Getting Out of Auto Mode
I decided a while ago that it would be good to figure out what all the buttons actually did on my camera, and signing up for Kasia Burke’s ‘Get Out of Auto Mode’ workshop seemed like a good first step. Kasia Burke is a professional photographer (obvs) with some utterly gorgeous and striking images to her name, and has been teaching photography for a while now.
I definitely feel, after just one morning, that I know a whole lot more than I did before. And she was patient and encouraging, which was just what I needed. I was clearly the most beginner-ly of beginners in the group – I couldn’t even find most of the buttons she had us looking for, let along explain what they did – so it was a big relief when the first question of the day was one I could answer (“milk?” “just black, thanks”).
I got off to a flying start. Kasia had brought a number of photographs for us to look through and decide which we preferred. I was busy talking eloquently (so I thought…) about how I loved a particular one because of its distinctive abstract quality – until she pointed out, very gently, that I was holding it upside down. Smooth, Pippa, really smooth.
Once we’ve been talked through the basics, we were asked to photograph a pot of spoons (oh yeah, dead arty) in a fairly dark room without using the flash. Took me a while to get anything other than, well, darkness – and I will admit to being loudly (probably overly so) proud when sharing my sense of achievement when I actually got them to show up.
After a morning of trial and error – and fortified with cheese toasties halfway through – I did actually start to feel like I had a bit of a clue about what I was doing. I was getting my head around f-stop numbers (although was still having to remind myself every time which way they went), shutter speeds and even – get me – depth of field.
There’s was actually something brilliantly relaxed about the whole experience. Yes, I was coming from what can only be charitably described as ‘a standing start’ – but yes, I do feel more confident and ready to do some experimenting on my own. Kasia was extremely patient with everyone in the group, managed to make it all seem really clear (brought it into focus? sorry….), and seemed genuinely pleased when we started to get it.
We spent our morning at the Victoria pub in Hitchin (hence the coffee and toasties), starting off indoors and then moving out into the pub garden – and, later, onto the street to try capturing motion by photographing the passing traffic. I’m now thinking of signing up to the workshops Kasia also runs in the woods, down by the river, or even on the streets of Shoreditch.
I’m not sure I’m ever going to be a fabulous photographer. But I’m definitely a more confident one already. At least I can tell you what all… well, nearly all… the buttons do now.