Friday, 19 June 2015

#Lightscameracurrys ~ A masterclass in getting to know your DSLR

Photo with permission from Joe Blogs 

About 18 months ago I purchased my first DSLR camera. I am not a techie person and find even using the remote control on my TV hard at times with all the different settings and menus.  I wanted to be able to replace my old and faithful Panasonic lumix which has served me well for a DSLR. I researched the market for an entry level camera that would be not too difficult for me to handle and not cost the earth. I found my new friend the Nikon D3000. Together with the camera I bought a camera bag, a tripod, a 32GB Sandisk memory card, and an extra lens AF Nikkor 50 mm f/1.8D which is brilliant for my food photography. Since attending the photography class I have also bought a remote for my camera.

Over the first 6 months I tried to make friends with my new friend very slowly. I poured over the manual and tried to understand all the settings while I continued to shoot on the auto mode. Slowly I got the confidence to switch to Aperture mode and started playing with depth of focus in my photos. My readers encouraged me by leaving me some lovely comments as to how my photos had started to improve. This was sheer motivation and my next step was to try and use my camera on full manual mode but I did not have the courage in fear that if I changed some setting on my camera and I would not be able to put it back.

Photo used with permission from Joe Blogs. 

Luckily Curry's invited me to their lights camera curry’s photo class hosted by Paul Hames, an award-winning field photographer with 25 years of experience. I was really excited but at the same time super nervous as I was worried that I would not be able to follow the class due to my lack of photography knowledge. My worries were soon put at ease when I met some familiar faces at the class.
After a lovely brunch of pastries, coffee, fruits and juices we settled down to learn about aperture, ISO, bulb, shutter speed and lights. For my ability some of the information just went above my head but Paul was a great teacher and he patiently went over a lot of technical knowhow.

The three most important things I learnt from the session were:

Shutter speed- this is the time the camera shutter stays open to allow light to get into the camera. A faster shutter speed will freeze movement in a photograph; a slower shutter speed will cause a blur where the movement is.

Aperture- Where the light comes into the camera, Aperture is represented in f-stops. A lower number, like f/1.8, denotes a wider aperture, and a higher number, like f/20, denotes a narrower aperture. If you take a picture with a smaller f stop the background will be more blurred whereas with a wider f stop the background will be clearer.

ISO- ISO is the level of sensitivity of your camera to available light. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to the light, while a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera. This means that when there is lots of light use a low ISO and where there is limited light use a larger ISO

This useful hand out from Paul summarizes some of the key points.

Photo used with permission from Joe Blogs

Some other useful tips I took note of from the talk were:

  • Invest in a memory card with a large storage.
  • Auto adjust your focus on your camera.
  • Shoot from the hip.       
  • Shoot into the sun.
  • Over expose, this sounds strange but sometimes it enhances a photo.
  • Shoot through long grass.
  • Make use of reflections and shadows.
  • Less is more.
  • Fill the frame.
  • Be brave.
  • Blinking hell -take a few of the same shots you can always photoshop two pictures to make one.
  • Happy accidents, sometimes you just get that perfect capture from an accident.
  • Shoot in colour then convert to black and white.
  • RAW files are better than jpeg for quality.
  • Save photos as psd (photoshop document) or tiff (tagged image file format)as jpeg loses quality over time.
  • Use tripod whenever possible.
  • Buy a remote control for your camera; it’s a handy gadget to have.
  • Rule of thirds.
  • Be adventurous.

With the talk over it was time to put all the theory into practice. Our group headed over to Granary Square and the King’s Cross Pond to take some photos and practice what we had learnt. There were lots of opportunities to take pictures of the canal, canal boats, railway, fountains, Kings cross outdoor pool and pond club.

Taking photography seriously, everyone in action some more chilled than others!!

I am not sure I have achieved everything that I was taught, but below are my attempts at putting into action some of the things I had learnt at the class. (Serious photography experts please don't judge!)I am sure I am going to need lots and lots of practice but at least I feel a little more confident to shoot on manual mode now.

Here I am trying to use the rules of thirds in my photos.

Here I have attempted to use over exposure.

Here I have tried taking the photo using less light to give it a dark feel.

Here I have tried to shoot close up of the plants to show more detail.

I would like to thank Currys  and Canon for inviting me to this wonderful class and I would  also like to thank Paul for helping me to understand my camera a little better.I have a very long way to go but this is a pleasing start for me.

Any photos supplied by Joe Blogs have been clearly credited. All other photography is copyright of citrusspiceuk

You can read more about our class here:


  1. Good to know you have made friends with your "friend". I don't have a DSLR yet but plan on getting one soon. This post has inspired me to get on with it.

  2. Wow.. I wish I had the opportunity to attend such clesses.. I have a DSLR but still in the beginning stages.. trying to learn.

  3. What a fantastic sounding course, I would love to get to know my camera better.

  4. That's a really helpful infographic. I wish I could learn how to get the best from our SLR, I tend to stick with my phone camera!

  5. I really need to get brave and invest in a proper groen up camera. I think I would really benefit from a class like this too!

  6. I really want to do a photography course, wonder if we can persuade them to do one locally

  7. A really interesting post Nayna and a course that would interest me too! Karen

  8. I would love to do something like this - my camera is wasted on auto mode x

  9. I'm still learning to use my very basic DSLR properly! I want to invest in a better one in the future, I would definitely like to attend such classes then!

  10. Wow there is a lot of info in this post. I am still learning about how my camera works too and it can be a bit overwhelming x

  11. I've been using SLR cameras for over 20 years and did a GCSE in photography at school. I'm always amazed that people spend hundreds of pounds on a decent camera but leave it on 'Auto'. When shooting buildings I usually do some bracketing and over expose the shot in order to get the features of the building captured correctly.

  12. This sounds like just the kind of thing I need. Thanks for sharing your experience in such detail.

  13. I love going to this kind of class - I really do end up learning so much and having fun at the same time


  14. What a really useful thing to do. I look taking pictures, but I feel I would take much better ones if I had some idea of what I was supposed to be doing!

  15. I did a class and meant to get a better tripod, in the meantime I stayed on auto and now I think I need a refresher, sigh! Thanks for the tips.

  16. This is an interesting and informative post.. Even I would love to do a course and understand some of the techniques better.. Great pics..

  17. I would love to go to one of their photography classes - so much to learn so little time. Great images Nayna

  18. Oooh I know exactly where you were, we went here too this weekend - I spy Kings Cross Pond!

    I did a simpler course in the New Year it's helped me no end. My camera does things I had no idea about!

  19. This is a course I would very much love to do !

  20. This looks like a brilliant class and one that I need and would love to do!!


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