Thursday, January 1, 2015


This is a set of articles about how to do photography, with no pictures. This is on purpose. You're going to make the pictures, and you're going to look at them and see with your own eyes what's happening. This is a learn-by-doing mini course.

The goal here is to get you using your camera effectively, to convey your vision, quickly and with a minimum of technical detail. If I don't think you need to know some technical detail to move forward, I trim it out.

If you're interested in how to use every feature of your camera, this is not for you.

If you want to learn photoshop, this is not for you.

If you want to know what "CMOS sensor" means and how it works, this is not for you.

If you want to know what camera, lens, tripod, strap, whatever to buy, this is not for you.

If you want to know how to use a flash, this is also not for you, although this is an important topic.

If you want to learn, quickly, how to generate an idea for a photograph, and to make a photograph that embodies that idea, this might just be the place to get started on that journey. Read along a bit, and see!

You will need a digital camera that permits manual adjustment of settings. While I am not a "manual mode" zealot, these articles will focus on using the camera in manual mode most of the time, since it's simpler to explain and will get you to the results you're looking for faster. You can learn about other modes easily enough.

You will also need a computer you can load pictures on to from your camera, for examination.

Get a notebook to write things down in. What you write in it is up to you, but you should make notes as you do the various exercises. You may or may not choose to review these notes later, but the act of writing them down is valuable by itself.

Before you begin, you DO NOT need to know what any of the technical terms really mean. If "Aperture" is a word that means nothing to you, that is OK. You can still look it up in your camera's instruction manual, or search the internet. Nothing in these articles will require that you actually know what "Aperture" or any of the dozens and dozens of technical terms actually mean. Quite soon, though, you will know what it does to your photos, and this is what matters.

You DO need to know:

  1. How to turn your camera on and take a picture.
  2. How to focus the lens on a particular object.
  3. How to load pictures onto your computer and look at them
  4. How to set your camera to take pictures in black and white.
  5. How to set the camera to Manual Mode.
  6. In Manual Mode, how to adjust the Shutter Speed
  7. In Manual Mode, how to adjust the Aperture
  8. In Manual Mode, how to adjust the ISO
  9. Where the Meter is in the viewfinder

This will require spending some time with your camera's instruction manual, if there are any of these things you do not currently know.

At this point we'll begin a series of exercises. Some of these exercise will involve taking some pictures, others will be "homework". None of the exercises should take more than about an hour, and I will shoot for shorter. 30 minutes or so.

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