My Own Experience
With City & Guilds in photography taken many years ago and further courses in digital photography and post production, to competition wins and being published in both BBC Wildlife and BBC Countryfile magazines, I love the world photography opens up.
For many years I used an Olympus 6 megapixel bridge camera and was constantly told what a great camera I must have when people saw my photos, because obviously I had nothing to do with them! I still use it now, when I don't want to take the DSLR out in the rain or when it's easier to use a smaller camera.
For goals of simple but stunning holiday shots to abstract works of art to winning competitions yourself, my different events are designed for all abilities from beginner to advanced. If the events don't match your needs, I also run bespoke events so please do either email me or call me on 07974 058818 with any queries. All the following come with a handout to remind you of what you've learned. If you have them, please bring a tripod, camera manual and extra batteries. Please see the Events page for dates, booking details and locations.
Landscape (Composition) Photography: this is for those who see an amazing view but the photograph of it looks flat and doesn't capture the majesty of what you've seen. By learning some simple rules of composition, which can be applied to all types of photography and other art, you'll soon be impressed with your own skills. I teach one 'rule' at a time and then allow you to take some shots to demonstrate it. I work my way around the group, kindly critiquing each image, and soon you'll be critiquing for yourself. Any camera is suitable for this event, from a smartphone all the way through to a DSLR.
Wildlife Photography: we'll look at location types such as water, seasons, you'll learn how your histogram can help you not to over or underexpose your image, use of flash, backgrounds and then the laws regarding photographing certain animals as some are protected. Of course, we'll mostly be hoping to entice some birds or other wildlife to appear so we do some practical photography and I'll share a few easy cheats. Those with a DSLR will get the best from this event, but even with a bridge/compact camera, you'll learn new techniques and get new ideas.
Moving to Manual Photography: this is to help you to learn what your camera is capable of, and what you are capable of yourself by using more of its functions than just sticking with the Auto setting. We'll look at the presets as well as how to go fully manual.
Many people who come on my courses don't know what type of camera they have, or even what type to buy, so here is a basic guide to camera types. For reviews and comparisons between different cameras and lenses, look at the DxOMark website to help you in future purchase decisions.
Point and shoot: this is the very basic camera that's often now a throwaway camera used at weddings on the guests' tables. You can only point the camera at the subject and take a photo with no other options.
Smartphone: this is good for instant communication as you can share immediately and it aids visual conversation. You can often take close up photos although the zoom can be touch and go. Megapixel sizes vary depending on what smartphone you buy, as each phone prioritises different aspects.
Compact camera: this is basically a small bridge camera, usually with less zoom. Think of a travel camera with certainly some zoom, but no interchangeable lenses. Examples include the Sony Cyber-shot, Panasonic Lumix TZ80 and Nikon Coolpix.
Bridge camera: this bridges the gap between point and shoot and a DSLR. No change of lens or mirror and pentaprism so the light goes straight to the sensor and you see a live video feed. Harder to judge lighting and exposure but lighter and cheaper. Comes with some preset settings and in newer bridge cameras you'll also be able to go fully manual in the settings, although the ranges will be limited compared to a DSLR. Examples include the Nikon Coolpix B700, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ330 and Canon Powershot SX60.
Compact system camera: a CSC or hybrid camera is, in very basic terms, a compact DSLR. It is mirrorless and therefore lighter and smaller but has interchangeable lenses for more creative control. Please note that if you buy a 'body', it is just the body of the camera and no lenses, so you'll need to buy a lens separately as well. This is good for travel, street photography and discreet shots. Examples include the Nikon 1, Sony A6000 and Canon EOS M10.
DSLR: digital single lens reflex. The light comes in through the lens, hits the mirror and is reflected up the pentaprism, then out through the viewfinder. The reflex is when the shutter button is pushed, the mirror flips up so the sensor can read the light and make an image - you'll hear this happening as you take a photo. DSLR cameras have interchangeable lenses and more options to give full creative control. Examples include the Nikon D3400, Sony A68 and Canon EOS 1300D.
Medium format: this is very expensive and better by far than a DSLR but prices can be £10k - £60k. The quality of sensor is better than a DSLR but with the same functionality. Examples include the Fujifilm GFX50S and Hasselblad X1D-50C.
Please note: I am not endorsing any of the cameras mentioned above, merely giving you examples to look at for your reference. You'll notice that several cameras fit into several categories, but the model numbers will differ. I advise visiting London Camera Exchange for further advice and to compare the cameras in hand, as what seems best on paper might not be the one you best get on with.