Over a year ago, I was struggling to get my website running and doing a terrible job photographing my quilts. When a flyer crossed my desk about the Nikon School photography course, I was intrigued. Although I have only a small interest in photography, I felt that getting better would enhance my website and blog. So I signed up and attended the November 2010 weekend classes in New York City.
I was incredibly impressed with the instructors and the content of the course. It taught me about concepts that were completely new — ISO, white balance, shutter settings, setting the colors on your computer screen, how to manage photo files, and much more. The technical aspects of photographer were interspersed with instructor stories and gorgeous photos. It was a great weekend.
It’s now November 2011 and my teenage daughter is interested in photography. I decided to accompany her and repeat the class. After a year, these terms are no longer new and I have a better understanding of photography, despite not applying anything that I learned to my blog or website.
The course began at 9:30 AM at the Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC. While the location is convenient, the hotel is old and the ventilation system was terrible. There were approximately 300 people in the room and it was HOT. Very hot. The instructors kept apologizing and calling the hotel for assistance. The upshot is that the heating system is old and has an “off” and an “on” setting. It was pretty uncomfortable. That is my only criticism of the day.
The first 75 minute session was conducted by Bill Durrence. He covered the workflow process for photography — shooting, downloading, editing and sharing. He covered the meaning of ISO (light sensitivity), shutter speed, and aperture (the hole that lets light into the camera) — and how these three concepts relate to each other. Although this made no sense to me last year, this year I understood the majority of it.
After our morning break, Nick Didlick took over. He had a nice presentation of his photos, then launched into discussions of how to control exposures, depth of field, and guidelines for using flashes. This was very interesting and easy to understand.
Box lunches were provided. Being as my daughter and I are gluten-free, the wheat-laden sandwiches and cookies were not a possibility. We headed across the street to Penn Station for a quick lunch.
The course started promptly at 1:30 PM with a 15-minute question and answer. Bill and Nick are both excellent speakers and answered quite a few questions. Bill continued with a lecture on NEF (raw) files versus JPEGs. He then talked about resolution (pixels). Finally, he gave a demonstration of Nikon’s file management system (browser) and editor. This was interesting, but my daughter and I were both on overload and having trouble focusing.
The final lecture was on creativity and how to best compose photos based on your subject, background and lighting. There were lots of good photos to critique and the last hour went very quickly. The composition section was very applicable to art quilting. Basically, the message was to focus on the important part of your subject and skip the extraneous details. For example, they showed a photo of a mansion with a large flag, surrounded by a parking lot. The focus of the photo was the flag — so they showed another photo, from a different angle, of just the flag. Much better.