Cape Town School of Photography DSLR1 Review

Yesterday I attended the last class in a 10 week series at the Cape Town School of Photography. I figured I’ll write a short review.

Week 1, very useful. Understanding the features and settings of your camera is obviously essential. So, sitting down for three hours tinkering, playing and experimenting was cool. Sure you could read the manual, but nobody makes time to just play with the menu system for a few hours while you can ask questions.

Weeks 2 and 3 were ok. I had to actually go print physical photos. This is a painful process involving USB sticks and those DIY photo terminal things you see in photo printing places. Never in my ~ten years of taking photos did I even think about doing this.. and I still don’t see the point.

Weeks 4-6 were a bit of a blur. Can’t really tell you what I learnt. It involved mostly long hour+ sessions where the lecturer would comment on student photos. People were usually asked to bring 3, but they end up brining 6 so it’s a long painful and mostly uninteresting process. Then there was a tea/coffee break and a bit of theory for the week seemed to be padded on to the end of the class (20min).

Week 7, I think that was the gimp and photoshop session. Painful. I’m pretty damn sure I learnt nothing.

Practical outdoor shoot, lacked structure, we were supposed to do some night photography but that did not happen.

Week 8, I was only there for 5min. Just could not handle more student photo critiquing.

Week 9, chose to give it a miss.

Week 10, we had to hand in a photo essay, which I did. I took a series of live music photos from my photoblog.

I can suggest they improve:

Workflow: spend some time on the process of getting pictures off the camera, sorting, selecting, raw-tinkering and publishing. I asked about this a few times, but did not really get many answers.

Structure: Say what we are going to do today and then.. let’s do it. Don’t faff around aimlessly.

In summary:

I guess the course forced me to think about photography for a few hours every week.. but I honestly have to say that if you know somebody that understands digital photography you’d be better off saving the R4k, spending a few hours with them to show you how the camera works and just taking lots of photos.

9 thoughts on “Cape Town School of Photography DSLR1 Review

  1. I think the best way to learn is to:

    (Disclaimer, I *think* this is the best way, I’m still stuck on step 3…)

    1. Learn the absolute basics of photography – Buy a book at exclusive on photography… if the book pre-dates digital it’s a good thing!.

    2. Figure out how the basic photography concepts map to your camera.

    3. Take lots of pictures. Set yourself goals like “Today I’m going to take pictures of straight lines” etc.

    4. Repeat step number 3 for 6 months to a year.

    5. _Consider_ going on an advanced course but it must be a *photography* course, not a DSLR course… Aspiring writers don’t go on MS Word courses, neither should you.

    6. Try and find people on websites like flickr whose stuff you really like and examine it in depth… figure out exactly what it is about a certain photograph that you like. Try remember that stuff next time you’re taking photographs.

    7. Start critiquing your photographs. A tiny bit of over exposure, slightly off composition etc. If you can, get other photographers to do the same for you… unfortunately you might not agree with what they have to say… everyone has their own style.

    8. Apply the critique and tighten up your technique.

    9. Ask yourself the question. Am I trying to be a photographer or take photographs that capture something, say something, _do something_ ?

  2. Hi Jonathan

    Good plan. I guess you just have to invest the time until all the complexities seem simple… and then find a style and direction.. a real interest which will keep you motivated.

  3. I had the same experience !! The course wasn’t nearly jam packed enough- It was so exhausting having to work all day and then be bored for another 3 hours in a class you paid to attend! BUT at least I tried new things and took a lot more photos than usual. So I learnt by doing and because my clever boyfriend colin knew much more than the teacher – I think I was kind of lucky that he started helping me out.

  4. I have to add..

    Usually at the end of a course like this they give you some way to rate the course and give feedback. That did not happen, so here we have a blog post about it.

  5. I dont think there is much in Photography to learn, you just take the SLR camera and go to Cape Town mountainous area and after few weeks you will automatically learn how to take best photographs, ohh and I must say that the Cape Town is a heaven on planet earth. I am a South African living in England and I used to Live in Athelone – Cape Town long time ago and even today I still have the memories of Cape Town, it is such a nice place I have ever seen, especially the weather in Cape Town is so nice and warm also beaches to name a few Hout Bay, Miuzenberg, Vish Hoek and I had time of my life at Sea Point – Cape Town. I would love to go back one day and experience the warmth and enjoy being on the soil of South Africa.

  6. I am looking to go on a photographic course and the above feedback seems to be a common fact in Johannesburg also. It makes it difficult to choose and where to spend wisely.

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