At the beginning of July I attended the Viking Photography Masterclass based at the Botanist, Newcastle. The aim of the evening was to give bloggers like myself the chance to enhance our photography skills whether that be with a camera or a smartphone and ask any photography based questions.
The evening was organised by Viking, a stationary and office supply company, and Elouisa Georgiou, a Yorkshire based photographer who specialises in events, commercial, travel, interiors and food & drink photography.
When we arrived, we were kindly given a named sticker with our Twitter handles on which was such a good idea as there was so many new faces and a glass of Prosseco or water depending on what you fancy. I grabbed a table with Amy, Alice, Becca, Kate and Mel who are all lovely girls. We were able to catch up and introduce ourselves to each other which was so lovely.
The first thing which Elouisa explained was to try and get out of our comfort zones and start shooting in manual rather than automatic. It gives you better control of your images which I completely understand. Ever since I have started photography as a hobby, I’ve tried to shoot in manual especially when it comes to still life photos. The only time I tend to use automatic mode nowadays is shooting outfit pictures with Alice.
The evening gave us a chance to explore creative portraits, product photography, flatlay images and food & drink photography by using boards to bounce light and prisms to refract and reflect the light – something that I’ve never tried before.
Firstly, here’s some key words that you may come across across when talking about photography. You may even have knowledge of these already.
Shutter Speed – This is how fast the shutter captures your image. For stop motion, you will need a higher shutter speed number compared to capturing motion where you will need to shoot at a lower shutter speed to create that blurred effect. Remember the higher the shutter speed means less light is being let into the camera.
ISO – The lower the ISO, the less sensitive the sensor is to the light. As the ISO increases the camera is more sensitive to the light. For clear and less ‘grainy’ images we always want to shoot with the lowest ISO possible.
Aperture – This is also known as the F stop, this controls the depth of field. When buying a lens for a DSLR camera, you will usually come across eg. EF 50mm f/1.8 so in this case the aperture is f/1.8. The aperture is the amount of subject you will have in focus in the foreground or background of an image. A wide aperture such as f/2 or low F stop has a softer focus of the background which lets in more light as well as creating a lovely blurred background . A narrow aperture such as f/22 or higher F stop has more focus in the background and lets in less light.
Elouisa explained that balancing all three of these without sacrificing one will give you a clear and attractive image. Tripods are useful for shooting at a lower shutter speed to capture an image without the motion blue if you don’t have a great deal of light.
So, what have I learnt?
Natural light will be your best friend. The phrase is so true. When shooting my images, I much prefer natural light because my photos look better. Be aware of ambient light in a room, play around with colour balancing images.
- Turn off or block out ambient lighting in the room
- Foam boards are cheap and can help to bounce light
- If the lighting is to strong, diffuse the light with a clear curtain
- Use a tripod so you can shoot slower
- Use natural reflectors in a room
Creative portraits is something that I’ve never really explored but given the chance to use prisms, glasses, bottles, windows and mobile phone screens added something interesting and gave my images a bit more of a creative field. I experimented with holding items over my camera lens to create interesting light and blurs and some of them worked really well. Shadows and reflections create visibility through a reflective surface which offers something different to your usual portrait.
I really like the creative portraits that I took at the event of Amy, Becca and Alice with the prism in front of my camera lens. I think they were really unusual and different to my usual style of photography.
Every blogger wants to achieve the best flatlay images for certain kinds of blog posts and I would say that mine have improved over time however these tips might help if you’re a newbie or just looking to improve your flatlays.
- Use a tripod to help with stop any motion blur
- Keep the shot consistent
- Use the live view to help compose different elements within your flatlay
- Don’t be afraid to go outside the frame; play around, have some subjects in shot and others half out the frame
- Large gaps between subjects aren’t aesthetically pleasing
- There are no rules to flatlay photography
- Try and use a lens with less distortion to create the ‘perfect looking’ flatlay
I really like the flat lay image that I took of the snacks that were provided on the night however it would have worked better if I was angled at a bird’s eye view or used a tripod to look directly down so the sugar snap peas weren’t blurred.
Food, drink and product photography is the one that I personally want to improve the most and fortunately for me it’s the one that I tend to photograph the most whether that be my favourite haircare range or what I’ve had to eat at a restaurant. It was really nice to be able to explore and have some time experimenting with the tips learnt at the masterclass as well as ask questions.
- Practise using ‘magic angles’ to find your favourites – straight on, 45 degrees, bird’s eye view
- There is no rule to say you need the entirety of the plate or product in shot
- Bounce boards, menus and paper even out the light in shot to create light and shadow where you want it
- Use what you can find to decorate the image but try not to make it busy
- A lower aperture creates a lovely blurred background or move the product further away from the background
- Don’t be afraid to focus on other details
- Try and use a lens with less distortion to give more realistic proportional images
We had about two and a half hours to take a range of photos using the tips that we had learnt from Elouisa. After some time, we could send one to an email address for it be printed off and talked about what went well and what didn’t. There was so many amazing photographs that was shared on the night and it was super lovely to see so many skills. Elouisa shortlisted a couple of photos however Amy’s won and she was given a printer that was being used on the night. The printer used on the night was the Canon Pixma TS5050. I’m so proud of her!
On our way out we were kindly gifted a document with all the tips from the night and a tripod with a bluetooth remote which is going to come in super handy.
I just want to say a huge thank you to Viking, Elouisa and the Botantist for a fabulous evening. You can follow Elouisa on Instagram for photography tips and inspiration.
Are you a pro photographer or are you just learning your way round a camera? I hope this post can help you with some tips or tricks.
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*This experience was gifted to me but this does not affect my own opinions.