Taking Better Photographs: Lessons of a Beginner

Now that you’ve have a chance to see a selection of my photos from Beijing (days 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7), I thought I’d give you a break from photos and share a couple of lessons I learned from my first real experience of shooting with a DSLR camera. Next week I’ll bring you a selection of photographs from Yangshuo.

I’ve always liked photography, but never felt that I was any good. For many years I had a pretty decent compact camera but started to get frustrated with the inability to capture some of the shots I wanted. With the purchase of my first DSLR I very quickly realised how much I didn’t know. I was amazed at how easy it had become to take a bad picture.

After shooting my way through two weeks in China, I feel as if I have started to learn my first real photography lessons. The web is full of lessons on how to use photoshop to touch up your pictures. But, even before I get that far, things that I regard as the basics such as being able to instinctively select the correct aperture or shutter speed still seem a long way off for me.

These lessons may seem glaringly obvious, but after picking up a DSLR for the first time, I really did have to start with the basics.

Continue reading

My Chinese Language Needs-Analysis


Early this morning I had my first “Needs Analysis” session with Aggie from ChinesePod. I wasn’t too sure what to expect and will admit that as I sat there, headphones on, my heart did start to beat a little faster. Would I be asked to speak Chinese? Would there be a test? Would she be appalled by my incredibly slow progress? The session lasted just over half an hour but we managed to cover some of the biggest challenges I have faced with self study. Read on to find out more.

Continue reading