As a blogger, I know how absolutely essential it is to have great photographs of the subjects you spend hours writing about. For me this is primarily food and an active lifestyle (landscape photography). Otherwise how do you drive traffic to your blog and how do you showcase properly your passions in life?
So this is why I was the first to seize the opportunity when a professional photographer friend of mine, Scott Near, announced the launch of his Photography Academy.
I’ve known Scott for over 10 years, we worked together in recruitment initially and more recently he was Lynne and I’s wedding photographer. 😀 Scott’s been an avid photographer all his life. Photography is his passion, life and living. You can check out more about Scott, as well as his contact details for the Photography Academy at his website.
When you book a session with the Photography Academy you basically get all Scott’s years of photography experience to yourself for 5 hours. The session is tailored to the individual styles of photography you are interested in, and includes:
• Initial chat over coffee
• 2hrs photography with one-to-one technical coaching
• Debrief over lunch
• A further 2hrs photography with one-to-one compositional tuition
• Debrief over coffee
• Follow up appraisal of some of the images captured on the day.
I arranged a day in Glasgow with Scott. We were blessed with a picture postcard glorious cold and crisp December winter’s day. The sky being clear and the light perfect to showcase the images I took as shown below.
We started with our coffee at 10am (coffee and lunch are provided by Scott) funnily enough in a coffee shop we used to frequent when we worked together (old habits die hard!). Scott started by covering the basics of DSLR camera’s (presentations are sent to you after the session).
I’ve had my Canon EOS 1200D since April of this year so I have had a fair amount of experience in using it but it is always good to start at the beginning, so absolutely perfect tuition for all levels of beginner photographer is catered for. Plus, although I’d been using the manual functions of the camera for several months, I knew I had not been getting the best or most from my camera!
We headed out and down to Glasgow’s famous Clyde River and the contrasting landscape architecture of industrial old and new. Here I began taking shots and practising at focussing and using the Aperture Priority setting on some Clyde bridge shots. This is where I discovered, and Scott corrected straight away, the fact I did not have the correct auto-focus point selected to use for this session as the centre point! He then explained, clearly, the “rule of thirds” photography principal and also about “leading lines” which I used and practised applying in these photographs below.
I’d always previously taken pictures with the light coming side on or behind me. Today we looked to emphasise the light, where someone’s eyes looking at the pictures would instantly be guided to. Scott taught me how to look at photographs in a whole new “light”. 😆
So after a good couple of hours out and about and with a whole number of excellent pictures under my belt, we headed back to my house for lunch, (I insisted) a fresh pot of ham and vegetable soup with my wholemeal bread.
It wasn’t a coincidence that I’d made one of my blog recipes for lunch, as prior to editing all my photographs we also took some shots of that. I wanted specific guidance from Scott on how to use a tripod and how to capture maximum light conditions, in full manual mode, as well as composition ideas and close up pictures. I’d struggled previously in these areas and a lot of my food photographs were out of focus or blurred (and not published on my blog for these reasons).
The rest of the afternoon was spent editing the photographs using Lightroom 5. Although I’ve used Lightroom for a while now and read many eBooks on the software, you really can’t beat someone who knows exactly what they are doing, in professional photo editing. What a difference. Here’s the before and after shots below.
In this shot, of the Tradeston Footbridge, the newest bridge over the Clyde, I used the rule of thirds to emphasise the top of the bridge, plus when edited, the right hand image has had the sky “lightened”, by increasing the exposure slightly. A pesky seagull is also removed from the right foreground! 🙂
I love the contrast here between the colour image which was then edited to black and white. The shadows in the right hand image have been increased which make the bridge more prominent.
Under the 2nd Caledonian Railway Bridge (lines into Central Station) the colour image is slightly “blown out”. Editing it to a black and white image makes the light not quite as harsh plus the architecture of the brickwork supports can be more clearly seen.
Turning to face the other direction from the previous image the photograph taken is a little “dull”, but when edited by increasing the highlights, shadows and whites the image becomes a while lot brighter, including the blue posters in the background. I like how the red of the girders above is also made more prominent.
The stunning 1905 brickwork of the supports of the 2nd Caledonian Railway Bridge, and the reflection off the water of the light in the background is brought to life in the right hand edited image by increasing the highlights, shadows, clarity, vibrance and saturation settings in Lightroom.
The overhead power cables in the colour image of the same bridge are “blown out” here, but when edited in Lightroom and changed to black and white, they can be clearly seen. The cast iron steel lattice girders sitting on their granite piers look stunning.
There weren’t many changes done, editing wise in this image. This is good because the idea is to take the very best photographs possible initially. The view was from South Portland Street Suspension Bridge to the previous bridge. A little cropping of the image and a graduated filter were added to soften the blue sky.
What a difference here in the photo of my soup! I love what Scott showed me to do here. The top image was the original one taken from overhead where you can see the legs of my tripod and it’s quite dull overall. The final image was cropped, the temperature increased, the spot removal tool used to edit out the tripod legs and various changes made to exposure and noise reduction and voila! 😀
In summary, what a superb day! I gained a whole lot more confidence in my photography and my knowledge of how to use my camera to its potential has been greatly expanded. Scott answered all questions that I took to him, in laymen’s terms and more. If anyone reading this is considering (obviously from Scotland) the Photography Academy, I have no hesitation in recommending it. It’s a day of discovery regarding your chosen DSLR that will blow your mind!