Photography course

Carmel and I spent the weekend near Hartingdon in Derbyshire attending a beginners photography course.

Given that we’ve had DSLR cameras for years now, and are amassing a small collection of lenses, it was about time we learned how SLR photography works. We booked ourselves on a single day’s Absolute Beginners course with Simon Watkinson Photo Training. This is Simon Watkinson (with a 5D II and 70-200 f2.8) – turned out it was probably the best picture I took all day!

We stayed in the Manifold Inn nearby to the training centre (Simon Watkinson’s house!). It took us 40 mins to drive to the centre in the morning and 5 mins to drive back in the evening – we got very lost on the way there! The pub was fine, serving over-priced, over-rated food and wine. The beer was better, but not perfect. Still, it was real ale and it had a northern-style head on it, so I was happy.

The photo course was good fun. We didn’t know what type of people would be attending, could be a bunch of pros, could be a bunch of muppets. It turned out to be a perfect mix of people with roughly the same experience as us all willing to learn. I think only one person did not have a DSLR (the pre-requisites quite clearly stated the need for a DSLR, so a compact camera in the form of a Nikon Coolpix wasn’t exactly what was being discussed).

The morning was spent at the house, in Simon’s studio, going through the theory. We learnt the relationship between apertures, shutter speeds and ISOs. Most useful to me was the coverage of exposure settings and the histogram I had mostly been ignoring when reviewing previous photos.

The afternoon was spent out and about trying to put the theory into practise. We drove to Hartingdon which was overrun with tourists due to the sunny weather. So we walked up to a little church and practised some portraits and body shots in the church yard. Ian (Simon’s assistant teacher) was the portrait subject – and I don’t think he had ever made much money out of this posing.

Simon posed for a few body full/half length body photos.

Inside the church we took the opportunity to practise with low light photography using our tripods. Here’s a photo of the ropes used to ring the bells.

Finally, at the end of the afternoon we took some slow motion photos of water falling down a small weir. Fairly standard stuff, but good to be forced to practise.

And this was all washed down with drinks back at the pub where we were staying. It was a really good course which Carmel and I would thoroughly recommend.


Wandlebury to Stapleford

It was Easter Sunday and there really wasn’t much else to do so a walk sounded a good idea. We didn’t go far, just a few miles starting from Wandlebury. This was a walk that we had done once before in October 2003 with my Dad.

Duration 2:15 hours
Distance 7.6 miles
Path (Google Earth)