I went to a two-day photography workshop this weekend. I recently ‘inherited’ a digital SLR camera from my good friend Simon (who also named and designed this blog for me, so there’s lots to thank him for) and I thought I’d better learn how to use it. Prague is such a beautiful city, and you can find inspiration at every turn if you look around you. I spent some time wandering about, snapping away at whatever took my fancy. This sort of practice is helpful, but those of you who know me will know that I’m quite a fan of structured learning: I like a list of objectives, a timetable and a final exam at the end, with the possibility of getting a gold star.
Anyway, I saw an advert for this beginner’s course in the centre of Prague which looked ideal. I spoke to the instructor, paid up and was looking forward to it. Then came a sneaky follow-up email to all attendees requesting that we each send in ten examples of our ‘work’ for ‘group critiquing’. How mortifying. There is a reason I am keen to have lessons.
This immediately brought back fearful memories of GCSE art. The two old crones who taught us (including the one who told my parents that something inside me would die if I didn’t take Art A-Level) could be a pair of witches at times and quite clearly didn’t like children. They used to line our work up in order of best to worst and see which poor student would cry first. A sign of frustrated artists perhaps? ‘Those who can, do…’ and all that.
Happily, this weekend was nothing like that that little flashback. Our teacher was fantastically patient and kind and brilliantly subtle at suggesting improvements. On Saturday we played around with the ‘basics’: Aperture, shutter speed and ISO (sorry, there’s a risk that I may become a real camera bore).
On Sunday we played around with different lighting effects (much more complicated), and learnt the basic of Photoshop. Expect me to look a lot thinner and taller in all my photos from now on. We then wandered along the river in the sunshine and had a beer to reward ourselves. As I said, this was nothing like school.
I learnt a lot this weekend. One thing that particularly stuck is a phrase our teacher used quite frequently over the weekend: ‘Explain your thought process here?’. What a lovely way of saying ‘What on earth were you thinking?!’. I may adopt this when encountering idiots, or my GCSE art teachers, from now on.
As a result of the weekend’s efforts, you can expect to see some fairly frequent additions to my photo page Czech Out Czech Land, which you can access from the link at the top of the homepage, or on Flickr, which you can acces by clicking here.