Besides the incredible photos you capture, photo workshops are an excellent way to increase your photography skills in a short period of time. This article answers three commonly asked questions about attending a photo workshop: what should you bring, what camera settings should you be familiar with and what should you practice before attending.
What Should You Bring to a Photo Workshop?
- DSLR camera or equivalent. There are sophisticated all-in-one cameras with super zoom capabilities that will work perfectly fine too. If you have two cameras, bring both. The exception is when we will be walking all day, for these days it’s recommended that you bring one camera only.
- Extra fully-charged camera batteries and your battery charger.
- Lenses (for the DSLR cameras) – the distance between the photographer and the subject will be the basis for the recommended lens. Typically one telephoto lens is fine, but if you have more than one, bring them. Suggested lens are based on a full-frame camera sensor.
- Primary: A telephoto lens with an approximate focal range of 70-200, 70-300 or 80-400 is a good choice for a primary lens.
- Secondary: When photographing birds from a blind or if you are on a photo safari, a longer lens with a range of 100-400, 200-400 or up to 500 mm is also needed.
- Optional: A shorter telephoto lens such as 24-70mm.
- If you rent a lens for the workshop, take some photos with it before the workshop to be sure it functions properly.
- Cell phone for taking videos and quick snaps.
- While I am a strong believer in using a sturdy tripod with either a ballhead or gimbal head, it is not always feasible to carry it or set it up during workshops. For each workshop, it will noted in the introduction letter whether a tripod should be brought.
- Lots of memory cards and capacity. Enough to store 2,000+ photos per day in RAW and/or the highest JPEG resolution.
- Optional: Off-camera flash – can be used in some situations. Diffuser for the flash is helpful.
- Camera, lens and flash manuals
- Polarizer lens filter
- Knee pads
- Remote shutter release
Refer to My GEAR webpage for suggested accessories for specific scenarios and a list of the gear Kathleen uses.
What Camera Settings Should You be Familiar With?
Build a basic understanding of how to adjust camera settings. Refer to your camera, lens and flash manuals for instructions. During the pre-workshop instruction session(s), it will be explained what each of these are, why they are important and when to change them. During the workshop, you will receive one-on-one assistance specific to your individual needs to assess the lighting and the subject, and make corresponding setting adjustments. At this point, it’s simply helpful that you familiarize yourself with how to make the changes in your camera so that you’re ready.
- How to change ISO
- How to change the Exposure Mode to Manual, Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority
- How to adjust the Aperture f-stop
- How to adjust the Shutter Speed
- How to change the Metering mode from Matrix/Evaluative to Spot
- How to change the Auto Focus mode to Single (Single Shot) or Continuous (AI Servo)
- How to change the Auto Focus Area Mode to Single/Spot or Dynamic/Expansion Points
- How to change the Motor Drive to Single or Continuous/Burst
- How to move the focus point around in the frame
- How to adjust Exposure Compensation
- How to display a photo’s histogram and highlights
- How to turn on/off flash
- How to set flash to TTL or ETTL
- How to adjust Flash Compensation
What Should You Practice Before the Workshop?
Practice fine tuning your eye. Watch this 12-minute video to learn Kathleen’s 10 wildlife composition tips for capturing professional quality wildlife photos. Familiarize yourself with the reasons why some photos grab our attention and others do not. Practice with your pets and critters in your neighborhood.