A "brief" outline of an all things photography lesson I have been working on: Work in progress

Light – The essential “element” captured in photography

·      Natural

o   Time of day

o   Golden hour

§  Hour after sunrise and before sunset

o   Blue hour

§  Hour after sunset

·      Artificial

o   Continuous lighting

o   Flash

§  ETTL vs. manual

§  On camera vs. off camera

·      Triggering options/multiple

§  Specialty flashes

·      Ring flash

§  Light modifiers

·      Quality

o   Harsh

o   Soft, Diffused

Composition – Best gear won’t matter if the photo is ill conceived

·      Rule of thirds

o   Power points

o   Horizon lines

§  Keep them level or deliberately crooked “Dutch tilt”

·      Rule of space

Components of Exposure – Taking control of your camera in manual mode

·      Balanced exposure

·      In camera meter

·      Reading the histogram

·      With each stop of exposure, the amount of light either doubles of halves

·      The Exposure triangle

o   Aperture – opening of the lens controlled by aperture blades

§  Measured in f/#

§  Fast lenses aperture f/2.8 or greater

§  As aperture increases (lets in more light) f # decrease f/2.8 lets in more light than f/4

§  Wide apertures = less depth of field, more apparent as distance between camera and subject decrease

§  Easier to blur out the background with longer focal lengths

§  f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22

·      Lenses rarely perform best at the extremes. At small apertures ~f/16 and above they suffer from diffraction

·      Lenses with large maximum apertures tend to be much more expensive* Canon 50mm f/1.8 $125, Sigma f/1.4 A $950

·      Canon f/1.2L $1,550 ($1400 on rebate)

o   ISO

§  Digital sensitivity to light

§  As ISO increases, dynamic range and color depth decrease

§  As ISO increases, digital noise becomes apparent

·      Modern cameras are every increases performance at high ISO

§  ((100, 200, 400, 800, 1600), 3200, 6400, 12800), 25,600, 51,200

o   Shutter speed

§  Reciprocal rule for hand holding

·      Shutter speed equals 1/(focal length X crop factor)

§  Shutter speed should be matched to the subject or for creative effect.

·      Fast speeds necessary for birds and wildlife

·      Panning for cars, bikes, runners

o   Low keeper rate, pleasing final outcome

§  Tripod for long shutter speeds

·      Capturing motion in water, light trails, star trails

§  Image stabilization

·      Shoot at lower shutters speeds than stated by reciprocal rule

·      Subject must not be moving

Find light (may involve considerable waiting and/or planning), determine composition (test shots), what settings do you want to capture the image in your mind (What takes priority)?


Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax

·      Sensor size

o   Full frame, image sensor is the size of a 35mm piece of film

§  When camera generation is equal* Best dynamic range, best ability to handle high ISO, most expensive, requires expensive lenses

o   APSC 1.5x crop factor (Canon APSC 1.6x)

§  Most common DSLR owned by consumers

§  Very competitive offerings

§  More lens selection, less expensive

o   Micro Four Thirds 2x crop factor

§  Commonly found in mirrorless camera systems, however Fujifilm and Sony use APSC, Sony also has full frame

Lenses all state focal length in 35mm (full frame) format


Disclaimer: I shoot with a full frame Canon EOS 6D DSLR, I began learning on an APSC DSLR. I am interested in macro and landscape photography (especially long exposure). I am very into the gear.

·      Canon and Nikon have the greatest selection of lenses and available accessories

o   What usage, each level of DLSR has compromises between Megapixels, Sensor size, autofocusing system, build quality, and cost

·      Sony is doing very interesting things with their mirrorless cameras, both full frame and APSC. Full frame: A7r 36mp for ultimate low ISO image quality, A7s 12mp for ultimate lowlight handheld high ISO performance, A7ii with in body image stabilization. Great for shooting handheld at lower shutter speeds (given your subject is not moving) APSC: A6000 (IMHO one of the most interesting options for travel photography in the price range).

·      Panasonic GH4 micro four thirds that shoots 4k video.

Lenses – Lenses are extremely important for creating desired effects and achieving ultimate image quality

·      Important terminology and features

·      Mount type

o   (For Canon) EF lenses can be used on all modern Canon DSLRs, EF-S can only be used on APSC sensor size cameras

·      Focal length

·      Filter size

o   Important for use of circular polarizers (CPLs), neutral density, UV (protection filters, some times needed to complete weather sealing)

·      Maximum aperture

o   Aperture blades (more and rounded usually result in “better” rendering of specular highlights in out of focus parts of the photograph (bokeh)

·      Minimum focusing distance (MFD)

o   Maximum reproduction ration

§  Macro lenses can achieve 1:1 reproduction

·      IS, VR, OS – Image stabilization (most important on telephoto and when filming handheld video)

·      Manual focus override

·      Zoom vs. prime (fixed focal length)

o   Prime often allow for better image quality and larger maximum aperture

·      Weather sealing (usually only available on expensive premium lenses)

·      Lens types

o   Wide angle

o   Standard

o   Telephoto

o   Macro

o   Fisheye

o   Tilt shift

Editing – Finishing your images.

·      Raw vs. Jpeg file formats

o   Raw – if you plan on creating images with your photographic and artistic vision you shoot be shooting in raw.

o   Jpeg – cooked file that automatically “throws away” extra information useful in post processing

·      Software

o   Turn an ordinary picture into a finished photograph

o   Highly recommend Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for Raw processing

§  Can be purchased out right for ~ $140 or as part of a creative cloud bundle with Adobe Photoshop for $9.99/month

“Necessary Accessories”

·      Photo bag

o   Sling, messenger bag, back pack

§  Form vs. function

§  Gear protection

§  Storage

§  Comfort

·      Gear quickly becomes heavy

·      Tripod

o   Many options and many price points. Quality tripod is an essential piece of gear and worth the price of admission over cheaper offerings

o   Should be used with a cable release to not introduce camera shake

·      Filters – Poor quality filters will degrade image quality, create color casts

·      Flash gun/speed light and flash triggers

o   Macro ring flash if serious about macro work

o   Light modifiers

§  Diffuser cap, Flash bender, umbrellas, soft boxes, snoots, grids

§  Light stands

Most importantly learn and be comfortable with your gear to take advantage of any photographic opportunity

Inspiration and education

·      Inspiration

o   Instagram, 500px, flickr, 1x

§  Join to post as well as view, get feedback from other photographers

·      Education

o   Plethora of quality free educational materials

§  Youtube

·      CameraRec Toby, Tony Northrup, Matt Granger, Jared Polin (Fro Knows Photo), SLR Lounge, B&H Event Space

·      Joe McNally

o   One of the most impressive photographic careers and an extraordinary educator. Very motivational to hear him speak