The RPS organised a Landscape Photography workshop with Mike Langford, a renown NZ photographer based in Queenstown. It was $100 for the day which included lunch, so I was hoping I learned something valuable. Boy was I in for a surprise!
First a little history for those new to my blog (waves *hi* to the new readers), I got my first DLSR about 3 years ago, my much loved 40D and spent a great deal of time shooting everything that would stay still long enough, and trying to learn as much technical photography as I could stuff into my brain. I got comfortable with using P, Av and Tv and tweaking settings to suit. I did try to shoot in full Manual but couldn’t get my head around it, and lets face it. If I am spending several thousand $$$ on a fancy camera body, I expect it to be able to hold up its end of the deal 🙂 So I was happy doing my thing. And then I got the mad mad idea to upgrade to a 7D, which is a fabulous camera but much more complicated and fancier than the trusty 40D.
So this is where I was out before today. Mike started with giving a talk with lots of images to explain his points. His key message was “do as much as you can in the camera while shooting”. It saves you time with less post processing to do, and probably does a better job. I admit I was impressed at the images shown, but was more than a little uncertain of my ability to replicate this in camera. I usually shoot with AWB set to auto because I know I can easily edit it at processing, and I am not a fan of the heavily golden tone you get from the shade or cloud settings. But today I pulled on my big girl pants I had AWB set to Shade all day, and whatever else I was doing seemed to work because the colours overall are bolder and the yellow tone does not impact as much as I had experienced as you can see with this Amaryllis shot.
Mike wanted us to play with settings we had not used before, and to tweak the ones we did know about beyond our usual comfort levels. For me, shooting in manual mode was enough of a challenge, especially as I couldn’t find the histogram setting to view while I was shooting. So I kept shooting, and tweaking and shooting some more. Mike had also asked us to shoot with RAW + JPG so we could see the ‘in camera’ results clearly in the JPGs. It took a while before I started to get the hang of having to control my shutter speed, aperture, exposure and ISO all separately but in relation to the end product. Once I felt like I had that more or less under control I started playing with the Picture Settings, using Landscape and Monochrome.
I have hardly shot in Monochrome so the ability to play with the colours of the filters in camera was a new thing for me and I was quite excited about it. I fluffed around a lot trying everything without too much focus, and then had a more structured approach, deciding I preferred the purple filter option in the monochrome, and then tweaked the tone option depending on the subject.
Then a fellow attendee found a little waterfall so I had some fun with shutterspeeds. I wasn’t in the best position shooting these, but the best option was not only taken but required you to be ankle deep in water, and I didn’t have another pair of shoes handy 🙂
Finally I found a lovely patch of baby pink single dahlias, and had fun experiementing with different apertures. I switched over to my 70-200 for this, to get further into the picture and also blur out the background more. These gave me what I think are my best shots of the day, and here are the two I liked the most. Both shot with in camera filter effects, and its really interesting to see the difference each one makes to its image, how each one brings out different details and shows different textures
Mike also came around while we were at the waterfall and showed me how to shoot in Live View, which was FANTASTIC as I was doing the same thing but shooting each variation. Now I could see it in real time as I made the changes, and assemble the desired settings and THEN make the shot. I was still lacking a histogram view for some reason so I had issues with most of my images looking good on the screen but being overexposes. Will have to dig out my Digital Field guide and have a play with the Live View settings.
Summary of the Day:
I had an excellent time, I was pushed to try completely new things with my camera, and discovered new and interesting ways to make images. I got some shots I am quite pleased with and I now know how to shoot in manual. I still have a LONG way to go with getting any sort of real control over it though, but as with anything, its the journey thats the interesting bit 🙂