh
Rolling waves at Burleigh

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.