Monday, November 29, 2010

women of wonder: my 4th mission (part deux) - rediscover your happiness.

This is part 2 of my rediscover your happiness mission for the Rediscover Your Wonder project.

photographer Michael Willems discussing exposure compensation
I have been enjoying playing around with my new camera – a Nikon D3100 since I picked it up a few weeks ago. I really had no clue what the heck all the settings were for, or what all the buttons and switches did, but that didn’t stop me from taking a bunch of pictures. Turns out, this camera is so terrific, it takes really nice pictures, even if you are clueless. Very considerate of it, I agree. But the item on my bucket list that I am working towards accomplishing is to become a decent photographer, not just someone who uses a DSLR as if it is a top notch point-and-shoot. When I bought the camera, the folks at Henry’s recommended that I take an intro course so I would start to understand the power of my new camera (and also what all the buttons and switches do).

The 3 hour intro course ran this past Saturday. I was worried that 3 hours would be a bit much for me to sit through, but I needn’t have worried – it flew by. The instructor, Michael Willems was excellent – extremely knowledgeable, funny and did a great job of not making anyone feel like an idiot for not knowing how to hold their cameras (myself included). Also, I felt like I got my money’s worth within the first 3 minutes. I now know how to operate the basic menus on my camera, how to adjust settings (and when to and why I would want to). He also walked us through all of the cool features on our cameras and how to access them multiple ways. All very useful stuff.

What I really liked, was he also made recommendations on what additional accessories we should consider. Turns out that a backup battery and backup memory cards (max 4G) are the way to go. Michael’s point? If you run out of battery power you aren’t going to be taking ANY photos, so why does it matter that you have some expensive lens? Also, 4G cards are better than 16G cards because if a 4G card fails on you, you only lose up to 4G of photos. Bonus? The 4G card can be saved directly to a dvd for backup without requiring you to divide up your photos and save to multiple dvds. Great advice in my books.

Of course, there were recommendations for flashes, hoods, and lens types. If anyone wants to know what’s on my Christmas wish list, let me know! The most useful tool we got from the course was a copy of the presentation to refer back to. It’s in English, unlike the camera manual, which is in Engineer. Part 2 of the course is being offered in a few weeks and I’m hoping I can take it. If you have a camera you don’t know how to operate fully, or are getting one for Christmas, I highly recommend signing up for a course at Henry’s. Seriously. Your camera will thank you.

Edited to add: Michael was kind enough to email me some pictures he took of me when he was demonstrating how to use (and not use a flash):
This is what happens when you shoot with the flash straight on - I look like Baroness Von Shiny Face - thumbs down!

Much better! Flash was turned around and pointed up above the photographer's head - great for lighting ladies!

The best! flash positioned at the side of the camera, providing a much nicer mood.

Check out to see what the other Women of Wonder are up to!


  1. Gee. Blush! Glad you enjoyed. And yes - courses are incredibly important in quickly getting to a really high level of photographic competence - so you can have fun, not obsess about settings.

  2. Thanks for a wonderful learning experience Michael! I look forward to being photographically competent...uh...or a decent photographer ;-)

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