27 May 2008

Photography student's success

Photograph by Margaret Laurie
It’s always a huge pleasure for me when I hear that I have been able to inspire someone and set them on the right track.

Margaret came to one of my weekend workshops here in Kirkcudbright in SW Scotland earlier this year. The other day she emailed me hardly able to contain here excitement because one of her photographs had been accepted for publication in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper. This is what Margaret said:

“You helped a lot to inspire me to take more photos, and give me some confidence to send my photos into the paper.

“This photo was taken a couple of Fridays ago at the beginning of May. We live in Ferryhill, Aberdeen and I'd woken early with the sun streaming in through the window, and out of the window saw this fantastic sunrise. I went across the road and that was the view from our street at 5.30am! I took loads of photos while my husband, and daughters were tucked up snugly in bed. The view looks over the rooftops towards the River Dee as it flows under Victoria Road bridge to the harbour then out to sea. The smoke on the right is from an offshore supply vessel. The cranes are all at the docks and the tiny dots are notorious Aberdeen seagulls! I loved the way the cranes and the aerials were leaning towards each other.

“My camera is a Nikon D80, exposure set on manual at 1/1600sec, f7.1, ISO 200, WB set on ‘Cloudy’. The focal length was 112mm.

“The weekend workshop in Kirkcudbright with yourself gave me the oomph to do something with my photos. As you can see I now use my camera in manual, and that's pretty much 99% of the time, and experiment with the white balance, and still take B & W.”

Very well done, Margaret. You have every right to be very proud of yourself. I can still remember the buzz I got from my first publication – and that’s a very long time ago.

Might I have done things differently? Well, perhaps I might have used a slightly different exposure setting, but Margaret has achieved such a beautiful result that any alterations would only amount to fine tweaking.

By using the ‘Cloudy’ White Balance (WB) setting, Margaret has added to the yellow/orange glow from the early morning sun. Great idea. With so much light available, I might have used a ISO 100 for maximum image quality, stopped the aperture down for extra depth of field (this part depends on what Margaret was wanting to capture; maybe she wanted limited depth of field), and used a slower shutter speed. This would have given an exposure of roughly 1/500sec at f11. 1/500sec should be quite fast enough to eliminate camera shake when using a lens with a focal length of 112mm – which on the Nikon D80 is equivalent to about 180mm.

Keep ‘em coming, Margaret. Very well done!

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