A while back I was invited by Team SCA - sponsored by SCA, the leading global hygeine and forest products company behind household brands including TENA, Bodyform, Velvet, Cushelle and Plenty - the only all-female contingent in the world's toughest ocean race who are clearly no strangers to interesting and exhilarating challenges - to test myself, to push my boundaries. They suggested a range of activities - some of which were way beyond testing my boundaries (a bungee jump? Hell no!) and others which just didn't seem like they would be much fun on your own for example 4x4 off road rallying or zip trekking)
The opportunity of a half day photography course though? Now that really excited me. I've been using my DSLR, more commonly known as Jonny, for over a year now and in that time I've noticed a big improvement in the quality of my photographs (hopefully you have to!) However I've still got a long way to go and I rely heavily on 'auto' or the preset functions on my camera. The time had come to push myself, to challenge myself to really get to grips with my camera and it's settings.
The first challenge Jonny and I faced was getting to Nottingham for 9am on a Saturday morning - leaving the house at 6.30am on a decidedly autumnal morning to drive 80 miles in a car with no heaters wasn't exactly a joy - a quick pit stop for a hot drink at services helped no end.
The second challenge was one of parking - it hadn't been clear on the details that there was no parking at the venue so I hadn't checked this out before. Cue me driving around the vicinity panicking about being late and worrying about parking fines! Thankfully I managed to park in a supermarket car park but I had to dive out of the course during a break to move it to another car park so I didn't get clamped! Although it's a relatively minor thing in the scheme of things I find being lost or struggling for parking when I need to be somewhere quite stressful. I hate being late.
The course itself was three hours long which is pretty heavy going first thing on a Saturday morning but luckily the rest of the group were really friendly. There was a real variety of equipment and experience levels among us but the main focus of the course was on aperture and ISO. Both terms I've heard many times before. In fact both terms which I've had explained to me and which I've understood at the time but for some reason have struggled to absorb. For one thing the numbers don't seem to make sense - like the whole ISO thing where the big number means less light - isn't it just logical that small numbers equal less light into the camera? Anyway, after a lot of discussion and some examples on screen we had a go at trying out the different settings for ourselves so we could put into practice the effects that these settings would create.
By the end of the morning I felt decidedly braver about getting off auto and I've since since a difference in my photos however there are times I revert back to those preset settings for ease, particularly at the moment whilst natural light is about as rare as rocking horse poo . . . I would love to go on another, more practical course now. One where someone can look at my images and tell me that I should have changed my ISO or aperture settings and why. I'd also love to do some work on my editing skills!
So - were my boundaries pushed? Yes, totally. But there's definitely room for them to be moved even further!