It’s still about taking a great photograph

Don Weixl’s photography classes at Okanagan College Continuing Education help people get the best from their digital cameras. - Cara Brady/Morning Star
Don Weixl’s photography classes at Okanagan College Continuing Education help people get the best from their digital cameras.
— image credit: Cara Brady/Morning Star

Anyone who got a new digital camera for Christmas and is still puzzling over the manual can learn how to work with the new technology in the Okanagan College Continuing Education photography courses.

“It’s a common misconception you can fix everything on the computer. The cameras can make things a lot easier for you but it’s easier to start with a good photo that is clear and well-composed. I’d say 90 per cent of people are holding their cameras in the wrong position and that’s something they can correct,” said instructor Don Weixl, who was The Morning Star’s first photographer in 1988 and now works as a professional photographer for clients like BC Magazine, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and Silver Star.

His courses cover point-and-shoot digital and digital SLR cameras at introductory and more advanced levels. Most of the people in his classes are over 40.

“Younger people are more comfortable with technology and will just take a camera and get to know what it can do. What digital cameras can do is take away the anxiety from photography because you try things and make mistakes and since you see the photos right away, you can correct them,” he said.

“I see a lot of people in the classes who are very good film camera photographers and want to find out what these cameras can do. The goal is to adapt the camera to your style and get a great shot every time.”

The courses are hands-on and people are expected to bring their cameras and photos to discuss in class.

“You have to not be afraid to get the camera off auto and use the manual ISO settings. And learn how to use a basic editing program. There are free programs on the internet. Computers are the new darkrooms,” said Weixl.

“The camera and editing can do a lot for you. The photographer is left to the creative side, the composition and being in the right place at the right time. People are taking some exceptional pictures, there’s a flood of incredible images out there now. Amateur photographers are now taking pictures a professional could only have dreamed of 10 years ago.”

The photographer remains the key.

“Some people have a gift for composition or for working with certain subjects, like children or animals. Some people will specialize in certain subjects and even plan their vacations around them,” said Weixl, whose hobby is photographing railways around the world.

“It’s great to see people come into the class and get to know their cameras and then I see the light go on when it all comes together. I’m impressed with the quality of the pictures they submit.”

For more information about Okanagan College Continuing Education courses, including a Saturday one-day course called Focus on People March 26, call 250-545-7291 (ext. 2850).

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