Toast of the town photography workshop with Millennium Hotels & Dreghorn Photo

by leilaarfa on July 17, 2014

Elegant architecture. A stunningly dressed plate of food. Brightly-coloured plants and flowers. A scenic landscape here and there. Between all of these things, over the years, I’d say I’ve developed a decent knack of capturing what my eye likes. Notably, the aforementioned items tend to be things that don’t move, and my confession is that I’ve always shirked the task of properly learning how a camera works. I’ve been lucky, I’ve taken some gorgeous shots, but everytime The Silver Fox (who is the most technical yin to my utterly artsy fartsy yang) tries to explain apertures and shutter speeds I’m afraid I’ve failed miserably to retain the info for more than five minutes. Still, between my trusty Canon EOS DSLR and frighteningly convenient iphone, I’ve kept the blog looking not too bad over the years.

But wait – what’s that? An invitation to a photography workshop for bloggers? Where were you guys when I was trying to take an action shot of a chef a few months ago? So anyway, thanks to the folks at Joe Blogs Network, myself and a (collective noun?) brace of bloggers gathered at Glasgow’s Millennium Hotel on George Square for a day of clicks and learning with Dreghorn Photography.

After a slightly frantic attempt to the leave the house on time (achieved!) and almost getting the wrong train by sitting on the train BEHIND the correct train…I made it through to dear ol’ Glasgow town for bang on 11am. Conveniently, the hotel’s pretty much attached to Queen Street station, so within seconds I’d arrived, just in time for a nice cuppa and welcome from Lisa and the team from the hotel, as well as Gemmy and Rossy. First up, we did a wee ‘Hello, my name is…’ intro round the table, and then Stuart (and his assistant Hamish) took to the learning part of the day.

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So what did we learn? Well, the basics, but so simple and easy to put into practice, that I think/hope most of us will make the effort when we get back to our normal shooting routine.

I was already aware of the first two golden rules – forget the green auto select function, and that flash is your enemy. So much so, that despite my morphine’d up to the eyeballs state in hospital after giving birth, I remember barking loudly the words ‘NO FLASH!!!’ to my in-laws when they were taking photos of their newly hatched grandson! But, I digress…

::O T H E R   G R E A T   T I P S ::

The rule of thirds. It’s all about composition, baby, and makes the difference between standard, and a little more creativity.

Slow shutter speed equals blurry shots, fast shutter speed equals not blurry. When in doubt, I’ll remember the example of the toy helicopter. Fuzzy blades for slow, clear shot of blades for fast speed.

How to set the central focus point so that your shot’s always in focus.

Ditch the landscape/night/portrait settings. Learn the basics of ‘P’ and ‘TV’ and you’ll be sweet!

Focus shift can make a shot that bit more interesting!

We had a nice buffet lunch in the brasserie, and most of the food had some kind of Scottish theme. I’m a food reviewer, it’s what I do! So, a quickie summary is haggis & beef burger was the star of the show, the venison sausage too overcooked meaning it was quite solid and not helped by the dense ciabatta bun, and the haggis and tatties bon-bons (well, more like croquettes as there was potato in them) were comfort food delight. The cranachan shortcakes for dessert were a nice touch, but the berries lacked a bit of sweetness and zing.

The last beef & haggis burger! The last beef & haggis burger!

To link in with the upcoming Commonwealth Games, there were various themes assigned to the day including  ‘action’. We took a stroll around Buchanan Street, Royal Exchange Square and George Square for chance to try out different pics. I love the idea of candid portraiture, but you do need the bravery to do it! We had a good hour’s wander, and being part of a group helped with the courage to take photos of people as they wandered.

I don’t think I took ANY good photos really, but the whole point is it’s an exercise in getting to know your camera, and that the more you do it, the easier and quicker you get at making a ‘camera setting’ decision based on the shot you’re looking for. With my gorgeous first baby at home, there’s never been a better time to learn how to use that fancy DSLR, and so hopefully with some of the tips I picked up yesterday, I’ll get a lot better at taking photos of things and indeed small people who move!

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Thanks again to all for the invite to the event! Millennium have posted their own blog piece on the event here. 

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