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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Photography 101

When I was in high school I was what you might call a bookworm/creative type.  Sports? I left that to my sister.  Academics? My grades were decent but certainly not at the top of my class.  But give me a stack of books or a drawing pad and I could keep myself occupied for the rest of the day.  I took a lot of art classes and for the most part I enjoyed all of them (though working with clay was never my strong suit).  Perhaps the class that I loved the most though, was Photography.

I took a few photography classes in high school with my dads old Pentax SLR camera.  Pretty much from the first click I was in love. The sound of the shutter is music to my ears. I especially loved the developing part of photography class (yes - this was back in the day when we used film cameras, not digital!). I loved being in the dark room - so dark, quiet and peaceful. Developing the film and seeing your images on that first contact sheet. And the best part - watching your photos come to life in the developing chemicals. The image literally appears before your eyes.

Central Park 2004 - taken with my SLR
In college I had to get serious though - time to focus on classes for my future career! I had a limited number of elective classes that I could take, and I saved those for when I studied abroad in Italy.  I knew that being in Italy would be one of the best places to take a photography course. And man, was it ever.  My skills had waned a bit by that time - it has been over 3 years since I had been in the darkroom. But I still have many of those images hung up around my apartment today.

Marist College - Florence 2003! 
Right, back to the present. As you might notice from my blog - I still like to take pictures. Though I can't take credit for all of the photos on this site - my husband has a very keen eye for photography as well - hopefully it is very clear that I really enjoy it.  After receiving a dSLR camera from my brothers in-law for our wedding, I was thrilled to get back in to the mechanics of taking pictures.

Did I mention that the last photography course I took was in the spring of 2003? That would be SEVEN years before I got my hands on another SLR camera (which makes me sick to think that it was seven - oh wait now EIGHT years since I was studying in Florence). To say I had forgotten how to use an SLR would be an understatement. Sure, I knew what the aperture and the shutter speed did on a camera - but did I remember how to set them properly to take a good picture? Not even a chance.

After a few months of playing around with the manual settings on my own and getting fairly frustrated, I knew I needed some help. So, I decided to take a photography course. I didn't want to take a semester long course at college, really all I needed was a refresher. And thats when I found LSP. London School of Photography. They offer short courses (either one weekend or four nights after work) for beginners, intermediates and in special topics.

Finally, my week had come - I was going back to school! It was a little hard sitting in a class room for 3 hours after a long day of work, but once we really got in to the material the time literally flew by.

What did we learn about?

Besides all of the obvious stuff - the bones of a dSLR, what photography is (playing with light) - we learned about...

Capturing light in dark rooms...

Painting with light...

I managed to get this image by myself by setting the camera on the kitchen table, pushing the button and then running in to position to make the heart shape with the candle I was holding...all in the dark

Ok - this picture didn't have anything to do with lessons learned in class, but I was dog sitting that week and he's just too cute not to take pictures of!

Back to the lessons...
We learned about capturing moving objects and objects in motion...

Is it just me or does the guy on the bike look like a ghost?
Panning to capture moving objects...

Depth of field...

And all of these lessons rolled in to one!

On the last day of class we were each given individual assignments and then we went down to Chinatown to shoot images for this assignment.

My assignment was "details". 

Go figure. 

I think my teacher caught on to my macro setting obsession.

Here are my final photos from my final project - 

Overall I was very happy with this class. It wasn't too intense and didn't move too fast. I got a really good refresher on all of the parts of the camera - and most importantly - I felt in control of the camera again. 

Most times...


  1. Awesome Tracy! Photography is so much fun, I'm glad to hear that you're taking classes and snapping shots with your DSLR!

    Happy shooting and safe travels!

  2. I loved looking at this!!


  3. thanks joey and jess! i hope you enjoy the rest of the blog :)