Here’s how: I’ve been a professional photographer since the early 1970s when I started shooting freelance on weekends for the North York Mirror newspaper for a couple bucks an image. So for over 40 years I’ve been shooting photos and for over 40 years I’ve been taking lessons on how to shoot better images.
I’m not kidding. When I first started shooting with a Pentax Spotmatic II, I was learning how to shoot by reading books and magazines like Life, National Geographic and People and asking other photographers for help – a lot of help and a lot of asking.
When I switched from film cameras to digital about eight years ago I thought my learning days were over. After all I knew everything there was to know about shooting film. Boy was I in for a shock.
After careful consideration of the cameras available at the time and my personal photography budget I bought a Nikon D-300 (which I still have and later I bought a D-90 as a second body) and a bunch of fast lenses plus a big Nikon flash (now have two of them).
About three months later I said to my wife that I may have made a mistake and perhaps I should sell the digital equipment and go back to film. Little did I know at the time that film, as a commercial medium, was dead. Within a few short months digital photography go so technically good so fast that it would totally replace film for all but artistic photography.
So why was I struggling?
I decided to figure out why I was having such a tough time getting as good images with my digital equipment as I used to get with my film cameras. And I discovered the reason! It’s in the nature of the cameras themselves.
Nobody sells a manual camera like my old film camera the Leica M4 anymore. This camera was totally manual and didn’t even have a built-in light meter. So the Leica photographer set the shutter speed and the aperture manually using an external light meter to determine the correct exposure based on the speed of the film in the camera. As a newspaper photographer we shot Kodak Tri-X at either ASA 400 or boosted the speed to ASA 1600 (a two-stop increase in speed) for shooting sports like indoor hockey using special developers. Grainy yes but at least you got an image in a dark arena.
Oh yeah. The focusing on the lens was manual as well.
But guess what? Almost every image I shot with the Leica was properly exposed, properly composed (thanks to its rangefinder focusing method) and properly focused. That’s why just about about every shot of war photographers in places like Viet Nam and Cambodia show the photographer carrying a Leica.
When i started shooting with the digital D-300 Nikon I could not duplicate these results with any consistency. So what was the issue? I discovered it was the automation in the cameras themselves.
Every camera made today from the simplest point-and-shoot to the most expensive full-frame professional camera is crammed full of automation. For new photographers or folks who just want great snapshot pictures of the family on vacation automatic is the way to go.
Just about anybody using just about any camera on automatic can just about get a near perfect snapshot just about every time. Few products in the world produce as consistent results for a majority of people as the simple digital camera. We all own them and use them a lot uploading photos to Facebook and photo-sharing sites.
But when it comes to shooting shots that aren’t snapshots, automatic mode and the camera automation itself often isn’t your friend.
So if you want to progress past shooting snapshots and capturing some images just like you see in the magazines, you’re going to need some help.
That’s what I found solved my issues. In the last few years I’ve been teaching photography to thousands of students but at the same time I’ve been taking workshops and courses from some of the best photographers shooting today and the quality of my images has exceeded my expectations.
Even better, now I love digital photography in all its forms. From the camera in your cellphone to point-and-shoot you take on vacation to the DSLR you use to shoot your “serious” images you can learn how to get radically better images by taking a few simple, plain-language, non-technical lessons.
So maybe by now you can guess that I am offering a hands-on course starting Wednesday, January 30 from 7 to 9:30 pm at Paradiso Restaurant (125 Lakeshore Road East, Oakville, Ontario). However, I am not doing this one solo. My buddy and professional photographer Michael Cauterman is partnering with me so every class, which is limited to around 10 participants, will have two instructors to help you learn how to take control of your camera.
Our first session, which is a stand-alone introduction to basic digital photography suitable for all camera users regardless of which digital camera you bring with you (remember this is a hands-on course), will get you shooting radically better images right away. At $75 + HST for the course, it will pay for itself over and over as you continue to shoot way better images than ever before.
But there’s more!
We are offering two additional plain-language, non-technical beginner’s advanced workshops again suitable for users of any sort of digital camera. Now normally every session is $75 (plus HST) when purchased separately ($225 + HST) but if you sign up for the three workshops we’re offering a discount so the three-course package is $150 + HST.
If you have any questions you can call Mike at 289-208-5253 or myself at 905-616-5639 and get ready to be shooting radically better images right away.
Filed under: Beginner's series