Thursday, 26 February 2015

Photography for Parents Online Photography Course

I’ve always loved photos and keeping a record of the things I do. Not only since having children, I have stacks of photos from my teens and twenties when big nights out were captured from beginning to messy end and holidays and festivals were recorded in technicolour. I always had a camera or for times when I didn’t I’d rely on disposables. I remember loving the anticipation of going to collect my prints at Boots and thinking of the moments I’d captured and hoping they looked as good as I remembered it to be. And then there were always the photos that I couldn’t remember taking and being surprised by them as I leafed through them.

In recent times I’ve used my iPhone as my camera, which in the most part is fine because they give ok results and if the photo isn’t as good as I’d hoped there’s always a photography app, like A Beautiful Mess and Instagram where I can fade out imperfections with filters and other gizmos. There is absolutely nothing wrong with photos taken in this way as it’s so convenient given that I always have a phone in my pocket, but I decided to delve into the world of DSLR and bought a Nikon d3200. I soon realised that if I was going to have a clue what I was doing with this wonderful technology I’d need to go on a little photography course.

Photography for Parents online photography course is perfect for people who can’t make it to face to face lessons and given that the subject of my photos these days is mostly kids it seemed the course was perfectly titled for me. The course comes in 6 modules of learning, running weekly and alongside it there is a forum where you can ask questions and gain support. For every module there is also a homework element and you submit your homework to the forum for a moderator to appraise and give pointers on how you could do things differently and also say “Yes! You really captured that!”. Because the course has live support it also means that you get feedback really quickly and in the case of this course we were asked whether we would like a week off in the middle of the course to help us to process some of the more technical information about aperture and depth of field etc. 


The idea of the course is to get people off the ‘Auto’ setting and to get some really great photos of your little ones. It gets you thinking about light, composition, aperture, shutter speeds, amongst other things. I have to admit that if I hadn’t started this course I think I would have definitely left the camera setting on Auto and not braved it. There is a lot to take in when you are getting to grips with a DSLR and I won’t deny that it didn’t frighten me slightly in the same way that my weekly physics lessons in senior school used to terrify me, but the course is so clear and the moderators online really make you feel at ease. There is nothing intimidating about it. I feel that I have a better understanding of the settings on my camera now and like I can navigate my way round without fear. My only wish is that my brain would work quicker and I'd able to think through best settings for different situations faster. In the time it takes me to remember what ISO I need or whether spot metering would be best I potentially lose the moment. However this is really just me still getting to grips with a fairly new camera and with more practice it will come.

During each module there are practical exercises to complete. I liked doing these, particularly shooting at different focal lengths and also the exercise on focus and achieving blur in the background of my photos. At the end of each module there are homework tasks for you to complete in your own time and submit to the forum. I have to admit that I haven’t been great at that bit and I attribute that to a few things. Firstly as it’s winter, good enough light to take great photos is limited, and with me working full time these days I can’t round up my trusty subjects when I get home and herd them outside like I could in the summer months. And our house is too dingy to get photos I feel happy with. I am also not so good at hooking my camera up to my Macbook and uploading my photos and then resizing them so I can upload them to the forum. I am one of those people with a camera full of photos (just like my phone) and they're trapped in there. This is something I need to be better at.


At the end of every module you are able to download that week’s course content in pdf form and print it out which I have found invaluable for when I’m commuting to work and I want to re-read some of the stuff I’ve read online. I also highlight some of the things I want to stick out for me. Once you come to the end of the course it doesn’t end there, the forums stay moderated for another few weeks to allow for stragglers to post their homework (umm yes that’s me!) and you can join a Facebook group to continue your photography practice.

I'm personally really happy that I was given the opportunity to try this course and I would recommend it. The course is full of information but it's delivered in such a way that makes it easy to understand. It's broken down into easily digestible chunks that allows you to not feel  under pressure and for me that is key when I'm learning something new. If there was any pressure then it wouldn't work for me what with all the other stresses we have as parents. My aim from taking this course was to understand my camera better and to start getting some great photos of my family and that's already underway. 

The Level 1 course costs £65 if you get it at an earlybird rate and the standard cost is £87.  It runs for 6 weeks. The next course starts on Monday 2nd March so…..GET BOOKING!

If you're not quite sure you want to commit to the whole course fee, then Photography For Parents are currently offering a 1 module trial offer for £7 which seems like a bargain to me! It will allow you to get a flavour and see if you think the course is for you. If you like what you see then you can pay the remainder of the course fee and carry on. If you decide it's not for you then you can leave it at that and walk away, you're not obliged to carry on. Go to: Photography course for your trial offer.

For more details and to sign up go to the website go to: Photography for Parents

They can also be found on Facebook: Photography for Parents

I was given the chance to join the Level 1 online photography for parents course for free in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Disney's Big Hero 6 - Review

On Sunday we woke up early (normal) and got ready to leave the house by 9 (not normal on a Sunday!) and made our way to the Odeon Leicester Square for a gala screening of Big Hero 6 in 3D, the latest big release from Disney. I didn't know a whole lot about it but Isla already knew that the main character was called Baymax and both her and Noah were hyped to be going to the cinema. I love going to the Odeon, Leicester Square. The screen is so huge and the sound is brilliant, it's also the type of place where people clap when the film finishes - something that rarely happens these days. 

Prior to the film starting we were treated to some Baymax balloon modelling and face painting which the kids loved and then we took our seats and prepared for 3D fun! As with most Disney films now there was a short film to warm every one up called 'Feast' about a dog, and we all loved it. I won't say anything about the story here, but as I was watching it I felt like it could be a longer film, it was that good....

What's Big Hero 6 about then?

“Big Hero 6” is an action-packed comedy-adventure, about robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada, an orphan living with his Brother and Aunt. Hiro learns to explore his genius—thanks to his brilliant brother Tadashi and their like-minded friends: adrenaline junkie Go Go Tamago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred. Just as Hiro decides to turn his back on Bot fighting to go to 'Nerd' college and join his brother, a devastating turn of events catapults them into the midst of a dangerous plot unfolding in the streets of San Fransokyo. Hiro turns to his closest companion—a robot named Baymax, created by Tadashi —and transforms the group of friends into a band of high-tech heroes determined to solve the mystery. I'm not going to spoil the film for any of you by revealing too much of what happens, you NEED to see it yourself! 

Big Hero 6 has some brilliant laughs for adults and kids alike. The robot Baymax is the source of most of this comedy genius. He was created by Tadeshi to be a robot nurse, to fix all ailments. He makes it his mission to 'fix' Hiro when his heart is broken after the loss of his brother. The way he takes literal meaning from a lot of the things that Hiro says is hilarious and were the bits that had me chuckling. Isla found the lumbering character of the huge vinyl, Michelin man shaped robot the funniest, laughing every time he was involved in some sort of catastrophe. She also loved the scene where Baymax is running out of charge and Hiro struggles to get him home. I loved that although Baymax is a robot, he learns human emotions and fragility and in his own blustering way he mends Hiro and returns him to being the person his brother would be proud of. For a character with hardly any features he is very loveable and we all felt such immediate affection for him. 

I liked the setting for the film, in fictional San Fransokyo, a cross between San Francisco, with all the hills and golden gate bridge and Tokyo with the snow capped mountains and Cherry Blossom. The film also projects the message that science is cool and since seeing the film, I've heard Isla say a number of times "I'm going to be a scientist". I think this can only be a good thing.

We give Big Hero 6 a big thumbs up and I feel sure that it could spurn a sequel, Baymax is such an enchanting creation that it would be a shame to only see him once. 

Check out the trailer here:

For a little bit of extra Big Hero 6 fun, check out these fun activities for kids:

Spot the Difference
Baymax Origami
Hiro and Baymax Balloon Experiment!

Big Hero 6 is on general release in 3D from 30th January. To get all the latest info about Big Hero 6 and other Disney releases: 

"Like" the official Facebook page:
Subscribe to the YouTube channel:
Follow on Twitter : #BigHero6

Thank you Disney UK for inviting us to the film we had a super time!