I am just back from a Wildlife Photography Boot Camp at the Bannerghatta National Park organized by ireboot. I got a forwarded mail regarding this camp the very next day I got my camera and I didn't have to think twice to decide. The mentor was Kalyan Varma and I have been following his blog for quite sometime and is a huge fan of his photographs. I had missed his previous workshops and was looking out for the next session. So I just jumped at this opportunity and registered immediately.
I have no words to describe how useful the session was.. As I have mentioned many times before, I don't experiment much with the camera settings. I did know a little bit of theory but was never confident to actually apply them. I felt camera is always intelligent than me and used auto mode to shoot the pictures and occasionally changed to 'P' mode if I had to switch off/on the flash. But now I know at least all the main controls of the camera and how to use them and more importantly when to use them. For me, exposure composition was something that you use to get those nice silhouettes during sunset and that was it. Never realized you can actually use it for overexposed pictures! Again I was not so clear about the relation between aperture, shutter speed, ISO, flash and what not. Whenever I have experimented with them, either it was lots of trial and error and finally one good output or one of my 'expert' friends told me which value to set for each and wow I got that perfect picture. Similarly I have always wondered what's this rage about full frame and the multiplication factor in lens. Now I know better! Hey don't give that smile, I know I was too naive..
To talk about the camp itself, Kalyan is very passionate about what he does and it is very evident from the way he handled the topic. Ours was a diverse group with people across varied age group (yeh we had participants from 6th std onwards), different models of cameras (Simple PoS, semi-pro SLRs, pro SLRs) and not to mention the varied levels of expertise. But he handled it so smoothly starting from the basics and then moving on to other aspects like exposure, composition, flash etc. In fact yesterday, we had different sessions for more than 18 hours from early morning 6 am till past 12 at night. How many can do that with the same energy level throughout and more importantly grabbing full attention from everyone in the class? I am not exaggerating when I say there was not a single dull moment. We had a good mixture of both classroom and field sessions. In classroom, we learned the techniques and in the field, we applied them. The emphasis was to get almost all parameters right while shooting itself and do very less post processing later. But yeh we got an introduction to different post processing tools too. So now I also know how to do basic editing using Photoshop, GIMP, CaptureNX etc :) We also had a session where we checked the great photos from world famous photographers and analyzed what made them stand apart. Some of our photos from the workshop were also reviewed. And in another session, we got to see some of the wildlife videos which did strike a chord. Last session was a brief about different equipments used and care of equipments. Everyone gasped when Kalyan poured water on one of his expensive lenses to prove that all these camera's and lens are designed to withstand rough conditions. And not just that - we learned a lot from each other too. Since the group was diverse, every one was good in one or other and they always gave tips whenever they saw others struggling.
In short,it was very informative, interactive and real fun and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who would like to understand the art of photography. Thank you Mukta for organizing the same and Kalyan for making us better photographers :)