Time line of attended courses & club activities.

    I am the type that tries to learn things from books, the Internet, and from people who just know more than me (and there are plenty). It might seem weird to write an article on the (non-work-related) courses/training that I've done. However, it might inspire you to do similar courses, or inform you to choose one type of course over another.


    • Canon "URCreative" Photography Course, Canberra: No link as this company/site has died.
      • Fundamentally, I thought this was a great course, and it was good to see the course arranged after work, with instructor led courses one night per week for several weeks. However, it became somewhat unstuck when the instructor decided to delay several of the more advanced courses. Which if you've paid for them up front, waiting months between courses becomes hard to plan for.


    • Idea "Digital Playground" Photography Conference Sydney: (Way too many courses to mention) Web site has died.
      • As one of the biggest photography conferences in Australia, this was a fantastic way to get a broad view of photography at the time. It had famous photographers like Ken Duncan, Peter Eastway, floating about, some doing lectures. This is in addition to numerous respected professional photographers and suppliers all teaching workshops. The conference ran for three days, with many classes running, often at the same time. (So I'd do something different each day) The demonstrations, classes, lectures and workshops covered things from Adobe products, flash and studio work, drone, wedding, underwater and surrealist photography, several photography expedition tour companies were showing what some of their clients had learned on their trips, rental shops showed their medium and large format photography gear. Meanwhile the "Trade area" allowed you to get your hands on numerous equipment, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, Leica, Phase One and numerous other manufacturers ran their own hands-on booths and classes. Oh, and the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) had their annual competition there as well.
    • Introduction to Astronomy, Basic Telescope Use, & Astrophotography: Canberra Astronomical Society/ANU. https://casastronomy.org.au/
      • Usually held once a month at the top of Mt. Stromlo (where the observatory used to be before the fires) I found this to be a really interesting way to learn about optics, astronomy, and of course, astrophotography. Also talking to real people who were involved in real space missions and/or worked in observatories around the world, such as the Hayabusa space probe, that sampled rocks on a nearish asteroid, then came back after significant technical difficulties, then nearly crash-landed in central Australia (after it was decided that it was too rocky for a safe landing....was a particularly fascinating tale. You can find out a less enthralling version of the tale on Wikipedia here. 


    • Idea "Digital Playground" Photography Conference Melbourne: (Way too many courses to mention) Web site has died.
      • Much like the Sydney conference in 2014, this was very diverse. However, looking back there were a few glaring absences by a certain major manufacturer (like Canon) which was one of the signs that this conference was getting a bit "out of touch". This was the last Digital Playground conference. However in addition to the many courses and lectures, I went a bit further and invested in two paid workshops:
        • Advanced macro photography.
        • Professional fashion and flash photography.
    • Flash photography course: Kayell Australia (Sydney).
      • Having seen the demonstrations in the "Digital Playground" conference. I chose to do a Kayell course in Sydney. They're really good at showing what differing pieces of equipment can do. However, you will want to buy all sorts of stuff.. and this is one of the reasons Kayell does these courses.
    • Wood working: Largely self taught, but given lessons from a professional carpenter, this all started because I wanted to build speaker stands because I felt they were massively overpriced for what they were. I showed them... by spending way more on tools and materials.
    • Lapidary & rock/gem polishing skills: http://www.canberralapidary.org.au/



    • Intensive Cheesemaking I: https://www.cheesemaking.com.au/cheesemaking-courses/intensive-cheesemaking-course-1/
      • If you're a complete beginner, then this is a great course to do. Spanning an entire weekend, I found the course to live up to its intensive name. You will definitely want Monday off afterwards. Graham runs his courses in numerous capital cities, and would probably turn up to a new location if you had enough people willing to participate.
    • Intensive Cheesemaking II - https://www.cheesemaking.com.au/cheesemaking-courses/intensive-cheesemaking-course-2/
      • This was definitely the more interesting of the two courses. However, I've just seen the updated notes (2020 edition) and found that fewer types of cheeses are taught. Perhaps it was too intense? Maybe it's just to make the lessons a little less overwhelming, or focus on where the interest lies. However, that's pure speculation on my part.
    • Permaculture Design Certificate: https://www.canberraenvironment.org/workshops/pdc
      • Most of these courses of this type are done over two weeks of continuous, on farm training, but this was done one night per week, with practical training on the weekends. This made it far more manageable when you have a full time job. Also, without the need for staying on a Permaculture farm for weeks on end and racking up additional expenses like food bills, it came in at roughly 35% of the price of other courses.
    • Self Sufficient Farm Workshop: https://www.canberraenvironment.org/
      • Run by my Permaculture instructor, he really laid bare, the reality of running even a small farm. People wistfully dreaming of their own self-sufficient (not necessarily hippy) lifestyle might be in for a rude awakening about what is involved, what it costs, and the significant shift in living conditions.
    • Straw Bale Construction Course: https://vivahomes.com.au/strawbale-workshops-and-courses/
      • Run by a group of builders who have built straw bale homes, (it's even taught in a straw bale classroom), these guys really know their stuff. They also outline the perception of straw as a building material, and what that means for getting approvals.. and how to approach the application. Its taught over multiple days, and you'll be put to work on making render, placing bales, tidying them up, and then applying that render. So don't expect it to be easy. I thought it was fun, but I think everyone was so busy that I didn't exactly befriend a lot of people. It would be particularly interesting to architects, self-builders, and couples to see what working with natural materials can do.


    • Garden Design: https://citsolutions.edu.au/courses/at_home/home_garden_and_garage/garden_design
      • I thought this was very good, but it's not going to make you a professional landscape designer. This ran one night per week for (I think it was 4/5 weeks) with a weekend junket to see how these concepts were applied.
    • Thai Cooking Course: https://th.pumthaifoodchain.com/cookingschool.html
      • I was in Thailand, taking a much needed break, and fell in love with the food. So I did a course. Thai food really does need fresh ingredients for best results. Ren chose to do different meals to me, so we each have our Thai styles.
    • Basic Welding (ARC/MIG): (Taught by an experienced farmer and again with a machinist)
      • This was quite informal, but the machinist trained people to weld for 30 years. My old workplace has a workshop that supports research. I taught them how to use a 3D printer for prototyping purposes, so he took pity on me and let me learn from him during his lunch breaks. Welding is something that takes time to get used to. I would have done a conventional course, but they are booked months, sometimes years in advance and aren't exactly cheap. With the money I saved, I bought myself a nice welding setup and have now loaned my welder to the aforementioned farmer because my welder is easier to use than his. So there's definitely a quid pro quo going on.
    • Chai Tea Blending/Making workshop: (Web site has died).
      • My partner and I drink a lot of tea. So we did a workshop on how to mix chai blends. It's funny because I am the relatively more "spice resistant" in the household, but my chai blends emphasized mild spices like cinnamon, and anything that would work with a creamy/vanilla essence. Meanwhile Wren's took on more spicy and bold flavours... this won't make you a master tea blender, but it did give you the basics about what flavours are important to you, and show you how diverse chai can be.



    • Note: I was in New Zealand doing a wedding photography gig in January, and only just came back before Covid became a big issue. I was doing some contract work for a drone company until Covid shut most places down in March. Since then, with social distancing becoming the "new norm" courses have largely been deferred or entirely cancelled. This year will probably be a bust as far as "fun" courses are concerned.

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