Learning More About Photography

I’m a learn as you go kind of girl.  I hate reading manuals, recipes and instructions, much to my husband’s dismay.  I learn best by doing, and making mistakes. Once I worked this out in high school, I took control of my own learning and all of a sudden discovered I could excel academically, even won an academic school award!  There’s something to said about discovering your learning style.

It’s important for me, as a person, to keep learning in amongst the frantic pace of caring for a family, and I look for opportunities to pursue my interests in a sustainable way.  One of my goals for this year is to improve my photography skills.   My skills have improved over the years, but only in the creative department, rather than technically…because I never took the time to learn how to use my DSLR camera out of auto mode.

When I spotted the 1 Day Photography Course on RedBalloon, I snapped up the opportunity to learn more about photography in practical setting. This is how the day went.


I walked into the Crown Casino Hotel in Brisbane and found the designated seminar room. I was surprised at how professional it was set up, with equipment, COFFEE and FOOD, cheat sheet and notes.

How the camera works

The session started with a brief snapshot on how the camera works.


Our presenter then ran through basic composition tips like rule of thirds, perspective and leading lines.  I already had a reasonable grasp on these things (I’ve covered many of these areas on my blog as I learned them) but reinforcement is always helpful.


Next, I learned about exposure, and how to adjust it depending on the light and subject.  I was excited when there was time allocated to play around with my camera.

lighten and darken pictures on camera

Aperture, Shutter Speed & ISO Sensitivity

Our presenter explained the theory of  depth of field, shutter speed and ISO sensitivity.  And I got it! I understood!  The 14 of us in the course then went outside into the court yard to practice.

aperture photo

For this picture, I set the aperture to 2 and focused on the tallest flower prong.


Back inside for a light lunch.


After lunch we were assigned a practical task, which was fun.  The brief was to take a portrait picture for the Brisbane City Botanical Gardens (a 5 minute walk away).  I had to be back in an hour.

Again, it was fabulous to get outside and put the learning into practice.  I thoroughly enjoyed my walk alone in the gardens.  However, capturing a picture, that would be critiqued when back at our conference room, was much harder than I expected.  I felt tempted to flick back to the comfort zone of the auto setting…but that would defeat the purpose.  Below are a few of the photographs I captured.

lizzard -- botanical gardens brisbane

I liked the way this lizard looked at me with its head held high.  I set the aperture to a smaller number and focused on the head.

water dragon and eel at brisbane bontanical gardens

This friendly water dragon poked its head out of the water, as if to say hello.  An eel came up right beside the lizard. Can you see it there? It was a wonderful moment.  I tried to minimise the busyness from the reflection of the trees in the water by how I angled the camera.  I wanted the focus to be on these two creatures together.

fig tree -- brisbane botanical gardens

The look of this root snaking its way up to the tree captured me.  I didn’t have much time left at this point, and I would have liked to work on this scene a little more, bringing the lights from the street into focus to show the connection between the city and gardens.  I like the idea of this photograph, but the execution isn’t great.

brisbane bontanical gardens

Out of all the (mostly crappy) pictures I took, I decided on this one.  An oasis for me, is somewhere with trees and water, and that is what I tried to capture here: the act of sitting under the shade of a tree, listening to the water speak. I framed the picture with the tree, with the focus on the water fountain in the distance.


There was a lot of relaxed chatter in the group as we arrived back at the seminar room, each of us deciding on which picture to feature in the slide show.

Just one last thing

The day finished when the sun went down, and we went outside once again to play with shutter speed and light.  Best way to end the day! I’ve never done anything like this before and I was thrilled to capture these cool shots. Look at the sparkly lights! Twinkle, twinkle.

brisbane city at night -- casino

brisbane at night

brisbane city at night -- casino

Moving forward

The group was small enough so there was plenty of time for questions and help on the spot.  I loved everything about the day! This course was the perfect way for me to move forward with my photography skills because of the balance between theory and practical learning, plus the photography expert didn’t mind me asking questions until I got it right.

The day after the course, I went to the beach with the children to practice my new skills, and captured gorgeous pics.  It was so exciting! (You can see some of them here).

Here’s to learning, and having the camera off auto mode.


More RedBalloon Reviews

I’ve done quite a few RedBalloon Experience Gift reviews now!

Abseiling Down the Glasshouse Mountains

Climbing the Brisbane Story Bridge

Home Massage

Glamorous Make up Lesson

Visit to see the Glow Worms

Reader Offer

If you love experience gifts, below is a special offer.

Offer: Spend $129 or more on any RedBalloon experience, and receive $30 off.

To redeem:  Visit www.redballoon.com.au and enter the promotional code (REDMUM01) at the checkout to receive your discount.

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Terms and Conditions: 1.Offer valid until 31/12/13. 2. Promotional Code can only be used once per person. 3. All purchases are subject to Red Balloon T&Cs.



I was not paid to write this post.  RedBalloon provides complimentary experiences for me to enjoy (which is all kinds of awesome), but all views are my own.

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  • Reply
    March 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Great photos! I particularly love the last shots with the “star lights” in the city. Makes me miss the big smoke 🙂

  • Reply
    Renee Veldman
    March 25, 2013 at 5:43 am

    Fabulous! I’ve always enjoyed your photos, you have a great eye for it, and it’s wonderful to also learn the technical side – something I’ve been working on for a really long time now! Love the twinkling lights, what settings was that?

    • Reply
      valda mason
      March 25, 2013 at 7:39 am

      Congratulations, wish I could get the hang of all you learnt, still on auto. The casino photo’s remind me of my family who live up Brisbane way. Keep the beautiful pic’s coming.

      • Reply
        Kelly Be A Fun Mum
        March 25, 2013 at 9:35 am

        Valda, I’ve been on auto for about 3 years LOL. But really, once you get Aperture, Shutter Speed & ISO sensivity, you really do start to get the hang of it.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      March 25, 2013 at 9:33 am

      Thanks Renee. I’ve been meaning to learn about the technical side for ages now so it’s great to get some headway.

      With the twinkling lights pic, I had a tripod and I did, I think, about a 30 second shuter speed. I had it on S (shutter) so it picked the aperture for me (which was a higher number).

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