Monday, August 20, 2012

Sixth Annual Canon in the Parks Photography at Acadia

Bar Harbor, ME   High: 78  Low:60

Sparky was really excited to see this FREE workshop event show up at Acadia. Last year, they were not able to hold the event due to the tsunami and the fallout from that affected Canon to the point they couldn't fund it. So, thankfully, this year, it came to Acadia. The group of instructors had been to Grand Teton, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and others and now Acadia for their last stop. It was a young group of instructors, but they sure knew their stuff!

They had a lot of instructors available--around nine. There were no advance reservations or calling ahead. You just show up about fifteen minutes to a half hour before the starting time and sign in. They have three time slots each day at each location in Acadia. Today the location was Jordan Pond House. They brought 75% of their camera line and lenses with them. If you wanted to try the Canon equipment, you could leave your driver's license and a credit card to check out the camera and lens. No fee, they just hold your credit card and license so they get their equipment back! Sparky asked what kind of price ranges the cameras and lenses fell into, but they were not able to discuss that. It looked like expensive equipment. The group that came to take the classes today was a very experienced group for the most part, and they were batting around models number, setups, and lenses like major league afficionados! Sparky was a little intimidated, but that didn't last long.

They then divided the group into beginner, intermediate, and advanced groups. Sparky chose the beginner group because she really doesn't know her SLR Nikon 3100 very well, nor does she understand F stops and aperture settings and ISO stuff. There were about ten people in the beginner group and EVERYBODY had a Canon except for Sparky. Which was ok, you don't have to have a Canon to take the class. But it would have helped. Sparky had to wait patiently to get help after instructions were given to the Canon group, then the instructor had to take a look at her camera and figure out what to tell her. But we got along.....We stayed at the Jordan Pond location the whole time for the hour and a half class.

Sparky learned some neat things about the SLR...In particular, the F stop thing.....Chuck Turner, the insructor, (in his early twenties, maybe?) gave us an analogy that really helped. He said to think of F stops like a loaf of bread placed in front of you. A low F stop, like 5.6, is going to focus on 5-6 slices of bread clearly, then anything after that is going to blur the background.  A high F stop, like 22, is going to focus on all 22 slices of bread, and bring in a lot more details of the background from the forefront to the rear of your setting. AHA! Sparky now understands a LOT better! Here is a practice photos at the right with trying to do what the instructor taught us about F stops. This was taken with the low number F stop setting (5.6) and a 55-200 lens. Got a lot more to learn, but I like this photo...

We also learned about white balance, something Sparky has a lot of trouble with, getting the balance right. Chuck talked about how to move white balance settings up and down to correct various lighting situations. And, we talked about ISO settings...lower is better in most instances as a general rule. Chuck really encourage us to get off the "automatic" setting and start playing around with taking photos, experimenting! That's the only way to really learn how to handle your camera, that and reading the  manual. HA! Sparky had read her manual several times, purchased the "Dummy" book, read the "Missing Manual" series and STILL has trouble figuring out things. Being a retired special ed teacher, Sparky thinks some of her learning "quirks" may have come from teaching in that field too long, OR she has some learning difficulties herself that are more evident when she is trying to learn something or find her way around places! (Whew! Glad SHE said that, says E.) It's probably the latter...

Sparky feels the need to go back and practice some more. She needs LOTS of repetition and reminders of how to use her camera, so she thinks she will sign up for another class, and maybe another!...There is one more location where a series of classes are going to be offered at future dates, it will be at Sieur de Monts Nature Center, coming up later this week. It appears that the basic instruction will be the same, that groups of people will be divided up according to skills, but each instructor offers his/her own take on the information being presented. There are no "topics" for these classes, just skill levels. Sparky will check out another beginner class and report back. Stay tuned!

But first, we have to leave Mount Desert Narrows...Someone is coming in tomorrow that has requested our site. They will be on it for four days...So we are going to Abbot, Maine for those four days, and then we will be back to Mount Desert Island for one last hurrah! Ten more days at Acadia, and then we will be leaving for Michigan soon.....See you later!


  1. I took a lot of photography classes in college, did the darkroom thing and everything. Now I have a Nikon D3000, and am relearning all the F-Stop, etc. It's fun :)

  2. Now those classes are something that I would truly enjoy. Lucky you!

  3. Photography is so much fun a great hobby to get into, have too much fun.

  4. About those F-stops, white balance and aperture settings - I think that's why I like the 'Auto' setting!!

  5. You can read all the books; take all the classes ... what puts it together is practice, practice, practice. I've been a DSLR user only since 2007 ... one of the things I'm looking forward to in retirement is free time to go out and spend time in one location and really practice what I've read.