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03-19-2019, 10:11 PM   #1
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Beginner's photography course

I've been thinking about leading a short course on photography at my local library, and am interested in what you'd expect to learn in a rock bottom basics class for people with cameras and no experience.

I'm going to look through the collection and see if maybe I can work off one of their books, but in the meantime, I'd love to hear what advice my pals at PF might have to offer.

03-19-2019, 11:48 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Does "camera" mean something they can actually control such as a DSLR rather than a smartphone? If so, then teaching the exposure triangle would be my first theme. Second would be composition.
03-20-2019, 02:39 AM - 1 Like   #3
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Yes the functions of aperture, shutter, ISO and how to meter correctly to expose a scene manually, then incorporate Av, Tv, and composition. The quality and direction of the light being recorded ie. harsh or soft.

A good foundation of these is a must. Above all enjoy the image taking.
03-20-2019, 02:47 AM - 1 Like   #4
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be sure to look at the excellent information on the " basics " and more you can find here under " Articles "

https://www.pentaxforums.com/articles/resources/

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/49-pentax-articles/

03-20-2019, 02:49 AM - 1 Like   #5
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It wouldn't be unreasonable to ask for the course contents/syllabus before deciding to sign up.

Most 'absolute beginner' courses would start with the basics about types of cameras, maybe a bit of history of photography, basic controls, how to hold it, basics of light, etc. I would consider exposure triangle and full manual control to be a more advanced topic - but this could be included, as could composition. There's no way to know without asking.

Back when I started being serious, a local camera shop offered an 'absolute beginner' course for a nominal fee (about the price of a coffee) so I thought, why not. It consisted of a sales tour of the types of cameras they sold, followed by being told to hold it still, not point into the light, turn on the flash when it's dark, and use exposure compensation to correct issues. Then a coffee and another sales patter, including a 5% discount if we bought something that day. If I was planning to buy an expensive camera it might have paid for itself, but I was rather disappointed.
03-20-2019, 03:55 AM - 2 Likes   #6
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i would go for things like composition and photography areas first rather than the technical aspects. I think the former is more appealing to novices. Ofcourse some things go hand in hand. You could explain the triangle with interesting examples that appeal to people.
03-20-2019, 05:46 AM - 1 Like   #7
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How many classes? What equipment requirements? Hands on exercises or outings?

The typical group that would show up at my local libraries for "introduction to photography" classes won't get much of any explanation of the exposure triangle that includes numbers. Think people who want to take photos of their grandkids or dogs or sunsets or pretty flowers in their yard with their cellphones or a P&S from 8 years ago they've taken 300 photos with and the memory card is full but they don't know how to get them onto the computer.

Your audience may vary, but it's very easy to go overboard on the technical things end end up with a bunch of glazed over faces staring back at you. Things like composition, lighting (overcast vs sunny, time of day, etc), what motivates your own photography, larger photography projects, or other topics that can be (partially) presented to a wider range of backgrounds in a short period of time can be preferable.
03-20-2019, 05:51 AM - 2 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by grispie Quote
i would go for things like composition and photography areas first rather than the technical aspects. I think the former is more appealing to novices.
I would agree with this. Things aren't the same as when we were learning photography back in the film days. With film, getting the proper exposure was crucial, given the limited abilities to correct things after the fact. Today, modern cameras are great at getting workable exposures and when you combine that with the capabilities of the digital darkroom and shooting in RAW, there's a lot more latitude. I think the pictures of most novices could be improved quickest by giving them tips on composition...watching your background, getting closer, rule of thirds, direction of light, leading lines, etc...

03-20-2019, 06:32 AM - 1 Like   #9
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To my way of thinking, snapping with a smart phone isn't photography. I would make clear what the course is about--and just as importantly isn't about--in the course description. That way, you at least make an effort to head off unrealistic expectations. Of course, human nature being what it is, one cannot accomplish that entirely. Exposure, lighting, composition and the bare basics of digital post-production are what I'd emphasize. I'm thankful my first photography course that I took in high school almost 40 years ago (Whew! where does the time go?) centered around fully manual cameras, specifically the Minolta SRT-102, which was much like the Pentax K-1000. I think it's important to learn those basics to have a working knowledge of how photography works. That said, the course I took in college, which was taught in my university's physics department, was all about mathematical formulas for optics, which I never fully grasped. The one thing I got out of it was a better understanding of the relationship between aperture and shutter speed as it relates to depth of field.
03-20-2019, 08:43 AM - 1 Like   #10
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Thereís someone who does an annual photo class on Reddit for free, you can check out his 2018 course (2019 is still ongoing) and see his lesson structure for reference. Iím not that experienced so I canít tell you if itís good or not, but Iíve been following his 2019 course and itís been at the very least interesting and engaging.

You can find it here Photoclass version 2018
03-20-2019, 09:00 AM - 2 Likes   #11
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Having been voluntold recently with my oldest kids transition to Boy Scouts that I should become a merit badge counselor for the troop for photography I would suggest something that follows the basic requirements for the badge as a starting point. Skip things in requirement 1 and 8 as they would't be applicable in your situation and add or subtract as you feel necessary. In a couple of months the troop wants to do the badge as a troop over the month (3 meetings) so I will be working through creating that so they can meet the requirements and also provide some expanded information in some areas. One thing I plan on doing at end is a critique even if it isn't required since receiving feedback really does help one grow in skill, ability, and understanding. The nice thing about starting with that is that it was designed assuming no prior knowledge or experience for the participant and to provide a good starting point to begin to understand the basics.
03-20-2019, 11:20 AM   #12
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Thanks guys, for tons of excellent pieces of advice and resources. I'll talk to the library in couple weeks after I cobble a basic plan together. Ten points to each of you for your help!
03-20-2019, 04:44 PM - 6 Likes   #13
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For twelve years I was a physics teacher, Jase, and as a general principle, once you've settled on your topics, avoid lectures, what we used to call 'chalk and talk'.

Since people remember little of what was said and even less of what was read, but a great deal of anything they've done, the best way for them to learn what shutter speed is about is to point out that control on their camera, let them loose on a water fountain for ten minutes, and get them to report back to you and the others their finding. For aperture, point out the control and set the task of getting all three people who are sitting in three different seat rows in focus, etc.

This approach has lots of variations and lots of names given to it, but not a bad one is 'directed learning'.

It also removes the pressure off you to be some sort of actor or performer in front of an audience, and more of a convenor and coach.
03-20-2019, 05:13 PM - 1 Like   #14
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You've given me some excellent ideas, Clackers. Maybe I'll come up with some props to bring in and photograph. Awesome!
03-20-2019, 08:02 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by jcdoss Quote
You've given me some excellent ideas, Clackers. Maybe I'll come up with some props to bring in and photograph. Awesome!
Thanks, one of the most useful things is an HDMI cable to connect your K-1 to a big screen in the room if it has one, so you can playback what you're shooting and the effects of every change you do.
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