My parents are both keen photographers. They’re self-taught in the art of photography and they enjoy capturing images of the mountainous landscapes they hike through and love, as well as creating artistic close-up images of nature which illustrate more detail that I ever could have imagined possible. On top of these skills, they have also become talented wedding photographers, completing courses which introduced them to new ideas and skills, in turn allowing them to capture precious moments at a professional standard at the weddings of family and friends.
I have loved watching them progress from complete amateurs to semi-professional photographers who have honed their skills, perfected their own styles and won photography competitions with their extraordinary images. And I have often aspired to be as talented as they are with a lens! But I always thought I didn’t have a steady hand or an “eye” for photography, so I never gave it a chance… until now.
I always try to include inspiring images in my blog posts, relying on my trusty Samsung Galaxy S7 to deliver the pics. But there’s only so much my little smart phone camera can manage. However, I am lucky to have recently acquired my very own DSLR (thanks Mum and Dad!) and couldn’t wait to get out and about to have a go at real photography with my very own mentors at hand.
In all honesty, this wasn’t my very first experience of DSLR photography at all. I took my Mum’s camera to Iceland earlier this year along with comprehensive written instructions on how to set it up manually to capture the Aurora Borealis as best as I could and I managed to get some amazing shots with no experience at all. But trust me, the Northern lights are not the easiest thing to start with when it comes to DSLR photography!
However, I was “winging-it” and had absolutely no understanding of what all the different settings meant and I reverted to “automatic” photography for the remainder of the trip. But now, after learning the basics from my very experienced parents, I can see that my “automatic” photos are pretty rubbish in comparison to my new-found knowledge of manual DSLR photography and the awesome images that you can capture in this way. And once you see the improvements and the possibilities, it’s an addictive thing and I want to get better and better and better. Imagine what my photos of the Aurora could have been like if I had a bit of knowledge under my belt back then!!
So, lesson one in DSLR photography took place this weekend in the stunning grounds of Castell Coch. I’ve been feeling poorly all week and as soon as I started feeling a tiny bit better, I was keen to get out and see some of the spectacular colours of Autumn in Wales to invigorate and re-energise me. And what better way to appreciate it than with a spot of photography.
I started off by taking a photograph of the castle in “automatic” mode. It was an overcast day with a bright glare coming off the clouds, and the image I captured was dark with no detail. How disappointing for such a breath-taking fairy-tale castle!!
My Dad then proceeded to teach me all about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, manual focus and more, until I started to grasp a basic understanding of how to use my DSLR to capture beautiful images and it opened up a whole new world of opportunities. Suddenly my images were well-exposed, bright, clear, crisp, colourful and filled with detail. The comparison was so clear to see and I don’t think I could ever go back to taking photographs in “automatic” mode again. Now I just want to learn so much more and I’m excited to see what I can achieve!
I moved on from taking landscape images of the castle to macro-photography close-ups and then onto portrait (and puppy-trait) images too. I had a fantastic masterclass and expert overview of DSLR photography with the best teachers out there and can’t wait to continue learning more. But for a beginner doing manual, hand-held DSLR photography with a kit lens for the first time, I don’t think my first un-edited attempts are too bad at all. Bring on lesson number two!
The beautiful Castell Coch – The Fairy-Tale Castle:
The stunning Autumnal grounds of Castell Coch:
My marvellous mentor: