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The Magic of F-stops: Choosing the Right Aperture
Become a better photographer today!
Learn how to gain new power in your images through the understanding and choosing of lens aperture. In this 4-week online course, you will learn how to shoot for impact, to create images that grab viewers' attention, that take your photography up a notch. You will learn how to work with your camera and see new images, all with the guidance of Rob Sheppard - an experienced digital photographer, writer, editor, and instructor. In the end, you will feel look for and see new photographic possibilities just by working with f-stops!
- What Are F-stops and How They Work
- Working with Large f-stops and Shallow Depth-of-Field
- Working with Small f-stops to Get Deep Depth of Field
- Working with F-stops for Special Effects
- For upper serious hobbyists through intermediates.
- Learn how to work with f-stops.
- If you know f-stops, then kick up your digital photography a notch through creative use of f-stops.
- Improve your shooting technique.
- Learn to make good decisions about f-stops to get more from your camera.
- Discover an approach to f-stops that will make the process more interesting and useful.
- Experiment with very specific techniques designed to help you develop your technical and creative ability to use f-stops in your photography.
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!
Rob Sheppard has had a long-time and nationally recognized commitment to helping photographers become better photographers, regardless of the equipment and technology. He was the editor of Outdoor Photographer
magazine for 12 years and was the original editor of PCPhoto
(now Digital Photo
). Now he is editor-at-large.
He is also the author/photographer of over thirty photo books, including The Magic of Digital Landscape Photography, The National Geographic Field Guide to Photography - Digital, and Adobe® Photoshop Lightroom for Digital Photographers Only. He writes regularly for Outdoor Photographer and teaches around the country, including workshops for the Palm Beach Photographic Centre and the Light Photographic Workshops. His Web site for workshops, books and photo tips is at www.robshepppardphoto.com, and his blog on nature and photography is at www.natureandphotography.com.
As a photographer, Rob worked for many years in Minnesota (before moving to Los Angeles), including doing work for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Norwest Banks (now Wells Fargo), Pillsbury, 3M, General Mills, Lutheran Brotherhood, Ciba-Geigy, Anderson Windows, and others. His photography has been published in many magazines, ranging from National Geographic to The Farmer to, of course, Outdoor Photographer and PCPhoto.
He and his wife, Vicky (married 30+ years), live in the Los Angeles area. They have a son working on his Ph.D. in youth sports and education, and a daughter studying communications/journalism.
Also see Rob's Nature and Photography blog.
Sample Photos by the Instructor
© Rob Sheppard
© Rob Sheppard
Lesson 1: What Are F-stops and How They Work
This course will start out with the basics of f-stops in this lesson and help you understand what they are and how they work. Then it will progress through uses of f-stops in controlled and creative ways starting with the next lesson. That is where you will really start to gain the benefit of f-stops. But we need to start with everyone having a basic understanding of what f-stops are.
Assignment: Take lots of photos of different subjects, at different distances and even different focal lengths while you experiment while you change your f-stop. You will find this easiest to do with Aperture priority auto exposure. This is simply an exercise to get you playing with f-stops and to share some of those experiments with others in the class. We will start getting creative in the next week.
Lesson 2: Working with Large f-stops and Shallow Depth-of-Field
Knowing what f-stops are is only the first step in really being able to use f-stops effectively. In this lesson you're going to learn a lot about using f-stops for very specific purpose, affecting depth-of-field to have less sharpness of the picture. I know that many times photographers think they always need to have more sharpness in the picture, more depth- of- field but sometimes that is counterproductive to what you're really trying to do with your photo. We will be talking about using increased depth-of-field in the next lesson.
Assignment: Take lots of photos while you try to find ways to make shallow depth-of-field work for you. Try shooting both up close and distant subjects. Look and see what happens to the photograph. What can you do to really make that subject pop from the background? How do colors change depending if they are sharp or out-of-focus?
Lesson 3: Working with Small f-stops to Get Deep Depth of Field
Now we’re going to talk about deep depth-of-field, the kind of depth-of-field that everyone seems to want all the time! As the last lesson showed, deep depth-of- field is not desirable all the time. But there will be times you want to have everything in focus from close to far. When this is a distinct and deliberate decision, you will be thinking photographically rather than using arbitrary formulas that don’t always work for every situation. Being able to control depth-of-field, from shallow to deep, is the mark of a photographer who knows his or her craft.
Assignment: Take lots of photos while you try to find ways to make deep depth of field work for you. Try shooting both up close and distant subjects. Look and see what happens to the photograph. What can you do to really make that subject work against a sharp background? How do colors change depending if they are sharp or out-of-focus?
Lesson 4: Working with F-stops for Special Effects
Now you have learned some key techniques to control depth-of-field, from shallow to deep. You have also learned a bit about f-stops – how to choose and use them. In this lesson, we’re going to look at some unique ways of using f-stops that will give you special effects. These are effects that come from the use of technology, not from the real world. These techniques will give you unique and special images, but this image only exists because of the way the camera sees the world, not because that is the way the world really is.
Assignment: Take lots of photos while you try to find ways to make these depth-of-field effects work for you. Once again, you will find this easiest to do with Aperture priority auto exposure.Show us what you found with these techniques. Have fun!
© Rob Sheppard
© Rob Sheppard
- Digital camera with aperture and shutter speed control.
- A variety of focal lengths either with a zoom on the camera or interchangeable lenses.
- Desire to go beyond automated photography to capture better images.
Is this course intended for beginning, intermediate, or advanced photographers?
This class is intended for everyone from the upper "serious hobbyist" to the advanced amateur or aspiring pro.
Do I need to have a digital camera?
It is not a necessity. You can shoot film and gain from these lessons. However, the lessons will be oriented toward digital SLR camera users.
Does my digital camera need to be expensive - a professional model?
No, as long as your camera allows you to control aperture and shutter speed and use a variety of focal lengths - those are important things. A digital SLR is ideal, however, an advanced compact digital camera would also work fine. However, without the creative options of exposure control plus a range of focal lengths, you will find the camera insufficient for this course.
Do I need anything else?
Yes. A tripod. This is absolutely essential.
Also, we will also cover topics and do assignments that would require the following. While you do not need all of these functions and tools, the more you have will have a direct relationship on how much you enjoy the class:
- LCD monitor.
- The ability to shoot in JPEG, RAW, TIFF and/or other file formats.
- The ability to lock your exposure as well as your focus.
- Exposure compensation.
- The ability to view a histogram in your LCD monitor.
- At least one zoom lens.
- The ability to control white balance settings.
- A macro mode or macro lens.
Remember, you do not need all of these... a few would be enough. But the more, the merrier.
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 how technology can aid in striving for better pictures but, overall, this course is not about Photoshop® or digital image-editing software.
© Rob Sheppard
© Rob Sheppard
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.
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