In 2004 I took a course with Better Photo. I was very happy with the experience but have not taken another course until now. Since I now have some time on my hands (due to my employment change) it seems a good opportunity to improve my skills.
The course I took previously was Creating Visual Impact (Brenda Tharp) which I found very rewarding. The course works by reading instruction and then going out and taking pictures that use the lesson. You then upload the images to a community page where the instructor and other students provide feedback. The whole process is a great way to learn.
The picture on the left was taken at a park in Great Falls, VA. A smaller park called Scott’s Run Nature Preserve. There’s a great trail to the Potomac and at one point there are stepping stones across a creek. What I didn’t capture was how the water was smooth on one side and disturbed on the other. I want to go back to this park and take more photos.
The picture on the right is a great example of a technique I learned as part of the course. The subject is just some flowers I had purchased and had in a vase with a blank wall behind. But by applying a technique of zooming during the exposure I created a dynamic and exciting image. I think the choice of subject also contributed.
For other lessons I took little trips to find interesting subjects. Sometimes I found inspiration in the middle of the road, like the manhole cover. Other times I found interesting details on roads traveled by many. The window below was on a small building alongside the C&O canal. The color combined with the building texture attracted my attention. It’s also a good example of not centering the subject. It wouldn’t be the same with the subject in the middle.
Overall I found the course to be a rewarding experience and many of the techniques learned continue to influence my photography. Which of course is the whole point. I am excited for my next course, Eight Steps To More Dramatic Photography (Jim Zuckerman).