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A beginners guide to digital photography in Leicester

Tree at Bradgate Park (Photo: Chris Denner)
Learn how you can use digital photography to create great personal images

Digital photography is an increasingly popular past-time, but it can be difficult to know where to start if you are a complete beginner.

Leicester photographer Chris Denner has been giving BBC Leicester's Chris Baxer a crash course in grasping the basics of digital photography.

Introducing Chris Denner

Chris started out in his career at the age of 20, working as a photographer's assistant. This was an invaluable experience, allowing him to pick up helpful trade tips.

I got so sick of the chemicals in dark rooms that I can never go back to film now
Chris Denner, photographer

It took Chris around a decade to build his own client based, and he now specialises in music and fashion photography.

For Chris digital is the only way to go; just a few clicks and you've documented the moment forever.

"When I was at college and then when I was training as an assistant, I got so sick of the chemicals in dark rooms that I can never go back to film now.

"I just can't I'm sorry, it just annoys the hell out of me!"

Camera and kit

Chris admits that with all the products out there, knowing what camera equipment is right for you can be rather perplexing.

Firstly it is important to think how you will use the camera: do you want to just 'point and shoot' for family shots, or would you like to spend time making much more creative images?

Portraiture
Consider what you want the camera for: quick snaps or creativity?

If you don't want much hassle and are planning to just slip your camera into a pocket, Chris suggests a compact.

He recommends the considering if you want a large zoom or to be able to record video, and definitely to look at the megapixels; the more they have the better quality the snaps should be.

And of course, for the ultimate in convenience, camera phones are increasingly producing better quality photographs.

If you want more control of the images and don't mind carrying around bulkier equipment, then the single-lens reflex (SLR) camera is the way to go.

It provides you with much more options; with interchangeable lenses for different subjects, better quality images, and more exact exposure.

"I think SLR photography is the way forward. The only thing that would put most people off, particularly like the girls I know, is the size of the cameras, that they're not going to fit in a pocket, not going to fit in a handbag."

Buying

Whatever you go for, Chris believes it is important to make an investment in your photography to achieve the best possible images.

"I'd always advise to obviously spend the maximum budget that they can allow once they've worked out what they're looking for from a camera because with most technology, and particularly cameras, you do get what you pay for."

Once you have got a few ideas of what you're looking for he advises potential-purchasers to look on the internet for consumer camera reviews.

There are a number of good camera shops in Leicester

Portraiture

"Portraiture is generally a snapshot of what you see in front of you. It can be posed, it can be contrived or it can just be lifestyle and very natural."

Chris says in the past portraiture was a "dirty word in photography", associated with stiff images of families forced into their best clothes.

Portraiture
Contrasting colours can make your portraits bold and beautiful

However there has been a revolution. Commercial portraiture is more about reportage images of the subject's character and lifestyle.

"Anybody with kids will know trying to get a two year old to sit still, bit of a nightmare.

"What we've seen is a move towards portraiture which is much more creative, where the children are encouraged to run around, play with their toys, smile, jump, laugh clap, do whatever they want."

Chris suggests adopted this style in your own photographs; for example with a child, use favourite toys or instruments in a familiar welcoming environment.

Even if the photographs don't turn out as well as you hoped, learn from the mistake and put it down as a good half an hour spent playing around.

"A child being allowed to express themselves like that is worth a hundred times more than the child being forced to smile and sit still on a stall."

Landscape

BBC Leicester's Chris Baxter visited Bradgate Park in Leicestershire with Chris Denner to learn about taking landscape images.

Photographer Chris believes it is a great place for a beginner to grasp the basics of taking a good snap.

"Bradgate's just very inspirational. You haven't really got to work very hard to see something that is worth getting the camera out.

"From the wildlife down to some fantastic tree formations and rock formations as well, it's just absolutely epic."

This does not mean you can just wildly snap away and produce amazing photographs though.

With digital cameras you still need to think about the exposure - how light or dark the photograph is - and the composition of the shot - how the subject is framed, what is in the foreground and background.

Trees at Bradgate Park
Take one tree: shots by Chris Denner and Chris Baxter




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