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Old Feb 15, 2007, 6:55 AM   #1
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Does anybody know of a DVD that will explain depth of field and how aperture affects it, what shutter speeds do to a picture, etc? I have read about these topics on the internet but I was wanting to find a DVD that will help me learn the basics.

I understand that the majority of learning comes from trial and error, but I was wanting to find something that will help me with the basics. Give me a foundation in a sense.

If not a DVD - any books?

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Old Feb 15, 2007, 11:01 AM   #2
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Probably the best way to learn is to do it while someone is looking over your shoulder. The best way for that to happen is to enroll in a photography course at your local community college or learning annex.

Just my $1/50.
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Old Feb 15, 2007, 1:47 PM   #3
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I would suggest books rather than DVDs because you can take a book out into the field with your camera more easily and practice the techniques in the book. Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson is a fairly popular introductory book.

But while a book or the internet can show you some examples of motion blur and shutter speeds (a classic example is rapids in a stream - showing how a fast shutter speed freezes the water and a slow shutter speed shows a smooth flow) there are very few firm guidelines any book can give for what most new photographers want which is: What settings do I use? So a book will show you how fast and slow shutter speeds affect the image but only experience and experimentation will tell you what speeds YOU should use for a particular stream or waterfall.

Similarly with DOF, a book or website can show you what a shallow DOF photo looks like and what a large DOF photo of the same subject looks like. And something like this online DOF calculater can be helpful to a minor degree:


But you really need experience and experience to tell you when 2.8 aperture is too wide and when it isn't. When 5.6 is going to give you enough DOF and when you need f11. So, the books will explain how aperture, shutter speed and ISO work together to achieve a proper exposure. And how if one value goes up the other two must go down (or at least one of the other two). And they can give you a general example of motion blur / motion freeze and shallow/deep DOF but only insomuch as they explain the concepts. Experience will tell you in a given shooting situation with a specific camera and lens what shutter speed and aperture you want to achieve your affect. That's why books are good though. Read about DOF and take your camera into the field and experiment with different aperture settings (although DOF is a difficult subject to experiment with if you are using a digicam and not DSLR since DOF in digicams is pretty deep - see by using the dof calculater above). But shutter speed will have the same affect with any camera.

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Old Feb 15, 2007, 7:16 PM   #4
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I agree: take a look at books. In particular, look in your library for books by the past masters like Ansel Adams. That way you can see some of the best photos ever made while reading what the masters had to say about the basic issues. Some of those books like Adams' The Camera (the next two books in the trilogy are The negative and The Print) spend time talking about view cameras - read that if your are interested, or just skip over the text while looking at the pictures. Just keep in mind that most of the shift/tilt adjustments Adams talks about can be achived in software with digital so it is worth thinking about when you might want to use them.

If you haven't already, you should figure out how to read the EXIF data in your photos. That will help you understand why some of your photos work and some don't.
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