About the author: Jane Burkinshaw is a professional photographer and passionate about all things photography related. Jane specialises in portrait photography and runs photography courses.

A practical photography class in sunny Chester (by Cheshire Photographer Jane Burkinshaw)

f/2.8, 1/125, ISO 125
For one of my "pupils" it was time to put into practise what she'd learned during our previous two sessions and where better than in the beautiful city of Chester on a glorious Spring day. After a quick coffee and chat about how Ann had been getting on since we last met, we headed up into The Rows to do a re-cap on one of the most important camera functions for low light photography - ISO.

f/3.2, 1/40, ISO 500
If you want to capture the ambience of scenes like this you need to turn your flash off and increase your ISO. As the lights were a bit orange I converted it to black and white in Photoshop. It has also removed any colour distractions.

At this point Ann went straight to the top of the class as she asked how she could have more control over the exposure than the Av (Aperture) setting was giving her. She knew the principles of Manual Exposure but had never dared try it out. After a few goes she was flying and didn't move out of Manual Mode all day!

Chester's wattle and daub, black and white facades made for great shooting material and we talked about selecting the right buildings to photograph, where the light was best, and about cropping out unwanted distractions (lots of "To Let" hoardings).

f/5.6, 1/250, ISO 200
I applied an infrared effect to this shot to enhance the sky and clouds.

One of the day's biggest challenges was the sunny weather! You become very aware of the harsh quality of bright sunlight and the consequent deep shadows, especially in close ups. You also have to think about how bright the sky is and whether it will appear as blue with fluffy white clouds in your shot or as a bland bright white band.

f/8, 1/500, ISO 160
Looking left along the river the scene was idyllic, with people enjoying the warm sunshine and the sky is blue with cloud detail.

f/8, 1/400, ISO 160
Looking right along the riverbank it was a different story, with bright sunshine bleaching out details in the sky and on the water. So I opted to crop out the sky and go for an almost silhouetted look. This took a few attempts in Manual Mode, taking a few different exposures until I was happy.

As we made our way back into the city via the walls, we came upon a crowd of people pointing mobile phones and cameras at something happening in the street down below. An episode of Foyle's War was being filmed and we joined in the frenzy to capture some of the action. It was a tricky street scene with deep shadows and bright sunshine. Great fun to watch even though Michael Kitchen was nowhere in sight.

Last lesson of the day was looking at how a higher f/number (smaller aperture) gives focus throughout the scene (broad depth of field) and from under the famous clock tower we took a shot of the busy shopping street below. With such bright conditions shutter speed wasn't an issue, despite the small aperture.

f/9, 1/80, ISO 100
Ann felt that everything had clicked into place today with using the combination of aperture, shutter speed and ISO to give her much more control over the images she takes. Once someone reaches this point I think their photography really starts to fly and they can concentrate on the creative side more.

These images were all taken by me but I know that Ann has some great pictures too and I've asked her to share them with me. She was over the moon with what she'd taken today and I was over the moon with her reaction!

If you'd like to take great photographs all the time, rather than occasionally just by accident (we've all done it!!), then get in touch to book a course or a one to one session via the website.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too! Like Picture It Big on Facebook to see more tips like this.

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