Mr. P gave me a digital photography class for Christmas and I cashed it in last week. The class was run by Future Light Digital Workshops and served as my first introduction to digital photography. I was in good company as at least a few others in the class had only film training as well. Since it was a beginner's class, I wasn't sure if it was going to be too basic for me since I already understood aperture and shutter speed. Though the workshop did cover the basics, I also learned a few really valuable tips.
The first lesson that has made a night and day difference in my photo taking skills is the white balance. I pretty much always used auto and it pretty much always did just on OK job. I learned how to set custom white balances for indoor spaces using a grey card and I'll definitely be buying one to tuck into my camera case from now on. Take a look at the automatic indoor white balance setting:
And now, after the custom white balance has been set:
There were a few props in the workshop room which also nearly convinced me to buy a small studio white box. I struggle a lot to find uncluttered backgrounds in good light. Here the focus is all on the glasses:
Then we took to the streets to practice in natural light. I remembered that I need time to observe and create. Setting aside even 20 minutes to walk around with my camera was the difference between me taking pictures of things and me seeing pieces of life to document.
(Funny aside - can you tell which people in the photo below are students and which are waiting for the MUNI bus?)
Finally, we took it back inside for a crash course in Light Room. I never thought it was truly worth it to shoot in RAW until I saw the benefits of editing in Light Room. I had been shooting in Ultra Fine JPEG then editing in Picasa because it was free and worked for my purposes of online publishing. However, more recently I've wanted to print pictures and order gallery canvases. The quality and control using RAW and Light Room that I witnessed made me a convert. The workshop was a really useful way to play around with the tools in real life whereas before I just sortof heard other blog friends talking about it. I've been shooting in RAW since the workshop and ordered a copy of Light Room for editing (though I'll still use Picasa/G+ to save and post).
What are the most valuable digital photography tips you've learned? Have you been self taught or taken classroom training?