Posted on Tuesday, 3rd April 2012 by Cee
I am writing this photography course with one important thing in mind and that is this… what was it like for me when I first held a digital slr camera? Learning how to operate your digital camera can be a daunting task because there are so many buttons on a single-lens-reflex camera. There is a relationship between the principles of how a photograph is made and knowing what the buttons and dials on your camera do. Once you grasp the principles, you’ll know how to operate your camera manually to take creative images.
You’ll be able to tell the camera what you want it to do for each lighting situation, for each scene. And that is what a talented photographer does – s/he tells the camera what to do because s/he knows exactly what s/he wants to photograph. Whether it be a glare-free waterfall demonstrating the motion of the water, or freezing the motion of a fast race car, or a backlit landscape where detail can be seen in both the sky and the foreground… the photographer tells the camera what to do. This course will teach you the principles of photography and how to apply them to create stunning images.
Here are the main topics of the course:
- The Properties of Light Important to Photographers - A photographer’s job is to capture light. The light that is reflecting of the subject, and she must do so by preserving all of the detail that resides in that light. In my opinion, this is the most fundamental of topics that somebody starting out in photography should be educated on because it will be perfect preparation for the rest of their learning. The word photography in its most basic dissection into the two separate words photo and graphy, means drawing with light. This section demystifies photography – you’ll understand very simply the three most important properties of light that we are concerned with as a photographer.
- Metering, Exposure and Dynamic Range - I wanted to include all three of these in one section of the course because they are inter-related. You need to learn how your camera evaluates a scene and what readings it is sending back to you. You then need to be able to interpret those readings so that you can produce an image that looks right or is exposed correctly. This will come from your knowledge of how to assess the dynamic range of a scene by metering it correctly. Once again, I will give you sample images with explanations of how each scene was metered to assess its dynamic range to produce a correctly exposed image. Alongside the image that looks right, I’ll show you an image that appears too bright and what that is too dark with clear explanations on why this happens.
- ISO – What it is and how it affects the integrity of your final image. The best way for me to explain how the ISO setting on your camera works is to take sample photographs for you and show you the results. After this section you’ll be able to decide which ISO settings you’ll want to use in different lighting situations.
- Lens Aperture - This is perhaps one of the most important topics that you need to grasp as a beginner because being able to choose the right lens aperture is a vital part of your creativity. Again, I’ll provide you with sample images to explain the affect of using different apertures on your final image. I’ll explain what the numbers on your lenses mean and give you a clear idea of which apertures to use in which situation. For example, I’ll show you what the creative apertures are, the portrait apertures and which apertures you should use when taking pictures of landscapes.
- Shutter Speed - Another component of your camera is the shutter speed you choose to use when shooting you images. Again, the best way for me to explain how to choose the right shutter speed and how to use it creatively in different situations is to give you sample images that I’ve taken. I’ll give anecdotes on how I made the photographs and why I chose the specific shutter speeds for the images I provide. To give you an idea, shutter speed can be used creatively to express a sense of “motion” in an image. It can be used to freeze action. Shutter speed is the photographer’s paint brush.
- White Balance, Colour Temperature and The Various Ways to Set The White Balance On Your Digital Camera – White balance can be a very complex topic for many beginners to understand. Your digital camera cannot see with the same level of perfection that your eye can so you have to tell it what is white under each lighting condition using the various different ways that your camera allows. I will show you how to set the white balance through an understanding of colour temperature, but also by using the custom white balance feature on your camera. You also need to have a basic understanding of colour cast and how a specific colour cast can pollute your images especially under fluorescent lighting. This can be eliminated in the camera itself and I can show you exactly how to do this.
- Focusing – It is really imperative that you are able to focus with precision. Without a proper understanding of how to bring your subject into razor-sharp focus, your images will look week and you won’t enjoy the results. I’ll explain the three different auto-focusing methods that your digital slr camera has available for you to focus your subjects and when to use each method. I’ll teach you where to point the camera and why.
- How to Use A Hotshoe Flashgun - The built-in popup speedlites in many of the front-end DSLRs for beginners in my opinion and many professionals’ for that matter… is useless. I’ll show you how an external hotshoe flashgun can make a difference to your photographs by bringing a much softer light to your subjects and your backgrounds, indoors. Also, I’ll show you how to make use of the flashgun when taking pictures of human subjects in sunlight because sidelight from the sun can generate unwanted shadows on faces that just don’t look right.
Now that I’ve laid out the course structure, I wanted to go over the teaching method… it’s very simple.
I will focus on all nine sections of the course in detail… in nine separate posts. In each post, I’ll cover the information simply in a step-by-step manner to help you build your knowledge in the right order. As mentioned above, I will include sample images as a teaching aid when necessary. I’ll explain how the images were taken with all the different camera settings below each image. In addition, I’ll set tasks within each section of the course labelled “Homework” and it is up to you to get that homework done. If you do the homework, that will be your evidence that you have learnt what is being taught at each stage.
Next… I want this course to be interactive and there is a link at the top in the menu bar titled Ask Me a Question About Photography. Please use it – fill out the form and ask me any question you like. I’m here to help you become a better photographer.
Finally, what’s the catch? There isn’t one. I’ve written this photography course to give beginners a free kick start in the development of their photographic skills. I know that photography is an expensive industry and once your skills and talent begin to emerge, you’re going to want to spend more money on better lenses and other equipment. So the course is free. You’ll find links to subsequent parts of the course as they are ready at the bottom of each post here. And just in case you have trouble finding subsequent parts of the course, you can find all the posts in the category titled Beginners Photography Course.
This brings us to the end of the Introduction so let’s move onto Part 1. Have fun!