February 16, 2012

Resources for Learning Photography

I occasionally get emails asking me about my own photography education and recommended sources for learning more. I thought it might be a good idea to compile my various responses in one FAQ-ish post.

What camera did you begin with? What intro dslr do you recommend?
The Canon Rebel is a great camera - that's what I learned on :-). We bought our Rebel xt way back in 2005. And it's still part of household arsenal of photography gear. My Middle Dude especially enjoys using it. FYI, the lens pictured below is Canon's 28-105mm, an affordable and much-to-be-preferred zoom lens to the 18-55mm kit lens.

faq post rebel

What's your favorite "beginner's" lens?
Cameras often come with a "kit lens" or two. These lenses are fine to learn on, but you'll soon start feeling the boundaries of what they *can't* do. When you're ready for a new lens, be sure to check out the 35mm f/2 lens or either of the 50mm lenses (f/1.4 or f/1.8) These fixed length lenses have wider (faster) apertures that allow you to play/experiment/learn more effectively than with the kit lens.

Where did you "learn" photography?
Mostly online. I found Pioneer Woman's blog soon after I got my Rebel. She oh-so-authoritatively (in the friendliest way possibly, grin) ordered me to turn off my flash. That was the beginning of everything for me. The point at which I turned off my flash was the moment when I was forced to learn how to manipulate available light. Manipulating available light quickly led me down the path of learning the great trifecta of camera settings (aperture, shutter speed & iso), ending ultimately in my preferring to shoot manual exposure nearly exclusively. No more green box for me!

Speaking of aperture, Pioneer Woman has an awesome series of tutorials exploring/explaining aperture and shutter speed.

I found HUGE amounts of inspiration on Flickr. There I discovered a plethora of photographic images/techniques/effects, as well as a community of enthusiastic photographers who are happy to share their methods, settings, gear data, etc.

For a tangible, in-my-hand, reference book regarding exposure, I very much appreciated Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.

What software do you edit your pictures with?
99.5% of the time I edit my family images solely with Lightroom (free demo available here). And more often than not, I'm using One Willow's gorgeous presets. Any images that need skin touch up or cloning or textures make a side trip to Photoshop.

How did you learn Lightroom?
I firstly worked my way thru a Scott Kelby book (it was Lightroom 1, at the time). I then additionally watched about a bazillion instructional videos at Lynda.com (I got a free one month subscription with my purpose of PS CS3). I can't rave highly enough about Lynda.com. For $25 per one month period (or a slightly discounted $250 per year), you can watch unlimited numbers of very thorough educational videos on all sorts of different softwares. I learned oodles in just one month. When I wanted to learn an efficient workflow specifically for my photography sessions, I purchased Kevin Kubota's Lightroom workflow dvd set. If Photography Concentrate had been around when I was learning, I would have seriously considered their training course.  And, Julianne Kost's tutorials are superduper amazingly helpful.  And free.  Be sure to check them out.

Do you have resources that you recommend for learning photography?
Yes, I do! I adore I Heart Faces! It's a great website/community with oodles of tutorials, weekly themed contests, and tons of encouragement. They have a [free, supportive, HELPFUL!] photography community with boards where you can ask all sorts of questions and get answers from a variety of people.

I have some various tutorials on my own blog:
my miscellaneous photo tips

I haven't seen this particular video series, but I think Photography Concentrate puts together fantastic tutorials and makes things accessibly understandable. They have a video series that explains camera essentials.

Don't neglect checking out your local camera stores. They often offer half day camera classes.

xmas 2011 roadtrip front

What's in your camera bag?
I have a whole post (old, but updated) with all those details!

What do you make your collages with?
Lumapix's Fotofusion software (free demo available!)

snipit2 of fotofusion

There you have it. My FAQ-ish post of resources for new-ish photographers. I hope it's helpful :-).

post signature


Life with Kaishon said...

Very : )

Have you seen the new word verifications on blogger?
It took me four tries to get it right. Holy cow!

Tracy P. said...

I'm so glad you did this! I'm linking to it right now.

Stacey said...

Someday when I get Lightroom I'll use those resources you suggested.

Or I'll just call you like Tracey did. ;-)

Stephanie said...

So helpful and incidentally, so timely for me! I just ordered my very first DSLR TODAY! After much deliberation I went with a Canon as well (T2i). I'm so excited but also nervous that the learning curve will be too steep, all of these resources linked in one place will be so helpful. Thank you!!

Skeller said...

Yay, Stephanie! So happy for you! Enjoy playing/learning/experimenting with that new camera!!