I started off this week with a morning lesson with new DSLR Photography student Patti in downtown St. Petersburg. The weather was about as ideal as you can get in Florida, just warm enough, minimal humidity, and a decent breeze all around. As you can see in the portrait above, there was not a cloud in the sky either.
Patti had taken a photography 101 class recently, so she knew her photography vocabulary pretty well and also her way around her Nikon D3000. So during our first lesson I showed her how to put all those definitions and menu knowledge to practical use in a variety of common shooting situations. We practiced good camera techniques as well, including just how to best hold a DSLR (left palm under the lens barrel, elbows firmly against one's sides) and how to set the focus and recompose using the rule of thirds.
I also showed Patti how to really pay attention to stray objects getting into the frame because not all DSLRs have 100% viewfinders, which means just because you do not see any tree branch poking into the right of the frame in the viewfinder, does not mean the camera does not see it. Check your review screen on the back of the DSLR carefully to see if any intruders made their way in.
Not only was it a photography lesson, but it was also a bit of a sightseeing lesson as Patti is still somewhat new to Florida and lives in Tampa. I hope she returns to visit beautiful downtown St. Petersburg soon, perhaps for our next lesson?
Steve took his second DSLR Photography Lesson in as many weeks. This time we focused entirely on off camera flash, or simply known as strobist. This is currently my favorite thing about photography so it was really fun for me also to teach a lesson entirely on getting the flash of the camera.
We had a number of laughs using ourselves as the models for the lesson. Perhaps the biggest smile of all came when Steve began to realize how awesome, and how relatively easy, off camera flash photography is. It is always very satisfying to share photography knowledge with such tangible results.
Closing in on nearly two years of living in Pinellas County, Florida, I can still easily find great new county parks to visit. One recent Saturday afternoon Kiki and I visited War Veteran's Memorial Park located right at the tip of Boca Ciega Bay. The park is not overly large, but there are enough waterfront paths and shoreline areas for a leisurely hour-long walk. The inland trails did not look that appealing, so a longer trek is available in the park, but the big attraction are the panoramic views of the water. One pavilion in particular was out on its own small peninsula making it the single best outdoor family party spot I've seen in any area park.
One does not expect to wander through the woods and see a tank, even in a war memorial park, but it was an interesting surprise to find. Kiki had no such interest so I could not get that close of a look at it without feeling like I was pulling a 60-pound tank of my own.
The bay views and the tank, neither are intended to be the focal point of the park. A huge granite sundial is. I was really impressed by it for some reason. It looked really solid, and strong, like it had a very important purpose. Perhaps even resembling something from ancient times when answers were distinctly more analog and tangible than the digital ones of today.
This is a Pinellas County park I will definitely visit again due to its combination of the usual Florida nature offerings with a strong sense of history.
When I first decided to offer DSLR photography lessons, I was thinking, "lots of people are buying DSLR cameras, but maybe realizing they are nowhere near as easy to use as their old point & shoot digital cameras. There must be a market for people wanting to take lessons." Steve fit exactly into that category. He recently graduated from his point and shoot to a Canon XT with a pair of lenses and an external flash. Like many people new to DSLRs, he was mostly using auto mode and not happy with the results. The lessons I offer are designed to directly address that issue and get a person off auto mode forever (hopefully) after just a single 2-hour lesson.
It is not often I meet someone who can talk about Rhode Island, but besides our photography conversation, we also talked about the Ocean State, which I welcomed. Steve reminded me of places I had not thought of in over 20 years, like good old Rocky Point Park, which he said is no longer open. Maybe it will turn into a haikyo?
As is often the case, Steve was surprised and impressed with what one can do with an external flash in broad daylight. We already have our next lesson scheduled for later this week!