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Online Photography Course
Mastering the Digital Camera and Photography

Become a better photographer today!

Join 's Course: Mastering the Digital Camera and PhotographyLearn how to make the best photos you can create with your digital camera. You will learn what all the terms and concepts mean from an experienced digital photographer with proven teaching skills. Better yet, you will be guided on weekly photo assignments. Best of all, you will receive direct, interactive feedback from master photographer/author Peter K. Burian on your digital photographs. Could there possibly be a better way to learn photography and digital issues?
Key Features

  1. Getting to Know Your Digital Camera
  2. File Formats and Quality Settings
  3. Digital Exposure 101
  4. Creative Control of Apertures (f/stops) and Shutter Speeds
  5. Exposure Evaluation and Low-Light Photography
  6. Controlling White Balance and Other Aspects, In-Camera
  7. Composition and Lens Choice
  8. Introduction to Image Enhancing Software

  • Learn to use your new digital camera's features.
  • Learn about the most effective shooting techniques.
  • Gain full control over the "look" of your images.
  • Great for owners of Digital SLR cameras as well as compact digital cameras with overrides.

What You Get


You get direct feedback on your photos from world-acclaimed, professional photographers. You can learn photography in this way from anywhere in the world.  
  • Learn at your pace, with structure.
  • Be guided by a real pro instructor.
  • Get your photos critiqued every week.
  • Join students from around the world.
  • Go far beyond any book or DVD.
  • Make great pictures, again and again!



Photography Instructor: Peter K. Burian Peter K. Burian
Peter K. Burian, Photo Journal Syndicate (, is a freelance photographer based in Toronto, Canada. His outdoor, travel, nature and active lifestyle photographs are available as stock for editorial and advertising use. He markets his work direct to photo buyers via and is also represented by three stock agencies: Corbis, Alamy and The Stock Connection.

Peter Burian also writes illustrated books about photography and camera equipment, including:

  • Co-author of the National Geographic Photography Field Guide.
  • Author of 15 Magic Lantern Guides to SLR camera systems.
  • Author of Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging (Sybex), covering the technology, equipment and techniques, with 270 pages of practical advice

Finally, Peter Burian is a course instructor who teaches two online photography courses: Mastering the Digital Camera and Photography and Mastering the Canon EOS Digital Rebels. Sign up today to learn how to make great photos with your digital camera!

A Couple of Photos by the Instructor

© Peter Burian 

© Peter Burian 

A Couple of Student Photos


View photos by previous students. You can make pictures like this too!

Patty H. Hooker
© Patty H. Hooker
Patty H. Hooker
© Patty H. Hooker

Course Outline


Lesson 1: Getting to Know Your Digital Camera
Understanding your camera controls and functions. The five most valuable features. Features to avoid. Checklist of what your camera can and cannot do. How to get the most out of your digital camera. The biggest advantage of shooting digital: the right way to use your LCD monitor.
Assignment: Give Us Your (Worst and) Best Shot: Before and After

Lesson 2: File Formats and Quality Settings
JPEG and other in-camera options such as Raw and TIFF: pros and cons of each shooting format. Tips on shooting with RAW capture and image conversion. Storage and memory issues - doing digital photography on the road. Why you should convert your JPEG pics to TIFF format in the computer.
Assignment: JPEG A JPEG That Has Been JPEG'ed

Lesson 3: Digital Exposure 101
The primary exposure concepts. Why cameras sometimes make images that are too dark. Using Exposure Compensation, a simple method for perfect exposures. Learn where to meter from and use Exposure Lock. The part ISO plays in exposure. Tip: Use a Semi Automatic mode while maintaining full control.
Assignment: Exposure: Over, Under and Just Right

Lesson 4: Creative Control of Apertures (f/stops) and Shutter Speeds
Learn "depth of field" and motion control with aperture and shutter speed selection, using the camera's automatic and semi-automatic modes. A primer on depth of field. Prevent blurring from camera shake and subject movement. Great news about exposure when changing f/stops or shutter speeds in certain camera modes.
Assignment: Aperture/Depth of Field Control; also, Shutter Speed/Motion Control

Lesson 5: Exposure Evaluation and Low-Light Photography
Using the camera's histogram (and "loss of highlight detail warning") to evaluate exposure and contrast. The challenges and compromises of night photography. ISO Equivalents - changing ISO on the fly. Minimizing digital noise (graininess). Shooting at night - with and without a tripod. Making beautiful images in low light.
Assignment: Night Shoot - Before and After; also, High Contrast vs. Low Contrast

Lesson 6: Controlling White Balance and Other Aspects, In-Camera
The color of light for the non-physics major. Understanding the white balance options. The easy way to getting the correct white balance. Adjusting the in-camera level for sharpening and color saturation.
Assignment: White Balance Before and After; also, Saturation/Sharpness Before and After

Lesson 7: Composition and Lens Choice
Principles of visual design. Putting the Rule of Thirds to good use. An easy way to understand the Golden Rectangle. Shooting vertical as well as horizontal photos. Understanding lens focal lengths. Wide angle and telephoto options with digital SLR "focal length magnification factors".
Assignment: Rule of Thirds/Orientation: Before and After

Lesson 8: Introduction to Image Enhancing Software
Adjusting brightness, contrast, color balance, color saturation and sharpness in a few steps. Understanding the primary color concept in digital imaging. Taking advantage of automated enhancing features such as Auto Levels and Red-Eye Removal. Introduction to image correction with RAW converter software. And a bonus: a brief introduction to software for making long panoramic images from several photos made for exactly this purpose.
Assignment: Correct a Technically Poor Image in Under 60 seconds

Review: Voting on Best Work

© Peter Burian 

© Peter Burian 



  • Digital camera with aperture control and exposure compensation feature.
  • Tripod.
  • Practically any image-editing software.



Is this course intended for beginning, intermediate, or advanced photographers?
This class is perfect for everyone from the beginner (with a camera that includes overrides) to the "serious hobbyist" or advanced amateur. Highly advanced digital photographers will likely already know many of the topics we cover, but you are welcome to join us anyway.  

Does it matter if my digital camera is really basic - you know, one of the relatively inexpensive digital cameras? Or do I need an SLR?
Only in one consideration: Does your camera allow you to control aperture and shutter speed? And does it include an Exposure Compensation control? Without these options, you will likely find the camera insufficient for this course.  

Do I need anything else?
Yes. A tripod. Also, some basic imaging software. For the following, you do not need all of these functions and tools, but the more you have will have a direct relationship on how much you enjoy the class:
  • LCD monitor.
  • The ability to shoot in JPEG format; a Raw capture mode would be a bonus.
  • The ability to lock your exposure as well as your focus.
  • Exposure compensation and other exposure control techniques.
  • The ability to view a histogram in your LCD monitor.
  • A zoom lens.
  • The ability to control ISO equivalents.
  • The ability to control white balance settings.
  • Software with a panoramic stitching function would be useful.
  • A macro mode (for very close focusing - common with many digital cameras) or a macro lens for an SLR.
Don't get frightened if you don't know any or all of the above terms - we'll cover these in the class. And remember, you do not need all of these ... a few would be enough.  

Are you going to teach things you can do in Photoshop in this photo course?
Not really. We will touch on a few topics such as panoramic stitching and brightening images with software, but, overall, this course is not about Photoshop or other digital imaging software.  

© Peter Burian 

© Peter Burian 

Do I have to be online at any specific time?
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.

Still have questions about this course? Ask Us

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At a Glance
8-Week Photo Course
Category: Fundamentals Courses

$396.00 USD
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Average Customer Rating: 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
Read all 128 reviews

Course Reviews:

5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
BetterPhoto Member Jennifer L. Crawford
Jennifer L. Crawford
member since: 12/12/2013
This was an excellent course. I'm a new DSLR owner and a complete novice in photography, and came away from this course feeling I had a strong grasp on many concepts and techniques. The critiques were valuable and I saw steady improvement in my photography. My biggest piece of advice is to continually ask questions as you go along! Peter responds to questions quickly and in great detail, and the more you engage and invest in this course the more you'll get out of it. He is a great teacher and resource, highly recommend!

- 3/10/2014 12:20:59 PM

5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
Nancy Dobson
member since: 9/27/2008
I have owned a digital SLR for several years, but was apprehensive to start pushing all of those buttons. I was using auto mode on a camera that can do so much more! This class was just what I needed to get out of my comfort zone and start exploring the more creative side of photography. Peter is a very knowledgeable and supportive instructor, who takes the time to give helpful critiques. I still have much to learn, but feel this class has given me a good push in the right direction to becoming a better photographer.

- 11/8/2013 6:44:41 AM

5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
Michael J. Long
member since: 11/29/2012
I have always loved photography and received a nice DSLR camera from my wife as a gift. After owning it for a year and reading several books, I still would end up using the full auto mode. I found the BetterPhoto site and signed up. This course for me was the perfect choice as my first. It started out basic enough for a beginner like myself and gradually the assignments got tougher. Peter is a great instructor, his instructions are clear and he was always ready to answer any questions. His critiques were timely, informative and always ended with a tip or two on how to improve on that particular lesson. I have been practicing what I have learned, my camera comes with me now when I leave the house and I have not gone back to full auto mode since. It is a good feeling. I would highly recommend this course to anyone just starting out like myself. I am looking forward to my next course which just happens to start tomorrow. Thanks Peter for sharing your knowledge with us, it has been a real pleasure.

- 3/5/2013 1:19:27 PM

5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 4.5 out of 5
Andrea Lewis
member since: 6/2/2012
This class was my first online photography course. Not only did I enjoy the classe and learn about my camera, I received valuable feedback from the instructor. I would recommend this course to anyone who is unfamiliar with their camera features and unfamiliar with the techniques of photography. - Andrea

- 9/22/2012 9:04:07 AM

5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 4.5 out of 5
Maria Pappano
member since: 4/9/2005
I really enjoyed this class. The lessons were very thorough and the instructor very knowledgable and helpful. I really like the way the lessons, assignments and critiques are presented. I'm much more comfortable using my new digital camera now and am looking forward to taking another class.

- 9/19/2012 8:11:32 AM

Read all 128 course reviews...

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More Delighted Customers:

"I loved taking this course... I love the format of the course, and I intend to take more classes after I have perfected the techniques that have been presented. Peter was prompt, clear and concise in his answers to questions... It was a great experience. Thanks, Peter!" -Marsha Surles  

"Peter: I learned a great deal about my camera and taking better pictures as a result of this course. Last week was the first time I ever entered photos in a contest at our local fair, and I won three of the six categories I entered, all with pictures taken during this class! ... I enjoyed my course with BetterPhoto, and I plan on signing up for another this fall." -Heather Anderson 

"This course was great! I'm starting to really understand what happens when I change the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and focal length. ... Now, I've got to practice everything that you taught me. Thanks for all your helpful critiques."  -Jeffrey C. Weiss 

"This was an excellent class! I cannot believe how much I learned in just 8 weeks... Peter was a great instructor, and his critiques were helpful and encouraging. I plan to take several other courses, but this was the right one for me to take first to provide a solid foundation to build on." -Cheryl Rau 

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