BECOMING A PHOTOGRAPHER
If becoming a photographer is your dream then you have come to the right place. We know our Professional Photography course gets results. While we could include 100’s of testimonials from graduating students, we thought we would share with you a little of what we see.
Students of all different ages, backgrounds and skill levels enroll in our course. The practical tasks students complete in Module 1 give us a snapshot of each students starting point. This enables us to ensure each student receives tuition and guidance tailored to their individual skill level from the beginning. When students are three-quarters of the way through their course (Module 9) or close to graduating (Module 12), they are asked to re-do one of the images they did in Module 1. They are required to approach the task as they would now, with fresh eyes, drawing on the skills and techniques they have learnt so far throughout their course.
Seeing the “before” and “after” shots side by side is a true measure of the real results our course delivers. While many students are embarrassed by their “before” images, they are amazed at what they can do now. This is a measurable tool for our tutors and is often a huge confidence boost for our students.
Take a look at the photography journey of some of our students below……
In Module 1 I submitted a sunset photo of Story Bridge. The overall composition was good but somehow the photo lacked clarity. This was noted in the feedback. For Module 12, I went back to Story Bridge to put into practice the learnings of the past 8 months. During this period I upgraded my camera and lenses. I also learned how to use ND and GND NISI filters. The photo I chose for Module 12 is quite dramatic and is all about the stormy sky. Mindful of the rule of third, the bridge is place at the bottom third of the picture to give more space for the sky. I also want to capture the moving clouds so I used very low ISO (ISO 50) and used an ND filter 6 stops and a GND filter 3 stops. The aperture was set at f/13 to get the whole scene in focus. I used a wide angle 16mm lens. The exposure duration was 230 seconds. I did minimal post production work on the photo and I believe I would not have been able to take such a photo at the beginning of the course.
Re-do a module one image. I found the prospect of doing this assignment very exciting. All the ways that I feel I have improved over the months have a chance to be proven. So I dug out my favourite coffee mug and went to work. The original image is very basic, a cup and nothing else of interest. No story, no mood just a mug and a bad case of no white balance. I added a background and a foreground to the image with props, brought in some extra light and made the mug part of a story. The pearls of wisdom that come from drinking Tea. The Rose bud Tea in the mug gives it dimension. The pearl strand leads you into the picture where your eyes travel to the cupcake but come to rest of the front lip of the mug that is in focus tempting you to take a sip. I have dulled the colours out of the image using a Black & White filter layer and turning the opacity to 70%. I did this because I felt the colours were distracting. Camera settings were M, f/2.8, 1/25 sec, ISO 100.
Now when I look at the original image I think it would look better if I cropped the image in close on just the flower with the bee on it so that there are less distractions. I also think this image looks flat and doesn’t have any wow factor as I didn’t edit the image in post-production. I think the image could benefit from some Lightroom adjustments such as increasing the contrast and adjusting the highlights and shadows to make the image pop. I didn’t use the rule of thirds to strategically place my subject in the frame which makes the bee lost in the photo and your eye isn’t sure where to look within the frame.
This time when I took a photo of a bee on a flower I chose to use a shallow depth of field which brings all the attention to the bee and the flower and blurs any distractions in the background. I also used the rule of thirds to place my subject on the bottom left intersection, this placement is draws your eye to the subject. I processed my image in Lightroom and adjusted the highlights, shadows, clarity and vibrancy to make my image pop. I think that my new image is far more peaceful but still has wow factor in its simplicity.
Wow, new approach…….with all I have learnt, editing is a whole new ball game. Choosing what to do with the image to both make it interesting and appealing at the same time. Make the image stand out, make it shine. Research the type of photography you would use, research other photographers to gain ideas of how to present, how to compose, how to not loose the object while making it not boring to the viewer….
I have found an idea and used props I had at home in the girls toy room and in the garden outside. I find that using this can be both inexpensive and still gain the result you wish for.
My reasons for the difference in the first and second image is knowledge learnt through this course.
I approached the new photo pretty differently. I remember when I first took the photo the first time it was pretty much a quick process. Look through camera get settings right and take not really thinking too much about what the final image would look like. Today when I went back to the same spot I spent a few minutes just looking out at the landscape first and think about what I could really take. Looked for any framing I could do or different angles. I thought about how I would want the image to look like finished. I decided to then I would finish it in black and white. I wanted to make sure I had a leading line through it so made sure I used the line which is the main road through the photo.
My original photo didn’t really have anything for you to focus on. This photo was meant to capture the ocean, the outline of the ships in the distance and as there was a lot of foreground in the picture it took away from the effect of the serenity of the ocean as well as leaving the sign in the photo. I took the time to think about what I wanted the end result to look like and although the picture is taken from the same spot, I took into consideration the time of day and what I wanted the focus to be on. I therefore took this photo at sunrise, cropped the photo so the ocean was the foreground and you could see more of the outline of the boats and played around with the brightness and contrast of the photo.
I chose my portrait image to re-do for this task. In my original image there are many things I would change. For example the background in the original image detracts from the subject and the placement of my subject is in the centre of the image. This time around I thought about the setting and who I am as a photographer. This in mind I got out into the afternoon sun and used the natural light to capture a natural and fun moment. I also considered the rule of thirds in the image I took for this task which makes an improvement on the original portrait. Focal length: 124mm f/5.6 1/250 ISO100 Images were taken in RAW format.
The things I have done differently is almost everything. so my first photo was in auto mode and it was in no way creative. this time instead of just doing what is asked and taking a photo of something small in auto mode I have created an image. I love all the elements in this photo! The small ring aspect is shown but I have also used artificial lighting and created a shadow to make the image so much more than just a ring.
For this task I chose to re-do the image I had submitted of my dad who suffers alzheimers. The light is good in his room with a lovely window and a nice big skylight so I was able to use the natural light which is what I prefer. I used my prime 50mm @ 1.8 as this is my only lens with a very wide aperture. The image I have chosen has been cropped, and a small amount of sharpening. Comparing this image to my original in Assignment 1 I think I have put a lot more thought into the composition and the light.
My original image had no real story to it, was taken at too wide an angle and really didn’t capture any real point of interest. The image was unbalance with too much foreground and sky, the horizon being centred in the image. There is nothing in the image to draw the viewer into the scene and overall the image I can now say is a little boring.
In composing the new image, I have narrowed the focus to eliminate the parts of the shot that did not add to the image. I was fortunate to have a bird standing on a rock that I could use as a point of focus in the image to draw the viewer in. Using the rule of thirds, I place the bird in the lower third of the image and could also capture the reflection of the bird in the water. I reduced the amount of sky and placed the water’s edge at the upper third of the image. I have tried to capture a mood of a peaceful lake image and the local wild life. Post processing has included adjusting white balance. I then applied a soft light layer at 50% opacity to improve brightness and contrast. I slightly increased the clarity and use the healing brush to remove debris that was in the water to give a cleaner image.
I thought the photo I took in module one was pretty good, after what I have learnt throughout the course I am I bit embarrassed to have to attach this photo. The difference is amazing using the techniques I have learnt there is no comparison in the photos.
I think the original image isn’t too bad but it’s lacking in creativity. It’s not really an image that grabs you. This time around I wanted to get some vibrant colour behind the dandelion to lift the image. I wanted to capture the seeds of the flower floating off – I got my husband to blow on the flower and there was also a bit of wind so the seeds trailed off nicely. I think its a much more interesting image, I’m happy with it.
This little bunch of fungi was photographed as my new version of a small scene from Module 1 (I originally used an eyeball bouncy ball with harsh side light from the window). First of all I decided to change my subject as the original ball wasn’t that interesting, so I found some colourful winter fungi on an overcast day so the light was nicely diffused to reduce any harsh shadows. I used my 105mm f2.8 macro lens and after a few shots at different angles, positioned myself beneath the fungi so that the gills were visible. This composition leads the eye up the fungi to the beautiful bokeh background.
I choose to re take the image of my wedding rings. Instead of photographing them on there own which just comes across as a set of rings. I decided to use props and better lighting. I wanted to show what story they told. I use a wedding card, wine glass and wine to create this shot. I was really pleased with this picture and I was very impressed with how it turned out.
The “rule of thirds”, shadows and lighting, catchlights, wind in hair….. So much more added through what I’ve learned in this course. It’s quite nice seeing the differences actually. Thank you!
The first image I took the shrub with the flowers on it. This image I took just the flower including a grub and blurred the background focusing only on the flower and grub.
My second image was taken during the golden hour, my subject is less posed and even though he’s still looking towards the camera its a much more interesting and flattering angle. Post production in Photoshop is much more interesting too. photo has been edited as well as sharpened and noise reduced.
For this, I re-did Task 3 of module 1. The original is very grey and dull but not all that bad for a beginner. As for take 2. I shot a series of photos inside under different lighting and outside under natural light. Placing the object in a statue with an old emergence alfoil blanket from an old first aid kit at the back and added a few LED lights pointed up to create the Bokeh. I picked this image from the series of images I shot inside under artificial lights using my Tamron 18-200mm focal length 200 F/6.3 Shutter 1.0sec ISO 100
I feel like this course has made me look at things differently, to take pictures from a different angle/location. Rather than just going to the beach and taking a photo, I thought about what I want to achieve with the photo. How I want it too look and if it is an inviting image. I’ve learnt to try and take images that are different and aren’t just the norm. I’ve had my camera for over 2 years and I’ve never been able to use the manual mode so that is a huge achievement and something I’m very proud of.
I chose to redo the Water Lily because looking back on it I found it lacked a little pizzaz. So with great difficulty I managed to find a Water Lily in flower at a nursery who were kind enough to allow me to photograph them. The lillies were in half shade so I had to use my speedlite with a soft box to inject some light onto it to get a sharp image.
Early in the course,Module 1 I took an image of Susan Island on the Clarence River. The image was under-exposed the horizon was in the middle of the frame and it lacked contrast and vibrance. My REDO-image was taken in better light (early morning) and featured the sunlight lighting up part of the image. I edited the image in photoshop adding more contrast, adjusting the tonal curves and adding vibrance and a little saturation.
The Original image isn’t very appealing at all and I think it lacks in interest. I have re-taken a picture of a rose (not the same as I couldn’t) but this time I took it with a black background to bring out the colours in the photo. It was taken inside with a black back ground and artificial lighting and the flash from my camera. I used settings to give good depth of field and get a crisp image. I took photos inside and out but decided I liked this one best. I think it has made the photo look brighter and more professional. I think it looks much better than the original.
I have retaken the pelicans on the beach for this task. I created movement in the shot this time and gave the image a completely different angle to try and capture the pelicans from at their level. I also used a polarising filter for better colour in the sky and tweaked it a little in Photoshop. My settings were f4.5 1/500 ISO200
The original image was taken at a strange angle so have shot it at a much better angle with better light, a shallow depth of field, all of which work to better display the model. My settings were f/4 1/500 ISO200.
I have chosen to retake the picture where we had to be zoomed between 18mm/55mm on a small object. I am pretty happy with the new one. I have changed the whole look by putting it more on display, enhancing the setting to create a complete picture. Also my original image was a little dark and not very clear. I am really pleased with my improvement over the time.
Original image looked dull and lifeless this image on the other hand is vibrant, has a little bit of wow factor and image background nicely out of focus shot with 100mm 2.8 Macro lens original shot with 55-300.
Looking back at this image now, I can clearly see that it was very amateurish. I was not positioned properly to take the image at all. The image was overexposed and there was a lot of distraction in the background as well. I waited for better light this time and had a much better result from doing so. I am quite surprised how my skills have improved during this short amount of time. I definitely take more time thinking about the shot even before grabbing my camera now. Shot with 55-300mm, ISO 100 f/5 1/250
Flower: Lens was EFS 18-55 Macro Mode; Focal length was 55mm; Shutter Speed was 1/40; Aperture was f/5.6; ISO 100
Oh my god, haven’t we come a long way. Honestly the original photo YUK, you must shudder when you receive the first few weeks of a new student, I did looking back. Flower substitution. I decided to try being a little more creative with this image & I am extremely happy with the outcome. I wanted to capture the detail clearly in the petals in the image and a little depth of field. I adjusted my focal point to the centre of the flower & took the image at an angle – Hope you like it.
I choose to re-do my engagement rings on a rock. This time I knew what I wanted and how to go in and get that right image instead of just placing them on a rock and just shooting away. I got up close used my Third Rule focused in on the rings only concentrating on the subject in view also giving a slight background blur and fore ground all in focus and the sharpness of the rock giving great depth of field and making sure my rings were main subject in focus on telling the story in an image of two peoples rings, holding them together as one. My first image was just two rings on a rock not much detail just a rock and rings I found and made a difference with everything I have learnt to do into view using Aperture of F/5.6 Shutter of 1/60 ISO 200 focal length 55mm Sharpened my image and giving a lot more detail
Looking back at my original task photo I can see that I had the best intentions for a good photo but what presented and what I am now able to present are very, very different. My position and what I take note of now is more accurate and I have a better understanding of focus, and angle for my images. For the redo task, I have chosen to take the photo in the afternoon rather than middle of the day. I have thought carefully about what I was trying to create with my shot, and how I could bring the rays out of the clouds that could be seen to allow detail to my landscape photo. I have used a custom white balance and made some minor adjustments in Photoshop RAW processor. My histogram is balanced in peaks and lows without danger of clipping. My goal with this photo to was to capture the open land with the crops and also have the afternoon sun rays captured across the land. I have not had to straighten my photo as I had to do so many times when I first started.
For this task, I chose the basic ring photo I took for module 1 and decided to try and be as creative as possible. I spent most of an afternoon trying different props, setups, and lighting with the same ring set as in the original photo. Once I had the setting so that I was happy with it, I tried multiple different lighting arrangements, camera settings, and software effects. Finally, I decided to try taking several images of the same shot to see what it looked like as a HDR image. However, it wasn’t until I applied an X-Ray effect to the HDR image that I was really surprised and felt like I had an image that was unique and unusual. I don’t believe I could have ever achieved an image like this without all the information provided in this course.
I chose to re-do my task 2 image from Module 1. I have learnt that the image is about taking items of importance. Cut out the stuff that doesn’t matter.
This is a random snapshot of the improvement we see in our students every day. At Online Camera Ed, we care about each and every one of our students, and do eveything in our power to help them succeed.
The next entry here could be you!
Are you ready to take your photography skills to the next level?
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