Foundations of Photography: Lenses

Many of the creative options available to a photographer hinge on an in-depth understanding of lenses. Foundations of Photography: Lenses, will give you that in-depth understanding, as you learn how to choose lenses and take full advantage of their creative options. This 2.5 hour course covers fundamental concepts that apply to any camera, such as focal length and camera position, and shows how to evaluate and shop for DSLR lenses. The second half of the course focuses on shooting techniques: controlling autofocus, working with different focal lengths, and managing distortion and flare. You’ll also learn about filters, cleaning, maintenance, and more. You can find it all right here on the Lynda.com web site.

Foundations of Photography: Exposure

If you’re new to photography, or have been shooting for a while but still don’t feel comfortable with the fundamental theories of exposure, then you’ll want to check out my new Lynda.com course Foundations of Photography: Exposure. This three-and-a-half hour video training course works you through every fundamental aspect of exposure theory. You’ll learn what the exposure controls on your camera are for, and how to use them. In addition to learning how exposure control can help you solve problems, you’ll learn how to use exposure control to expand your creative palette. Shot on location in Southern California, this all “live-action” course was a lot of fun to make, (especially when the horses and mules got involved) and should get you a deep understanding of some of the fundamental concepts that you have to know to move beyond the auto modes on your camera.

When Should You Shoot Raw?

A lot of beginning shooters think that raw format photography is a high-end technology that only professionals need. They fear that it’s complicated, and a different way to shoot, and generally something that beginners should stay away from. But it’s not! In fact, the safety nets provided by raw format shooting are a boon to beginners! With raw format, you can correct overexposure and white balance problems that are impossible to tackle with non-raw formats. This article will walk you through a basic understanding of what raw is, and why you might want to consider giving it a try. (And if you want to know more, take a look at my Getting Started With Camera Raw– a complete discussion of all things raw.)

What Will You Shoot On Your Summer Vacation

We’re well into summer now, and as you head out on vacation, you’re probably packing your camera. Or, if you’re like me, you’re packing four or five camera. Whether you’re just getting started in photography, or you’ve been shooting for a long time and have a closet full of gear, planning what to take, and what to plan for can be complicated. In this article, I offer some tips and advice on how to plan your summer vacation shooting.

White Balance 101

Understanding white balance is an essential part of getting consistently good color. And while the auto white balance features on today’s cameras are very good, there will still be times when you need to take more control, and override your camera’s automatic white balance mechanism. This article walks you through the basics of white balance, to help you get better color in more situations.

Quantity Leads to Quality

One of the most common mistakes I see in photo classes is that students don’t shoot enough. I don’t mean that they don’t spend enough hours out taking pictures, I mean that when they see a potential subject they don’t shoot enough frames of it. Many people have the mistaken idea that a good photographer walks into a situation, sees their subject, determines how best to shoot it, takes the final shot, and then goes home to wait for that image to appear on the cover of a magazine. Alas, this isn’t true. To get good results, you have to shoot a lot of frames of your subject. This process of working your subject can be a difficult one for some people to learn, but here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

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Shooting People with Paul Mobley

Last October, I had the good fortune of assisting photographer Paul Mobley at a 4-day workshop in Oklahoma. Paul’s got a new website up, that is well worth checking out. He’ll also be teaching a workshop in Santa Fe in March. If you have any interest in portraits, shooting strangers, or any other types of people shooting, this is a great opportunity. You can check out more of Paul’s work here.

Learning Exposure the Old-Fashioned Way

The automatic features on today’s digital cameras greatly improve your chances of getting a good exposure in just about any situation. However, because these features provide an ever-present crutch, they can preclude an in-depth learning of basic exposure theory. It used to be that, when you didn’t have a light meter and only had manual exposure, you had to know your exposure theory inside and out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to extoll the virtues of a “simpler timer” but the sink-or-swim reality of a meterless, manual camera forced a photographer to learn a lot of technical concepts. While those concepts aren’t required to get good shots nowadays, understanding them can help out – even with a fully automatic camera – when you find yourself in a situation that confuses your camera, or if you’re finding situations where the auto features of your camera aren’t delivering the type of images you see in your head.

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Good Light

A lot of photographers think that if they buy some new gear, or learn to unlock the hidden power of some feature on their camera, they’ll move into a world of better shooting. But most of the time, the magic bullet for better images has nothing to do with gear, technique, or technical understanding. In most cases, the key to better shooting is simply to learn what separates good light from bad. On the one hand, this is great news, because light is free, and often plentiful. On the other hand, your study of light and lighting is something that will continue throughout your photo career. Check out this article for some tips on improving your understanding of what makes some light good, and other light not.

Remembering Some Basics

Ask any educator and they’ll tell you that teaching is usually a two-way street. While, as a teacher, you always hope to impart useful knowledge to your students, (and possibly even understanding) you almost always come away learning something yourself. For the last four years I’ve had the great privilege to work at the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, an exceptional arts camp for 14 to 18-year-olds. And every year, our students remind me of some very simple, essential photographic tenets. If you’ve lately been feeling uninspired, or “stuck” with your shooting , perhaps some of these ideas will help you re-find your photographic footing.

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