Book review: how we’re using GetSmarter to get better at photography!

“As children, people learn incredible things without even realising that they’re learning because, for the most part, that learning is cloaked as play. As they get older, the sand boxes and crayons and multi-coloured clay get packed away and they’re told that, in order to learn, they need to be serious.”

1048544_10152943050545481_1249675551_oA very rare and very welcome tone, being encouraged to play around while gaining valuable tips is what you get when you pick up the GetSmarter Digital Photography course manual. Created as an accompaniment to the GetSmarter Digital Photography course that is run through UCT, this manual, comprising of 10 modules, is incredibly useful to anyone who wants to learn a thing or two about the art of picture taking even if the course is not in their budget.

Take me for example. Over the last few months, I’ve been taking a manual photography course at an art college in Woodstock and I have relished every moment. From producing photograms, and developing film, to working in the dark room with enlargers, developing prints and playing around with blue and copper toners, the entire experience has been really rewarding. There is only one thing the course does not cover in enough depth: how to take a beautiful photograph.

1048869_10152943050715481_1383428797_oRather than fork out for another course, I set off to find this information elsewhere and stumbled upon the GetSmarter guys. Digital photography and manual photography may differ in their technical aspects (cameras used, photo developing techniques, photo sharing methods etc), but the same rules of artistic mastery apply in both mediums when heading out to capture an image. Knowing about the ISO and aperture necessary to capture images in different light conditions makes a phenomenal difference to the final result. Similarly, composition, despite being the least technical aspect of picture taking, is actually the hardest aspect to get right and one of the elements that has to be mastered to get that striking image.

Of the 10 modules on Digital Photography offered by GetSmarter, I found 7, 8 and 9 to be the most useful to what I was looking for. Module 7 covers the art of composition by extolling the virtues of vanishing points, leading the eye, symmetry and ‘less is more’. Module 8 covers the tricky aspects of portraiture, as well as including a great, brief history of the use of portraiture and some great classic examples of what these images look like when done correctly. And finally, module 9 covers landscape photography, which is the subject matter that I find the hardest to capture. How do you deal with peculiar light conditions and how do you capture an enormous, beautiful space without losing all of the natural contrasts and visual depth? It is easier said than done, but I’ve certainly learned a few tricks to keep in mind for future attempts.

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In addition to these, the entire manual covers everything from capturing motion in photographs, to lens advice, playing with shutter speed, experimenting with exposure times, making the most of your flash and a brilliant introduction to editing techniques using Photoshop. I learned a lot and most of all, I will continue to play until I manage to capture images the way that I want them to be. The best thing is that I am more than happy to keep trying.

– Marie-Louise, Paperight Marketing Coordinator

Attention! For R90, you can get all 10 modules from Jetline Thibault Square in Cape Town who are a Paperight registered print-on-demand bookstore. You can also get individual modules for about R25 each. Go to paperight.com.outlets or SMS +27 (0)73 724 2501 to find your nearest print-on-demand bookstore!

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