Photography for Dummies

On the 12th September 2014, I took a two day Level One photography course with Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai. I highly recommend Gulf Photo Plus if you are living in the Middle east and want to do a photography course.

Laura Huntley was my photography instructor for the two day photography course. She is a great and inspiring photographer specialising in studio work and cars. If you want to see any of her work, here are her links below.

On the first day we learned a lot of technical aspects relating to the camera and the correct vocabulary, like pixels, JPEG, RAW, formatting memory cards, and most importantly, elements of exposure such as ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Some of which I was very familiar with and others not so much.

Depth of Field was one of the areas we spent a lot of time on, which was good as this was something I wanted to come to grips with and gain a better understanding of so I become less reliant on the automatic setting on my camera.

- Aperture – Larger opening – Shallower depth of field.
– Distance – Subject closer to the camera, further from the background.
- Focal Length – Longer lens – Shallower depth of field.

Photography Course

ISO: 3200
F-Stop: 5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/60

Burst mode (a term used for taking action shots where you would use for example 5 shots per second). This technique would be used a lot in sport photography. We had great fun shooting this chasing Laura with our cameras and trying to catch her running and jumping in the frame of the lens. A lot of opportunity for some great creative shots. And an important point to remember here… Fast shutter speed freezes action and slow shutter speed records blurred action.

Photography Course

ISO: 400
F-Stop: 4.5
Shutter Speed: 1/40

On the second day we learned about locking exposures, burst mode and panning.

Panning is only dealt with in the 2nd course, but my group finished Level One quickly so Laura decided to give us a sneak preview and teach us something about panning from Level Two. Panning is when someone or something is moving very quickly, but the background is blurry and the subject is frozen.


ISO: 400
F-Stop: 1/4
Shutter Speed: 1/40

I recently did the 2nd part of the Digital Photography course. It was a two day course (Level 2) with Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai with the same photography instructor as before, Laura Huntley.

On the first day we re-capped the previous course briefly just to reacquaint ourselves with the concepts we learnt before such as; elements of exposure, ISO settings, aperture, shutter speed and depth of field. We then continued on with the new area of work dealing with technical aspects relating to composition such as balance, asymmetrical balance and anchoring. We also learned a little bit about HDR, histograms and a lot more about manual exposure.

In photography, composition is very important. We should always look out for lines, colour, shape, form, texture and pattern. For homework we had to take two photos. One that was asymmetrical and the other concerning composition.

For the asymmetrical task, I took a photo of two snow globes which were completely different in size. I had to make the much larger snow globe (the one furthest away) the same size as the much smaller snow globe (the one in front).


ISO: 3200
F-Stop: 1/5
Shutter Speed: 1/20


ISO: 3200
F-Stop: 2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/30

For our composition task, I took a macro photo of a coaster which was made up of many small beads. This added colour and texture to something that was no longer recognisable as a coaster because of the way I had photographed it. When I showed it to Laura, she thought it was sprinkles that had been drizzled on top of cupcake frosting.


ISO: 6400
F-Stop: 5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/20


ISO: 6400
F-Stop: 2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/60

On the second day we learned about long exposures such as bulb mode, different perspectives and the golden rule of photography which is to hold the camera on a stable base (like a tripod) and release the shutter without touching the camera.

Bulb mode is a shutter speed setting that allows for long exposure times.  You are able to control the length of time the shutter remains open to create a ‘special effect’.  For example, light painting. This is great fun, as it allows you to experiment with different colours, shapes, designs, light trails, shutter speed settings etc to create an effect.


ISO: 1600
F-Stop: /11
Shutter Speed: 8.0

Something to remember which I learned on my photography course… Never say you have nothing to shoot. There is always subject matter available, because you can take photos of absolutely anything. The most boring of subject matter can be made to look unique by taking the photo in a different perspective or angle.

Examples of different perspectives:
– Look up.
– Look down.
– Get low.
– Look from behind.
– Look for reflections.
– Get close.
– Look upside down.
– Look back to front.
– Breaking the rules.

At the end of our final photography class Laura Huntley gave us some advice about becoming a better photographer.

Shoot everyday.
– Keep notes.
Back up your photos.
– Get inspired!
– Print your photos.

If we ever run out of inspiration, Laura told us to look at a few websites. Here are a few:
and also make photo books of your photographs for memories.

We should also set photography projects for ourselves such as:
– ABC project.
– Self Portrait.
– Outside of your comfort zone.
– One lens.
– 365.


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