Entries in photography teacher (181)
I have not had many evening lessons yet this year, but yesterday I met Pamela in downtown St. Petersburg for a 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson with her Canon T3i. She has had her DSLR for over a year, but had only been using it in auto-mode. With an upcoming trip to Alaska to photograph grizzly bears, she wanted to learn more about what her camera can do to improve her chances of getting great nature shots.
Pamela told me at the start of the lesson that she knew nothing, and many people actually say that, but it is never really true as everyone knows at least a little about photography. Either way, Pamela was a quick learner of my 5-step system for making a well exposed and sharp shot in any given situation, and with the fading evening light there was a wide range of settings needing to be used to get a good exposure. The Canon T3i has buttons for all the things you need to change, though it lacks a top LCD, it is still an ok camera egonomically for setting up a shot (though suffers for reviewing shots due to the usual Canon making you hit the review button twice before you can actually properly review a shot).
While Pamela practices she will be deciding which new lenses to invest in for her wildlife photography hobby.
The past few weeks I have been teaching former Morean Arts Center photography student, Stacy, how to develop a Mac digital photo editing workflow. She is new to Mac as well, so I have been showing her some of my top tips for using OS X as efficiently as possible (hint, use Expose every day). She also got the same apps I have so she could learn my exact photo editing workflow which starts in Aperture 3, then Color Efex Pro 3, then finally Photoshop CS5.
Stacy made this photo of her daughter and her boyfriend on their junior prom night. No flash was used, only natural light. Here is the process for how the photo was transformed:
Aperture 3 workflow:
- white balance slider increased toward cooler (blue)
- shadows slider increased
- mid-level contrast slider increased
- dodging brush used on all skin areas
Color Efex Pro 4 (she has 4, I use 3):
- Polarization filter applied
- Pro Contrast filter applied
Photoshop CS5 (approximate steps):
- Quick Select Tool used on all skin areas
- Dodge Brush used selectively
- Healing Brush used for blemish removal
- Clone Stamp Tool used for more complex blemish removal and slight skin softening in general
- Dodge Brush used in highlights mode to brighten eyes & teeth
- Clone Stamp Tool used to lighten under the eyes
- Quick Select Tool used on water
- Contrast adjustment made selectively to water
- Quick Select Tool used on sky
- Highlights adjustment made selectively to sky
- Saturation adjustment made selectively to sky
- Unsharp Mask filter applied
None of these individual techniques is advanced. To a properly trained Photoshop professional they might even seem crude. However, what each technique lacks in complexity, the complexity comes from knowing when and how to use each one to accomplish a photo retouching goal. At each stage of editing the photo looked better. Through experience it can be learned how to keep adding yet another stage to one's editing workflow to make a photograph reach its full potential, or in some cases, save a photo that would otherwise be culled.
I have been teaching 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lessons in downtown St. Petersburg for almost four years now. In that time I believe I have only twice before taught someone with a non-DSLR camera. My reasoning for that is that there is a uniformity to DSLRs even across brands allowing me to quickly show a person how to shoot in manual mode. Non-DSLRs have no such uniformity and it took quite some time just figuring out how to change the aperture on Harvey's Sony digital camera. Although it took more time than usual, I was able to figure out how to use the camera in full manual mode and thus began teaching my 5-step process to Harvey.
He kept asking me, like many people do, "which settings should I use for this and that," which I can never answer because unless I am looking at the same subject and light, I cannot really say. This is why I stressed to him and to others that I teach a process that allows you to determine which settings to use on your own. Of course there are basic default settings one can start out with in typical shooting situations, and those can be found in my photography tips section, but I cannot answer questions that contain the words "always" and "settings."
Eventually Harvey became a bit more comfortable, and accepting, of shooting in manual exposure mode.
On a surprisingly crisp Florida morning in May I met John in downtown St. Petersburg for a 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson. His interest in photography has been growing leading him to purchase a Canon T4i making the transition from point-and-shoot to the DSLR world. He had also starting reading up on photography before we met so he had familiarity with photography terms, but just needed help seeing how they all relate and also simply how to set them on his DSLR.
After I showed him around his Canon T4i we walked around the waterfront area practicing how to use the meter to get a baseline exposure, and then how to read the histogram after making the shot to see how the results really came out. I showed John how to control DoF with aperture and focal length and then concluded the lesson with a little shade versus direct sunlight portrait practice.
Josh received a gift certificate from his wife for a 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson which he cashed in this past Saturday. I met him in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida on a fine spring morning. It was my first time to get hands on with the Sony A390 DSLR. Josh had been using it mostly on auto-modes and as happens with such exposure modes was not getting consistent results. From the start of our 2-hour photography lesson I had him shooting in manual mode to start to take control over his images and be able to get well exposed and sharp shots in any shooting conditions.
There are many things to learn about DSLR photography, from just very practical things like how to safely and properly change lenses. Then there is how to review images accurately in the field and also how to simply hold a DSLR in the most stable position. I teach all these things in addition to how to use make a photograph in manual mode. We also packed in how to control depth of field (DoF) and how to make portraits in the shade. It was a photography knowledge filled lesson!