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12-16-2006, 05:42 AM   #1
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where did you guys learn photography and lighting?


ok ive gotten books from the library and read some stuff online , but now that im moving up from a point and shoot to a slr id really like to learn how to use it propery.

the books i got from the library usually have a few chapters on the camera and a few paragraphs about things like iso and shutter speed but they dont go into much detail telling how to actully use it . they basically have a few pages on lighting that just tells you about 3 point lighting and little else.75 % of the book is about photoshopping !

i know theres probally everything possible that you can learn online , but the problem is i dont have enuff time in a day to seek out stuff then actually read it all and put it into practice. it seems i spend hrs and days finding what id like to learn , but having a full time job, family ect.... i really need a good course laid out that i dont have to spend a lifetime trying to find piece by piece online.

i remember when i was a teenager my grandfather used to go to classes at the local highschool , but nowadays you cant find things like this around my neck of the woods anymore!

so maybe some of you get get me going in the right direction!


12-16-2006, 06:51 AM   #2
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I've been very fortunate to stumble onto a co-worker who shares my interest. Drag your camera around enough and you will find these people We spend most Tuesday lunch hours with him teaching me. For over three years I've also belonged to novice photo skills group on Yahoo. Those are two ways I've gained more experience.

Using an SLR properly....humm. Properly for me is often shooting in the Program mode and letting it make decisions for me. I guess for me, learning the actually camera and hitting the shutter button over and over again has gotten me as far as anything else. This is a wildly helpful group, you'll get better answers

Lighting is fun. I'm not the master of it by any means, but I look for it when I'm shooting. Interesting patterns, reflections and all.

You'll get tons better response than mine, but I personally don't think you should try and burst brain cells trying to learn all the SLR techniques in one lump.
12-16-2006, 08:02 AM   #3
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For the artistic aspect, look at photos you like and decide what it is you like about them. Take photos and critique your own photos. If you're brave, let others critique your photo - this can be helpful, but sometimes you need to go your own way with photography.

For technique, a really excellent book is 'basic photography' by focal press. It isn't really basic, and the book will cover pretty much everything.

For the science, look at 'the manual of photography : Photographic and Digital Imaging'. This will tell you everything that everyone doesn't know about photography - like exactly how many photons are needed to register a change, how CCDs work, how ISO is measured, how lenses work.

12-17-2006, 02:31 PM   #4

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Camera Simulator

The link below has a camera simulator that may help you better understand the relationship between aperature, depth of focus, shutter speed, and others.

The SimCam: Film and Digital Camera Simulator -


12-17-2006, 07:29 PM   #5
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Where is your 'neck of the woods'? What you probably want is some form of continuing/community education program. Colleges and universites (sometimes technical schools) offer these in the evening or weekends-and not necessarily in just thier home locations. Send/call (to) the nearest institutions registrar for a continuing/community education catalog.
12-18-2006, 01:12 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jfdavis58 Quote
Where is your 'neck of the woods'? What you probably want is some form of continuing/community education program. Colleges and universites (sometimes technical schools) offer these in the evening or weekends-and not necessarily in just thier home locations. Send/call (to) the nearest institutions registrar for a continuing/community education catalog.
Absolutely agree! I took a basic photography class at the university back in the late 70's, and what I learned there has stayed with me since. Most community colleges also offer the Photography 101 class also.

Back when I took the class, part of it was devoted to darkroom procedures, techniques, equipment, etc. Can't say for sure, but I doubt that those are included anymore. Perhaps you now spend that time on Photoshop procedures.

Anyway, you will get a great understanding of the interaction between lighting, apertures, shutter speed, ISO, etc. You will also cover such aspects as portrait photography, Black & White photography, studio lighting, composition, basic camera operation, and much, much more.

You will have weekly assignments where you will hand in your work for critique (and grading). Maybe that is all done digitally these days, instead of making darkroom enlargements like I had to do. Maybe they still cover mounting and matting.

If you really don't want the pressure of earning a certain grade, perhaps you can take the class on a credit/no-credit basis. Then, you can just concentrate on learning.

Do it! You will never come to regret having taking a college class in photography.

(p.s. Even though I don't take "great" pictures, it isn't because of a lack of not knowing what I'm doing . . . it is a lack of talent.)
12-18-2006, 01:22 PM   #7
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In the early and mid 80's I took enough college hours to have a minor in the subject if they offered it. Sadly, most of those hours were learning the chemical processes in processing film and paper which are no longer needed. Some of those hours were learning how light bends going through various materials, and precious few were spent learning composition. Fortunately, composition can be self-taught whereas valence numbers are copulatory prestidigitation so far as I can tell.

Since then, it's been hundreds of rolls of film (tri-x, pan-x, kodachrome, kodak gold, etc.) and thousands of frames of digital. Lots of books, lots of web sites, but far too few "meet and shoot" sessions with pros.

12-18-2006, 03:48 PM   #8
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Back in the late 80's I enrolled in the New York Institute of Photography, It's a great course and offers a new photographer the insight and challenge of both film and Digital these courses teach everything from soup to nuts in photography and all projects are critiqued by a professional photography staff that really know their stuff. And since then I have put the knowledge and techniques to work. and added my own to the mix. There still not perfect but they are enjoyable and learning is daily. YOU NEVER STOP LEARNING UNTIL YOU'RE DEAD.

Good Shooting.
Cheers: David
01-07-2007, 07:53 AM   #9
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I also took a short course back in the early 80's.
what I also do is go to Home Page
and study some of the gallery photos to try to figure out what make them work.
for example, if it is a landscape or nature shot, I look for thing in the photo like patterns, s-curves, something that gives the photo depth perspective, etc.
sometimes the photographer will tell you what technics they use.

I did read a few books on the way, one that I own and helped me is Freeman Patterson's Patterns in Nature.

you will be surprised on what you can learn from other photographs.


01-07-2007, 10:46 AM   #10
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trial and error. I have a stack of a couple of thousand prints..of just trial and error...

(back in the film days)...little by finally got through my thick and stubborn head on what works and what doesnt on certain situations.....and...eventually started getting it half right....(that and I was getting broke by the second of waisting frames and developing them)

when i got non slr digitals....i started looking at exifs on what those used..and kinda remembered w/ a dslr..i just shoot away..and still continue to learn

i read a lot of photography magazines back then too, and purchased a few books to read....

and now, i have the internet (this forum for one) to learn more.....
just looking at everyone elses shots..w/o tech data helps a lot.....
(just seeing how they got the shot, composition a great learning tool)

u keep shooting..and sooner or'll start developing your own unique twist in ur photos....
01-07-2007, 03:29 PM   #11
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One thing I did forget to meantion,
IMHO the best time for great lighting is the "golden hour"
One hour after sunrise, and one hour after sunset.
acually, my favourate time is in the evening when the sun is already past the horizon, just up to wear I can't see anymore. with a tripod, lighting at these times is hard to beat, of course as long as you are not trying to stop action

also, after the years you can almost "see" great lighting, at least for outdoor portiats. It is a learned behavour..... I am always observing the lighting around me..... practice, practice practice, like everything else
acually, maybe it would be easier to learn what "bad light" is first, and then finding the good light would be that much easier
hope this helps


Last edited by slip; 01-07-2007 at 04:25 PM.
01-07-2007, 03:38 PM   #12
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I learned most of what I know about photography and photoshop from here:
DPChallenge - A Digital Photography Contest

It has grown to an almost unmanageble size these days, but it can still be helpful if you learn to cut through most of the back-patting gratuitous clique love and concentrate on the helpful threads, tutorials, and other helpful aspects. There's a lot of good there, and hanging out, entering challenges, and actually working on improving through seeing what you like, asking questions, and following suggestions can really increase the way you look at taking photographs in leaps and bounds.

Just a suggestion, hide the "General Discussion" and "Rant" threads as fast as possible
01-07-2007, 08:21 PM   #13
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Back in the mid 80's I was on a date. Took a ferry ride across the sound. Just exploring an island, took in a softball game, picnic lunch, stuff like that. Almost as an after thought we stopped by a garage sale. We had some time to kill before the return ferry. Little did I know that that sale was to change my life. On a whim I bargained the nice lady down on a Minolta SLR. Can't recall the model number, but I think it was a XG1. Anyway, she was asking $8 and I got it for $5. It had a case and a 50mm lens. I knew nothing about SLR's and thought it just looked cool. When I got it home and looked at it in detail I found that the light meter was busted.

That camera took some great shots. It launched me on my way to my love of photography. My date that day is with someone else. But the camera is still in my film bag.

Since the meter didn't and still doesnt work I had to use trail and error to get good pictures. For almost 2 years I notated every shot I could in a notebook. I then matched each shot up to the notes. No EXIF in those days. Eventually the percentage of good shots rose to the point where compostition became more important.

Eventually I moved up to the X700 whose meter did work. By that time it felt like cheating.

I then became a studio photographer. Two small outfits first, then a larger place. There I learned to work with people. Posing is a different art form than compostion. The control is satisfying in a different way.

A previous post in this thread said that you continue to learn until you die. That is so very true in photography. Never think you know it all. Just realize that there are others coming behind that can benefit from your experiance and knowledge. Just as there are others ahead of you that have knowledge to share with you.

I haven't even bought my K10D yet and have learned so much here already. A post on another thread taught me that you can use a 1/4 inch bolt on a chain as a reverse tri-pod to reduce shake. That is just so cool.

Thanks to all who share thier knowledge and love of photography.

Last edited by THAN THE SWORD; 01-08-2007 at 04:58 AM.
01-08-2007, 01:57 AM   #14
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My experience is a lot of trial and error.

The most important things to me:
1. I shoot what I want to shoot.
2. I try to get a shot that says "Wow!" to me.
3. If I don't say "Wow" to myself when I get a shot of my subject, keep trying and get creative - change something, lighting, angle, etc.
4. Get feedback from others.

I was helping out a friend to get some video footage for a wedding. While I was in the hotel, I had a moment when nobody was in the room, so I decided to get a closeup shot of the wedding rings, the veil and a rosary using the still cam feature on my camcorder. Tried this and that and didn't get what I wanted, even after 10 shots. I finally decided to close the drapes fully, switch the bed everything was on and play with my camcorder light as my main lightsource. I finally got the one shot that satisfied me and I sent the picture to my friend for feedback. The bride asked for an 8x10 print.
01-08-2007, 01:05 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by THAN THE SWORD Quote
Back in the mid 80's I was on a date. Took a ferry ride across the sound...
What a neat story. Enjoyed very much reading it. Thanks for posting.

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