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Old Jun 1, 2010, 7:36 PM   #1
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Default How can I educate myself? Any suggestions for online courses, books, etc...

Can you please give me an advise?

I am an extreme newbie when it comes to the art of photography. I am just an average user who owned only P&S cameras all my life with full automatic functions. So, when I read about all the posts and questions about shutter speeds, aperture, exposure, ISO, EV, etc...it all sounds like a new language to me. And I can speak three languages, but this is clearly NOT one of them. LOL.

I have twin toddlers and a full time job, so going to a photography class will not be realistic goal for me since I am so limited for time outside home. (I don't really have much friends/family over here, to come watch the kids over the weekend, so I can take a class or two).

What do you suggest that I do? Which online courses, if any, do you recommend, so i can take the class at my own pace.. I am also in the hunt for a used copy of "The Digital Photography Book" series by Scott Kelby and ordered a used copy of the "Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson" from ebay.

I am also trying to read and soak any information I can find on this forum, which has been great. But without having a good understanding and a good foundation of some basic information, I cannot really make much use of all the stuff I am reading here. Unless I am not looking at the right place. I just need something that helps me understand the meaning and relation of these things together (like shutter speeds, aperture, exposure, ISO, EV, etc).

Also, I cannot help but to think, it still would have been better, if I had a chance to take a class for real, like one-on-one with a real person. However, like I said, that option, doesn't seem that possible for me at this point.

The camera I currently own is not a DSLR but I would like to be a part of the DSLR world someday... I recently bought a ZS3 and I am loving it so far, but I cannot say that I am using it with full confidence and knowledge. I am currently using the camera in IA mode only (for the most part) and experimenting with the options given in the camera without really knowing what the heck I am doing...lol

So, what do you suggest that I do.... Join to an online class, get a subscription to a magazine, read books (which ones?) or all of the above...

I also just purchased PE8 for which I need training as well. Do you know of any FREE online classes for that?

Thank you all for your time and hope to see your comments here soon!
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Old Jun 1, 2010, 8:27 PM   #2
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TwicedBlessed, fear not. When I started visiting this forum and others, none of this made much sense to me either. I am very far from an expert and I have tons to learn, but I have learned quite a bit in a short period of time by reading things on the forums, articles online, books, etc. and I no longer feel completely lost. The people here are really great about answering questions and that really is better than any book.

That said, books are great because they put everything in one place. A lot of people recommend Scott Kelby's books and Brian Peterson's books (especially "Understanding Exposure") and these are really great. As you are just starting out, I would personally recommend maybe waiting on these (or buy them and put them aside) and taking a look first at something like "The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography" by Jim Miotke. Or his newer book (which I haven't seen yet) "Betterphoto Basics: the absolute beginners guide to taking photos like a Pro". I suspect the latter book, like the former, is very accessible and covers a wide range of topics and generally also have little assignments so you can get out and use your camera, which is much more important than just reading. You may find them too simplistic, but I like to start very simple first and then build on the information. Much of what I read is the same information just set out in a different manner. Because we all learn differently, sometimes I'll read something in one place or book and it doesn't make sense until I see the same thing explained in a different way somewhere else.

I'm sure others will also have many suggestions and I will try to post some more thoughts when I have some more time.

Good luck!

Last edited by Jazzer251; Jun 1, 2010 at 8:38 PM.
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Old Jun 1, 2010, 8:27 PM   #3
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You are off to a good start with the books you have ordered, and in being a member of the forums here. It takes time for all the information to begin to come together in a way that makes sense. It can seem overwhelming at first, but be patient. Everyone learns at his own pace and reaches understanding in different ways.
The first step, I would suggest, is getting an understanding of each of the elements you have mentioned. Your camera manual should have a good bit of this info. There are a number of on-line dictionaries and encyclopediae which can be useful. Ask here when you have a specific question or difficulty understanding a term or way something works. If someone explains in a way you don't understand, ask again. Sometimes, it is just a matter of how the explanation is given, or approached.

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Old Jun 3, 2010, 8:22 AM   #4
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I just bought a book, Understand Photography by Bryan Peterson.

This gives you a all in one on almost everything,,,,really good book!

I bought it at Barnes and Noble
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Old Jun 3, 2010, 11:15 AM   #5
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I teach Digital Camera courses for our local Community College. The value of a formal class is that there is give and take in real time. You can ask specific questions and explore particular areas that seem to be posing a problem. You cannot get that same question and answer format in reading a book. I design the class material to keep it "tuned" to the areas that are posing problems for our students.

Regrading PSE 8.0 (Photoshop Elements 8.0) go to I-Tunes. There you will find lot of free podcasts to use PSE 8.0 and they are very good. I also teach PSE 8.0 as well.

Sarah Joyce

Last edited by mtclimber; Jun 5, 2010 at 9:37 AM.
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Old Jun 3, 2010, 11:46 AM   #6
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Every method of education has it's pros and cons. Right now my advice is: slow down. Read the books and practice what they talk about with your camera. Don't add to the list of education materials just yet. If you bombard yourself with too much at once, you'll find you won't be able to learn at all.

Now, I like what you've done so far. The key is - learning PHOTOGRAPHY. The key is not - how do I operate my camera. You will learn a lot more by having generalized photography books and learning how to manipulate your camera to do that than you will by camera specific instructions, IMO. If you have camera-specific instruction you learn "turn dial A to do such-and-such". That's ok, but not as good as learning WHY to change a value. If you learn WHY to do something, learning HOW to do it is no big deal. Think of a gear shift in a car. Todays cars have gear shifts in several places. You know what a gear shift is and why to change it - so when you get in a new car and the shift is in a different spot, it's not confusing. Same here. Learn photography and you can pick up a camera and spend 30 minutes with a manual and be able to use the camera effectively. It will take a bit of time to get used to and speed things up.

Now, I wouldn't bother with magazine subscriptions - they're not very good learning tools. What they are is advertisements for products. Even their reviews are fairly worthless - because of course, revenue comes primarily from advertisement dollars not subscription dollars. So they never say a negative thing about a product (except maybe price).

Once you've read the books there will be subjects about photography you need or want to explore more. Wait till then. Where to go next will depend on what your questions are.

In the mean time, you are welcome to ask questions here as you go along and learn. Lots of people here have been where you are. So chances are, one or more of us will be able to answer your question.
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Old Jun 5, 2010, 1:11 PM   #7
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Answers for this thread would be helpful to me too!
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Old Jun 14, 2010, 11:51 PM   #8
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Default Online Course

I am taking an online course starting this Wednesday. It lasts for 4 weeks. I found out that if I go through a local community college, it costs $99 vs $139 if I go through the offering entity.
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Old Jun 19, 2010, 5:44 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
Now, I like what you've done so far. The key is - learning PHOTOGRAPHY. The key is not - how do I operate my camera. You will learn a lot more by having generalized photography books and learning how to manipulate your camera to do that than you will by camera specific instructions, IMO. If you have camera-specific instruction you learn "turn dial A to do such-and-such". That's ok, but not as good as learning WHY to change a value. If you learn WHY to do something, learning HOW to do it is no big deal.
John, you are sooo right!

When I was a computer tech, there was one low cost intermediate mainframe computer that required the operator to punch multiple hexadecimal codes into light switches on the console to start the operating system with the options suited for that site's operation.

The operators who understood WHY certain switches had to be pressed at the proper time could start the OS load in about 10 seconds. The operators who only loaded by looking at the instruction sheet took about 45 to 60 seconds to start the OS load. Unbelievably, the slow operators continued to take 45 to 60 seconds to start the OS load for the duration that they worked on site.

WHY is so important,

Last edited by skylark; Jun 20, 2010 at 4:30 AM. Reason: spelling corrections
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Old Jun 22, 2010, 11:18 PM   #10
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Or if your like me and can't afford classes because your saving up to get a better camera or whatever you could try these out...

http://www.dpreview.com/learn/ this is where I have learned alot and is a great tool.

or you could go directly to the sourse

also one of my favorites (books)


You could always use this sites "knowlege center" and its archived articles but you realy kinda don't need classes. Just do your research and teach yourself. Thats what you do in a classroom, the teacher is just there to answer questions and explain technique which can be easily replaced by this forum and youtube.

Greatest of luck!!
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