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Learning how to take pictures like a (semi) pro!

Experimenting with depth

Experimenting with depth

When Buck and I first started planning for this trip we knew that an important aspect would be our ability to document everything we experienced, and to document it well. We didn’t just want to snap away on our phone cameras as we usually do, flying past another destination only to end up with a collection of blurry pagodas and feet. So, for the first time ever we both invested in what we called “a real camera” (you know, those ones with adjustable lenses and a strap and what not) and decided to learn how to take decent pictures.

We were recommended an introductory DSLR photography course by Atelier from a journalist friend of ours who had previously taken the same course and found it very useful.

 

A little bit about Atelier

Experimenting with movement

Experimenting with movement

Founded by two French artists, Marianne Daquet and Anais Martane, Atelier is an art school dedicated to the study of visual arts and photography. The school, which is based in Beijing near Sanlitun, offers a variety of classes covering everything from advanced photography to writing and illustrating. The wide variety of disciplines taught by professional artists and photographers from around the world seems to cater to all age groups and abilities. We certainly had no photography experience before this point and had no trouble following the course.

The Class

In the hutongs

In the hutongs

Buck and I took part in the BASIC/DSLR: Full introduction to the basics of Photography, which was a two full-day course spread over two weekends. The class had a good balance between theory and practice, and it was useful to have a week in between in which we could put our newly obtained skills to the test. Over the lessons we covered a wide variety of topics, from how a camera lens actually works to understanding how to correctly program your camera manually using ISO, aperture, shutter speed, an understanding of depth of field etc. For part of the time we also took to the streets, wandering around Beijing’s alleyways on a Saturday morning, practicing our portraits and street photography. We also learned a lot about the rules of picture composition, something that sounds quite straightforward but actually when explained properly was an enormous aid in creating beautiful and well-balanced pictures.

We came away feeling confident we would be able to use our camera in the best way to make the most of the trip, rather than just putting it in auto and hoping for the best! We would like to thank Marianne and our teacher Christian-Jacques for the great service they provided and we look forward to sharing our photos of the trip with them upon our return.

For more information about the variety of courses on offer, visit Atelier’s website here.

About Amy Mathieson

Trained as an architect in Oxford, England, Amy is half Chinese and in 2008 first came back to reconnect with her Chinese heritage after growing up in the UK and Switzerland. She currently works as a senior designer in an international architecture company and runs one of the only websites dedicated to building restoration in China- www.chinabuildingrestoration.com.