Make your digital pictures look better, and even dramatic, in this course for beginners. Bare Bones Digital Photography - by photographer and author Robin Nichols - is perfect for anyone who has just bought a digital camera, as well as those who have been shooting for a few months but feel they need a starter course. Robin will demonstrate, in the clearest terms, how to apply basic compositional rules to your picture-taking to make your shots appear more dramatic. An experienced photographer, writer, and teacher, Robin is the publisher of Australia's largest-selling specialist digital photo publication and is also the author of several books.
General Overview of Digital Photography
Setting the Camera to Record 'Best Quality'
Simple Composition Tips: Taking Great Family Portraits
Robin Nichols Like many other instructors at BetterPhoto.com, Iím in the envious position of combining one of my lifeís passions, photography, with my job, photography and publishing. And, although Iím normally in front of the computer way too much for my liking these days, it remains one of the best jobs in the world.
Originally from the UK, Iíve spent the past 20 years living in Sydney, Australia, working initially as a rostrum cameraman in the audio-visual business, then as freelance photographer. More recently, Iíve worked (struggled) as a freelance writer, then as a full-time magazine editor for eight years. For the past six years, I have run my own small publishing business, Better Digital, producing Australiaís largest-selling specialist digital photo publication. (As an interesting side note, Better Digital is not affiliated with BetterPhoto.com - we simply have similar good tastes when it comes to names!)
With the launch of Better Digital, I have passionately pursued the goal of producing clear, well-illustrated publications written in "plain English". I have continued to develop this plain-speaking style in another specialist magazine devoted almost exclusively to Photoshop, called Better Photoshop Techniques. Recently I added Digital Photo ART to the list of publications. This deals more with project-based techniques for the digital enthusiast whose interests, those with a crafty bent wanting to do something more with their shots.
I have also written several books, including www.imaging, efficient photo preparation for the world wide web (Watson Guptill, ISBN: 0-8230-5855-7), co-written with Philip Andrews, Paint Shop Pro 8: a guide to creating professional images (Focal Press/Elsevier Press, ISBN: 0-240-51698-2), and recently, Paint Shop Pro 9 for Photographers, co-written with Ken McMahon, (Focal Press/Elsevier Press, ISBN: 0-240-51981-7).
When Iím not out shooting, travelling, or writing for one of my publications, I teach digital photography! In fact, thereís nothing I like better than showing newcomers how to fine-tune their shooting skills and how to get the best from their gear. The beauty of digital photography, of course, is that students can appreciate their efforts almost immediately, a fact that fuels greater exploration of the craft.
Lesson 1: General Overview of Digital Photography Its advantages and disadvantages, common misconceptions, 'function' vs. 'art', things you can do with a digital camera, software, other gear required to make it more enjoyable, plus basic shooting tips and techniques. Assignment: This is a course for "newbies", so we'll make it easy to kick off: No limitations on subject. Let's see how everyone's shots shape up!
Lesson 2: Setting the Camera to Record 'Best Quality' Learn how to use the basic camera settings so you always get best possible image quality. (exposure, file compression, using the LCD correctly and resolution settings). Assignment: Shoot a series of images that form a cohesive subject photo group or mini-gallery.
Lesson 3: Simple Composition Tips: Taking Great Family Portraits Simple rules that are guaranteed to make your family snaps more memorable, looking professional and a lot more fun. (avoiding crooked horizons, subject cut-off, filling the frame, zooming in and out). Assignment: Shoot a series of shots, using wide-angle, telephoto, off-center compositions.
Lesson 4: Improving Your Photo Shot Success Rate Learn how to use specific camera settings to ensure you get more consistent results from your photography. (basic exposure settings, ISO settings, contrast control, using scene modes, flash on/off). Assignment: Show the same subject snapped with and without the flash to see if the "no flash" version looks better without the nice blast-in-the-face effect.
Lesson 5: Common Shooting Problems (and How to Avoid Them) Learn why these problems occur and, more importantly, pick up basic techniques for fixing them ... minimizing blur, under/over-exposure, focus failings and missed shots. Assignment: Experiment in sequence mode. Also capture either a very light or very dark subject and try out exposure compensation.
Lesson 6: A Different View: Shooting Close Up Use your macro settings to create a fascinating and different point of view in your subject matter. (using Macro mode). Assignment: Shoot close-up pictures. "Close up" refers to your being physically close to the subject, rather than using your super duper zoom lens to enlarge the subject! So take care not to be too far from the subject.
Lesson 7: Software Magic Learn how easy it is to transform your pictures from "just OK" to brilliant, with easy-to-follow software fix-ups. Simple introduction to how basic software programs work and how it can be used to transform a photo into something to be proud of. Assignment: No need to rush out and buy Adobe Photoshop Elements or Corel Paint Shop Pro. Submit digital shots that you've managed to "improve" using simple software enhancement techniques.
Lesson 8: Techniques for Printing Knockout Pictures Preparing photos for printing at home, resolution issues, changing colour, contrast and brightness for maximum impact in print. Assignment: Experiment with further image-enhancing techniques, either with the software you have or with a free download program.
Is this course intended for beginning, intermediate, or advanced photographers?
This course is perfect for anyone who has just bought a digital camera and wants to get the best results from it. This might also suit digital photographers who have been shooting for a few months but feel they need a "bare bones" refresher course to get them back on track and fill in some gaps in their understanding.
Do I need to own a digital camera?
Yes, yes, yes! This class is for digital camera users only. However, it's not really suitable for anyone borrowing a camera from work or a friend, because this might not be the camera you end up buying and could therefore cause confusion.
How much time will I need to spend on this course each week?
That's your choice, but I can say that, if you want to learn anything well, it requires practice with a little dedication and time. You could complete each weekly assignment in an hour a week, but an hour a day might be more appropriate. Some might be lucky to get that shot straight off; others might have to shoot more to get a satisfactory result. In short, the more you shoot, the more feedback you can get, and the more likely you are to learn.
What sort of digital camera do I need to complete this course?
You can use any sort of digital camera providing it has either a range of scene modes available (i.e., landscape, portrait, and macro), or it has some degree of manual override (i.e., semi-auto - 'S' and 'A' - and manual - 'M' - metering modes). In short, almost all but the cheapest of digital camera will be fine.
Do I need any other gear to finish the course?
Yes, you do. I'd recommend a tripod. This can be one of those cute 5-inch high portable models or a full-on professional model. You don't have to spend a lot of cash! You will also need some basic software. We show examples using Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0, one of the best third-party software programs on the market, but it is possible to complete the brief software section using one of the free download programs available, or even using the software that came with the camera!
Will this course lead on to other more challenging courses?
Yes, definitely. This is a "bare bones" type course, so you should see an immediate improvement in your digital photo results. But this still leaves plenty of room for improvement in other, more advanced courses.
Does this course use Adobe Photoshop as its base software?
Definitely not! You can use the software that comes with the camera (which is often quite good) or you might want to buy Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0 (at approximately US$99), or download a free photo-editing program (for example, from www.download.com).
No, you do not need to be online at any specific time. The lessons are sent to your email and you are also provided the Campus Square - where you interact with your classmates and instructor. This is also where you upload your photos to be critiqued by your instructor. The instructors are very punctual and respond quickly.
Will I have access to the instructor to ask questions during the photo course?
Absolutely! Students can ask questions in the special Q&A forum set up in the course's Campus Square, or can ask the instructor via email.
Do you offer a money back guarantee?
Yes. We are confident that you will fully enjoy our courses. All the same, for our 8-week classes, we offer a 100% money-back guarantee before the Wednesday that Lesson #3 is sent out. If for any reason, you are not satisfied and let us know that you would like to withdraw before the Wednesday that Lesson #3 is sent, you will be promptly refunded.
For our 4-week courses, we offer a 100% money back guarantee before the Wednesday that Lesson #2 is sent out from BetterPhoto. If for any reason you are not satisfied and you let the ordering department know that you would like to withdraw before the Wednesday that Lesson #2 is sent, you will be refunded within 7 days. After the second lesson has been sent out, no refunds will be given.