This is my first review of a digital photography tutorial DVD on LearningTheLight, as I’ve only ever reviewed photography books and gear before. It’s been really quite eye-opening for me to sit and watch a professional photographer talk about everything from depth of field and aperture, to composition and camera controls – I’ve found that it really makes a huge difference to watch someone do all this, talking you through every step, rather than just reading a book.
The DVD I’m reviewing is called ‘Digital Photography Exposed’, and is available online here.
Here’s a small trailer for the DVD:
So, first off, I’d say that this DVD is aimed at the beginner-to-enthusiast photographer, and will definitely be great for you if you’ve just had a DSLR for a few months, but haven’t really been able to get to grips with just how to get the best out of it. One of the great things about the DVD is that your host and photographer for the film – a guy called Mike Browne – only uses and recommends equipment that beginners generally have; cameras such as the Canon 550D / T2i, or the Nikon D90. So all the advice and technique he shows you, including close-ups of buttons/LCDs etc, is going to be useful for you, the learning photographer.
My overriding feeling from watching this DVD (which runs at a good length of nearly an hour and a quarter) is one of ‘wow, I really want to get out and try that’. I had my camera with me as I watched the film, but I found it so inspiring – and, in particular Mike’s down-to-earth advice and enthusiasm – that I wanted to get outside and try out all the different things he’d showed me.
If you’ve ever felt confused from photography books, manuals or magazines, but haven’t wanted to take the plunge with physical photography lessons, this DVD is for you – it’s like having a personal, one-on-one photography teacher showing you just how to take great photographs.
- Composition and lighting; this is where the magic is. I really like this notion, as Mike makes it clear that equipment is only one part of photography, and rather it is the use of light – and knowing just how to make the most of any lighting situation – that really makes a great photographer.
- Without any equipment, however, we wouldn’t get any photos at all! So there’s a nice section on lenses, and a great description of focal length and zooms. Good tripod advice too.
- Exposure – great demonstration of shutter speed. Being able to physically see what happens when the shutter opens and closes is great; really helps you visualise what is happening in the camera. Mike gives a good explanation of what shutter speed looks like on your camera screen, too i.e. the difference between 4 (quarter of sec) and 4″ (4 seconds).
- A physical demonstration of aperture – so Mike actually shows us just what happens to the lens as we increase/decrease the aperture size. Just seeing this kind of thing realy helps you realise what’s going on inside your camera/lens, and makes aperture so much easier to get your head around.
- Explains lightmeter view on back of camera, changing shutter speed and aperture to ‘zero’ the lightmeter, and thus get a properly exposed shot. Sounds a little technical, but Mike shows you how easy it is.
- Depth of field, using aperture to blur the background, separating your subject from the rest of the scene nicely.
- Freezing motion or creating blur by controlling shutter speed.
- ISO. Great advice: if you can either take the photo by raising the iso, or you would miss the shot, take the photo!
- Focal length. Demonstration with a model, using different focal lengths to take the same composition, but learning what the change of focal length does to the resulting image. Learning to move yourself, rather than zooming: know what focal length you want, and just moving yourself to get the shot, rather than zooming all the time. Great to see three different images and being spoken to about the differences. Changing depth of field, field of view, and perspective (how close spaces seem to be).
- How to get sharp photos. Where to focus by choosing focus point (auto focus doesn’t always focus on the things you want it to!). How to stop camera shake.
- Semi auto modes. Aperture priority and Shutter priority.
- Composition. Rule of thirds; don’t put your subject bang in the middle. Really great demo of putting the subject into rule of thirds. Creating depth/3D effect by utilising the notion of a foreground subject. A nice section on creating a ‘Frame within a frame’.
- Good advice about thinking/constructing images, rather than just ‘clickety clicking’.
- Light. This is a really great section on the quality of light, with physical demonstrations of different light types, and how they are suitable for different situations/people. For example, harsh, directional light is generally not good for people, but good for powerful subjects. Nice soft shade is diffused light for nice portraits.
As the review has probably shown you, I really like this DVD. I thoroughly recommend it to beginner DSLR-owners, and also think even an enthusiast photographer who’s had their DSLR for a year or so would still benefit hugely from giving it a watch. There really is a lot to be said for actually being shown how to work your camera effectively, and just how to use each mode, compose and shoot, to get the photo you want.
‘Digital Photography Exposed’ is available to order online via this link.