Want to take better photos?

I am available for tutorial sessions, either one-to-one or in small groups. You can choose from the following topics, and either explore each in depth, with opportunities to practice and get advice on using particular techniques, or I can provide a whistle-stop tour of all the aspects.

  • Choosing your camera
  • Using your camera #1 – basic camera techniques
  • Using your camera #2 – getting creative, exploring settings, filters and accessories
  • The digital darkroom – what was possible in the darkroom, made easy on the computer
  • Beyond the darkroom – techniques that extend photography into the realm of the digital art studio
  • Pay and display – printer technology, print formats, putting your work online, protecting your copyright.

I’m also willing to set up bespoke sessions – for example, macro techniques or wildlife photography. Dates and times by arrangement. Cost negotiable based on when, where, how long, and what equipment is needed.

The sessions in more detail:

Choosing your camera – What’s the best camera to buy? It depends on who’s buying the camera – and not just their budget, though that is part of the equation. It’s a case of horses for courses, not one size fits all. There are advantages to having a professional workhorse DSLR with a huge range of large lenses and other equipment, but don’t be too quick to go down that road. Quite apart from the expense, it can limit your scope for where, when and what you photograph. Modern small compacts are surprisingly powerful, and bridge cameras do even more while still being small enough to carry with you everywhere, yet both are more than capable of taking amazing photos while being very affordable. To get the right camera(s) for you, at the right price, you have to ask yourself the right questions. I’ll explain about the differences and guide you through the questions to help you make your choice and get the best value solution to meet your needs.

Using your camera #1 – Basic camera techniques. This will depend on your equipment, but we will look at what your camera does for you automatically, and how to use programme and manual modes for more control; we will discuss wide angle, telephoto and macro lenses and settings; composing your photo; making best use of available lighting; and a few other tips for better photographs (I’ll know what they are when I see what you are doing!)

Using your camera #2 – Modern cameras have a plethora of built-in effects and more are available if you use attachable filters and accessories. We will look at what your camera does and how you can make best use of its settings to add a little twinkle to your photographs (that being one of the more common special effects!); subject specific modes; options that you are best to avoid as a rule … and when to break the rule. I’ll also explain about optional extras such as macro converters, flash and lighting gear, tripods, monopods and gorillapods …

The digital darkroom – Our eyes adjust to different lighting, and so do cameras. Photographers have always used techniques to correct under or over exposure, to bring out detail in shadow areas or highlights, to compensate for colour casts due to lighting, and so on. Such adjustments may be done automatically by cameras, but photos can often be further improved using computer software.

Even the most basic picture browsers can have a bewildering array of options for tweaking your photographs. In this session, I will explain about the techniques that are the digital equivalents of what was possible in the darkroom, but has now been made easier on the computer – so easy, that you can easily overdo the effects!

Learn about how to use adjustments to contrast and lightness; correct white balance and gamma; sharpen edges and reduce noise; and other techniques to make your pictures stand out – without losing the natural feel of the photograph as something that you saw with your own eyes (i.e. not a surreal vision!)

Beyond the darkroom – techniques that extend photography into the realm of the digital art studio. Before digital, there was the fine art of airbrushing. As Stalin’s opponents disappeared from the Politburo they had to be removed from the photos too. Now with computers you can do it to that irritating guy who photobombed your holiday snaps. All it takes is a wee bit of cloning and blending. You can also apply perspective corrections to wide angle photos so that walls are vertical and floors horizontal; get rid of dust, scratches and folds and restore the colour to scans of old faded photos; and even make your photo look like a painting or drawing, taking your pick of the artist responsible. Tell me what you want to do, I’ll show you how to do it. My current software of choice is the open source GIMP, which is very versatile and customisable with many third party plugins (and being open source, also free). Note that there is so much ground to cover here, a session would probably concentrate on two or three techniques, and others could be dealt with in further sessions.

Pay and display – buying and using printers (why are some inks better than others?); using specialist print formats such as canvas; putting your work online through social media, photo sharing sites, stock photo sites, or your own website; and if you are going down that route, some tips about protecting your intellectual property rights.