It was in 2000 that we started a group for beginners in photography. We had been enjoying our hobby of photography for a number of years and given lectures to camera clubs but had little or no experience of teaching a small group. I think I can safely say we have gained as much from the challenge as our students.

Starting by finding out the equipment they had, we then found out what each member hoped to achieve and any particular subjects they wanted to cover. Armed with this information we set about teaching them basic camera use, followed by simple composition. We used our own resources in the form of our prints and slides to demonstrate particular points. We would, for instance, get out photographs to show differential focussing or landscape composition. We took them out to actually practise what we had taught and included the subjects they had requested. Bad weather days gave us a chance to try indoor subjects such as still life, close-up and portraiture and methods of lighting. Constant opportunities to look at each other's work and that of well-known photographers, helped to instil an awareness of composition. Coming fortnightly, a new subject or challenge could be set and discussed the following session. This kept them on their toes and also fed their enthusiasm while teaching them to develop a seeing eye.

We must have achieved our goal as when the proposed number of meetings drew to a close they asked to continue, and so we took on another programme of challenges.

Alternating with this first group we now have another group and can use our experience to find their hidden talents. Trips out are important, we have visited Bluebell woods; castles; markets; villages; exhibitions and tackled night photography, firework displays and the differing seasonal changes.

Now the first group are branching out with the new technique of doing their own printing using computers. This means another group has been set up and we have to keep a step ahead of them all the time! As with their cameras, composition and artistic ability is all important, but also they have to learn about the use of colour and the correct use of all the magic possibilities a computer can achieve. Their original pictures being correctly exposed and composed remain all important to producing the end result to their satisfaction.

Each year we have shown their work at the Groups U3A Meeting. This requires them to learn presentation skills and at the same time stimulates a great deal of interest amongst the other U3A members.

We have learnt a lot from leading these groups. We have been asked questions we could not answer but have found the means; looked at other artistic examples; searched books; found subjects to set and places to visit. Our own photography has been challenged and at the same time we have found new friends and filled our days with new adventures in the art of photography.

Sheila and Peter Read

2014 Update.

Currently we are running 3 classes. They are Further DI, Extra DI and Using Your Camera.

Come September we shal start two new classes and Using Your Camera will finish.  The new classes are Starters DI for those who wish to process their photos in a simple manner and ONWARD. This is a totally new class to accomodate members who want to push the boundaries of their photographic knowledge in whatever direction we choose.  It is for those members who have been through one of our other classses and know enough to do the basic post processing.

There is a calendar for when the classes are held on our site at http://www.salisburyu3a.org.uk/SPIRE/SpireDIPhotoTimetable.html

Times and classes are subject to changes. So keep an eye on this page just to check, whichever U3A group you belong to, whether the class you are in is being held when expected.

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