In August, I went to Problogger Conference at the Gold Coast to learn all the latest in blogging. My absolute favourite workshop at the whole event was the Olympus Intermediate Photography workshop. I basically got two hours to spend with a photographer and learn exactly how to use my new Olympus camera and take photos for my blog and social media. It was so informative and a learned a LOT. But in true Kate-style, I keep forgetting the nitty gritty yet important things. 


Let me start by being brutally honest: I’m not a very good photographer.


In fact, I’m selfishly writing this post so that I actually LEARN what I should be doing when taking photos. I need to drill into my overworked brain exactly what I should be doing so voila, a blog post is born!


Let’s get started:



Olympus taught me that there are 3 key elements of photography that we need to be aware of. Together they make up the ‘exposure’:


So the aperture, as I understand it, is like the pupil of eye. It gets bigger to let more light in and it gets smaller to let less light in.


The camera labels this with a F/ number. The higher the number, the smaller the aperture. Confusing, am I right!?  



In Kate-speak, aperture basically helps you focus on different things within different depth ranges. Kind of like a foreground-background distinction. Professional photographers everywhere are probably cringing at this explanation but it makes sense to me. A quick google search shows this as an example:





Light passes through the aperture and then the shutter speed says how much light you’re actually going to allow into the camera. So they say.


In Kate-speak, the quicker the shutter speed (e.g. 1/250), the less likely you’ll get a blurred shot. Super duper quick ones like 1/4000 are great for action and sports shots. The longer or slower the shutter speed (e.g. 30 seconds or longer) are excellent for night shots. 



Part 3 of the whole exposure process is ISO, where it’s all about….exposure. 


This is the part where we start talking priorities. The higher the ISO, the more exposure and unfortunately, the more grainy your image will be. So you have to decide if you want more exposure at the risk of more grain. I know, dilemma hey?



It’s one thing to know how the camera works and it’s a whole other ball game when it comes to actually taking the photo. Olympus shared a few tips with us at their workshop so let me share some of them here:


1. Shoot in Golden or  Blue light


The best times of the day to shoot apparently. And they are:


Golden hour = the hour from sunrise, and the hour before sunset

Blue light = the hour before Golden hour in the morning and the hour after sunset.


It makes sense. Unless you have an overcast day, harsh sunlight makes for some pretty crappy photos. 


2. Rule of Thirds 

This was the first thing I learned about photography and it really does help. Taking a photo of something so it sits dead centre is sahhh boring. Rule of Thirds is basically a grid and implies that we lovely humans are more attracted to things that sit on this grid.




3.  Use slow shutter speeds for drama

To blur the action, duh.


4. Use a tripod of macro and night shots


Because you shake. Even if you have a steady hand, you’ll still shake.


5. Be aware of the ‘visual weight’


Basically, whatever part of the photo that is closer to the camera will look bigger than things in the background. It’s really obvious when taking photos of people I’ve found. For example, if you take a photo of two people and one is closer to the camera than the other, that person will look significantly bigger.

Obviously, you’re going to learn a lot more about photography from the experts themselves. But hopefully I gave you some clarity on a few things. Out of all of these, learning to use the camera manually instead of good ol’ auto has seen my photography skill somewhat improve.


Olympus really drilled into us that all it takes is practice. So just get out there and keep shooting, keep experimenting. I’m going to be experimenting a lot on my upcoming trip to the USA that’s for sure!


And in case you were wondering, my camera is an Olympus Pen-E5 and I love it. And nope, this isn’t a sponsored post. And yes, I’m still not a great photographer but I’m working on it. 🙂