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Peter Hill

Another successful 'camera off auto' workshop

Published on 14th October 2014

Members and Friends of the Guild who signed up for the latest 'camera off auto' photography workshop went away with new-found skills and confidence.

They travelled from as far afield as Suffolk (Martin Looker), Essex (Sara Gregson), Derbyshire (Phil Eades) and Wiltshire (Aly Balsom) to Fordhall Organic Farm, a community land intitiative in Market Drayton, north Shropshire to share the intensive one-day course with fellow Guild members.

Eleanor Perkins and Leo Townsend, communication specialists with HGCA took advantage of the workshop, along with freelance Keith Stevens; John Howard, marketing director at the Danish Bacon and Meat Council; Joanne Briggs and Caitlin Peck, the communications team at the National Sheep Association; and guest Hayley Parrott, deputy Farmlife & Community editor on Farmers Weekly.

The workshop, one of a series of continuous professional development events organised by Council member Julie Mate, was quickly filled thanks to the reputation of previous events. And this one did not disappoint.

"It was an excellent day filled with techniques I will definitely use in my work from now on," says marketing communications freelance Sara Gregson.

BGAJ Photo Course 2014

Photography lecturer Paul Southall (left) offers tips to Hayley Parrott, Farmers Weekly deputy Farmlife & Community editor, while livestock freelance Aly Balsom takes a serious look at her camera's control settings. Photo: Martin Looker.

Professional photographer and lecturer Paul Southall delivered a crash course in taking better, more interesting photos, saying he covered two days of theory in one morning.

"And by the end of the day it felt like it!," says Sara. "Nevertheless, once we were outside taking photos of our colleagues, chickens, pigs, the sky, the landscape and a vintage tractor, most things fell into place!

"It can be scary taking the camera off ‘auto’ but it is so worthwhile. By following a few key principles, my close-ups are now much sharper (short depth of field), I know how to increase my success inside gloomy cattle sheds (increase the ISO setting) and can take shots where objects close to me and far in the distance are both in focus (long depth of field and focus a third of the way between the two). Magic!"

Sara describes lecturer Paul as knowledgeable, patient and encouraging. "It was one of the most useful days I have ever spent on training," she concludes.

Fellow Guild member Martin Looker agrees and is looking forward to learning more from a future workshop: "The course was useful, but certainly there were other aspects that I, personally, would like to pursue so, yes, a repeat would be worthwhile."

Phil Eades of Mardle Consulting adds: "The course was really useful, although by the end of the morning I think most of us were in a state somewhere between confusion and panic having been told so many things the camera could do and the array of settings that were available!

"However, in the afternoon the combination of a teach-in on each individual's camera and a varied practical session meant all became clearer. Now the trick is to be brave, get off auto and practice! I would recommend the course; it taught this old dog some new tricks!"

Peter Hill

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