Some thoughts and thankfulness

The second RSPB Exe Estuary Digital Wildlife Photography course has just finished and I wanted to say a big thank you to all the attendees. There were a few ‘lightbulb moments’ which, for me, makes it all worthwhile. Seeing photos, taken on the day, posted with pride on social media platforms is a joy. The postees should be rightly proud of them. Well done!

One of the challenges we face, as instructors, is that each attendee often arrives with their chosen brand of photographic gear which is different to others’ chosen brand. The result is that I often find myself ‘presented’ with at least three different brands on any given course. So the challenge is to know all the ins and outs of each brand. Well, to be honest, I would suggest that’s nigh on impossible! Of course, the basic functions of all DSLRs is pretty much the same across all brands. It’s just a case of knowing what the basics are. But it can get confusing: Nikon dials spin the opposite direction to Canon, Menu layouts are different: digging into menus to find specific functions can be quite challenging when you consider that each brand has different menus, different layouts and different names for similar functions.

Now you might well think that it’s all too much. Well, it’s not. It’s part of the ‘job description’ and once you realise that the building blocks of photography are the same for every camera brand and that cameras don’t take pictures ( you do!) then you understand that a big part of the learning process is to encourage attendees to dig deep into their camera functions to find what they need (sometimes tucked away in some sub-menu), then you are adding to their sum of photography knowledge. What I mean is that knowing how your camera works, what it can and can’t do, getting to grips with the ergonomics of the kit and being confident is camera handling skills is a major part of photography. I have never met anyone on a course who wants me to do everything for them. And that is fantastic because it tells me that they really want to learn…Because all learning is, at the very least, a two-way process: The teacher and the student. Same with learning to drive: Instructor & learner. And eventually the learner takes responsibility for their own development and, within the structures of their chosen subject, begin to ‘own’ the learning process. I suppose that what I’m saying is that it is really good (and I mean ‘REALLY GOOD’) to see attendees take on the role of self-learning. When someone says something like, ‘Yay! I’ve found it’ it’s a truly wonderful moment…they get it! For me…that’s what it’s all about. It goes hand-in-hand with my long held belief: ‘If you have a little knowledge then you have a moral duty to share it with others’. Otherwise we are just guardians of knowledge that will end when we shuffle off this mortal coil.

So, once again, big thanks to all the attendees and their great willingness to keep on learning.

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