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4 Must-Take Free Online Photography Courses

September 22, 2016

Now is a great time to pick up the camera and learn how to shoot. Thanks to high-speed internet, there has been an explosion of high-quality learning material made available online for absolutely free. This was certainly not the case during the days of film photography. Back then, library books could help, but you had to attend a class or workshop if you really wanted to learn photography.

Today, digital photography and the abundance of free online photography courses make it possible to learn from the comfort of one’s home. This discussion will cover the best online photography courses which are available to you for free.

  1. Learn Photographic Exposure Best Practices
  2. Diploma in Digital Photography by Alison
  3. Nightscapes: Landscape Astrophotography with Ian Norman
  4. Frame a Great Shot: Exploring Photo Composition with Porter Yates

 

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1. Photographic Exposure Best Practices

 

The exposure triangle is the most important aspect of photography. It is the foundation on which all photography is based. However, the concept of “perfect exposure” is somewhat debated, because it depends on the subject and the photographer’s intent. That said, all photographers agree that poor exposure can destroy a composition.

However, with the rise of advanced photo processing tools, it is often possible to salvage poorly exposed photos. Some photos need a lot of work, and editing can take a long time. If you have to choose between spending hours in front of your computer salvaging a poorly exposed photograph or getting it right the first time– a majority of photographers would choose the latter.

This course will introduce you to a wide range of techniques to help you to master your exposure skills. You’ll be able to produce quality images regardless of the lighting situation. The free course will teach you the relationship between the components of the exposure triangle, and how to manipulate them to improve your photography.

For example, you’ll learn how shutter speed adjustments can bring a level of creativity to your photography, a technique you may have not yet explored. The course teaches you to change the aperture when you want to alter the perspective of your photos. These lessons will walk you through the fundamentals of the exposure triangle and beyond.

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2. Diploma in Digital Photography

 

Earning a certificate is a great way to beef up your resume and portfolio. A certificate or a degree lets the world know that you’ve put in the hours and the hard work required to gain professional experience.

Free online photography courses often do not provide any certificates or degrees. This particular one from Alison, however, does. And it’s a tough course to complete! There are a total of two assessments in the course. You have to pass the first assessment after completing the fourth module. The final assessment is after the eighth module, which is followed by an overall course assessment.

You have to score 80% or higher to pass. Once you complete the course, you will have the option to make your achievement formal by requesting a certificate. While the course is free, they do charge for the certificate.

The course is broken down into a series of individual tutorials. The lessons cover the fundamentals of DSLR photography and the basic concepts of exposure. The final lessons cover the manual controls of a DSLR camera in extensive detail. It is imperative that you learn how to operate your camera, especially in the manual shooting mode. Manual mode offers photographers the most creative freedom of expression.

Beyond these topics, the course also explains more advanced concepts, such as bracketing, flash photography, perspective, focal lengths, and hyperfocal distance.

This course covers some very important topics related to landscape photography. Arguably, landscape photography is the supreme test for photographers. It takes a lot of planning and preparation to do it well. Landscape photography also requires an advanced understanding of light and hyperfocal distance. An important aspect of hyperfocal distance is becoming familiar with the optimized depth of field for a particular lens and camera combination. The course introduces you to the concept and teaches you how you can calculate the hyperfocal distance for your specific camera.

The end of the course covers editing with Photoshop and Lightroom. Editing software is a necessary tool for every photographer. The course introduces you to these to applications and demonstrates how they can benefit your photography.

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3. Nightscapes: Landscape Astrophotography

 

Ian Norman is a landscape astrophotographer. His subject of interest is slightly unique as he deals with the synergy between landscapes and astrophotography in low light situations.

In this free online photography course, Norman takes you through the steps of how to plan, shoot and process your images to produce stunning astrophotographs and astrophotography time-lapses. His free online photography course consists of nine videos. Each of them deals with a specific aspect of astrophotography. He covers the basic gear that you need to shoot astrophotography, how to correctly expose for the Milky Way, and how to use optimal composition techniques for astrophotography. The final chapter introduces you to post-processing methods.

Some of his imagery is simply stunning. When Ian Norman decided to share his tricks and techniques for free, these courses went viral. This is one of the most popular free online digital photography courses on Skillshare, with over 6,000 subscribers.

Astrophotography is an incredibly difficult genre of photography, but one that has huge potential if you are interested in a career producing professional stock photography. Because of the inherent difficulties in shooting, and the incredibly long post-processing time, not many photographers choose to shoot astrophotography.

Astrophotography is an expensive, gear-heavy genre, requiring patience and skill. This course will help you get started with landscape astrophotography and can save you time in the long run.

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4. Frame a Great Shot: Exploring Photo Composition

 

Composition is the key to visual storytelling. If exposure is what breathes life into an image, composition is the bone structure that holds everything together. Without great composition, your images are just random snaps. It is imperative that you master this aspect of photography after learning the basics of exposure.

Porter Yates boasts a student base of nearly 7K. His course does not consist of boring technical lectures. Instead, he focuses on the creative side of photography. He reminds you of the reasons you decided to pick up a camera.

This course starts with the value of composition and how it is paramount for any type of photography, regardless of the gear that you are using. It then shifts to the environment and how to find the right setting for your shoot. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time so that you can maximize your chances of shooting the best images. Some people attribute that to luck, while others call it good planning.

One example that Yates shares is that when shooting an event, you should try to shoot the subjects that are on the fringes, outside the focus of the majority of photographers. These less-obvious subjects often result in compositions that are much more intriguing.

Many of Yates’ techniques are well-suited to street photography. Did you know that a typical photo can have layers? No, not the type of layers you would associate with Photoshop, but rather the visual layers of interest. These layers correspond with each other and form a story. In this tutorial, Yates teaches you how to make sense of the chaos in the frame and turn it into a story.

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Bonus Resources

 

Fundamentals Taught by a Photography Pro

 

Do you ever feel like that your photography career is stuck in second gear? Do you feel like you could produce better photos, but you just need to be pointed in the right direction? This is one of the best online photography courses that you can take. While it’s not free, it is very inexpensive and well worth the price.

What makes this course a hit? The fundamentals of photography can be difficult to explain. A good teacher needs the perfect mix of theory, practice, and review. And that’s exactly what this course offers. It uses clear examples and detail in a way that’s easy to understand.

This online photography course takes you through the fundamentals of exposure as well as the basics of photographic composition. It will also take you through the proper approaches to compose and produce great photos. It offers the perfect recipe for producing amazing photos that catch people’s attention.

Kenrockwell.com – A Definitive Resource on Photography

 

Kenrockwell.com provides a lot of information on gear and techniques. It is one of the most definitive resources on the subject of photography. This website publishes in-depth technical reviews of various photography gear to assist you in making an informed purchasing decision.

Beyond the topics on gear, the website offers a wealth of information on the technical side of photography as well, including composition, light, exposure, perspective and more.

Phlearn’s Photoshop YouTube Channel

 

An aspect of photography that many amateur photographers tend to overlook is post-processing. After you have shot your images (hopefully in RAW), the next step is to have them post-processed. This is involves editing software such as Photoshop or Lightroom.

One problem with most editing programs is the pronounced learning curve required. Photoshop, in particular, can take several months to learn. That said, there is no shortage of free online Photoshop resources. Adobe also provides their own resource which you can use. But they are not always suited for beginner audiences, and often leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Phlearn’s YouTube channel, on the other hand, is user-friendly and provides free access to some of the most in-depth collection of Photoshop tutorials.

The tutorials range from simple retouching of portraits to more extensive photo manipulation techniques. They often produce tutorials based on requests from their subscribers. Phlearn provides everything that you need to become a successful image editor.

 

Free online photography courses Nikon

 

Did you know that Nikon has a comprehensive online tutorial section with a number of photography courses? The courses are not free and some of them will set you back by several hundred dollars. If you can afford them, the lessons are fantastic. These courses are primarily designed for Nikon users. There are functionalities inside your DSLR you probably never even heard about. And yet these functions can produce some really exquisite photographs.

Nikon School has been associated with educating photographers for the past 35 years. They have trained over 100,000 photographers around the world and shaped an entire generation of photographers. They offer online courses that range from entry-level to advanced.

 

Are you ready to learn?

 

There is a large amount of free online resources that can help you learn photography. These online photography and Photoshop courses will allow you to improve your skills and improve your capacity to take better photos. These courses help both amateurs and professional photographers alike to hone their skills and improve their vision.

The best thing about digital photography is that you can learn a lot by simply looking at pictures and watching someone work. But there comes a point when you need a more hands-on approach and an actual teacher.  Photography courses and tutorials are a great way to learn.

 


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