4th Diary Entry

Going for a Walk

I've always been a practical person, hands on experience always teaches me more than books so the suggestion that I go on a photographic walk thrilled me (it doesn't take much!) A chance to spend a day grilling a real live photographer for their insights, tips and those all important dark magic secrets was just too good an idea to pass up. I searched for, and found, a company in London doing exactly what I wanted... taking small groups of budding shutterbugs around the best city in the world! I signed up, and made my preparations for the day with excitement and anticipation. I followed the suggestions from the organiser; I bought a new SD card and new battery, both of which swiftly arrived. I charged my new battery, tested both SD cards, packed my HS30EXR, cleaning cloth, filters, glasses and drink. I was all set!

The day dawned with sunshine and cheer! The arrangements were to meet at Waterloo station (look for the woman with the red camera bag... it was just like being in a movie!) As I prepared to leave, I passed the hall table on which lay my trusty Canon compact camera. Something twigged in my mind, and I reached out, grabbed it and put it in my pocket. I won't need it, I have my bridge camera with the large lens and filters, I thought, but somehow it just feels wrong to leave it at home! Those who know me know I am a spiritual person; for me, this was just more proof that I'm right!

Despite the size and how busy Waterloo station is, I easily spotted the red camera bag and eagerly shook hands with my teacher for the day (poor woman, little did she know what she was in for!) Lou (from London Photo Tours and Workshops) is just lovely; very patient, calm, talented and inspiring. I did test her though...

Our group assembled and off we set - to London's cosmopolitan South Bank; rich in sights, sounds, smells and experiences. If you've never been, go - its a haven for a people-watcher like me!

Lou started explaining about the use of the camera's ISO setting, white balance, depth of field and shutter speed. One VERY annoying member of the group kept interrupting her, asking inane questions, confirming obvious points and I can only apologise to everyone else, I just couldn't help myself! All I can say is that I had a eureka moment when it all began to fall into place. Some of the shots of the London Eye were really good (yes, some were still awful, but at least they weren't ALL awful!)

I was merrily taking photos, composing the shots, thinking about the content, seeing the results of the differences of shutter speed and depth of field - I had taken about 60 photos when I learned the first, and most important lesson of digital photography - ALWAYS charge your battery the night before a shoot, no matter how much charge you think its holding! Yes, my battery had died! Not to worry, I said, smiling at the frowning Lou, I followed your advice and bought a second battery. I produced it from my camera bag, inserted it and went on happily taking my photos... all FIVE of them before the second battery (brand new, charged up the night before!) failed completely!! And so the second rule of digital photography was learned - never EVER buy the cheapest, 'compatible' battery. Always buy a genuine one! I have since found out that compatible batteries rarely ship with any charge at all, and it takes about five discharge/recharge cycles before it will hold any decent amount of charge!

So there I was, on a photographic walk, in the heart of London's South Bank, surrounded by very disapproving budding snappers and one pee'd off teacher. I sheepishly put my camera away, slung the bag over my shoulder and thrust my hands into my pockets, sulking... at which point my hand closed around my faithful Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS compact camera! Hurrah, the day was saved! Lou was rather impressed that I had the forethought to have a back-up and was also impressed at the quality of the back-up. Unbeknownst to me, my little compact camera had not been the cause of all those terrible photos for years, because in fact my little compact camera had a load of functionality allowing really quite impressive quality photos (when handled by someone with ability!) Lou spent time showing me how to use the little darling properly and I was amazed at some of the results.

I took over 100 photos that day, approximately 40 of them with my compact camera. Only about 2% of the total shots were any good, but apparently, whilst one is in the first stages of learning, that's a good average.

Old Skool