Photography lessons in Abu Dhabi

In a quest to take better snaps, we try Keylite's beginners' course

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Fed up of taking boring, lacklustre photos? Help is at hand. Cursty Mitchell sets out to put the wow factor into her shots without spending a fortune, by trying a beginner’s course at Keylite Studio.

If your Facebook profile picture is a badly shot grimace and your family snaps are inevitably either stiffly posed or poorly lit, you’re not alone. But it’s all too easy to blame our cameras and start considering an expensive and usually unnecessary upgrade. Thankfully, there is another significantly cheaper and more informed option available in Abu Dhabi. Consider participating in one of Jay Alonzo’s photography workshops at Keylite Studio instead and you could soon be taking some seriously impressive and frameable shots.

As an experienced teacher, commercial photographer and artist in his own right Jay is more than qualified to tackle your distinctly poor command of the camera. Since 1996, he’s been running workshops in the Philippines and Singapore and worked with some of the biggest companies in Asia conducting training for photography clubs and corporations. As if that weren’t enough, he also has a vast portfolio of commercial work and exhibitions under his belt, has written photography articles, been commissioned for film posters and is a regular contributor in magazines across the world.

There’s no two ways about it, we find it daunting meeting this professional in the mysterious art of picture-taking. Like many camera owners we don’t have the time (or inclination) to read the bulky manual or spend hours fiddling with those catchily termed settings. We just want the ability to point and snap, effortlessly replicating the great image that inspired us to take the picture in the first place. And yet it rarely happens. It seems as if, although today’s cameras promise every conceivable feature, more often than not we just seem to be disappointed.

So it’s with the promise we’ll get some quick usable tips that we head along to Keylite’s studio on Najda Street to find out more. Inside we’re immediately faced with formidable lighting paraphernalia and a sleek, spacious interior. The suspicion we’re about to expose our distinct lack of understanding, while things become terrifyingly mathematical, makes us want to head for the door, but in the interests of quality TOAD research we take a seat and prepare to learn.

Jay suggests we abandon the safety of Auto mode and all those other pretty little icons with pictures of hills, flowers and faces on, (possibly the only things we did completely understand). We move straight onto the mysterious ‘P’ setting (programmed automatic for those not in the know) which allows adjustment of white light and exposure, two things Jay informs us are most common amateur faults.

Even technophobes like us got the idea and with the handy little sun and cloud icons, it was remarkably simple to follow and strangely reassuring.

Next Jay tackles the fallacy of megapixels and our unquenchable quest for the exponential. Although top cameras now go up to 18 megapixels he tells us that the normal photo size only requires two. And even more surprisingly a Facebook upload only one. Cameras over 12 megapixels are really only required to print poster-sized pictures while manufacturers laugh all the way to the bank with people’s megapixel miscomprehension.

As our tutorial draws to a close, we realise it hasn’t been the dry, technical lesson we had expected. In fact, we leave the studio already a little more confident in our camera knowledge and just wishing there was more time.

For those who want to understand their camera better Jay runs several courses he has tested and perfected over the years. From beginner to advanced concepts he caters for all of Abu Dhabi’s budding photographers.

The expert beginner
This is the perfect course for budding snappers to invest in before they consider a new camera. Covering issues like what to look for in new equipment, lenses and the dreaded settings. It includes image size and quality, getting the right colour saturation, altering brightness and sharpness and more. The concept is to simplify basic digital photography, so participants can immediately start using their new camera like a pro.

Creative beginner
Abandon Photoshop and embrace the skills required to capture the image that you visualised preserving the drama, while developing your photographic eye.

Prolight
Offers a professional introduction to the basics of lighting. No more flash and speedlights, you can also get the feel of working in a professional studio environment.
Keylite Studio, Professional Building block A, Najda Street www.jayalonzophotoworkshop.com (052 989 9851).

More to try

Gulf Photo Plus
Sign up for this Dubai-based online photography community (with courses all over Abu Dhabi as well) and take one of their photograph workshops, show off your photos on their member’s gallery, buy camera accessories at their online store and sell your old camera gear. You can also purchase work by photographers.
www.gulfphotoplus.com

Jay’s top camera picks

Top Buy
Try cameras with full frame sensors like a Canon 5D or Nikon D800 (Dhs13,000 approximately, body only). These cameras give cleaner images with more detail.

Economy
The Canon 1100D (approximately Dhs2,000). Less bells and whistles and a smaller sensor in relation to the big boys, yet still packs a lot of poster-worthy settings while allowing creative freedom for the user.

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